For reptile owners, choosing the ideal habitat for your scaly companion is key to keeping them happy and healthy. But with so many enclosure options out there, it can be tricky to decide what’s best for your particular reptile’s needs.
Glass aquariums and terrariums are a common choice because they provide a secure and humid environment. However, for reptiles that need ample airflow and more climbing space, a screen cage is typically a better fit.
So, if you’re looking at getting a new reptilian friend or updating the home of your current one, you might be wondering:
What are some reptiles that can live in screen cages?
Arboreal reptiles like chameleons, tree monitors, juvenile green iguanas, tree and vine-dwelling snakes, as well as some geckos, anoles, and abronia all do well living in screen cages. This is because screen cages replicate the bright, open, and ventilated natural environment these reptiles need to thrive.
In this article, we’ll highlight five different reptiles that make ideal inhabitants for life in a screen cage. But before we get into that, let’s learn a little bit more about screen cages and why they’re beneficial for certain reptile species.
The Basics Of Screen Cages
Screen cages are a unique type of enclosure specifically designed to provide certain reptile species with an open, breathable living space.
Unlike solid glass tanks, screen cages are built using lightweight mesh on the sides that allow for ample airflow and visibility. This type of habitat mimics the natural treetop environment where many arboreal reptiles live in the wild.
The framework of a screen cage is often made of metal, plastic, or aluminum. The sides are then covered with a breathable mesh material that creates a safe and well-ventilated home for your reptile friend.
Compared to traditional glass tanks and terrariums, screen cages have some notable differences that make them ideal for certain reptiles.
Most notably, tanks and terrariums have glass walls that help hold in heat and humidity. This can benefit species from tropical rainforest floors that require high moisture levels and muddy terrain. However, the solid glass also severely restricts airflow and natural sunlight penetration.
Alternatively, the mesh sides of a screen cage allow for much higher ventilation and ambient light passage. This is perfect for arboreal species that live high up in trees and benefit from bright and breezy environments.
Screen cages are also lightweight and easier to clean versus heavier glass enclosures. They stand tall and provide more climbing enrichment room for tree-dwelling animals.
One downside, however, is that screen cages don’t hold heat or humidity well. This means you would need to more carefully monitor the temperature and humidity levels than you would with a glass enclosure.
When it comes to screen cages, the Zoo Med ReptiBreeze cages are some of the most popular on the market. Learn more about these enclosures and how they’re assembled by watching this video here:
5 Reptiles That Can Live In Screen Cages
Now that we know the basics about screen enclosures, let’s get into some of the best pet reptiles for screen enclosure living. From arboreal lizards to tree-dwelling snakes, these animals thrive in the open environment screen cages provide.
As arboreal lizards, chameleons live high up in trees where there is plenty of airflow. Screen cages mimic this natural environment by allowing fresh air to freely flow through the open mesh walls.
This ventilation is crucial since it protects chameleons from getting respiratory infections that they can easily develop when housed in glass tanks.
However, the increased airflow can also make maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels more challenging. This is especially important for tropical species like panther chameleons that require high humidity.
To help retain moisture, use plenty of live plants and mist the cage 2- 3 times daily (usually before the lights go on and after the lights go off). You can also cover parts of the cage with plastic sheeting, like a shower curtain, and run a fogger for a few hours at night. This is particularly helpful if you live in a dry climate.
Chameleons love to climb branches and perch themselves on plants, so the tall, spacious design of a screened enclosure also allows them to actively explore and exhibit their natural climbing behaviors.
And lastly, screen cages make it easier to provide the proper lighting chameleons need. The open mesh top gives full access for hanging special UVB and basking bulbs above the enclosure at just the right distance from your lizard friend. This allows them to bask and regulate their vitamin D3 levels needed for good health.
Overall, screen cages are ideal for pet chameleons due to excellent ventilation and ample climbing space. Just take some steps to maintain humidity levels, and both you and your colorful friend will enjoy the benefits of this dynamic habitat.
2. Tree Monitors
As natural-born climbers who love to roam around, tree monitors need tall, spacious enclosures to climb and explore. A screen cage offers plenty of vertical room for them to scamper up and down branches, giving them the physical and mental enrichment they need.
Screen cages also allow for good airflow, but that comes with humidity challenges in dry areas. Using live plants, misting frequently, placing plastic sheeting on the sides, and running a fogger at night can help retain moisture in dry climates.
Tree monitors are also skilled hunters who enjoy chasing after insects and small prey. In a screen cage, you can provide a variety of climbing branches and hiding spots for insects, making it a stimulating hunting ground for these reptiles.
Open mesh tops provide ample UVB exposure too, which is vital for a tree monitor to synthesize vitamin D3 and absorb calcium properly.
With vertical climbing and hunting space, open airflow, and healthy UVB exposure, a screen cage is a good housing option to meet a tree monitor’s needs.
3. Juvenile Green Iguanas
When it comes to raising young green iguanas, a screen cage is a great housing choice until they become about 6 months to 1 year of age and start to outgrow an enclosed space.
Unlike stuffy glass tanks that trap stale air, the open mesh walls provide good ventilation that mimics the airflow these tree-dwelling reptiles would experience in nature.
A screen cage for young iguanas also provides some key lifestyle benefits to support their health and offer enrichment. The wide-open walls offer maximum exposure to essential UVB rays for healthy bone development.
The vertical space allows these active, arboreal lizards to climb and explore in their natural way, while the mesh offers a front-row view of their climbing antics. It’s fun to watch them explore!
Open side door access also makes cleaning and feeding time easy, as these reptiles can be rather messy.
Essentially, a screen cage meets all of the habitat needs for proper ventilation, climbing enrichment, sunlight exposure, and easy caretaker access for cleaning and feeding your juvenile iguana.
4. Tree And Vine-Dwelling Snakes
Small tree and vine-dwelling snakes have a natural affinity for climbing and exploring heights, just like the other reptiles on this list. A screen cage caters to this natural behavior perfectly by providing plenty of climbing opportunities.
A snake can stretch out and move around freely when climbing on branches and vines. The cool thing about screen enclosures is that you can easily attach branches and climbing structures to the mesh walls.
Another benefit to housing a snake in a screen cage is that maintenance is quite convenient. Cleaning a screened cage is pretty convenient since you can access all corners of the enclosure with ease. This not only ensures a hygienic living space for the snake but also simplifies your role as their caretaker.
It’s important, however, to consider that the mesh must be smooth without rough edges. Otherwise, snakes can injure themselves by rubbing against it.
But overall, a well-constructed screen reptile cage meets all of the key habitat needs of canopy-dwelling snake species.
5. Geckos, Anoles, And Abronia
Some tree-loving lizards like geckos, anoles, and abronia can be housed in screened enclosures that mimic their natural tropical environment, as long as they don’t need a very high-moisture environment.
The largest benefit for these guys is the fact that the maximum air flow circulation helps to prevent mold or mildew from developing in their setups. It also stops the warm, humid environment from overheating, which can cause health issues for heat-sensitive lizards.
Another great perk of a screen cage for a gecko, anole, or abronia is the ample climbing space it provides. With mesh walls on all sides, you can decorate the enclosure with branches, vines, and foliage for your lizard to wander around and hide in just like a little jungle critter would.
And the see-through mesh also gives you front-row views of their climbing, lounging, and bug-hunting action!
So, for arboreal lizards that need plenty of vertical climbing and hiding space but not too much humidity, a spacious screen cage makes an excellent habitat choice.
So, there you have it! Five different types of reptiles that are perfect residents for screened-in cages. From chameleons and tree monitors to lively young iguanas, these scaly companions will surely benefit from their vertical open-air havens.
Keeping temperature and humidity levels just right may require a bit of extra effort, but getting to watch these reptiles flourish in an environment that closely resembles their natural habitats is worth it.