Couple questions about DIY enclosure materials

Tryptameme

New Member
Hey everyone, I am looking to get a chameleon, and I want to avoid some mistakes I made with the first one I had a few years ago. I had a Jackson that was in a retail 2x2x4 screen cage, and I manually misted him. It turns out that the water from the spray bottle was running down the back wall of the cage, and it ended up damaging some of the wooden trim on the baseboard of my floor. So this time, I'd like to use a mist king and a PVC sided cage, along with proper drainage to avoid any damage to my new apartment. Problem is though, is that Dragon Strand cages aren't shipping with drainage right now, and are going to be a while to be back in stock. Tamura designs cages are almost 900$ including taxes and shipping, and zen habitats aren't exactly a perfect fit either.

This leads me to the DIY route, but I'm a complete novice and would like some advice. Hear are some questions that hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me can help with!

1) Can I use wood as the frame without it deteriorating over time? I see most DIY cages are wood based, but would it not rot over time? Is there a specific type of wood / way of treating it to avoid this?

2) Would Acrylic side panels be better than PVC? I've heard some criticisms about solid pvc sides not allowing chams to see their environments. Acrylic panels are about the same price and would allow the Cham to see more, and for more viewing angles for me. Are there any disadvantages to acrylic over pvc siding?

3) Is there any viable frame material alternative other than wood that can be used?

Thanks in advance to any help on this!
 
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Beman

Social Media Manager
Staff member
So all wood you use would need to be sealed. You can use something like flexseal or a water based poly urethane wood sealer. Flex seal will work better in the bottom to ensure you do not have leaks. You can do a solid back wall as well and use it on that. Both have to gas off all fumes completely. Then you want aluminum window screen not the other types.

There are quite a few DIY enclosure threads in the forum. Use the search function and use key words to pull up relevant material.
 

crosscutts

Avid Member
That’s what I did thinking I could save some money , A 4 x 4 x 2 tumura was about 1200 bucks so I went and picked up a $40 China cabinet . The irony is when it was all said and done I spent about 2500b🤪 basically I added on to the cabinet Side panels and depth . But I used 8th inch acrylic And silicone it (via roller on both panel and acrylic) to the walls , put a bead of silicone around all edges then went back through and sprayed the entire interior with Flexseal which is liquid rubber , The side doors I just made out of straight acrylic And made screens on the interior so I could shut them at night to retain humidity and also added computer fans to the top to help dry the entire closure out during the day , as well as PVC covered with spray foam for fogging . The best part is i’m able to control temperature in humidity very well . The second two pictures you can see the acrylic being added, just be careful it cracks really easy . I was unable to find plexiglass which is much easier to work with a bit softer and more flexible..
 

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Tryptameme

New Member
That’s what I did thinking I could save some money , A 4 x 4 x 2 tumura was about 1200 bucks so I went and picked up a $40 China cabinet . The irony is when it was all said and done I spent about 2500b🤪 basically I added on to the cabinet Side panels and depth . But I used 8th inch acrylic And silicone it (via roller on both panel and acrylic) to the walls , put a bead of silicone around all edges then went back through and sprayed the entire interior with Flexseal which is liquid rubber , The side doors I just made out of straight acrylic And made screens on the interior so I could shut them at night to retain humidity and also added computer fans to the top to help dry the entire closure out during the day , as well as PVC covered with spray foam for fogging . The best part is i’m able to control temperature in humidity very well . The second two pictures you can see the acrylic being added, just be careful it cracks really easy . I was unable to find plexiglass which is much easier to work with a bit softer and more flexible..
Wow, that looks great! $2500?? That's wild lol. Does that include buying tools that you didn't have before? I know it's not exactly more cost efficient to build a DIY cage, however I can definitely see myself getting more chams in the future, possibly even a meller's, so if a lot of that cost is up front / one time purchases it might average out to be worth it.


At this point I'm starting to consider just free ranging, although that of course comes with a whole host of other engineering problems lol
 

Jpeff

Chameleon Enthusiast
Aluminum and pvc can do a 2x2x4 for about 350 and a 2x4x4 for about 450 to 500 and will last for every
 

crosscutts

Avid Member
Wow, that looks great! $2500?? That's wild lol. Does that include buying tools that you didn't have before? I know it's not exactly more cost efficient to build a DIY cage, however I can definitely see myself getting more chams in the future, possibly even a meller's, so if a lot of that cost is up front / one time purchases it might average out to be worth it.


At this point I'm starting to consider just free ranging, although that of course comes with a whole host of other engineering problems lol
Yeah No , I have a boatload of tools . I guess I’m just a little bit of an over builder .. but I guess I do get bragging rights .. The cost of materials right now is through the roof . Just the lumber And the acrylic we’re almost $900 . And then of course I had to make my own misting system/ fogger . Because I didn’t want to be filling the water up every other day . The results are fantastic my enclosures are Super easy to keep temperatures and humidity . But I think my next one might be Tumura. I’ll probably be going to the reptile show this July to check them out in person .. i’m sure there’s cheaper ways of doing it than I did . But I don’t like to go cheap . I’d rather save and do it right . Good luck to you can’t wait to see what you come up with😊👌
 

Kaizen

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hey everyone, I am looking to get a chameleon, and I want to avoid some mistakes I made with the first one I had a few years ago. I had a Jackson that was in a retail 2x2x4 screen cage, and I manually misted him. It turns out that the water from the spray bottle was running down the back wall of the cage, and it ended up damaging some of the wooden trim on the baseboard of my floor. So this time, I'd like to use a mist king and a PVC sided cage, along with proper drainage to avoid any damage to my new apartment. Problem is though, is that Dragon Strand cages aren't shipping with drainage right now, and are going to be a while to be back in stock. Tamura designs cages are almost 900$ including taxes and shipping, and zen habitats aren't exactly a perfect fit either.

This leads me to the DIY route, but I'm a complete novice and would like some advice. Hear are some questions that hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me can help with!

1) Can I use wood as the frame without it deteriorating over time? I see most DIY cages are wood based, but would it not rot over time? Is there a specific type of wood / way of treating it to avoid this?

2) Would Acrylic side panels be better than PVC? I've heard some criticisms about solid pvc sides not allowing chams to see their environments. Acrylic panels are about the same price and would allow the Cham to see more, and for more viewing angles for me. Are there any disadvantages to acrylic over pvc siding?

3) Is there any viable frame material alternative other than wood that can be used?

Thanks in advance to any help on this!
Depending on your area, standard dimensional framing lumber is typically spruce or pine. If the lumber is indoor lumber it will need to be protected with a sealer/stain/wax etc. There are many safe options. Look for non-toxic LOW VOC products. If it’s exterior lumber , it will be pressure treated. With PT, it’s prudent to build the enclosure, then let it weather outdoors for a few weeks to lessen the affects of the pressure treatment chemicals.

As for solid sides, Coroplast sheets are inexpensive, easy to work with and cut to shape, and easily replaced.

However, you’re still going to need to devise a drainage strategy.
 

Kaizen

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hey everyone, I am looking to get a chameleon, and I want to avoid some mistakes I made with the first one I had a few years ago. I had a Jackson that was in a retail 2x2x4 screen cage, and I manually misted him. It turns out that the water from the spray bottle was running down the back wall of the cage, and it ended up damaging some of the wooden trim on the baseboard of my floor. So this time, I'd like to use a mist king and a PVC sided cage, along with proper drainage to avoid any damage to my new apartment. Problem is though, is that Dragon Strand cages aren't shipping with drainage right now, and are going to be a while to be back in stock. Tamura designs cages are almost 900$ including taxes and shipping, and zen habitats aren't exactly a perfect fit either.

This leads me to the DIY route, but I'm a complete novice and would like some advice. Hear are some questions that hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me can help with!

1) Can I use wood as the frame without it deteriorating over time? I see most DIY cages are wood based, but would it not rot over time? Is there a specific type of wood / way of treating it to avoid this?

2) Would Acrylic side panels be better than PVC? I've heard some criticisms about solid pvc sides not allowing chams to see their environments. Acrylic panels are about the same price and would allow the Cham to see more, and for more viewing angles for me. Are there any disadvantages to acrylic over pvc siding?

3) Is there any viable frame material alternative other than wood that can be used?

Thanks in advance to any help on this!
What about getting the Deagin strand enclosure, and making do with a dog crate tray until July or August, when the dragon stand drainage systems should be available?
 

Tryptameme

New Member
Depending on your area, standard dimensional framing lumber is typically spruce or pine. If the lumber is indoor lumber it will need to be protected with a sealer/stain/wax etc. There are many safe options. Look for non-toxic LOW VOC products. If it’s exterior lumber , it will be pressure treated. With PT, it’s prudent to build the enclosure, then let it weather outdoors for a few weeks to lessen the affects of the pressure treatment chemicals.

As for solid sides, Coroplast sheets are inexpensive, easy to work with and cut to shape, and easily replaced.

However, you’re still going to need to devise a drainage strategy.
I kept seeing corrugated plastic panels come up when I was searching for PVC panels, but I thought they might not be durable/sturdy enough. The fact you brought it up though makes me maybe think otherwise. They would indeed be significantly easier to work with and replace than pvc or plexiglass. I still love the idea of plexiglass because it's clear though.

As for the dragon strand question, unfortunately the enclosures are shipping without the drainage tray AND the screen bottom unfortunately. My drainage strategy in mind pretty much requires a screen floor.

I think I might just go with the 4x2x4 enclosure with screen sides from dragon strand. Then use the pvc bottom piece as a divider to turn it into essentially two 2x2x4 cages for two chams. If I position the spray nozzles of the mister to point from the front outside corners, inward to the back panel / divider panel, then I shouldn't have any problems with water escaping threw the sides
 
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