Size & ventilation of the cage

Große Parsons Terrarien

Size

The final size of a chameleon cage has to comply with the needs of the future inhabitant, not the other way round. Please pay attention to the species’ acitivity as well as the possible total length of the chameleon. For example, Furcifer lateralis is a very active species that benefits from large cages despite rather small body size. Furthermore, it is important to know whether you want to keep a terrestric species (Brookesia ssp.) or an arboreal species (Calumma ssp., Furcifer ssp.). The latter need cages that are higher than broad.

For one panther chameleon, we recommend a basic size of 80 x 80 x 150 cm (width x length x heigth), but the cage may of course be larger than this. In females, the cage may be a little smaller. Vut there are a lot individuals among panther chameleon females, too, who fully exploit the potential of generous spaced cages.

Often, you will find “rules of thumb” such as “height of the cage = x time of the body length”. These mostly come from an old assessment about keeping reptiles from 1997.  Despite the fact that it is outdated by far, these are only minimum dimensions. For aboreal chameleons, these rules suggest a cage with the following size: 4 x 2,5 x 4 times of snout vent length (SVL, length of the animal from the tip of the nose to the cloaca). For an adult panther chameleon with a snout vent length of 20 cm, but a total length of 40 cm, these suggestions would mean a cage with 80 cm length, 50 cm width and 80 cm height. These dimensions are ridiculous small and far away from species-appropriate keeping in captivity. Thus, suggestions like these must not be a guidline for private chameleon keeping that wants to imitate nature as close as possible and as species-appropriate as possible. They rather make a borderline for working contrary to animal protection issues.

Ventilation

Gazedeckel bei einem Aluverbundplatten-Terrarium

Gauze top of a self-built cage

Chameleons are fanatic about fresh air which is caused by their special lung antomy. Too small ventilation areas or wrong equipment lead sooner or later to long diseases that are difficult and tedious to treat – and often lead to the death of the chameleon.To prevent this from the beginning, ventilation areas in chameleon cages should be chosen very generously. Generally, the whole top of the cage should be made of aluminium gauze, which also avoids the chameleon reaching the bulbs installed on top of the gauze (read more about this topic here). Additionally, the cage should have a second large ventilation area that seizes at least 2/3 of one cage side. The standard ventilation slots beneath the sliding doors and inside the top are not enough! It is also not sufficient to drill some holes along one side or beneath the cage door. Due to lack of sufficient air exchange, we do not recommend the use of fans instead of large ventilation areas.