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What Is a Chameleon Vivarium?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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A chameleon vivarium is a type of cage generally used to house pet chameleons. These exotic reptile pets usually have specific requirements for ventilation, humidity, and temperature that can vary according to their specific species. The typical chameleon needs a cage at least 20 inches (0.5 meters) tall. A screened wall or panel on the chameleon vivarium can help to ensure that the enclosure gets adequate air circulation, to help prevent skin infections. The chameleon vivarium should also typically provide a good source of UVA/UVB light, a proper basking place, and a rainfall-like watering system.

An appropriate watering system is an important part of a comfortable chameleon habitat because these lizards usually won't drink from a bowl. In the wild, they normally lap up dew from leaves. A watering device that allows water to drip slowly into the cage should usually be considered. Humidity levels can be kept appropriate by collecting and removing any excess water from the floor of the cage, though regular misting may be necessary to ensure the chameleon's comfort and health. The chameleon vivarium should also have at least one wire-screen side, so that air can flow freely through the cage, to prevent the host of fungal and bacterial infections that can affect these reptiles when they are kept in a stuffy environment.

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The ideal temperature and humidity levels of the average chameleon vivarium should usually be adjusted according to the species of chameleon housed within. Some species, such as the veiled chameleon, have evolved to a hot environment, while others, such as the Jackson's chameleon, usually thrive best in cool climates. All of these lizards are believed to do best when offered 12 hours of daily access to natural light, although adequate UVA/UVB lighting inside the chameleon vivarium can be substituted. UVA/UVB is considered essential to help the lizards metabolize the calcium they eat. Chameleons who do not receive adequate UVA/UVB light may develop serious bone disorders.

The average vivarium for a chameleon should generally be at least 20 inches (0.5 meters) tall, although some experts recommend a cage as tall as 4 feet (1.2 meters). The width of the cage should generally be at least 3 feet (0.9 meters). In the wild, these reptiles spend much of their time in trees, so they will usually be most comfortable if they have plenty of room to climb. Branches and other climbing apparati can be placed inside the vivarium.

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