questions abuot bulting your own viv

Discussion in 'Enclosures, Heating & Lighting' started by spaceboy, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. spaceboy

    spaceboy Well-Known Member

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    hey guys! I'm researching a bit about building my own "bookshelf"-kind of thingy to keep my reptiles in. two leos and a beardie. I'm getting help from a family member who is reaaally good at building furniture but knows nothing about reptiles so thats up to me :p
    Anyway, I hope some of you with experience can help me out a bit. So I'm going to build the entire thing from scratch, not use bought terrariums to put in the shelfes. Im actually building the shelfs in wood and putting glass windows on the front side (that I can open ofc to acess the inside)
    So what I'm wondering is how do you guys make room for heat mats? Lamps and UV-lights are easy, its just to make a little space between every terrarium space.

    I'm sorry if I don't make any sence, english is my second language and its not the easiest thing to explain this project.
     
  2. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  3. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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    Hey there spaceboy,

    I think I can picture what you are trying to accomplish, but let me try to explain what I'm thinking and you can let me know if you're having other thoughts = )

    So your essentially taking a bookshelf look and adding glass doors to the front that would likely hinge open, so the cages are sort of boxes of wood that that have a front door for access and viewing....and you want to stack the cages on top of one another to make it appear like a large single unit bookshelf of reptiles...sort of like this look?
    http://www.mccarthyboas.com/3cagepicHighRes.JPG

    This wouldn't be that tough of a build, you could simply use some sort of ply like oak, stain and seal it and use that for the back, sides, bottom, and top of the enclosure. You could probably use acrylic/plexi or glass for the front. You'd also need to place vents in the back of the enclosure for some airflow due to the top being impermeable to air.

    You could either go about doing this as a large single unit or you could make each enclosure individually and build them so that they can snuggly stack on one another, perhaps by making legs that would sit into the enclosure below it or something similar. There are tons of options, I think I could drag up a couple of decent websites that describe how to make enclosures similar to these but I'll have to take a look. Here's a youtube video from repti-racks that shows an example of a cage that is meant to be stacked, its not wood but you could certainly use the same concept to make a wood enclosure out of for stacking purposes that would give you that bookshelf style:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdyH2DNCfgc

    As far as heating and lighting, you could cut a slot in the bottom of the base of the enclosures to allow for heat tape or a heat mat to slide into which would prevent the animal from coming into direct contact with the source and it wouldnt be crushed under the weight of the enclosure or smothered under substrate. It's hard to explain so hopefully you can picture it. Actually if you built each enclosure separate and used stacking feet you could adjust the height of the legs so that there is a slight gap between the enclosures to allow for the heating unit. To pvent this frint being visible on the front you could just slap some trim on there to cover the gaps... actually if you trim out the whole thing it would look really sexy. Lighting would probably need a fixture bolted up to the top of the enclosure and with the wires running out of a small hole in a corner and stapled to the top to keep them hidden.

    I apologize for this post being a little unorganized - kind of in a rush :p but you have a good idea and I'd say a build like this wouldn't be too bad
     
  4. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  5. spaceboy

    spaceboy Well-Known Member

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    thanks allot for the quick and thorough response! I love the idea about making them stackable, I hadn't thought about that at all. that would help allot since one of the biggest issues is getting the thing up 6 flights of stairs and small rooms all the way to the bedroom in a small apartment. thanks for that idea!
    But its all up to my friend who builds furniture, I don't want to give him a too big a project you know. But I'll def talk to him and ask him if it could be done :( So once again, thanks allot for the help, i appreciate every sentence! :p

    oh and btw are there any safe paints for reptiles? Are the onces that are marked safe and not poisonous okay for reptiles too?
     
  6. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  7. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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    Sorry for the delay Spaceboy, I accidentally overlooked your last question there!

    Staining it an sealing it or paint should be fine, just be sure that the have completely dried and had the opportunity to air out sufficiently before the reptile is placed into the enclosure. I'd say at least a week after the last coat is placed on if not a little longer. You should not be able to personally smell the fumes even if you're right up next to it.

    For one of mine, I ended up using stain and polyurethane (a few coats) and let it air dry completely for about 2 weeks. I then placed a particular style of adhesive tile to the back wall and cut it along the sides to give the cage a sort of unique look (rather than all wood)...kind of looks like a cage entrance. I'll try to take some pics soon, but thats an option if you don't want to deal with painting the inside of the cage.
     
  8. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  9. spaceboy

    spaceboy Well-Known Member

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    ok thanks for the tips :p I'd love some pictures!
     
  10. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  11. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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    Here's a couple of pictures of my boa cage, it's essentially a box with a sliding front door - a similar concept could be used and made to stack if you wanted to do something like this.

    And in the closer pic you can see how I used tile to create a unique look inside instead of painting it - it helped to break up the overall wood look.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    http://tinypic.com/r/2ltlbts/7

    http://tinypic.com/r/2gww4qv/7
     
  12. spaceboy

    spaceboy Well-Known Member

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    wow, that looks great! do you use a uth for it?
    and btw what lovely snake! whats its name?
     
  13. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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    I prefer using heat tape just because it's so cost effective - low wattage, cheap, and gets nice and toasty = ) I have huge rolls of several sizes so I just cut it and wire it as needed. I've got a hole for the wire to run through in the back of the cage, just been too lazy to trim off the male end of the wire and re-wire it so that it fits though...thats why you can see the cord in the front =P lol a UTH would work just fine too though.

    His name is Drake...the snake haha. He's a little Hypo Hogg Island Boa - having the hogg island influence he stays nice and small, he's probably full grown at about 4 feet in length. He's great = ) loves climbing and he uses the shelf I put in there ALL the time.

    The ball pythons on the other hand - they live in a rack system. Not as fancy to look at, but it's better for them. I've found that, strangely, I get a much better feeding response and happier balls when they are in smaller, dark enclosures. I had a young female in a 41quart bin and she was off food for nearly two months - as soon as I put her in a 16quart she hasn't missed a feed and seems much happier.
     
  14. spaceboy

    spaceboy Well-Known Member

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    hm I don't think I've ever seen heat tape in any pet stores here in sweden though. I've only seen the classic UTH and heat lamps. So I don't Think I have much choise there lol.
    Or do I find them anywhere else than in a pet store?

    haha aww :( I see! Yeah he looks like he loves the enclosure. He's like "its my turf, back off!" :p
    a real cutie though!

    ahh well I don't really know allot about snakes, I'm nore of the lizard-person you know. but I can kinda get that they like the smaller darker spaces, its more natural for them I guess?
    I LOVE all reptiles, but I've always fancied lizards more than snakes, I'm not sure why. ofc I really find snakes super cool and awesome and amazing but I don't think I'll ever keep one my self..
     
  15. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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    He does enjoy looking like a grump...LOL. But he's actually a total sweetheart, he's never shown any signs of aggression towards me or anyone for that matter. He just likes to look like a bamf up there I suppose :( and Yep! Ball pythons live in termite mounds typically in the wild, so dark tight spaces is their thing. You hit the nail on the head.

    Hmm, I'm not too sure about the availability in Sweden for Flexwatt heat tape - I'm sure it could be found but probably not as readily available as here in the states. It's really more of a conveinence for keepers with several/many animals that need this type of heat source. I can get several feet of heat tape for the price of a square foot UTH. For you, a UTH might just end up being easier to work with due to its availability and it's already wired... heat tape requires a little assembly. I typically find it at reptile shows and it's often available online at reptile supply sites.

    Honestly, I felt the same way a few years back. I always overlooked the snakes at the shows, and thought I would never get one. Then one day, I decided to really look at them, ask a few questions, hold a couple, etc and I was hooked. I've managed to amass a snake collection even larger than my lizard collection now = )

    God I love this hobby :p
     
  16. spaceboy

    spaceboy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I'll just have to solve this and use a UTH somehow. What I'm worried about is that the heat has to go through a layer of wood and then the tiles I use for substrate. But I'll just have to look deeper in to that when I'm actually gonna get helpt o start build this thing :p

    Ah yeah honestly I feel that myself, that I¨'m getting more and more into snakes also. Which is kinda scary because I already have 3 lizards, and I'm getting another one as soon as this shelf thing is done, and after that I have like 5 species of lizards and turtles and everything I want to get, imagine if the list would get even longer with all the snakes I'll wanna get too! My boyfriend would have to move out so I have room for my reptiles lol :( He loves my reptiles but you know, he has more of an eye for when its getting to be too many. which is probably a good thing though...
     
  17. StikyPaws312

    StikyPaws312 Moderator

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    3,899
    The Beanfarm ships world-wide. Here's a link
    Don't be afraid of the price tag, you don't have to purchase a 100' roll lol. You just measure out how much you need and purchase that amount + about a foot or 2 for extra if you can afford it just in case your measurements change or you decide to add another tank eventually. I think that's where I purchased mine originally... you can find dimmers and cables and solder equipment (if you don't want to use their clips) at a local hardware store and it might be cheaper (cut down on your costs to ship...)

    Anyway, good luck! I've done a couple of rack systems and I'd definitely suggest stack-able individual units. Also a word to the wise (I'm sure your friend will know this) but if you put the beardie tank on the bottom (since it's the largest at probably 4'x2'x2') make sure you put a support in the center of the tank because the weight of the other tanks on top of it will definitely make it sag. Even though the basic wooden structure might not weigh too much... as soon as you start putting tile and water bowls and whatnot in the tanks they do get HEAVY.

    Good luck!! If you have any other questions on dimensions or whatnot let us know!
     
  18. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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    Brilliant point, Lauren. I've seen a couple of cages without center support that began failing - particularly if you opt to use heavier material such as melamine. I've seen some glass (and particularly acrylic) doors begin to crack and break down under the pressure of cages above them.
     
  19. spaceboy

    spaceboy Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the replies guys!
    and yeah, I'll definetly make sure that its good and stable. I've been thinking to put the beardie cage on the top just because as it is now, my leos cage is basicly on the floor and he doesn't mind. I'll maybe have to rethink this so the whole thing don't collapse :p! But yeah my friend is very good at building furniture so I think we'll come up with something very good and safe!
     
  20. StikyPaws312

    StikyPaws312 Moderator

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    Hi! Just wondering if you had ever gotten the rack set-up done or have plans laid out?

    I'm thinking about redoing mine this summer and I'd love to see photos if it's done :D
     
  21. spaceboy

    spaceboy Well-Known Member

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    hey stiky :D no im sorry its not done yet, im still sketching on it and trying to get my friend to start working on it lol. but i promise i'll update here as soon as we've started building it :)
     
  22. StikyPaws312

    StikyPaws312 Moderator

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    Well good luck! Take tons of pics when you do :D I'm sure it's going to come out awesome!
     

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