Chameleon Noobish Questions (Bioactive)

Hello all :wave:

I’ve been debating this for over a year and a half, and this past weekend at NARBC Arlington I finally decided I was going to get a Chameleon (panther). I found a very reputable breeder who was extremely knowledgeable, and will definitely be the person I purchase from.

I’m pretty sure I bombarded her with A LOT of questions over the weekend, so instead of stalking her business page on Facebook I thought I’d come to you lot and ask a few additional questions I have.

I plan on going the Bioactive route and will be getting the Leap Habitat 22x17x36 full enclosure kit. I wanted to see if anyone else has used them or has had one and give me some insight on the pros/cons of their enclosure. I plan on purchasing this style and kit because it comes with an programable mister and fogger and the design is very sleek.

If you do have the enclosure and are using it for a Chameleon how did you get your sticks/logs to stay up inside it? That’s another question I kept finding myself asking after looking at all their photos on their website and Instagram. To me it looks like you just stack on top of each other in a way that your Chameleon won’t budge the limbs or fall off. Is that correct?

As for anyone doing a bioactive enclosure can you send me some good resources for the correct plants and clean up crews you have currently working your enclosure? I’ve been reading a lot on different sites and have been getting mixed answers for plants.

Moving forward my husband has a few concerns about Chameleons in general. Is is true they only live for around 5ish years? I told him that males are the pretty ones (can someone please just respond and tell him I’m correct? He thinks I’ve programmed Google to tell him the same thing lol). What’s something you wish you knew about Chameleons before getting into them?

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated! I don’t plan on getting one anytime soon. I would like to be more knowledgeable and have an enclosure setup before picking up my new companion.

Thank you,
Anna K.


Hello Anna! I have never owned a panther chameleon but I did adopt a veiled chameleon years ago when I was working at a vet clinic. This chameleon had been sorely neglected and I tried my best to re hab him but he didn’t live very long after I brought him home. I was devastated because he was so very sweet.

From this experience I learned how delicate chameleons are and how easily they can become stressed from being handled. They are much more of an observation/show animal as opposed to being a hands on animal.

I think panther chameleons are gorgeous! You will get lots of advice from people other than me who know a lot more about them than I do. That’s the beauty of this forum! So much expertise and knowledge/experience here!

Best wishes to you and your husband! :lizard::blush::frog::snake:


Goodmorning Anna.

I have experience with most chameleon species, panther, veiled, and jacksons. I have some input that may be useful and i hope answers some of your questions.

The enclosure you describe is going to be a bit to small for a mature male panther. You want a 24"×24"48" all screen enclosure for indoor, or even better would be a larger custom outdoor enclosure.

If you start out getting a sub-adult or baby, you need a smaller screen cage to start and move them up in size as they grow. The reason is they spend most of the time in the upper portion of the cage near the lights, and need to be able to find their food. (Gut loaded dusted crickets)

I used Repashy superload for my crickets, and those nutrients transferred directly to my chameleons and made them super robust and colorful.

As far as the bioactive setup, the size cage you want will fill up with poop so quick the beneficial microbes and clean-up crew wont be able to keep up. A large outdoor enclosure would be more practical for this if your climate allows.

If they are kept indoors, a bare bottom, paper towels or newspaper is best substrate. It facilitates maintenance and lowers the risk of your cham ingesting some substrate while they eat. This could quickly lead to impaction. Their tongues are super sticky and sometimes pick up debris when they reel it back in, along with the feeder insects.

Hands down the best plants to use is schefflera(good for climbing and hiding) and pothos (used for cover). I would keep one large potted schefflera that sat on the base of the floor, and would hand a pothos in the upper corner that would grow downward.

When you add in the branches, vines, etc. Just keep a more horizontal approach with these items and create different levels, so the chameleon can change elevation with ease. Attach these items directly to the screen with small zip-ties and in the corners where the cage frame can support heavier items.

I trust you’ve done your research on lightning, temps, and watering so I’ll leave that to you. However, check on reptiles magazine for panther chameleon care sheets and info. I find their resources the most current up to date, and they wouldn’t publish anything that isn’t accurate.

Hope this helps in some ways. Have a great day!!


This was one of my concerns. Thank you so much for explaining this to me!
Your post is extremely helpful to me!


No problem, happy to help!

I looked over those leap habitats pretty good. Its hard to tell whats screen and what isn’t. Appears the front may be solid. Overall these wouldn’t supply enough fresh moving air to prevent respiratory problems in chameleons in my opinion. If you can find a cage that has front panel made of glass or clear plastic, and the sides/back/top is screen, you should be ok.


I’m certainly not an expert on chameleons, but my previous roommate had a baby veiled chameleon for the last few months we lived together and I helped her set everything up and care for her, so I can share what I learned from that experience.

We always just secured any branches to the solid bottom of the enclosure. We filled the bottom pan with coco husk, then put paper towels over the coco husk to avoid impaction. Then we just stuck sticks and branches through the paper towel into the coco husk (worked great when she was small, but my roommate may have had to find other ways to secure bigger, heavier branches as the cham got bigger and heavier). Zip ties and/or magnets could also be used. We also added a few magnetic feeding ledges.

I highly recommend the magnetic feeding ledges! The cham is going to want to be up high in the enclosure, so it’s nice to have a platform (or several) at that level where you can toss feeders, and the cham will be able to find them quickly.

If you live in a drier climate, I’d recommend an automatic mister. We struggled a bit to maintain proper humidity in those screen cages, especially in the winter when the air is pretty dry where I live. We eventually got a humidifier for the room, which helped. But if you live in a more humid area, that probably won’t be such a problem.


Thank you both for the insight @stalcupwayne and @jawramik :grin:


Bioactive set ups work great from hatching until about 4 or 5mo depending on how fast the panther chameleon is growing before their excessive waste overwhelms the clean up crew IME. For a full adult male panther 24x24x48 is the bare minimum sized enclosure for some of the largest males, but generally adult males will tolerate that size without much of an issue. I only have one at the moment that was so restless he required a hand built 36x36x60 screen cage before he calmed down.

For any of the Pygmy chameleon species or smaller chams in general, I know plenty of people on the chameleon forums have success using full bioactive set ups for small montane species like T. hoehnelii, the small species in the Calumma genus, or even for species like B. damaranum successfully. (EDIT: only as long as you have proper ventilation for them though as someone mentioned above, I’ve seen people use fish bubblers or little computer fans on timers to help keep stagnant air to a minimum but it takes patience and you need it set up well in advance to tweak it to be a proper environment for each species)

Good luck with your new panther, they’re such a great species to watch color up and grow.


I agree with you that the 95%+ of chameleons stress about being held, there are some friendly exceptions though if you’re lucky. My old Meller’s breeding colony had a couple of females that loved running up to my shoulders taking turns hitching a ride on me while I gave drippers/ fed all the other chams in the yard.

They weren’t stressed, but if I tried that with most any of my other chams they wouldn’t have been happy. I’m pretty sure the Meller’s were just such pigs that they placated me to get the extra dragonflies and mantis for just posting up on my shoulder behaving while I worked.


I’ll disagree with this. Our boy was lovely and friendly and often would ask to come out, he was out a lot with us. He’d even like chilling outside in the sun with us :sweat_smile:

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I’ll also add this as this is also how we had our chams viv. All bioactive with isopods and springtails. I recommend bio highly, plants etc also as they drink from them. I do not recommend paper towels at all. Our boy was in a 60x45x90cm exo terra and the clean up crew was amazing! No clue as to why people think the crew won’t clean the poop well as we never had an issue ourselves :sweat_smile: And he was in bio all his life :black_heart:

We didn’t so feeding ledges as food get out of cups. We put the crickets etc right in the viv and watched him hunt them :blush:

Males are bright coloured, females tend to be pinky!


Awwwwww! That’s amazing! I like that story! Thank you so much for sharing! :heart::blush:

Well that’s definitely different than I have always been led to believe! I suppose I should not hand out advice about an animal I have never owned! Thank you for sharing this about your animal. This makes me consider chameleons in a whole new light! :heart::blush::snake::lizard::frog:

I think until you own the animal you research online and think completely different.
I was also led to believe they didn’t like handling etc.
But Red was very friendly, he’d sit in the sun on a branch or with us, chill in the house with us, go on a roam, if he was ever in a ‘mood’, you’d tickle his chin and he was happy again! Was very cute to be fair :smiling_face_with_tear:
I do miss him, was an amazing Cham to own and we had some lovely years with him. :black_heart:


I was reading about this last night. I wish we had breeders of the smaller varities on MorphMarket.

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Me too. I had a few species of them over 10years ago, but they’ve become scare at best and CB are nearly impossible to get unless you know the people with the breeding projects going. Looking to get some myself but I’d prefer to get a couple CB and a couple WC of the same species for some insurance.

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Well you are blessed to have had him as not only was he a wonderful little buddy for you but you can also educate people about chameleons with your testimony! :lizard::blush::heart:

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