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In last week’s post, we discussed the many benefits of taking your chameleon outside on warm, sunny days. Chameleon keepers who are lucky enough to live in warmer climates – and don’t mind getting a little bit crafty – may want to consider building an outdoor cage for their little friend. Here are some ideas for how to accomplish that.
Constructing a Portable Outdoor Cage
If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, building an outdoor cage may sound pretty intimidating, but you can easily get all the materials at your local home improvement store. Recommended items for your shopping list are a wooden planter box, potting soil, plants that grow well in your local climate and an outdoor misting system or kit. To ensure maximum portability, attach wheels to the cage to make it easier to move to shadier areas when the heat of the day reaches its peak.
If you do choose to build your own enclosure, keep your size in mind. The enclosure should be large enough to allow the chameleon plenty of room for exercise. If you’re short on space, remember that height is always more important than width for these little climbers. Putting a cage on a table or hanging it can also make a chameleon more comfortable. Any and all rough, exposed edges must be covered with wood, silicone or plastic tubing to prevent injury.
Design your cage to account for predators such as birds, raccoons, snakes and larger types of lizards. Using metal hardware cloth or screen will keep your precious pet safe from being carried off and eaten.
Natural Greenery Is Both Beautiful and Practical
One benefit of creating an outdoor habitat is being able to use outdoor plants. Of course, using potted plants is always an option for those who lack a green thumb, but you can craft an even better experience by growing a natural plantscape for your chameleon to climb in and hide among. The thick plant growth also creates natural shade, and the dirt floor of the cage holds moisture for additional humidity, which is important to keep your chameleon hydrated.
The easiest way to create a habitat with natural greenery is to buy or build a wood planter box, fill it with dirt, then place a standard screen cage over it. Use screws to secure the cage to the planter box to keep it from blowing over.
Be sure to use plants that do well in your local weather conditions, and always do your research to make sure all the plants you’re using are nontoxic for your chameleon. If you’re not sure what to plant, ask at your garden center or home improvement store.
Planting in layers can not only lead to a more attractive habitat, but can also give your chameleon more variety when it comes to hiding places and things to climb. A good rule of thumb is to use smaller ornamental flowering plants at the top, large, leafy plants in the middle, and lush, shade-loving plants on the bottom.
If you choose to take on the challenge of building your own outdoor chameleon habitat, the results can be rewarding for both you and your chameleon friend.