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Caging

CAGE SIZE

Male panther chameleons are larger, and prone to patrolling a larger harem domain. Internal cage space should measure a minimum of 18" wide, 18" deep, and 48" high. Females do not require as much space, and can be adequately kept in a cage 16" wide, 16" deep, and 30" high. In all cases, bigger is better. Mature chameleons should be housed separately, although two or more females can be housed together if the cage allows approximately two square feet of space per animal, and each has access to its own separate basking perch, usually 12" or more distant from any other. Mature males should always be housed separately, and not be visible to any other panther chameleon, male or female, in any adjoining cage, if closer than 6? apart. In such instances, place a visual barrier, such as cardboard, plastic, plywood, etc., between cages. Even if in separate cages, a dominant male can visually intimidate other males or females to unhealthy stress levels. And worry not, for chameleons are not lonely, and do not need company.

CAGE FURNISHINGS

Your chameleon cage should allow for good ventilation, so cages constructed of some sort of screen material are desirable. Aquariums are not recommended. The gauge of the screen will also help to control insect escapes. While aluminum screen works well for smaller chameleons, it can cause claw and other abrasive damage to larger chameleons. REPTARIUM ? type cages, or those with of a larger gauge, plastic covered mesh, are suitable. Some completely "open air" containment systems are commercially available, but be aware that chameleons are very prone to jump when it pleases them, as is a host of their prey.

Being reclusive, it is good to provide your pet with a plant, the foliage of which occupies 50-75% of the available cage space. This can be a tree type plant, such as a ficus or shefflera, or a vining type plant with a support frame, such as a pothos or phylodendron. While some lists of toxic plants have been published within the industry, these toxicities are almost always based on human or mammalian consumption. After years of experimentation, the authors know of no common household plants worthy of toxic concerns with regard to chameleons. Plastic plants may be used, and it is our recommendation that they be kept as simple as possible, with clean, non-textured surfaces. Additional plant support, perches, and one or more horizontal basking sites can be created using rubber coated electrical wire (8 gauge is good), bamboo, dowel, twisty-ties, etc.

The bottom of the cage should be left as bare as possible, as this will make it easy to clean. Also, your pet will graze the entire cage in search of food, and a clean cage bottom provides less hiding places for stray insects, and reduces the possibility of ingestion of non-food objects. If you are able to elevate your cage off of the floor, the chameleon will benefit, as its natural instinct is to be above danger, rather than below it.

If kept outside, juvenile chameleons climbing regular aluminum screen may lose feet and tails to common birds such as blue jays and mockingbirds. Arachnids, such as wolf spiders and black widows, will also devour hatchling chameleons. Fire ants can decimate a cage of juveniles in minutes