Do It Yourself: A Quick Guide To Building A Big Screen Reptile Cage Or Enclosure

Find out how to save money by building a screen enclosure for your reptile. Tips and a list of materials needed are included.

Pre-built reptile enclosures can be expensive and inadequate. As your reptile grows you may find yourself spending a lot of money buying bigger and bigger enclosures to accommodate you reptile's size. If you are purchasing a reptile, consider building an enclosure on your own to save yourself the expense of buying retail.

Screen enclosures can be easy to build and inexpensive compared to manufacturer's models. It is not recommended to build a screen enclosure for reptiles that require a hot and humid environment. Screens will not trap the necessary heat and the moisture will escape easily. If you have a reptile that requires humidity use Plexiglas instead of screen for the walls of your enclosure. Don't forget Plexiglas will require ventilation for the reptile to breathe.

Before buying the supplies to build your enclosure consider the size of your reptile and the size it may be once it reaches maturity. Do research at your local library or on the Internet to determine just how large your pet may grow. If you go by the size they will become once they mature, you will not have to rebuild bigger and bigger cages as they grow.

Decide the size you wish for your enclosure and then calculate how much material you will need. If you find yourself confused you can ask for help at your local home improvement store. A good idea for reptile cages is to build them so that they are higher than they are wide.

Here is a list of the supplies you will need to build your enclosure.

Wood - You will need wood for the frame of your cage. You should buy polyurethane sealed wood. This wood is easy to clean and disinfect. Cages must be kept clean to ensure the health of your reptile. Untreated wood will harbor dirt, bacteria, and even parasites. You can purchase 2-inch by 4-inch boards for the frames of most enclosures. For the bottom you can buy treated plywood.

Basking Light - Most reptiles will require a heated light source. The kind you buy is up to you and your budget. These can be purchased at most pet stores. Ask an employee for recommendations if you are unsure as to the type and wattage you need.



Screen - You should purchase a screen that is strong and durable. Some reptiles will claw right through cheaper screens.

Furniture - Most reptiles require something to climb up for physical activity. Be sure to purchase something that is sturdy. Most reptiles also require a dark enclosed space to hide. This retreat helps them when they are feeling stressed and anxious. Be sure you find something large enough for them to hide in but not so large that it offers no security. If you have a reptile that loves the water you will need a sizable tub for water to place at the bottom of the cage.

Plexiglas - This is recommended for cages that require humidity but this can also work well on screened cages as the roof material. This will give you something sturdy to anchor your light and other fixtures.

Flooring - You will need some sort of removable flooring for the bottom of your cage. The bottom of the cage will need to be cleaned on a daily basis. If you have something that can be removed it will be easier to clean.

Hardware - Find a sturdy and reliable lock or bolt to secure the door on the enclosure. You will also need hinges for the door. You will need nails to secure the frame and a good method for attaching the screen to the frame. Thin strips of wood can be used to cover the edge of the screen. Use small nails to secure the wood strips to the frame.

When you build the frame for your cage, you should consider adding extra support to the walls by placing wood across the middle of each wall. This will give you more places to secure the screen to the wood. Measure wood properly and secure the frame with nails. Measure and cut your plywood for the floor. Nail securely to the bottom of the frame. Use caution to be sure all nails go into the wood correctly. Any nails sticking out of the frame can injure your pet.

Once you have your frame built you should construct your door and attach to it to the frame. Be sure that it swings easily but is secure when closed. Attach the locking system and check for security. If you are using Plexiglas for the top measure and attach with nails. Cut out the proper size hole to insert the basking light. Test to be sure the light will not fall through and secure it.

Once you are finished you should air out the cage for at least five days. This will allow the fumes from the treated wood to evaporate. After airing the cage you can then insert removable floor covering, food and water supplies, and furniture. When placing the furniture in the cage remember to keep the water and food dishes on the far side of the cage so that the reptile does not drop waste into them. You are now ready to introduce your pet to his or her new home.

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