Can You Use A Bird Cage For A Chameleon? {3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t}

Do you have a bird cage lying around and wish to use it for your chameleon? Will your chameleon be safe in a bird cage? In this article, we’ll find out if a bird cage works for chameleons and dive into other alternatives.

Can You Use A Bird Cage For A Chameleon? No. It’s simply unsafe with bird cage bars being too wide. Your chameleon can easily get its feet caught in between the bars. We recommend an open air reptile enclosure instead. 

Why Can’t I Use A Bird Cage For My Chameleon?

Your chameleon is susceptible to getting injured in a bird cage. It is simply not designed as a shelter for a reptile to thrive. Here are three possible concerns:

  1. wide bars are dangerous
  2. unable to offer live insects
  3. rust or damp humidity on bars

1. Wide Bars

It will be easy for your chameleon to get its feet caught in between the bars of a bird cage. You can try to line the walls with chicken wire or screen mesh, but there are no guarantees for its safety.

2. Live Insects Will Escape

Offering crickets or other live insects to your chameleon in a bird cage allows for ample room between the bars to their meals to escape. Your chameleon may try to catch the food as it leaves the cage and could get its limbs stuck in the process.

3. Rust, Dampness & Humidity

Bird cage bars could get rusted easily, making them unhealthy or unsafe. The dampness or humid weather around the bird cage could cause the bars to get slippery. Your chameleon will still desire to climb these bars, but could slip and fall.

How Do You Choose A Chameleon Cage?

A chameleon’s cage is an enclosure designed for the purpose of keeping a reptile in captivity. This is not a traditional pet situation for you to open and close the sheltered space throughout the day.

You can build one, buy one specifically for a chameleon and choose from many options on the market. You would like the cage to keep your chameleon’s odds of escaping at zero while also limiting the chances of live food such as crickets from crawling out as well.

Make sure the enclosure is:

  • ventilated
  • well-lit with UVB light
  • contains a thermometer or temperature control
  • allows for drainage
  • escape-proof

Can I Use A Glass Cage For My Chameleon?

Glass cages are heavy, expensive and not suitable for chameleons. There are many reasons why this may not be the best option including the following:

  • poor ventilation 
  • reflections may fool your chameleon
  • lime scale buildup
  • increased odds of injury
  • lack of drainage


A poorly ventilated enclosure creates humidity and traps in heat. Your chameleon may also end up with respiratory problems.


Your chameleon may get fooled by its own reflection and think there is an intruder in its territory. Stress may result and your chameleon may retreat of try to attack its own reflection.

Lime Scale

Lime scale may build up on the glass. You may notice a white lining or crust on the glass walls. It’s difficult to remove and unsafe for your chameleon.


If there is a fly on the other side of the glass, your chameleon may hurts its tongue trying to catch it. Chances of bumping into the transparent and unforgiving walls also lead to injured limbs, head and spine.

Improper Drainage

The glass seal may not allow for the water that we spray on chameleons to drain out. The enclosure will build up humidity and an unhealthy pool of water on the bottom will develop.

There are glass cages built for reptiles to address some of the concerns above. A DIY glass cage built from a fish tank is not recommended. There are better alternatives including netting cages.

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Why Should I Use A Netting Cage For My Chameleon?

Netting is the safest and most common way to enclose a chameleon. They provide:

  • comfortable ventilation
  • allows light to come in
  • great drainage capability
  • easy to clean
  • light and easy to carry
  • comes in many sizes

They may not look as beautiful, but rest-assured that netting cages work better than bird cages or glass enclosures. You can choose screen mesh instead of netting if you wish.

What Is the Best Chameleon Cage?

The best cage for your chameleon depends on size and suitability for your space. It should be ventilated and allows for drainage.

A cage should be at least 18”x 18”x 36” (45cm x 45 cm x 91cm). The screen ceiling of the cage should allow for UVB rays to enter. Search through multiple options and read reviews based on experienced chameleon keepers.

Do Chameleons Need An Open Air Cage?

Open air enclosures are recommended for chameleons. Make sure the bars are not too wide if you are trying to use a bird cage or something that is not designed for a chameleon.

You may have to line the walls with screens or netting. The bottom of the cage could have reptile carpeting.

You can use coconut fiber or reptile bark. Make sure to place branches that encourage your chameleon to explore without relying on latching onto the walls of the cage.


Bird cages are not recommended for chameleons. Their food can escape and in a worst-case scenario, so can your chameleon!

The bars are simply too wide and dangerous when you consider the width of their limbs getting caught in between. Netting cages or screen mesh cages that are well ventilated with plenty of UVB light able to seep in from above are better alternatives.


Thank you for visiting for all your informational needs surrounding chameleons and other reptiles. We invite you to stick around and check out many of our articles concerning any pets that you are interested in. Your chameleon is one of our favorites! See you soon!