Thursday, January 24, 2008

Veiled and Panther Chameleon Care 101C (MISTING)

Misting and Watering
One of the most common health problems chameleon faces in captivity is DEHYDRATION. It is very important to provide your chameleon with a proper watering method. Chameleons do NOT recognize stagnant puddle of water as water source. In the wild, they drink by licking morning dews on the leaves, soaking under rainfalls, and eating leaves during drought seasons (specifically veiled chameleon). With that being said, a water bowl and a waterfall system are a complete waste of time. Even worse, for some reason, chameleon often treats standing water as their personal lavatories. They will defecate on your waterfall making it a breeding ground for bacteria and all sort of nasty stuffs. Thus, we should simulate the natural drinking habit of chameleon in the wild by misting the enclosure.

Misting also temporarily raise the enclosure’s humidity. I suggest misting should be done at least twice a day with 5 minutes or more per session. It took generally about that much time to induce chameleon’s drinking response. Be aware, that some chameleons are shyer than others. They might not drink or eat at all in front of you.

I mist 4 times a day (Do you remember what I have said about chameleons will take a chunk of your time?). The reason I do it that much is because the environment where I live is very dry (during winter, the humidity here can drop to 5%).

Here is my misting schedule:

First session is at 7 am (an hour after the lights on). The reason I wait for an hour is to let my chameleon bask first to raise his body temperature. Water droplets can drop his temperature in an instant. Not letting your chameleon to have time to bask before the morning misting session, probably, is equivalent to an experience where someone throws you a bucket of cold water to wake you up. It is not a very nice experience, is it?

Second session is at 10 am (by then all the enclosure should already be dried)

Third session is at 1 pm.

The last is at 5 pm (Strangely, this is the time that my chameleon has chosen to drink or, at least, choose to drink in front of me).

I got to be honest with you. I do use an auto misting system that does the job for me.
It is very simple to set up and the benefits definitely outweigh the price.
But, if you have time and you do not want to spend extra money on misting system, a simple hand pump mister is sufficient. Filled the bottle with hot water (NOT BOILING) so when the water comes out of the nozzles, it will be warm for your chameleon.

Also, in addition to misting, you should purchase a little dripper system by Zoomed. A plastic bottle pricked by a needle pin can also be used if you want to save money.
The water should drip about every second or two. Put the dripper on top of the screen cage and let the water drops on your plant’s leaves. You can use a simple tray to catch the water. Elevate your plants so the bottom does not touch the water to prevent rotting roots. Remove water from tray daily. One of these days, you might want to invest your money or your time to build a drainage system.

My drainage system is simple. I drill holes in the middle of the PVC cage floor. I put the cage on a metal rack. And, on the bottom of the rack shelve, I have a bucket that catch the water drips.
The weight of the plant pot cause the PVC floor to curve in the middle, naturally, making the water to fall down into the holes.

Even with all that watering, the humidity of my room can still drop to a dangerous level for my chameleon. Occasionally, I will use an ultrasonic humidifier to boost the humidity a notch. I do NOT put the humidifier inside the enclosure. The foggy mist often freaks out my chameleon.

With all the fuss of watering and misting, it is CRUCIAL for you to know whether you need an extra misting depending where you live.
In order for you to do that, you will need a Hygrometer inside your enclosure.
There are some cheap digital thermometers out there that come equipped with a hygrometer as well. Go get one!

Veiled and Panther Chameleons’ cage should be in the range of 40% to 70% humidity.
Panther can benefit from having a SLIGHTLY more humid enclosure. It is okay for your cage humidity to fluctuate. Just be sure that it never drops below 40% or rise any higher than 80%. The real problem from having not enough humidity or too much humidity is the risk of your chameleon getting a Respiratory Infection (RI).

Another questions that often pops in mind is “How do I know for sure my chameleon is drinking if he never drink in front of me?”
While it is true that chameleons are generally shy, some do not and will drink in front of their owner. But, there is another way to know whether your chameleon is drinking or not. The obvious one is to check its droppings.
Chameleon’s dropping contains 2 parts: the actual feces and the urate.
A hydrated chameleon should have a moist (not runny) dark brown feces and white urate. A yellow or orange urate is a sign that your chameleon is not drinking enough water. In that case, a vet visit is in order.
_______________________Lesson continued to 101D
source(s): Kammerflage Kreations and


Anonymous said...

Awesome, great info on Chams.

Anonymous said...

This is overkill for watering. Especially for veiled chameleons which are native to arid mountain regions in the middle east. You can water him once or twice a week and he will be fine. Also, don't listen to those who make the ridiculous claim that you should feed them 5, 10, or even 15 crickets a day. Talk about overkill. Imagine a chameleon in the wild that eats that many crickets. That's why many captive chameleons don't live more than 7 years. I water mine 2 or 3 times a week and feed him 15 or so crickets every 2 weeks. Remember, it's a reptile, not a mammal. They don't need breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My 10 year old veiled is quite healthy and can attest to that!

Frans Kusuma said...

As long as you allow drying time in between misting and as long as you have a good drainage system, the misting schedule I used will ensure your chameleon stay hydrated. Chameleon in the wild will lick on morning dew for water. So, giving him access to water only twice a week is a bit extreme imho. Veiled chameleons although native to yemen lived in lush mountain hill where humidity actually can be quite high. They are not desert animal at all. Perhaps, you are confusing veiled chameleon with namaquensis chameleon.

Although I agree chameleon can indeed live without food for long time, I felt I should not treat him to such extreme. Afterall, they are not a wild animal.

Did you know the average life span of chameleon in the wild is 3 to 5 years old?