Cage Design - Mark.I :)


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To get straight to the point, I never really housed a chameleon before except an inherited one in a glass vivarium 6years ago, which was sick and got sicker.

Anyway, the past is the past, I have spent a couple of years on and off documenting myself, building other terraria for geckos and turtles mostly, and I came up with this design today.

I intend to acquire a panther male specimen in a couple of months, or in a year. Never too soon for preparation, I studied most of the recent topics here, and came up with a design convenient for my purposes.

So here are the homemade blueprints - they are in perspective-pseudo-3D cuz I hate having 5 different plans for one single object :)

The pics are bad for my scanner is out of order, so I took my camera :)

Here are the photos - sorry for the high size but I needed resolution to compensate for bad lights.
The thumbnails are linked to the full picture on

Same color means same length - or same overall length for the cross bar parts.
Lengths are given as Inside lengths for easy adaptation to any type and size of wood available.
Of course the wooden parts will be coated with non-toxic paint and, probably, black silicone, for the obvious reasons.

Forgive poor quality and bad coloring, but I prefer drawing myself to computerized gibberish, so it is not that beatiful :)

So basically the idea was to build a square-shaped base for the cage, as many of you do or did, and to have sufficient height to put the UVB tube inside the cage, with a gross mesh protection under it (some sort of a box I'll MacGuyver out of the reflector and some 1-2cm mesh screen, to have sufficient UVB throughput without having either danger for the panther nor escape risks of the free bugs. ) Though I wish to use anodized aluminum as screen, I may opt for nylon-based light screens, and plastic doesn't really like being overexposed to UV over the years. So the inner UV tube sounds better in both cases, given proper protection around it.

The little PVC support thingy I planned to hold the whole cage is just an insurance policy to be able to put a tray under it should the chosen misting system and misting schedules produce excessive water. It also enables to hide other stuff under it. The cage bottom being also screen, to allow for drainage into the tray without loss of feeders, I preferred this structure in PVC to avoid wood damage.
Another solution if the canopy is fairly good and no soaking is persistent, is to put an Exo-Terra flextray and skip the little support furniture thingy.

The cross bars on the bottom of the cage will probably be wood, though plastic or metal can be an option. Their role is mainly to provide sufficient support to the plant pots. They are affixed inside the main frame so position is adjustable to number and size of plants. A small plastic square can be nailed on a bar crossing to provide extra stability - didn't put it in the blueprint, it is already overloaded.

I pondered a lot about putting a smaller door above the main door too, to have access to the lamp without opening the whole thing, but I decided against it. The wood structure is not that lightweight, and it would have been quite a useless door in my opinion.

The small bottom door seemed more useful for bottom cleaning, but it was mainly an idea to not just put a transversal structure bar under the main door. I don't really like full-length doors so that's why :)

An option I am thinking of is putting office-furniture wheels (the ones with a "break" on them) on the support thingy in PVC. Though in Paris the only sunbathing I would allow would be through an open window in the summer, as my balcony is too small, the wheels would allow easy turning of the cage for proper cleaning or moving around to a better place.

Technologies are not really discussed here, but the main systems would comprise of:
-an inner UV tube, reptisun 5.0 with proper protection as it will be inside;
-a basking spot-lamp that will be outside for fear of overheating, burns and other nice things such as misting water on the bulb ;) Hence the aluminum screen, so as not to melt the cage on the first day ;)
-Misting system is not chosen yet, but I already know which to avoid thanks to some...lively posts around here :D
-Temp and humidity control will be set with a 4way thermo-hygrometer of multiple 2way ones for monitoring "low-altitude", "high-altitude", basking and room temperature and moisture.
-I don't believe any extra heating will be necessary on top of the basking lamp given the temps in the apartment - my sister hates the cold :D
-My Good'Ol' Big Drippa' is also ready for complementary water source purposes - the geckos just hated the black pipe and kept biting at it whenever they were nearby (bites of anger, not of thirst, as there is also a dish and a waterfall in their enclosure :rolleyes:)

SO here it is, and I wanted to ask you your ideas, tips, hints, remarks and observations about this little plan of mine that will slowly take form when the plans are finished.

Oh and thanks for reading so far :D
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I would recommend you put the UVB tube outside as well. My biggest concern would be the misting water hitting the tube. There is no real good reason for it to be inside while there can be several for going against having it on the inside. I think just about everyone does have it on the outside without issue.

If you are looking for a good misting system, go with pro mist. No matter who you go to the biggest part (and most expensive part) is the pump. You don't want to skimp on the pump.

If you are going to use wood make sure you coat them with epoxy or something to help prevent mold and such.

You are doing the right thing in getting all this done first! :)
Thanks for the help!

I was pondering for the light position, but I fear the very thin mesh might filter out a big load of UVs. I'll see if I can put some sort of a midway size mesh just on a selected area of the top to position the uv light over it.

As far as the misting is concerned, I sure agree with the pro mist choice as most of the members here have suggested. Only problem is that I live in Europe and I have to find a way to get a pro mist without paying twice the price of the pump in delivery :D I'll see with my store and check the websites.

Of course the wood will be generously coated in non toxic resin to avoid mold as well as water absorption. I still have to figure out if I can get any decent PVC or metal-PVC tubes to replace the wood structure. I like the more natural look of wood, and it gives the whole thing a certain weight for balance.

And yeah I have had bad experiences in the past so I prefer to prepare and set up everything before I even consider looking around for an inhabitant of the cage :D
The cage i just built is similar in design except without the drainage system. I have a linoleum mat going down an ill wipe up the water every evening along with the droppings.
I have no specific experience with it, but I have heard that aluminum mesh will let the most amount of UVB through.

A lot of us use the same screen and have the UVB tube on top of the screen without a problem. I understand wanting to do the best thing posible for the cham's survival but this is one case where there is enough evidence to support that a 5.0 tube on top of the screen is adequate.

If shipping is an issue with the pump then I would recommend looking up the pump model numbers and searching on an European ebay site or going to a local hardware store and see if they can purchase the pump for you (in which case they will most likely be able to find a local or close distributor to help reduce the shipping cost). The nozzels are the big thing.

I personally ran a PVC pipe split off my household water line into an electronic valve used for lawn sprinklers and have that plugged into a timer. I then use a reducer to take it from 3/4" pipe to 1/4" tubing and split that out to two of the misting nozzel heads. Again, the biggest part are the misting heads.
Aquatec has distributors in Europe, so you should be able to find a pump there. The pumps don't care where in the world they are as long as they're getting 24VAC.

I don't know if shipping is significantly more expensive to France, but it only cost me $46 to ship a three nozzle system with pump, power supply, tubing, etc. via Priority Mail to Great Britain. So, if someone's quoting you $100 for shipping, that's outrageous.
Oh goodie I may get a pro mist then if you have been shipped to GB :) I will try to look around and see if personal order or retail/distributor prices are better; France shouldn't be more expensive than GB (we already are two of the most expensive countries in Europe anyway :D)

As far as direct connection to the water system is concerned, I would probably have to use an osmotic filter (osmoser?) inbetween as the building is a bit old and the Paris water is quite heavy in chlorine.

(just realized that I could just bring in a couple of samples to the lab and see what is in my tapwater...had my dose of solvents this week in the lab I guess :D)

As for the mesh, thanks for the feedback, I may just put the normal aluminum mesh and run some tests -replacing it is not hard if needed, or I'll upgrade the lights.

<gone checking out aquatech in Europe ;)>
Ok so I contacted Pro Products via email, they ship worldwide on priority mail without intermediaries.
They told me they are often mistaken to be in commercial partnership with Aquatec, whereas this company only builds some little thingies and nozzles for them I think, but they do not do retail business together. So thanks for the tips, I'll continue elaborating and perfecting that cage project (anyway, I have to find a breeder in France with some credentials as herp shops are either incompetent or, the one that is great in paris, is quite expensive due to its high quality and health standards, and also because it is just simplw France :D)
here is scientific data about the reptisun 5.0 and aluminum screen:

it shows measurements taken with/without screen, and use of reflector. in my opinion, it is ok to have the light outside an aluminum screen as long as a reflector is used.

i like your cage design. mine is somewhat similar, but one thing that you might consider is using horizontal cross braces for support. one on each side and one on the back should be sufficient. also, it makes an area to staple the screen to and ensures a tight fit. the sturdier, the better :)
Well thanks for the insight on the misting systems, I'll have a look around both products then to compare prices including shipping ;)

Yes I saw that post on the UV tubes, I will consider that when it comes to choosing the type and size of screen, thanks for the advice.

I'll include reinforcement bars in the design, you're right it wouldn't be very stable of a cage, and I like the idea of a secondary hookpoint for the screen.

Thanks for the advice, I'll keep upgrading the design until something right comes out of it ;)
i have been building cages with pretty much the same exact designs, the only difference (since i have multpile cages/cham's) is the drainage and sizing, i braced the bottom just like your plans but i used a 2" shower drain in the middle so i can connect all the cages into one single drain system. i actually put the first one into use yesterday, with chameleonn's that is, i have another built it just needs to be constructed (put together) and the interior furniture.
i have tried 2 different ways of protecting from the water, 1 coat oil base primer, 2 coats oil based paints is one way and polyurethane 3 coats is another, the water beads from either, all joints siliconed of course.

one suggestion, i put bracing in the middle in the back and sides, so i can screw a dowel to it from the inside, using the dowel to tie all my vines,etc too.
i willk try to post a picture of the completed units, later today so you can see a finished product.

Awesome, thanks! The reinforcement en bracing will be included for it gives both rigidity and hookpoints for accessories, y'all convinced me of that :)
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