Should You Set up a Free-Range Reptile Habitat?
Free-ranging is a growing trend among chameleon owners. Many chameleon keepers have chosen to devote part or all of a room to creating an open habitat for their pets. Free-ranging is especially beneficial for larger chameleon species, but any chameleon can enjoy this type of dedicated setup.
If your home has the extra space to create a free-range chameleon habitat, it might be time to consider this option for your chameleon husbandry. Let’s take a closer look at the rewards and risks of free-ranging for chameleons.
Rewards of Free-Ranging for Chameleons
- Giving chameleons more space to roam allows you to mimic their natural habitat more closely, which also means you’ll be able to observe much more relaxed behavior from your chameleons. Let those personalities shine through!
- An open environment makes chameleons more comfortable than being in a cage. Even overly aggressive or anxious chameleons usually become calmer when they don’t feel trapped by a cage.
- A larger environment to explore gives chameleons more exercise, which helps them maintain a healthy weight and muscle tone.
- In an open environment, chameleons can self-regulate their needs and adjust based on their condition, just as they would in the wild.
- More space allows you to get creative about using live plants.
Risks of Free-Ranging for Chameleons
- Creating a free-range chameleon habitat requires some do-it-yourself modifications – especially to lighting and plumbing – so if you’re not handy, you could end up spending a lot of money to hire a contractor.
- As you know by now, keeping chameleons hydrated is one of the major challenges of chameleon care. For a free-range habitat, you’ll have to set up a misting system just as you would do for a cage, but on a much larger scale. You’ll also need to find ways to protect your room’s walls and floor from the moisture and additional humidity.
- You’ll need to be hyper-alert to the fact that chameleons may be able to escape from the free-range environment. It’s a good rule of thumb to create a barrier that prevents chameleons from escaping and wandering around in the house. Because it’s smooth and seamless, stiff acrylic sheeting can work well as a fence around the perimeter of the free-range area.
- Free-ranging can be dangerous for chameleons. If you have other pets, or young children, make sure to keep them away from the free-ranging area. Also, when setting up the habitat, make sure it is chameleon-proof, and that there are no sharp items or exposed electrical wires that could hurt your pet. When you enter the room, make sure to look before you step, as well. Chameleons like to hide, so if you’ve provided lots of plant cover, you may not be able to find yours right away.
Is free-ranging the right choice for you and your chameleon? In next week’s post, we’ll explore tips for setting up an indoor free-range chameleon habitat.