Northern Cham Keeping

Please no flaming to this post as it is for discussion and to help others in a similar situation.

I only have experience with one cham and it is a Panther (which I feel is not even worthy of citing as an example). I am rasising him in a completely sealed enclosure (with exception to the top which is 1/2" ss screen and numerous vents on the sides and back that open and close). I am in Michigan and the room the cham is in is not climate controlled. For the chams requirements, I feel it would be impossible to obtain the correct climate in a screened cage, even if the room was climate controlled. While, at times during the summer, a screen cage would be fine (and I have one for such days) during the winters and for 90 of the year, regulating temperature and humidity would be very difficult to impossible with screened cage.

I feel that the majority of people that raise chams in screen cages do so because that is what they were told was the only way to properly keep them. Since there is little to no reference for enclosed cages, the large majority just take it as fact that screened is the only way to go. This is not to say that enclosed cages are the best for all environments (such as hot, tropical climates) but I think you get the point. With my years of researching the subject, I have found that almost nothing relating to chams is based on scientific study with large populations of chams. The best information we have right now are mostly from breeders and people that house large numbers of chams over a long period of time (sorry, I do not consider someones experience with 1 to several chams, even if it is over a period of years, to be viable...please do not take this the wrong way. Your information is very important especially to those as myself with little to no experience). The sample is just not large enough and the period of time the research took place is not long enough. That is the problem with many of the cham books on the market today (and definatley those from the past). Even though the writers may be medically trained (vet) and have had chams for a period of years, the sample they base their research off of is just too darn small. The reason why so many follow these books as gospel however is because that's all we really have to follow.

Back to your origional question, I know many that sucessfully keep chams in non-screen cages (again, this is not scientific and not with large populations, buit it does go to show that it can be done with no harm done to the cham). From what I undertand, in England the roles are reversed where enclosed cages are the majority and screened are the minority. I do believe that keeping chams in a fully enclosed cage does require slightly more work however. Ventilation is important for any animal. But when you factor in high temperatures with high levels of humidity, it becomes even more crutial. As I mentioned, I do have a screen top. I have 4 very large vents on the sides (2 on each side) and 4 vents on the back. All vents can be opened or closed. I have a fan that runs at all times. It's not pointed directly at the cage but it is enough to circulate the air. Also when I am at home, I crack open the sliding front panel about and inch or two for more circulation.

With an enclosed cage, it is probably even more important to have the ideal husbandry. I clean the floor of my cage every other day with a chlorhexidine solution. I clean the walls once a week and I clean out the mister tubes and humidifier plumbing every 2 weeks. I make sure that my hands and tools are washed every time I touch something that deals with the cham (feeders, feeder food, etc). I also clean the feeders cages every 3-5th day depending on their need. My setup is also completely digitally controlled so I know the temps and humidity are perfect 100% of the time. This may not be necessary but it is one less thing I have to worry about and it takes a ton of the work out of the equation.

So far I have had zero problems and the cham acts as a healthy cham should. I understand that what works for me might not work for may be the exception rather than the rule, but it can be done.

Not sure if this post was of help to you. Feel free to email me or PM if you have any questions. I would be more than happy to share what I have learned in my experience with you or others. I have some basic pictures in my gallery that might help. I've changed the set-up so much though since those were taken I will be happy to get you updated pictures.

Good luck!
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