Whether your chameleon cage is a vivarium, paludarium, screen, glass, naturalistic or basic….your life will be made easier with these 7 gadgets.
- Airflow: You want to maximize airflow while still being able to retain relative humidity above 50% in your chameleon cage. This is accomplished by using a screen cage. Sometimes a big glass cage works for species like Jackson’s or Quadricornis. In this case, you will want to use computer fans to have a slightly forced airflow. The best airflow is passive, where air is not blowing into the cage…but with the right setting on a computer fan, we can mimic passive airflow even though it will be forced. Products: AC Infinity Fan & Thermostat. The fans are $15.99 for two, and $29.99 for the thermostat on Amazon. These fans have a USB chord, so you don’t need to solder any wires yourself. They also have HI MED LO settings, so you can customize airflow to your specific requirements. If you don’t want to buy the thermostat, you can use any USB charger (like one for an iPhone), plugged into a timer. Play around with the settings so you aren’t drying out the cage too much, the idea here is to move any stagnant air around the cage in order to prevent bacterial buildup and lung infections. Guru Tip: adjust the angle of the fan(s) slightly so it directs airflow towards the inside of the front door of the cage, as this will keep condensation off the glass and avoid drying out your chameleon’s eyes in case there’s a malfunction with your timer (or you forget to turn it off) and the fan is left on for extended periods of time.
2. Misting System: There’s no better misting system for a chameleon cage than Marty’s MIST KING. Prices range from $129 to $419. The Mist King is durable and long-lasting. It can be customized with both the size of reservoir, and also the amount of cages hooked up to one pump. The MIST KING Timers are also excellent to use for other products like lighting and the computer fans mentioned above, as the MIST KING Timer has a seconds option. We have gone through many, many electronic timers over the years, and our MIST KING Timers have stood the test of time much better than the hardware store timers. Use Reverse Osmosis or Distilled water to extend the life of your misting system. Guru Tip: Some assembly is required – you need to drill a hole into the reservoir you choose. Go to your local hardware store with this sheet printed off, and ask them to drill a hole in the bucket you buy. We use a 1 gallon bucket which we fill up every few days with reverse osmosis water.
3. Pressurized Handheld Sprayer: Sometimes you just need to spray the chameleon cage a little extra by hand. Maybe it’s during a shed, or to rinse debris off of plants, or you enjoy the meditative effects of spraying down your chameleon’s enclosure. It is relaxing, like raking sand in a Zen Garden. Enter the Solo 418 One-Hand Pressure Sprayer, 1 Liter. Just $16.99 on Amazon. This baby will make misting a breeze. The features on this make it ideal for chameleons, with a fine mist spray (way better than the Dollar Store sprayer you’re using now), and drip-guard. It also has adjustable nozzle direction. Guru Tip: Leave the sprayer near your heat light to keep the water warm. Since this is pressurized, don’t leave it directly ON or BESIDE the light.
4. Timers: There are many timers available for a chameleon cage. Automation of timers and misting are so important if you are going away camping or to a concert or are going to be away for a few days. Two of the best for chameleon husbandry are made by reptile companies. For a single outlet, we recommend the Mist King Timer, $29.95 at MistKing.com. Which is programmable to the seconds instead of only minutes or hours. For a power strip bar, we recommend the Zoo Med Repti Terrarium Controller, $18.99 on Amazon. Or the Zilla Power Center, $27.63 on Amazon. Guru Tip: Get the sunrise and sunset times by Googling the regions where your chameleon is from, and set the times accordingly! For example, today (August 7th) the sunrise in Ankaramibe, Madagascar was at 6:06am, and the sunset was at 5:40pm. You don’t have to exactly mimic the times, but use the duration as a guide – in this case, roughly 11 hours on and 13 hours off. You could turn the lights on at 7am and have them go off at 6pm.
5. Dimmer Domes: Getting the temperature just right in a chameleon cage can be tricky. You’ve set your vines and branches properly, but you can’t get the basking spot in the right temperature range. Enter the Fluker’s Repta Clamp Lamp with Dimmable Switch, $16.04 on Amazon. This really makes all the difference in finding that sweet spot for your cham’s basking spot. No more adjusting the distance of the light, or hanging the light from the roof, or propping the light up on a brick. Guru Tip: It really is worth it to buy the reptile-specific heat lights instead of the generic hardware store lights. We like the Zoo Med Repti Basking Spot Lamp, $9.99 for a two pack on Amazon. *note: these dimmer switches do NOT work with UVB bulbs, only heat bulbs.
6. Laser Temperature Gun: These are an indispensable gadget for getting the heat gradient just right in your chameleon cage. Etekcity Laser Grip is worth the $17.88 on Amazon. Those stick-on analog thermometers are almost useless, because the temperature must be taken throughout the entire enclosure. You will be amazed how the basking spot can be 10 degrees difference just over a two inch area. A heat gradient is so important for a chameleon to thermoregulate. For example, you may need the basking spot to have a maximum threshold of 90F, but you also want there to be an area that is 75F for your chameleon to cool off if he gets too hot. A laser thermometer will also allow you to take your chameleon’s temperature directly on the skin, you’ll be surprised to see that in a basking spot reading 80F, your chameleon will be reading 89F! Guru Tip: Your chameleon knows what temperature it needs to be, but you need to be able to provide the different areas he can go to reach those temperatures! Remember that your air conditioning and/or heating will change the temperature in the cage seasonally.
7. UVB Meter: The Solarmeter 6.2 UVB Meter, $199 on Amazon, is another indispensable measuring tool for your chameleon cage. UVB bulbs can be expensive, so you want to get your money’s worth out of them. We found that some brands last years, and some only last months. Linear tubes do not last as long as coiled bulbs. Screen on top of the cage can really reduce the amount of UVB penetrating the enclosure, suggesting that it may be a good idea in some cases to buy the 10.0 Desert UVB bulbs instead of the 5.0 half-strength Tropical UVB bulbs. If some bulbs are emitting too much UVB, you can adjust by adding another barrier of screen (simply get a hardware store to cut you some screen to size, the stuff used for windows). You will want to replace your bulbs when they start to become too weak. Guru Tip: Follow the UV Guide to educate yourself on UVB readings, and how to use this instrument.