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For many years screen cages have been the way to, go to keep chameleons, and some may think glass enclosures are some to avoid at all cost.
I think that is because many years ago, fish tanks were used to make terrariums; chameleons were poorly kept like this. This IMO is where the confusion is between “glass” or “screen” started.
Nowadays, with many studies, technology and research on keeping reptiles at its best, companies have developed “glass terrariums” specially designed for reptiles, which IMO works great for chameleons. They come with a front door and a ventilation portion at the front, top and sometimes sides of the terrarium.
I highly recommend a glass terrarium when possible to keep a chameleon for the following reasons:
They keep humidity and temperature stable for longer, this means less misting periods, and lower heating demands. When you spray your cage, there is no mess around the cage, with the screen, water can be sprayed to the surroundings, like your wall or furniture.
Easy to maintain and use as a bio-active enclosure, allowing you to put hydro-balls, your substrate of choice, live plants, etc.
They look fancy. So if you have to put your terrarium in the living room, for example, it can be nicely decorated, and they look great.
CONS: They are heavy, so once decorated it could be challenging moving around. Cost, getting glass terrarium is almost the same in cost as a screen cage up to a certain size, say “medium” (16x16x30″) if you need to get a bigger enclosure, glass can be a little bit more money that screen.
These are also for chameleons, they are lighter weight, easy to maintain, and larger sizes could be cheaper than a glass terrarium.
If you are using a screen terrarium, is highly recommended covering the sides and back walls of the cage, preferably with white plastic. Usually screen cages are made of black screen, which does not reflect any light to the interior of the cage, making it darker and hard to illuminate properly.
I have observed many panther chameleons react negatively to the lack of good lighting inside the cage and never show their colours, keeping dark colours all the time, imagine how discouraging this is for a keeper to have a dark panther chameleon. I have observed that when you change the sides and back of the cage to white, by covering with corrugated plastic or even white garbage bags, all the light is reflected inside, and the chameleon starts displaying their normal colouration.
These are great if you are still concerned about the “airflow” but you also like the neat, elegant look of glass. We found a supplier with fantastic hybrid cages, they are all glass, BUT, 3/4″ of each side is black screen, giving you the perfect air flow of a screen cage, but having the neat clean look at the front of a glass terrarium. The best part is that in terms of cost, these hybrid terrariums are NOT significantly more expensive than the other two options.
In conclusion, glass, screen and hybrid terrariums a great options for chameleons, and is just a matter of what you prefer, what you can find and maybe about what your budget is.
At Chameleons Canada we have a nice selection of the three options available, check them out at the Supplies Section of this website or send us a message if you have any questions about our new line of terrariums.
AVOID at all cost to use of an aquarium to keep a chameleon, because they don’t have the proper airflow needed for them to thrive.
Remember, glass aquariums, ARE for FISH, NOT for chameleons.