It is recommend by most reputable keepers and breeders that you keep most chameleon in an open air enclousure. As far as the common and easily to obtain species this is true (panthers, veileds, jacksons).
I live in the southeastern U.S. humidity and heat here nine months out of the year is not a problem with the veileds I keep. So I went with a four sided screened enclousure. The humidity in my house these months rarely drops below 60% these months which is right in the range of 50-75% recommended with veileds.
I feel that with these larger species it is imparitive that the front and top be made of some sort of screening. This helps maintain a proper convection air flow and helps to dry out moisture in a safe manner so that bacterial build up does not occur. The remaining sides either should be screen, wood or something along the lines that you will see dart frog owners do in their terrariums.
I do not know of what keepers do with smaller species like a brookshire. So I really would not even know how to comment on their husbandry.
Its not only recommended. It's a do it or don't get a chameleon. You can't do this halfway. If you don't follow all the guidlines cause they are just too ''hard'' for you to do...then don't get a chameleon.Humidity ...temps...food...misting....plants...all these things are designed to keep your chameleon alive. If you get lazy about these things you risk your chameleon dying.
It depends on the species of chameleon you are referring to. Most all species of chameleons require screened cages and it is a must that you use them or the humidity levels and heat can be way too much for them. However, there are smaller species of chameleons such as Brookesia's, Rhampholeons (leaf chameleons) and other smaller species that require a natural terrarium type of habitat that needs glass types of enclosures with screen tops or some of the terrarium types that have glass doors that open with a screen top as well. These types of smaller chameleons forage in the soil, hide under logs and leaves and need higher humidity levels.
So when considering different types of species of chameleons, check about their recommended specific habitats prior to purchase =).
I want to add, which ever style of cages you go with, I personally think, there are much better materials than "glass". So if you do opt for a solid side enclosure, then the sides don't have to be glass.
Ok thanks guys.. I have a Veild and i am having problems keeping the hunidity up... even with misting and with a humidifier. I was thinking about making a cage out of acrylic and screen. maybe bottom back and sides out of acrylic with little holes drilled in it every so offten and then the front and top or of screen. That is why i am asking these questions i have herd that some people dp keep them in a tank. I am in Michigan and it is going to be getting alot colder here soon so I was thinking it might help to keep the heat up and also the humidity up.
A nice Idea for the sides of the cage is Peg board (Board with little holes for hanging you tools on the wall). You may be able to make panels that will attach to the sides and back of you cage for the winter months. I personally have a solid back on my cage and it helps a lot with keeping the humidity up. My humidity averages 60%-70% (70-80 when mister is on) which is perfect for my veiled. There are a lot of creative Ideas to construct a "Perfect" cage for your conditions and cham.
Will what other types of materials are you talking about? I am always looking for new Ideas to incorperate into my design that I am working on. I plan on making a new cage this winter. I dont really need a new cage, but I have a lot of ideas I want to use in this new enclosure.
Re: the comment on screen cages..."It's a do it or don't get a chameleon."...I beg to differ. If you live in a northern climate, it is very possible to keep a chameleon in a glass cage.
I live in Canada and have been keeping chameleons for 20 years. When I first started, I kept them in glass cages, melamine-lined cages with glass fronts, etc. They usually had screen lids, but I even kept some in glass cages with fish-tank lids....and the chameleons lived quite long lives.
Some people in Europe are also keeping them successfully in glass cages and have been for years. They face the same problems that I face here in Canada....cold/cool temperatures and poor humidity.
If you live in California or Texas or Florida, etc. then of course I would not keep them in glass cages.
Before you jump down my back for it....for example, my veiled females and C. chamaeleons live to be at least 6 and the male veileds live even longer. The veileds reproduce and the babies do well and have lived and reproduced too. I haven't had a C. chamaeleon, veiled or panther to the vets for many years. (I have had some of the WC's to the vets, but....they came in with the problems.)
My cages now have three sides of glass and the lid and front of screen....which works well for the veileds and the panthers....but I'm seriously considering changing the "montane" species back to 4 sides of glass and screen lids.
Many people say that there is no airflow in glass cages, but with the lights on one side/end there is. I have no mold and have never had a respiratory infection in any of my veileds or panthers. (I keep WC chameleons of other species and they have sometimes come into my care with an infection....but as I said they came in with the problem.)
The other main complaint I hear about using glass cages is that the chameleon constantly sees its reflection in the glass....well...I've had no problem with that either. If they were bothered by it, I'm sure it would lead to health issues/early deaths.
With all screen cages, its more difficult to keep the humidity up and its also hard to keep the cage warm. I don't want to have my chameleon have to sit under the basking light to keep warm. I want them to be able to roam around.
So IMHO...the type of caging used depends on the climate you live in and on providing the chameleon with an environment that it can live well in.
"It's a do it or don't get a chameleon.".
Are you serious?? If keeping my chameleon has taught me anything, it is that there is not just one correct way to do things! I think you can start with the well recommended all screen enclosure, but just be ready to possibly have to make some necessary adjustments as you go along. Everyone has different needs depending on their chameleon, location, house, room, , etc., and I think it important to find your own balance that works for you. Here in Alaska, I too have a huge problem with keeping humidity up, in our house during the winter months, all nine of them, the humidity level stays at a whopping zero, unless someone is cooking pasta or taking a shower. It isn't much better in the summer either. Awhile ago I changed my veiled chameleon's all screen enclosure to have three solid sides. I used plexiglass that I found at the hardware store sold in perfect sheets of 24x48. The top, bottom and front of the cage are still screen so there is plenty air flow to dry up any unwelcome nastiness that would like to hang out in there. I put in an automatic misting system and swapped out the utility sink base for a washing machine liner (*ahem* thanks Heika for the idea ) so that the 5 gal. reservoirs for the misting system would fit under the base. I am very happy with the way the enclosure has evolved so far and I am able to keep the temperature and humidity levels exactly where they need to be, that to me is conquering a huge goal. My chameleon's skin looks a lot better than it did before and he seems to be thriving, as well as the plants. I have never noticed a reflection from the plexiglass, maybe I got the cheap stuff that looks more like plastic than real glass, but in this case I am happy I did. Who knows, I will probably change his enclosure a few more times down the road as people find new or better ways to improve husbandry for their chameleons. I might find a better way to set things up on my own by experimenting, it's a constant learning experience and as long as you are able to make adjustments to the enclosure when it isn't working properly it can be a fun, rewarding and enjoyable ride.
I live in Michigan which has the same weather as southern Canada...i have screen cages...the humidity is at 65-80%. With the use of humidifiers and misting you can keep screen cages at proper humidity levels...even in the winter.
Last winter I used two humidifiers in a small sized room, hand misted many, many times a day and used plants to help hold in moisture.... didn't work for me. I sure am glad I found something that does.
You can utilize a back wall that will hold in moisture perhaps three walls if you are up to building a cage.
The first picture: Obviously not a chameleon enclousure but you can utilize the same technique. Siliconing cork bark to the back of an enclousure will add a bit of style and is usefull in retaining moisture.
The second picture: This technique will require a little bit more on your end. "Great Stuff foam insulator" or equivialent. You spray on the back board and quickly dump the mix you want on top before it is cured. Going back over any spots with black silicone and a reapplication where necessary. You could use coco fiber, straghnum peat moss, sand either one by itself or mixed alltogther. When planning out the back wall you could also put in planters and foam around them to secure them. You could buy some "stuff" and experiment on smaller things around the house before you invested a lot of time into it to see if you like it or even want it. In some situations you could get some run off. I personally would not use an acrylic cage these are just examples and could be applied to wood.
Neither Camomile T or I said not to use screen cages. We both said that there is not just one correct way to do things.
By saying do it or else...you are giving people the impression that there is only one right way to keep chameleons. To me people should do what works. If the chameleons are living a long healthy life and reproducing and the babies are able to live long healthy lives and reproduce healthy offspring, then there can't be anything wrong with the way they are being kept.
How long have you been keeping chameleons? How long do yours live? Have you reproduced them into second generations?
As long as the requirements of the chameleon are met: ie Light, food, temp, humidity, etc. Who cares how you do it? That is the whole point and that is where the argument is comeing from. Many keepers keep Chameleons Many diffrent ways, all with success. One setup may work for one person, but not the other. The Screen Cage design is recomended because it is the easyest to do with great success. Other enclosures will work but require diffrent attention. If it works use it. If it doesnt, you need to change something.