Reptile Enclosures – Glass Or Screen

A glass enclosure is better for your animals as it holds in moisture. No! Screen is better as it allows more air movement through the enclosure!

For the past couple of years this debate has been raging at the reptile shows I’ve been vending at. As the focus has been on maintaining crested geckos I have been very interested in this topic and have kept an open mind (and closed mouth) listening to the discussions.

Well, last year I decided to take the debate a step further. Knowing this question would be posed to us in the future by customers, I had to be able to answer this question with an informed, intelligent and most importantly, helpful answer. I am a believer in gathering facts, comparing results, trying something different, going out on a limb- finding out for myself rather than buying into a concept whole heartedly. There is so much information on the Internet and, that gets discussed at reptile shows.

So… I had one small space available in the facility and was contemplating adding a couple large setups for leachies. Instead, I went out and purchased 4 screen enclosures measuring 18″X18″X24″. The plan was to set up 4 separate pairs of crested geckos, maintain and breed the groups, and compare the results.

Obviously, before moving forward, I had some thoughts on what to concentrate on. Ease of maintenance (feeding and misting), ease of cleaning, ability to hold humidity, and finally which setup- glass or screen- the geckos preferred. Ok, so that last one would be based more on my perception than from first hand accounts. reptile show this weekend

Before keeping any geckos in the enclosure, there are some points to consider in the selection.

Screen tanks come in two forms- aluminum and mesh screening (ex. Reptarium). The mesh screening setups are about half the cost of aluminum screens (which are a bit lower in price than glass enclosures). I selected the aluminum cages although I use the Reptariums for chameleons and love them! I found the screen enclosures easy to setup and best of all very easy to move from one location to another. Another point you should consider is that the aluminum screen cages can be stacked on top of each other as they open from the front. This is important if, like me, lizard real estate is a precious commodity. Finally, screen enclosures are weigh far less than glass tanks. This is important if you are considering building racks to hold setups 2 high. With glass, you will need to consider the weight of multiple tanks. With my 4, I used a low to the ground wooden TV stand I found at a garage sale for a buck.

Having setup the 4 enclosures on my beautiful stand, I loaded each with one large artificial plant, plastic plant ground cover, and finally a humid hide. Pairs were introduced to each other and that was the last I saw of each for several weeks as they hid in the fake foliage.

Since it was springtime when I moved the 4 groups, and you know what men’s fancies turns to in spring- yes, that’s right baseball and fishing- observations were limited to quick feedings and mistings. I did notice that I could mist the screen tanks straight on or higher in the enclosure whereas with the glass enclosures with the screen tops, mistings had to come from above only. Not a big issue but something to consider.

Spring became early summer and one day, while checking the humid hides in the new enclosures I discovered eggs! This rekindled the desire to compare the two setups. Back to the task of misting. It would be difficult to put a check next to the screen setups in their favor to hold humidity. I found that within hours the enclosures were mostly dry. The glass tanks stayed moist for about a day. It was apparent the geckos would not benefit as usual by lapping the water from leaves in the enclosure. As a means to ensure they were getting drinking water, I included water dishes in each setup and make sure they were always filled with fresh water

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