Chameleon Cages

A Comprehensive Guide to Chameleon Cages and Habitats

In the Wild a chameleon might have miles to roam in any given direction. Though in captivity as a pet, it may not have the same ability. Choosing a cage or enclosure to fit your pet and it’s needs is an important part of caring for it. This is what you will learn in this guide:

  • Different types of cages
  • Requirements for each enclosure
  • How to set it all up
  • AND MORE....

Habitats, Tanks and Terrariums

Before getting a new pet, it’s important to properly set up their habitat so that they can settle quickly and feel comfortable. Although chameleons can seem difficult to keep, you can easily meet their needs by offering them a few things. No one wants to get greeted first thing in the morning by a grumpy animal!!! Before setting up an enclosure, there are a few basics that you should meet.

Accomplishing this depends on the materials, size, personal preference, and the species. When it comes to enclosures, there are many options available in the market. These include screen cages, vivariums, glass terrariums, screen combos, acrylic combos, and glass combos. Alternatively, you can build your own cage from any pet safe materials that you choose.

Although chameleons are quite unusual, so many people admire them. It is not every day where you see a color-changing, sticky-tongued, creature with some very peculiar feet! They are not quite like any other pet, but they can be quite an attraction in offices and homes. While some people prefer to build their own cages, it’s very important to have the correct information.

By learning about types of cages and how they interact with environment characteristics, you will not only provide them with what they need but also keep them happy and healthy. Here are some things to consider when picking a chameleon cage:

Lighting

When picking a cage, make sure it is lighting capable. In terms of lighting, it is imperative that the top of your pets enclosure is screen. This is so, because chameleons need UVB lighting. This UVB light is necessary for the animal to avoid bone disease and adolescent deformation. The UVB lighting does not travel through glass. Because chameleons are exothermic, they rely on light for them to be active. They need both the UVB and Heat lamp to stay happy and healthy.

Misting System

With a screen top you can cut what you need to supply your crawly creature with an automatic misting system that will mist at intervals throughout the day. Likewise, you can always spray your chameleon by hand 3-5 times a day anywhere between 20 – 60 second intervals depending on your cage size, size of your chameleon, and the amount of plants and foliage that is covering the inside of the habitat.

Decor

This includes vines, branches, and plants where your pet will spend its time. Ensure that you pick a cage that will provide enough moving space for your animal. Though chameleons may not show it, they want to have some fun too! You also need to provide walkways for the pet to pass through from one plant to another. You can use fake plants, branches, and vines as a more convenient way to create an environment for your pet to relax. On the other hand, certain live plants may be a good option. Live plants hold more humidity than do fake plants, they also are edible by your chameleon.

Ventilation

You ever just roll your windows down in your car and enjoy the fresh air hitting your face? Your chameleons feel the same about their fresh air. As living things, chameleon’s need a constant supply of fresh air. You, therefore, need to pick a design that is as natural as possible and that provides constant fresh air. What I like to do with my chameleons, is have at least two open sides of the cage, not including the top to provide sufficient air flow.

Screen Cages

Recommended for Warm Climates!!!

While glass holds a lot of moisture, screen is better because it allows for more air movement. The best way of providing adequate ventilation for chameleons is having a cage that has at least 2 screen sides, more effectively three sides. However, when looking for the best one you need to choose one with a good drainage strategy. Whether drippers or misters, chameleons need their water to move from the top to the bottom. The bottom of the enclosure should have a platform that collects excess humidity to ensure the tank does not get too wet.

The best of all is that screen cages are very easy to clean as you do not have to wash them everyday. There are days when you can just decide to wipe and dust them and you are good to go. And last of all, screen habitats are perfect for a more temperate climate. Chameleons can survive in as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 95 degrees. So if you live in southern California a screen cage with a nearby open window will keep your little friend very happy! With hybrid cages, you can control humidity and weather more efficiently by controlling the amount of ventilation depending on the current.

Hybrid Cages

Recommended for Cold Climates!!!

Instead of conforming to one particular style, hybrid enclosures use the best of both worlds. For example, the door and the side panels can be in clear acrylic and the back in a custom background to give it a professional and a classic appearance. Hybrid cages, therefore, has all the characteristics of both types of enclosures. Since every specie is different, you should choose the type of materials that you want to use based on your circumstances.

Hybrid tanks generally feature a mix of acrylic, glass and screen sections. Some of these cages may even have glass panels that can be slide up and down whenever you want. If your weather varies a lot throughout the year hybrid hybrid cages are the way to go. With less screen sides, the humidity and temperature is more easily controlled.

Can Chameleons Share Their Terrarium?

After successfully keeping one chameleon, you might ponder giving him a friend. Although it’s possible to keep more than one chameleon, different chameleon species require different caging. These creatures are very solitary animals and do not like to share their cage. They do not even like to look at each other. So in most cases, it’s even recommended to place them far away from each other so as to avoid stressing your pets. Most chameleons get stressed very easily, which can lead to health problems down the road. Even if your pets are not aggressive they may intimidate each other in other ways. They are not social but there are some that can be put together. These include juveniles and special species that can exist very well in communal cages. Most chameleons are also solitary in the wild such that they only come together to reproduce or to defend their territories.

Small Cages (0 - 4 Months)

When looking for the best enclosure for an adolescent, there are a number of things to consider. These include levels, gradient, heat, and UVB. The properties that an adolescent chameleon requires are heat, exposure, humidity, and UVB. These are very important for the pet to take care of itself within the confines of the cage. It’s, therefore, important to develop what’s suitable for it to live comfortably within the cage. Remember, an adolescent chameleon is still in the process of developing, hence, is very much prone to stress especially when some of these conditions are not met. Remember, regardless of the type, every adolescent chameleon has its own personality hence should be given a feeling of security. Unless you have multiple adolescents in a single enclosure, it is recommended that you put your adolescent in a smaller cage. This is because, it will find it more comfortable to move about the cage, including thing vines and easy branches to cross from side to side and up and down the enclosure.

Medium Cages (4 - 8 Months)

If you are keeping chameleons, the worst thing to do is to keep babies in adult cages. A baby chameleon should be kept in a smaller enclosure to make eating, basking, and drinking less difficult. Also, it will make its movements from one point to another a lot easier. However, in case the chameleon is healthy, strong, and closely monitored you can safely keep it in an adult cage. Baby chameleons are also very much sensitive to the quality of UVB light which is essential for growth and bone development. Without quality light, your baby chameleon is likely to develop deformities, slowly die, or develop a condition known as metabolic bone disease. Apart from this, you should also expose your baby chameleon to as much natural light as possible. Remember that once baby chameleons hit 6 months, they should be kept alone since they are solitary animals.

Large Cages (Adult Chameleon)

Whether males or females, chameleons prefer to stay alone. Introducing another chameleon to the same cage may cause them to suffer from stress. This might eventually make them stop eating and drinking. When you keep adult chameleons it’s very important to have this in mind. You should also avoid buying a cage with reflective glass on its sides as it may see it’s reflection and get stressed. Up to a certain extent, The bigger the cage, the better. This is because they normally need a rather large enclosure in order for them to be able to move around freely and get some sort of exercise. As an adult, your pet is able to a lot more self-reliant. They prefer a lot of space, yet plenty of foliage. This gives your chameleon a chance to hide and feel a sense of security if it gets stressed. With the excess plants and shrubs, means it will hold a lot more moisture. This might create a breeding environment for fungus and bacteria. Your adult chameleon cage should be made of mesh or screen that will allow air movement and reduce chance of stagnant humidity. An adult cage should be at least 48 inches high and 36 inches wide. To help with the heat it is recommended to have two sides of the cage made of glass if you are living in a seasonal area. When building your adult cage avoid using bark, sand, gravel or dry moss since your pet may ingest them and have serious health issues.

Common Chameleon Enclosure Mistakes

When it comes to selecting chameleons habitats there are some mistakes that you might make that could end up affecting your pet. These include:

Choosing the Wrong Cage Type

Although some people think that a cage is cage, if you choose the wrong type, your pet chameleon might end up very uncomfortable or majorly stressed. When searching for one, you cannot just settle for any kind because every chameleon has specific needs that have to be met.

Keeping Multiple Adult Chameleons in One Terrarium

As compared to other animals, chameleons are not social animals, hence they should not be kept in one cage. When selecting a cage, avoid choosing one with an aim of keeping two or more in the same environment.

Choosing an Enclosure that Lacks Ventilation

Even more so than most living things, chameleons need to stay in an environment that can provide them with enough ventilation. Therefore it is very important to make sure that your cage has enough ventilation. Without enough circulation of fresh air, your pet will not be comfortable and may suffer from health conditions and eating disorders.

Ignoring the Importance of Lighting

Just like we said before, it’s very important for the pet to get enough light, both natural and artificial (UVB) to aid in the development of its bones. Without this, it may slowly grow weak and become unhealthy.

Enclosure Set-up Checklist

If you are a handy person building your cage is very cost effective, and you can customize the enclosure in any way you like. When it comes to setting up a chameleon’s terrarium there are a number of challenges on the materials that you can use and the ones that you cannot.

Here is how to set up a chameleon cage:

  • Decide on the type of habitat - When setting up a chameleon’s cage, you can choose either free range habitats or vivariums. While vivariums are much more traditional, free range habitats provide them with enough room to move around. If you keep other pets you need to consider having a vivarium.
  • Include a window - Windows are a perfect source of natural light and air flow. North facing windows are not the best because they will not allow for direct sunlight into your home.
  • Add artificial sunlight - For them to stay warm, chameleons requires a basking bulb. If you cannot house your pet in a room with natural light you need to provide an artificial source of light. Install both basking and ultraviolet light on top of the cage where your pet can easily access them. The basking bulb is also important since it helps the pet to regulate its body temperature. Also, place a climbing object so that your pet can easily access it. At night, ensure that you turn off all the lights.
  • Install the necessary drainage - If you want to include a stream of drip wall in your cage you need to connect the bottom of your tank to your drip wall. Alternatively, you can mist the vivarium with a spray bottle daily to ensure that the pet gets enough water.
  • Lay down a substrate - This is the bottom layer of the cage that the animal will walk on. There are many options that you might choose including orchid bark, coir bricks, or mixture and shredded newspaper. However, avoid gravel, sand, or bedding that traps a lot of moisture. When you realize that your substrate is damp or soiled, change it immediately.
  • Add a natural touch - Adding a few vines, artificial plants or faux rocks will make the cage more comfortable for the animal. Including plants is very important since chameleons prefer to get their water from dripping leaves.
  • Cover the Top - It may seem really obvious but believe it or not it happens. In order to prevent your pet from escaping you need to secure the top with lid. The best top is a screen material that allows for the most air flow.
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