In America, glass cages are frowned upon. In Europe, glass cages are encouraged. Why is this? Because of climate.
A Partial Glass Cage may be necessary depending on your climate. In Florida, you can keep any chameleon you want – heck, you can even keep it outside almost year round. Heck, some chameleons are even invasive in Florida! However, in North Dakota, you might be better suited to something a little more hardy, and you definitely cannot keep them outside. In a single Province in Canada, such as British Columbia, there are multiple climates – Vancouver has high humidity but can get quite cold during winter, and the Interior is dry with extreme winters. Still, chameleons can be kept anywhere on Earth if they are provided the proper environment. Some chameleons do better in glass than others. You may need to adapt your caging throughout the seasons – Screen in the summer, Partial Glass in the winter. There are also different grades of ‘glass caging’. This is to say, that a simple glass fish aquarium is not suitable at all for a chameleon – there must be airflow from the sides or bottom.
What works for one person might not work for others – maybe your house has poor ventilation, or you never leave the doors or windows open for fresh air, or you blast the heat in the winter & A/C in the summer. This is why advice from the internet is not always reliable and methods must be customized to your own situation. Below, we outline a few key considerations when choosing a chameleon, and setting them up.
- Veileds are hardy just about anywhere. They are generally forgiving of temperature and humidity fluctuations, and this is why they are often recommended to beginners as a first chameleon. Since they come from hot, arid regions of the south-western Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East, they can survive more fluctuation. Yemen is much further north than Madagascar or Tanzania or Cameroon, so veiled chameleons can handle seasonal changes better than most species.
- Panthers are hardy in humid, warm climates. To keep a panther successfully indoors, you have to put more effort in than for a veiled. In a very cold and dry climate, you may even benefit from using partial or all glass caging. The most ideal caging for a dry, cold climate is 3 sides glass, and one side screen – this will still allow for enough airflow while still maintaining a ‘greenhouse effect’ from the glass to hold humidity and heat in.
- Jackson’s and other montane species do best in humid, temperate climates. All montane species come from misty mountains that can get quite cool. They also experience more seasonal changes than their Madagascan relatives because they live on mountains and highlands, where weather is cooler due to elevation. This is like a nice humid room temperature. A partial glass cage is beneficial if you live in a dry, cold climate. If you live in a hot climate, you must use more screen so airflow keeps the temperature stable.
A glass cage in the wrong climate, or a poorly designed glass cage (such as an aquarium) will cause a greenhouse effect. The Greenhouse Effect (when applied to glass caging) is when humidity + heat get trapped in a small enclosed space, turning a glass cage into an oven. When using glass caging, always use partial glass and ensure proper ventilation measures are taken.
One helpful gadget is to use a small computer fan, such as the Xilence Fan available on Amazon, which is sleek and quiet. This will circulate air efficiently, and can be used on a timer. Again, it depends on your climate for how often your fan will need to be on during the day. We recommend 5 minutes ever 2 hours. A regular fan is NOT a substitute for a small computer fan – a large house fan will cause too much airflow, drawing moisture out of the environment and dehydrate your chameleon.
To get some ideas from one of the best in Chameleon husbandry, here’s an article on the matter by Chris Anderson: http://www.chameleonnews.com/10JulAndersonGlass.html