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With relatively simple modifications (such as adding some appropriate plants), the right type of room can become a great home for a large chameleon.
Photo by Rex Lee Searcey.
In general, most chameleons need very large enclosures with good fresh air circulation. Because most of them are arboreal (living in plants or trees), they need large plants to climb. Some require high humidity. Many like to be occasionally misted with water, and all need a regular source of dripping water to drink. Like bearded dragons, chameleons also need access to natural sunlight or a light fixture that provides intense, warm, full-spectrum light.
There are various types of enclosures on the market that can be used to house chameleons. But here’s an idea that’s a little different and works very well for some chameleon owners: Keeping a large chameleon in a room of its own. If you have a room in your house that meets the requirements described here, this can be fun for you and pleasant for the chameleon. This arrangement provides the chameleon with a level of mental stimulation and exercise that is hard to match in a typical cage. The owner is also able to interact more positively with the chameleon and often observe more natural and interesting behaviors than would be seen in a cage. A setup like this is a good housing option for most of the big chameleons.
Check the particular needs of the species you intend to keep for any special requirements. You might be tempted to think that because they would have the run of an entire room, you could keep two or more chameleons together. Be aware that most chameleons are so territorial and aggressive that, even in a large room, there would probably be conflict and stress.
The Room: The room should have a large window; several windows or a bank of windows would be even better. An east-facing window would be ideal, because it would allow the chameleon to enjoy the warmth of the morning sun. Next best would be a west-facing window, which would get afternoon sun. Afternoon sun can be hotter, so more care is needed to provide a cool, sheltered retreat for the chameleon. Northern exposures are not recommended because direct sunlight does not usually enter through a north-facing window. Southern exposures, on the other hand, are nice and sunny, but can create a very hot room. If you are careful to keep the room cool and have a planted area where the chameleon can retreat from the sun, a southern-exposed room can still be used, however.
Upstairs rooms are better than downstairs rooms, because there won’t be any cars, people, cats, dogs, etc. passing by the window. Such disturbances could cause a chameleon to feel threatened or uneasy. The chameleon has an enhanced feeling of height and security. The room should be one that can be kept closed off fro...