Dragon Strand Caging Systems

Pre-Production Vivarium Series

Building up the Vivarium Series of Cages

I have been working with some new designs lately that allow greater control over humidity. The basic design of the Dragon Strand cages makes this quite easy. I simply create a Breeder series cage where the front is clear PVC except for the service door which is screen. Those who have worked with vivariums before will immediately recognize the chimney effect that this creates. But just to bring everyone to the same page I’ll explain the need and the solution.

The Need for Humidity: In the wild, chameleons get a humidity cycle just like they get a heat and light cycle. As anyone who listens to my podcasts knows intimately, I am pushing for giving chameleons a captive environment as close as possible to their natural state. Of course, I am under no illusions that we could ever match the wild conditions and variety of food perfectly, but we have been able to create enough of those conditions that we are well within their range of needs. My passion is to keep pushing closer to those natural conditions. I do both outdoor keeping and indoor keeping and have turned my attention to the humidity cycle in indoor keeping. Just about all the chameleon species we keep – and especially the babies – will benefit from better humidity cycles. Yes, screen cages work, but we can do better.

The chimney effect, or stack effect, is where the air at the top of the cage is warm and, therefore, less dense. Warm air rises. This creates a draw on the air in the cage. And with an opening at the bottom of the cage this creates a natural air flow. This mitigates the problem with stagnant air, but allows retention of humidity. Note, though, that this flow of air and the replication of a breeze are two different things. The chimney effect makes sure there isn’t stagnant air. The many benefits of a breeze must be replicated using a fan or some other active means.

I am currently using Medium Wide Breeder cages in this configuration to raise up baby Meller’s Chameleons. And at the end of June 2019 I will be doing a run of X-Large Breeder cages with Clearfronts except for the service door. I will not be doing much marketing on this run. This is just for people who already know the benefits. With all the common community knowledge revolving around screen cages there will need to be some education that goes along with this product offering. With screen cages you are blasting in heat and humidity because you are fighting against the ambient room conditions and you create a short cone of heat and humidity in front of your bulb or humidifier/mister. But the heat and humidity quickly dissipates giving screen cages a huge range of margin for error. This is why screen cages are a good place to start. But when we work with enclosed cages a little heat and humidity goes a long way and we need to be more controlled on how much we put into the system. I’ll increase awareness of this husbandry and then be more vocal about these product offerings. I am going to call them my “Vivarium Series”.

 

So here are the products I will be making available at this time.

  • X-Large Vivarium Cage: This is an X-Large Breeder Cage with the main door and upper face panel clear.
  • Medium Wide Vivarium Cage: This is a Medium Wide Breeder with a clear front door.
  • Large Keeper Vivarium Retro Fit: This retro fit kit would include three white PVC panels that would slide onto an existing Large Keeper Screen cage and clear replacement main door and upper face panels.
Chimney effect in Medium Wide Cage

With the entire cage enclosed except the top and a small panel on the bottom, air is drawn up from the bottom and is released through the top of the cage. All that is needed to make this happen is the heat lamps we use as basking spots up top.

I have a couple of customers that have already purchased some of the X-Large Vivarium cages so that build is set for the end of June. I will be making a limited number for my use and whomever is interested. The Medium Wide Vivariums I will do a build probably in August and the Large Keeper Vivarium retro fit kits will be available in a couple weeks and will go out with the next round of Large Keeper Kits. The X-Large Clearfront Breeder “Vivarium Series” product page is up. The Medium Wide and Large Keeper Retro fit are in progress of being made up. If you are interested in either of these just email me.

The next step, of course, is to create the substrate trays necessary for effective bio-active substrates. These are in process….

If you are interested in buying more than one at a time we can ship in multiples of two. Click the link below for bundles packages of the cage and the trays.

Bill Strand has been involved in captive breeding of chameleons for almost four decades. He has bred reptiles and amphibians at the hobbyist level and at the large-scale commercial level. In 2002 he established the successful Chameleons! eZine (www.chameleonnews.com) with Ken Kalisch and Don Wells. He led the South Bay Chameleon Keepers group in Southern California and is the host of the Chameleon Breeder Podcast at www.chameleonbreeder.com.

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