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UVB and Heat

Discussion in 'Chameleons' started by Johnny, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Johnny

    Johnny Elite Member

    Hey all you chameleon people,

    My girlfriend wants a chameleon (most likely a veiled) and I'm thinking of getting her one, but since I'm not too experienced with herps, and chams have the reputation for being even harder to take care of, I'm being a little paranoid...

    Ok, so, I've read that mercury vapor bulbs are good because they provide UVB/UVA *and* heat, but I was sort of wondering... If the chameleon wants to move to the cooler side of the enclosure, to get away from the heat, would they still benefit from the UVB? Or would the UVB only be making an impact when the cham is very close to the bulb, like when he is basking? Since the appropriate size for a veiled's enclosure is 2x2x4, I was wondering if this was too big for one mercury vapor bulb to handle.

    Also, could a juvenile cham be kept in the adult sized enclosure its whole life?? Would it enjoy all the space and greater potential for more foliage/hide spots, or would it feel too exposed, thus leading to stress??

    Ok, last, but not least... Do you have any recommendations for where to get a good screen cage from? Since I have ZERO experience with these I want to get the best one possible, since the design seems inherently flimsy.

    Sorry for sticking three questions into one post, but I *really* wanna get this right for her, so she'll know exactly how to keep her new friend healthy.
  2. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    As far as I know, Chams need low-level UV exposure. They are not a basking-type reptile. So be sure to adjust UV accordingly.
  3. Johnny

    Johnny Elite Member

    Hmm, I figure that any reptile whose metabolism doesn't function at peak efficiency around room temperature would have to do some sort of basking to raise their body heat. This gives me something to look into. Thanks for the uv recommendation, I'll keep that in mind when deciding what bulb to buy.
  4. JoeMasturbaby

    JoeMasturbaby Well-Known Member

    I actually have a veiled cham.

    I recommend mercury vapor as well for that same reason. The bulbs I use are the Exo Terra SolarGlo, they provide the perfect temps in my 2x2x4 ft. screen enclosure. I rest the bulb on the top about 1 ft. away from the highest vine, just so it doesnt get too hot for Rocko (my cham). If the bulb rests on the top then the UV should benefit the cham from anywhere in the enclosure (though keep in mind different bulbs have different power/range).

    as for young chams I couldnt help you. I got mine when he was 5 months old and he was pretty **** big, so I just got a 2x2x4 enclosure from the start. You could just look into chams that are a little older (got mine for 40$ at a reptile show straight from the breeder).

    I got my 2x2x4 ft. screen cage off of a vendor on Amazon: Jumbo (XXL) Screen Reptile Habitat Cage - U.S.A. made: Kitchen & Dining

    Shipping was fast and Set up was a little confusing, but easy to fix if you mess up.

    I also recommend getting a digital thermometer probe, the infrared ones. You just push a button to take readings off any surface. In a 4 ft. high enclosure you kind of need it. Saved me so much money on thermometers for my other herps too!

    hope all that helps!
    if you have any more questions feel free to post them. There are a few other users on here with more experience with Chameleon care as well.
  5. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

  6. Johnny

    Johnny Elite Member

    Thanks for all the answers, Joe.
    The mercury vapor bulbs did seem pretty friggin' convenient, but the bulbs I'm seeing are rarely less than 100 watt. I'm pretty sure if they were placed right on the top of the screen enclosure it would get too hot real quick, but at the same time, I'm thinking if I keep the bulb elevated, I'll be losing some of the distance that the UVB will be effective at. Any thoughts?

    Thanks for the link, but for some reason it takes me to a blank screen. I'd blame it on my computer, but all the other caresheets on here work fine for me. Does it work for you?
  7. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Link worked for me.

    Here's a quote from, considered an extremely reliable source for Reptile UV studies:

    "Rainforest Species
    Rainforest species such as some types of chameleon naturally avoid any such high exposure. They need UVB, but at much lower levels. Fig. 8. This Globifer's Chameleon seeks out dappled shade Their more sensitive skins manufacture all the vitamin D3 which they need from brief periods of basking early and late in the day, and the diffused and reflected ultraviolet light permeating the rainforest shade. All species of chameleon have different requirements, but authors vary, too, in their recommendations. The one scientific study we are aware of addresses egg hatchability in Panther Chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) and the authors suggest that a low level of UVB (a gradient between 15-33uW/cm² as measured with a Solarmeter 6.2) supplied for 12 hours a day is optimal. High levels are seen to be harmful.14,19 Our experiences are similar to these findings; one of the current authors maintains gradients of up to 30uW/cm² in all his chameleon vivaria."

    Here's the page: UV Lighting for Reptiles: How much UVB do reptiles need?
  8. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    As far as a screen cage goes, its incredibly easy to make one yourself and you dont need any building skills or power tools. This is pretty much the way I did my veileds cage but instead of the hog rings I just wove wire in and out of the joining edge.
    Build Your Own Chameleon Lizard Cage
  9. JoeMasturbaby

    JoeMasturbaby Well-Known Member

    the 100 watt works perfectly from that distance for me. And ive taken the temps from the closest area to the bulb and its ok for him to sit there. They can get to be too hot, thats why you always got to check the temp and the 100 watt would be too much if it wasnt for the distance between the highest climbing point and the bulb. Also like you suggested, you can always just raise the lamp higher if its too much. Also the UV shouldnt be a problem with that distance.
  10. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    You also have to remember that a screen cage will not hold heat in the way a solid walled cage will.
  11. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    Weird, the link works fine for me...
  12. Johnny

    Johnny Elite Member

    Tried it at work and it worked just fine. I guess my personal computer got fed up of all the chameleon junk I've been looking up lately. Thanks again!

    Those links were really informative, Dominick. I had no clue that reptiles also varied in their capacity to synthesize D3 within their skin.

    At first I was a little daunted by their reputation to be hard to care for, but with all this great info I'm feeling pretty confident to take on the challenge, thanks everyone.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Veileds really aren't that difficult if you work within what they need.
    It's the folks who think they re just going to toss them in a tank and play with them every day that the trouble starts.
  14. Johnny

    Johnny Elite Member

    You know, I'm probably gonna remember this *every* time someone says that any particular species is hard to care for. Most likely they come to that conclusion after doing exactly what you've just said.
  15. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Well it isn't exactly true with every species.
    There are some animals that are quote demanding in their requirements and if everything is not exactly right they will not thrive.

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