Summary: Maintaining Your Chameleon's Hydration Systems
Keeping Systems Clean
The most important maintenance point to our water systems is keeping them clean. This is quite simple if it is done on a regular basis. If your water systems are cleaned every week or two then you will be able to have a hygienic system. This includes the misting system water reservoir, fogging systems reservoir, dripper “tank”, and fogging tubing. If done on a regular basis, rinsing with a mild dishwashing solution, rinsing very well, and then drying should do the job. With chameleons we have the advantage that our hydration equipment is outside the cage and is not exposed to feces or feeder insects. We do not promote the recirculating drinking fountains sold for chameleon use here, but if you do have one of those then you will need to be on a daily watch for contamination.
Misting System Issues
Misting systems can have a variety of issues that go along with maintaining them. Hooking up a misting system is a great move because then the burden of daily hydration is taken care of. Though it just shifts the demands on your attention from daily concern to daily checking to ensure that things are still working. The misting systems are generally pretty reliable these days (there was some growing pains in the past) so there should not be much work beyond making sure the water basin is clean and filled. The most common things that need to be fixed are the pump needing to be primed and mist nozzles getting clogged with mineral deposits.
Pump is running, but mist is not coming out
The Mist King and CliMist pumps are diaphragm pumps and can have difficulty when there is air in the system. You’ll know your system is in need of burping if all the connections are in place, the pump is running, but the nozzles are only sputtering.
Simply disconnect the tubing from the pump output, run the pump until water comes out and then hook the tubing back on. This is much less messy if you put a bowl under the output to collect the water and you can turn the pump off immediately after getting water out so you can hook the tubing back up without water being sprayed all over.
Low Mister Pressure: Dealing with clogged nozzles
If you find that over time, your mist nozzle stops giving you the mist pressure you expect then it could be that your mist heads are getting mineral deposits and are getting clogged. This is the result of using “hard” water. Generally, urban chameleon keepers run into this problem if they use tap water in their misting systems.
To unclog the nozzles, remove the nozzles and soak them in white vinegar overnight and rinse them well afterwards. I discourage using any sort of pin or tool to poke the hole because it is very easy to widen the misting nozzle hole and compromise your mist nozzle operation.
The best approach is to use Reverse Osmosis water and not use hard water in the first place.
Moisture outside the cage on walls, floor, or furniture
Once the cage is in place and has been running for a while you may find moisture where it is not welcome. It could be anywhere from the walls behind the cage to the floor in front of the cage. Anywhere the mist or fog ends up after it passes through the cage is a problem point. Dealing with this issue once it is detected is pretty simple. If the wall behind the screen cage is moist from misters then hanging up a straw/bamboo mat (or plastic sheeting) behind the cage will block errant spray. A mat in front of the cage to catch billowing fog is also a good additional to your cage set-up.
This seminar is part of the introductory course Maintaining Your Chameleon Cage which, in turn, is a module within the even larger Term 1: Getting Started With Chameleons.