Any 'open air' enclosures being used here?


Established Member
I posted this on CCIC, but it appears somewhat quiet around there. I'm hoping for some responses here as well.
'Open Air' enclosures? Anyone else using this? Not truly a 'free range' set up as the chameleons are actually confined to a smaller space rather than a full size room, but similar principle.
'Open Air' as in 'no' screen or glass sides, back, or front. Just a non climbable short 'wall' around the perimeter of the enclosure just high enough to prevent climbing out.
I'm contemplating something like this for a harem of quadricornis. (The only species I'll focus on until I can afford a pair or trio of parsonii :D )
The perimeter wall will be made from 1/4" glass, around 18" high, which will sit on a same size, formica topped, cabinet that I'll fabricate to hide the drip basins and humidifier. I'll build a 'floating' canopy (suspended from the ceiling by wires) over the top to house the lights and the misting system. This canopy and all cords will be out of reach of the chameleons but close enough for the heat from the lights to be affective.
I'm thinking that if I do this right, there will be no way for them to get out and it will provide 100% unubstructed viewing. The perimeter will be large enough that even if the chameleons should 'fall' out of their basking tree, they will still land within the 'wall'.
I think I will place this near, but not right next to, a North/East facing window for some natural indirect early morning sunlight as well.
A glass perimeter should keep the quads and any loose feeder insects inside the enclosure since most can't climb smooth glass ;) .
The issue with this set up will be with keeping humidity high enough, but I think that with a humidifier and misting systems, both on repeat cycle timers for short periods throughout the day, will do the trick.
I'll try to post some drawings of my idea soon.
Thanks in advance for any tips and/or constructive suggestions.
It actually sounds, in theory, like a pretty viable idea.
I'm anxious to view your plans. Questions: where do you live? Would you be able to have that window open (just screen) for natural sunlight to actually effectively bring additional UVB source into the space?
Is it cold in winter? Even with the window shut, that will be a challenge when trying to maintain suitable temps. Do you have any other animals in the house that could cause harm to your chameleons?
There is actually a lot to ponder with this idea, but, as I said initially, it does sound viable.
Keep us posted.

I'm still new to this, but I do have only 1 suggestion. I'm not sure about quadricornis, but I know my veiled DOESN'T like glass at all. Sometimes he sees his reflection and will actually get in a pissing contest with it.
I solved that issue by putting a backdrop behind the glass, and it worked out fine.
It probably won't be an issue though as your wall will be close to the ground, and most chams usually stay up in the tree's. Just my 2 cents though.

As far as forums go though, this is my favorite one out there, and I've yet to read something from Brad that hasn't been informative
Hello guys and thanks for the replies.
I live in a suburb SouthWest of Kansas City Kansas.
The window that would be near to this enclosure unfortunately doesn't open. Its a large solid floor to ceiling pane. However, I am in the process of building their outdoor screen enclosure as we speak so that these quads will be outside whenever weather permits. This inside enclosure will only house them during Winter and hot summer months. I'm fanatical about moving my chameleons outdoors whenever possible.
Temperature inside the house shouldn't be a problem, even in the Winter, since we keep our house at 70 degrees during the day and I think that the spotlights will help keep the enclosure area at about mid 70's during the day with a night time drop to around 60-65 degrees. Its possible that near this window, temps could potentially drop down in the upper 50's. But, I believe these to be just right temps for quadricornis.
In regards to other pets....I did take that into consideration as well. My wife does have a 'tea cup' chihuahua puppy, but I will build the 'wall' plenty high enough that it couldn't possibly get into the enclosure (the thing is only 3 pounds and about 4" tall:)) Its a very passive little girl and I think she would run away from any chameleon showing a threatening display :)
I'll definately watch things closely for several days and I'll add to the perimeter height if needed.
I think the base cabinet will be at least 20" tall to allow for the humidifier and drip basins/buckets. Add to that another 18" of glass and I doubt the pup will be able to get in.
I'll hope to draw out the plans to some scale over the weekend and I'll try to post them for review.
Thanks again for the comments!
Here's what I have planned:
Enclosure will be roughly 5, maybe 6 feet wide and 3.5 to 4 feet deep. The base cabinet will be 20 inches tall and the glass perimeter wall will be 18" tall.
The canopy will hang anywhere from 6 to 8 feet above the bottom enclosure (depending on how tall the trees are) and will house an appropriate wattage basking bulb angled in towards the center (maybe a 150 watt metal halide :cool: ) along with three or four 48" flourescents mixed with reptisun 5.0s.
I may place the two to three misting nozzles hanging down from the canopy or coming up from the bottom of the base cabinet. Not sure which will work better and look nicer just yet. That will take a bit more planning but I do plan on at least two fine mist nozzles within the enclosure.
A humidifier will be housed in the base cabinet with disguised PVC 'vents' coming up and into the trees and plants. This will take a bit more planning as well, but the focus will be on hiding the PVC that brings the mist into the enclosure.
I'll be using birch wood (heavily sealed) for the base cabinet and canopy, stained a warm walnut or gunstock brown color.
The floor of the enclosure, which I'll make from water proof melamine board, will have a drain or two plumbed to catch basins hidden within the cabinet below. The 'floor' of the enclosure will be heavily 'planted' with fake ferns (just can't seem to keep real ones alive :confused:) along with a few other easy live tropicals of various sizes and colors to help hide the 'substrate free' bottom. These plants will remain in their pots so they can easily be removed for cleaning and will be kept away from the wall or be low enough not to allow for reaching the top of the glass wall.
Several ficus and/or shefflera trees and bushes of various heights will be placed in the direct center with several more live tropical plants and hanging mosses planted at their base and throughout the branches. Maybe a few fake orchids or other tropical flowers scattered here and there for some color.
What do you all think? Anyone else out there with a similar set up?
Last edited:
I think this could be really good. I think the only problem that you're going to have (maybe not) is keeping the humidity up.

I suggest that you do an experiment that shouldn't cost too much as it sounds like you already have a good bit of stuff for your chameleons. Maybe do this on a warm day or two when your chams are outside.

I say, put a number of plants together (make it dense) in whatever room this cage is going to be in (I imagine a fairly large room.) Run a couple humidifiers as planned (borrow 1 from a friend) and mist 5-6 times a day to simulate a misting system. Hang a couple of heat lamps at approximately the distance to the plants. Keep a humidity gauge in the center of the plants to maintain the appropriate humidity.

Look for two things- 1) are you actually able to maintain humidity throughout the day. (I worry that a larger room is going to suck the humidity out fast// I was surprised how much faster the humidity levels dropped in my cage with just the doors sitting open // I have screen on all sides.)

2) If you are able to keep the humidity up, is it tolerable in the rest of the room? You may not want the humidity as high in the rest of the room growing mold.(warm and wet:eek: ) Maybe the glass you have on the bottom will retain humidity better. I don't know.

The only reason I mention these things is this is a problem had with her set up. I can't remember where she got it. It had the red top hood and bottom(open air in the middle) that hung form the ceiling. This was a much smaller set up, but these were the problems she had with her veiled (much hardier than what you have.)

Anyway, just things to think about.
Good luck,
Thanks Mathew. I will do a few trials and see what kind of humidity I can get in this area. That's a good tip.
I agree that keeping humidity high enough in the enclosure, without making the rest of the room uncomfortable, will be the challenge with this type of set up.
However, I think that with frequent, but short duration, misting sessions, along with the humidifier running for most of the early morning hours and again late afternoon, will help keep the humidity up high. I will also most likely add a drip system or some sort of running or trickling water system. Not a fountain that the chameleons can soil, but perhaps one that just simply trickles a stream of water down the length of a large knarly branch that leads directly to a filtered catch basin and pump hidden in the base cabinet.
I think that even if humidity levels fall a bit short of ideal, having a constant supply of drinking water will help keep the chameleons happy and healthy.
I just love these montain/temperate species and really have no interest in any of the others that might require less humidity, so I'll have to make this work for them ;)
If all else fails, I can simply raise the height of the glass until it holds the right level of humidity.
Thanks again for the reply!
I think that if you use acrylic instead of glass, you will also have less of chance of something getting screwed up and braking. Plus, its alot easier to glue.
Thanks for the replies.
Glass at this size is much cheaper than acrylic and much easier to simply silicone together rather than bond the corners of acrylic with weldon.
When/if I should ever need to take this apart, simply cutting the silicone will also be easier and the panes can be removed individually.
I'm not worried about breakage and the glass will be tempered for safety, as well as all top edges sanded and polished.
I'm gonna start building this this afternoon.
whatever came of this project sean? Looks like a great idea; something I'd be highly interested in replicating.

\edit: oops I see you started another thread. Nice!
Last edited:
Hey guys.
Speaking of glass, does anyone know where to get rails to make sliding-glass doors for a cage? Home Depot used to sell plastic ones made by stanley, but no longer carry them. It would be for 1/4 inch glass panes.
Try other home improvement stores. Lowes, Ace, ECT... Call around before you make the drive. If that dont work you can find some for cheap on E-bay im sure.
All plate glass companies have them, and most automotive glass places have them or can get them quickly too.
Top Bottom