Screen Cages vs. Solid Side Cages for Chameleons

Chameleon cage rack breeding system

Screen Cages vs. Solid Side Cages for Chameleons

Chameleon Cages, Rack Breeding System

The Dragon Strand Breeder Series cages are designed for arboreal reptiles and amphibians.  The Breeder Series combines solid PVC sides and back with screen front and top.  Breeders of herps such as Rhacodactylus (New Caledonia Geckos), Abronia (Mexican Alligator Lizards) and Phyllomedusa (Monkey Tree Frogs) are already familiar with screen/solid side blends.  These cages are also excellent for breeders of chameleons.

What is important about screen cages?

When introduced to the Dragon Strand Breeder series of cages, a common question from chameleon keepers is about the solid sides. This is a very good, valid question and rightfully asked. Common wisdom in the chameleon community is that chameleons need screen cages. Why would an experienced chameleon breeder put together a line of cages that were not all screen? Chameleons and other arboreal herps need fresh air and temperature gradients (gradient = hot at one end and cool at the other – the chameleon chooses where he wants to be). The enclosure construction, if it provides the right conditions, is immaterial. This is why a number of breeders are successful in large glass vivariums that are fully enclosed. They are successful because they know how to balance the environmental conditions. The danger of a glass vivarium is that air can get stagnant (trapped). Trapped air means trapped heat and it is easy to overheat your chameleon by making the entire aquarium a sauna instead of having a nice temperature gradient to choose from. The fact is that a screen cage is the most forgiving and provides easy chameleon housing for beginners and experts alike. And, for this reason, I both recommend the all screen approach and offer the Keeper Series all-screen  products.

A Hybrid Approach: Best of Both Worlds

What about the Breeder Series cages? As much as the solid sides and back give chameleon keepers pause, the reality is that these cages are, for most intents and purposes, screen cages. With the entire front and top being screen there is no area in the cage which can trap air. There is plenty of ventilation. The ventilation along the entire height of the cage also means that heat from a heat bulb will dissipate along with the air flow giving the needed temperature gradients.

Hydration and Visual Isolation

The Breeder Series was designed because breeders and keepers with a groups of chameleons have special needs when it comes to hydration and visual isolation.  As hydration is critical, many breeders with a large number of animals put their cages on automatic misting systems and do not want to worry about water damage in the room.  That said, these cages would appeal to individual keepers as well for the health of their animals.  If keepers use a spray bottle for hydration, but don’t want to get water outside the cage in their house, their watering may be more conservative in how they mist.  The chameleon could easily not get enough water. Other keepers, noticing the mist overspray issue will kludge up a shower curtain around their cage to hold in the water. The solid sides in the Breeder Series allows you to spray to your chameleons’ heart’s content without worrying about the sofa and it looks a lot classier than a duct taped shower curtain!

Visual isolation is self-explanatory. Every breeder reading this page has stories of what they put between chameleon cages for visual isolation. Wood, sun shade, a plastic sheet, a strung up hefty bag (?!), and the list goes on. Once the fully-screen cage is modified up you can very well end up with three solid sides anyways!

Brighter Environment

An added benefit is that you will easily notice a brighter environment if you are switching from full screen over to the Breeder Series cages. The solid back and walls keep the light inside your cage and result in a more efficient use of light.

Easy “Branching”

And, as a final bonus, with the specially design branch holders, getting a horizontal perching branch in the cage is simple.  Just insert your branch or vine into the holes or around the holder and you are set.  Zip ties or hot glue can anchor the branches if need be.  The cage is designed for branching horizontally – which is what chameleons like!


The Dragon Strand Breeder Series cages are spray friendly, visually isolated, light efficient and even make branching easy. I designed a caging system that I want to use in my breeding room that combines functionality with aesthetic appeal.  This is the result of three decades of creating a myriad of different caging schemes from the cheapest to the largest.  For indoor keeping, the Breeder Series is the best combination for long term success.

Best Success on Your Breeding Project!

Bill Strand


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Chameleon Cage Selection Guide



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