Bedding or substrate is not one of the most concerning issues when setting up a home for your chameleon but it does matter. Due to the high levels of humidity that are required in the tank of a chameleon, it is important to use the right type of bedding. In most cases, this should be something that is porous.
Introduction to Chameleon Bedding Material
Chameleons are relatively complex pets and whilst not the most difficult exotic animal to care for, is certainly not the easiest. That being said, if you have the right set up and arm yourself with the correct information, you will find that even a beginner can successfully care for these color-changing lizards.
There are many things that you will need to think about when setting up a comfortable and safe home for your new pet, one of these is the bedding. There are other reptiles for whom you can use a wide range of beddings, but when choosing the right bedding for your chameleon, there are several things to think about.
In this article, let’s take a look at what is the best bedding for a chameleon and how to go about choosing.
What Is Bedding?
You will sometimes hear bedding being referred to as substrate but they are one of the same. In short, this is something that is used to line the bottom of the enclosure and is commonly used in the care of many reptilian species.
Do I Need Bedding For my Chameleon?
As we have already mentioned, bedding is not one of the major concerns when creating a home for a chameleon. This is because these animals are tree-dwelling and will spend little to no time on the floor of their enclosure. Unlike some other lizard species that will use the substrate to burrow and dig, your chameleon will not display this behavior. That being said, many pet owners would still insist on lining the bottom of the tank as a way of absorbing moisture.
However, if you do use a substrate, for this reason, it is essential that you change it regularly because if you don’t, the trapped moisture can encourage the growth of fungi and bacteria; neither of which are conducive to the health of your pet.
What Is The Best Bedding For A Chameleon?
If you have decided to line the bottom of the tank then one of the best things that you can use is paper towels. These are affordable, easy to come by, and perfectly serve the purpose of soaking up excess moisture. In addition, they are also very easy to change unlike other types of substrate.
However, there are other things that you can use, and depending on what you prefer, you might choose bark, moss, coconut husk, or eco earth.
With this in mind, there are some things that you will need to think about before making a decision.
- Any substrate or bedding that you use must be non-toxic. This is one of the first things you should think about before deciding on the material. Some bedding options may have been chemically treated but because the material will be going into a humid environment, there is a risk that some of the chemical residues could transfer into the air. If your pet breathes this in, it could cause a whole host of problems from illness and physical deformity to death, in the worst cases. Be sure to purchase bedding that has been specifically designed for pets and not an all-purpose product.
- The material of the bedding is important, as we have mentioned. In the main, substrates are either wood-based or soil-based and for the chameleon, a wood-based material is preferable. Some of the best might be coconut shavings or cedar.
- You will want to look at how easily the bedding clumps. When your pet does his business, there are several substrate choices that will clump in the area where the pee or poop lands. This isn’t a massive consideration but it will certainly save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to cleaning.
- Speaking of cleaning; there are some bedding materials that are designed to resist mold and kill bacteria. This is a great way to keep the enclosure as clean and healthy as possible for your pet and is especially useful if you cannot get to the tank to clean as soon as your chameleon goes to the toilet.
Pros And Cons Of Using Bedding For Chameleons
As with anything, there are reasons for and against using a bedding material for chameleons and it is worth weighing up these options before making a final decision.
There are many reasons that using a substrate is not necessarily mainly because your chameleon won’t use it and so it might merely be seen as an unnecessary additional cost when these animals are not the cheapest to keep in the first place. Furthermore, since the digestive system of the chameleon is so delicate, it is common for them to suffer from impaction. This is when a solid piece of matter gets lodged in the system and if the animal accidentally swallows some of the bedding, this could cause issues.
You might also think about the potential for bacteria build-up which could cause some serious health issues for your pet; costing you extra in vet bills and causing the animal unnecessary distress. Of course, not using bedding will also mean that the enclosure is far easier to keep clean. If you opt for paper towels, these are easy to remove and require no additional cleaning.
However, many people like the look of a substrate on the tank floor, and there is no denying that it looks good. But it could also serve as a way of maintaining the humidity within the tank. Any natural materials that are used in the enclosure will promote and stabilize humidity. What’s more, since your chameleon is going to need misting multiple times a day, having some bedding in place will prevent water from pooling on the base of the tank.
Finally, if you own a female, she will lay eggs regardless of whether she has been in contact with a male; of course, they won’t be fertile. However, when female reptiles lay their eggs, they generally like to do so in the soil. This is a good reason to provide some sort of bedding, even if you do so in a dedicated laying tray.
Chameleons are popular reptilian pets and are one of the most interesting types of lizards thanks to their ability to camouflage by changing their color. It is for this reason that so many people want to take one on as a pet but it is important to remember that correct care should always be employed.
One thing to consider is whether to use a bedding material to line the bottom of the tank. Chameleons don’t need a substrate but some owners like to use one to help with the humidity of the tank. However, it is important to choose wisely because the type of material you choose will depend on the hygiene of the tank and how easy it is to clean.