So you’re researching what you need to have for a pet chameleon and you’ve reached the part where you need to decide what cage is best to house your pet in.
What is the best chameleon cage? The best chameleon cage is one with screen sides measuring 24x24x48 inches. An all-screen cage with 36x18x36 measurements is also acceptable. Screen sides allow for more effective airflow and ventilation which are essential for your chameleon’s health.
What you need to know when buying a chameleon cage
The first thing to realize when buying a chameleon cage is that the selection available on the market is extremely limited.
Sure, there are plenty of reptile cages available but only a small selection is appropriate for a chameleon. This is mainly due to the size of the cages on offer.
Size and space
The size of the cage is extremely important for a chameleon’s health and well-being. Many cages available on the market are too small.
As I mentioned at the start of the article, the cage size I recommend is 24x24x48 inches.
Height is the most important aspect when choosing an appropriately sized cage because chameleons spend 99% of their time up in the branches.
In captivity, they will regularly be climbing up to their basking spot and then back down again to thermoregulate their body.
Chameleons in captivity also need to be able to climb as high as possible. This allows them to feel safe and a lot less stressed. The tallest cage possible placed on a table is perfect for this.
Another reason I recommend this size is it provides enough space for plants at the bottom of the cage, lights at the top and plenty of vines to climb on in the middle.
There are really only two types of material to consider when buying a chameleon cage. Glass or wire screen.
Personally I recommend screen. This is for several reasons:
- Price – Screen cages are always significantly cheaper than glass cages.
- Size – The minimum size I mentioned earlier is not really commercially available in glass. Sure, you can get smaller sizes but this is not recommended for large chameleon species.
- Ventilation – Chameleon cages need good air flow to properly ventilate their humid environment. This reduces the risk of respiratory infections and other illnesses.
- Weight – Screen cages are a lot lighter than glass ones and are much easier to assemble.
- Temperature/Humidity Regulation – It is much easier to prevent overheating in a screen cage than it is in a glass one. A glass cage is probably better for maintaining humidity levels but it is just as easy to maintain the required levels for panther and veiled chameleons in a screen cage.
The main advantage a glass cage has is it offers better opportunities to get a clearer view of your chameleon inside its habitat.
There is a hybrid cage available on the market though and this offers the best of screen and glass in one cage. I will discuss this later in the article.
What do chameleons need in their cage?
Before buying the cage it’s a good idea to know what you need to put inside it to help your chameleon thrive.
I’ve written a more detailed article on this topic complete with recommendations here. The quick version though is:
- Live Plants – These are essential for maintaining your chameleon’s humidity level and for climbing on. They also make the habitat more natural looking and help create a beautiful looking enclosure. I don’t recommend fake ones as sometimes your chameleon can eat them.
- Branches and Vines – For your chameleon to climb and perch on.
- Heat lamp – Essential to allow your chameleon to bask and thermoregulate their body.
- UVB bulb – Needed to mimic the sun in captivity so your chameleon can create vitamin D3 and prevent metabolic bone disease.
- Thermometer/Hygrometer – Needed to monitor both the temperature of your chameleon, the cage, the basking spot and to ensure humidity levels are adequate.
- Timers – These make life a lot easier by automatically turning the lights on and off.
- Mister – Not essential but can make life a lot easier for you.
- Fogger – Again, not essential but great for peace of mind regarding water levels and humidity.
Best Chameleon Cages
The cages listed here are chosen because they are the best ones on the market that match the size requirements I recommend for a chameleon.
My #1 Pick: Zoo Med Reptibreeze Open Air Screen Cage XL
This cage is the absolute best all-round cage suitable for your pet and has been my preferred choice over the years I’ve been keeping chameleons.
It’s my number 1 pick because it ticks all the boxes for what you need.
First of all, it matches that all important size I keep talking about. I really can’t stress enough how important it is to get the correct size cage for your chameleon.
It’s an all screen cage too so perfect for air flow, ventilation and preventing over heating.
The cage arrives flat pack and is very easy to assemble and is readily available on Amazon.
My Glass/Hybrid Pick: Repti Zoo Glass Terrarium 24x18x36
As you know I recommend a screen cage but a glass cage is fine too and this is my number 1 pick for that.
Repti Zoo have really come on leaps and bounds in the last few years with their product offerings and this enclosure is proof of this
The dimensions are the minimum I would choose for a large veiled or panther chameleon but still good enough for them.
Available on Amazon, a combination of price, sturdiness and size are what make this an excellent choice for those who want a glass cage for their chameleon.
What makes this cage really special though is the ability to switch between screen sides and glass depending on personal preference and the temperature and humidity of the room the cage is in. This is a superbly innovative idea unique to this particular model.
The top of the cage is a screen mesh too making it perfect for heat and light to get through to your chameleon.
The bottom of the cage is water-tight, perfect for keeping all that water that gets sprayed in the cage from leaking out.
My alternative pick: Exo Terra Screen Terrarium
This is a nice and simple alternative to the other two already listed.
It’s another screen cage only this time the size is 36x18x36.
While this cage could be a little taller it’s not so short that your chameleon won’t be able to climb high enough, especially if the cage is on a high table.
It’s a nice alternative for those who want some breadth to their chameleon’s cage and for who want something different to the standard tall cages on the market.
It too is available on Amazon and it too comes included with a substrate tray at the bottom for easy cleaning.
Chameleon Starter Kits
Before wrapping up I wanted to mention chameleon starter kits like this that are available on Amazon.
It’s tempting to get a starter kit like this for your chameleon because it’s got everything you need to start off, right? Well, not quite.
I don’t recommend buying kits like this for a couple of reasons:
- The lights – These starter kits come with a dual heat lamp and UVB lamp. It used to be that these small UVB lights cause eye problems for chameleons and that they don’t get enough UVB rays to your chameleon, something critical for their health.
These issues have apparently been corrected now but I still wouldn’t trust it. I strongly recommend instead you get a strip UVB light and a separate heat lamp.
These are much more effective and have the added benefit of lighting up your chameleon better so you can see them more clearly.
Have a read about what lights are needed for a chameleon in my article here.
- Artificial plants – These aren’t bad on their own but some chameleons like to eat plant matter and eating a plastic plant has too many bad consequences I won’t go into here.
The fake plants that come with this kit also weirdly have suction pads on them. Good luck sticking that to a screen mesh!
Stick with real plants that look better and provide humidity benefits for your chameleon.
Some people are very happy with starter kits and yes it is an OK way to go but you’ll need to buy at least a separate UVB light as the one that comes with it are not adequate.
I recommend instead getting the reptibreeze chameleon cage and getting lights, thermometer, plants, etc separately. Sure it may cost a bit more but it’s better for you chameleon in the long run
To wrap up
I hope you found this article useful in helping you to get the best cage for your chameleon.
The choices are limited because these are the only ones I can recommend that match the best cages most suitable for your chameleon’s needs. Meeting these needs right from the get go will make your life a lot easier in the future.
Plus, less choice makes it easier for you to decide.