Individual Baby Cages or Caging during the time of Covid

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My first prototype

I was planning on using Exo-terra Nano glass cages for my baby cages but the supply chain issues we are all too familiar with made me get creative. Forum member, MeruJack, who I all but stalked on here when I was getting started used Nanos for her baby jacks and she had a great success rate. I wanted to duplicate that. The Nanos retain a good amount of humidity but have enough ventilation to prevent stagnation. They also hold a small potted plant well. She used 2 different sizes, the cube and the nine inch. As her forum name suggests she kept Mt. Meru dwarf Jackson's so the cubes would have been useful.

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Forum member MeruJack's individual baby caging system. Photo Credit: MeruJack

I was able to buy most of the supplies from a big DIY store with only a couple of exceptions.

Supplies list:

DIY Store

  • 6-12 Hefty 6.5 quart storage containers and lids
  • Aluminum window screen, preferably black or charcoal for better visibility
  • Plants in 4 inch pots (2 per cage)
  • 100% clear silicone without mold inhibitor
  • Hot glue and glue gun if you don't already have one

Shipping store
  • Thin sheets of packing foam

Grocery Store
  • Store brand cream cheese containers 8oz. (2 per cage) You want round ones to fit over the bottoms of your plant pots and act as feet for your cage. You can look for pot saucers but I can't find any that work anymore. I made every one eat bagels for ages.
Great Outdoors
  • Many tiny little clean branches (soap and water wash or bake or disinfect safely your call. I'm not getting into that debate here.)
Step 1

Cut 2 3 inch diameter holes for your plant pots out of the bottom first and then cut out the top area for the screen. The dremel tool is your fastest option for the clear plastic. I used a circular drill for the circular cuts but a rock knife or penny cutters will work if you are careful. This plastic is a little brittle and will crack if you are too forceful. When you cut out the top leave yourself enough space to hot glue the screen on. If your circular cuts aren't perfect don't worry 3 inches gives you a little room for errors.

Step 2

Cut the flat portion out of the lid that will become the front of your cage. A rock knife on a cutting board works well on this softer plastic.

Step 3

Cut pieces of aluminum screen to fit over the top and inside the lid with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of overlap. Heat up your glue and attach the screen to the top portion of the cage on the outside and the inside of the lid that is now the front. Don't put screen in the area where the lid will lock or it will not close properly. Keep ice cubes handy to smash the glue smoothly into the screen. Dry areas to be glued as necessary. Then you can glue the pot saucers or cream cheese containers to the outside of bottom centered around the holes you cut.

Step 4

Cut pieces of packing foam to create a gasket that will prevent insects from escaping. Use the silicone to glue it in place and fill any gaps. Caution: 1)it will need days to cure and 2) don't let it glue the lid to the container.

Step 5

Insert the potted plants into the plant saucers and put in a lot of little sticks. Put a lot of sticks around the bottom of the pots so the neonates can get up from the ground. They can kill themselves from exhaustion trying to climb something they can't grab. I also put contact paper on the outside of the back or sides to give them privacy from each other. As they get older they will start to stare each other down.

I lined them all up on a shelf with the linear light suspended above them and a dripper directed into each unit. I hand misted them twice daily and they were below my adult cages that got fogged nightly.
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Your technique was very helpful when I hatched my clutch of captive hatched babies.

I did find that overtime the hot glue deteriorated and began to pull away from the plastic. I think for my next revision I may need to use silicone instead, or possible add small nuts/bolts to give a little extra security. I had not used silicone the first time around. That being said, it was at least 6 months before the hot glue became brittle and separated.
Thanks for taking the time to put this together!

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