DIY Aluminum Ledges and Cage Makeover

Mendez

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hello everyone!

I completely redid my Jackson's chameleon cage! I was tired of the same old shower curtain wrapped around my screen cage. While it did the trick for three years, I felt the urge to make the cage more aesthetically pleasing. After searching Amazon, Home Depot, and Lowe's for the best (cheapest) material to use for the side walling of the cage, I landed on polywall.

Polywall is designed for kitchen and shower use where the humidity is going to be high. It's easy to clean as well as boasting the ability to not encourage bacteria and mold growth. So in other words, nothing too special. I was mainly looking for something that was cheap and could take high humidity. I was able to get a 4' x 8' sheet for $28 bucks. I then cut the material into four 2'x4' sheets that would then be screwed into the aluminum frame (after pulling out the aluminum screen altogether--all the screen except for the front and top panels).

20210807_175419.jpg

Here's a pic of the cage. I plan on adding one more plant on the left side of the cage, but my indecisiveness has gotten the best of me so far. And perhaps I might add another shade dwelling plant to the bottom. Heartleaf alkanet is on my mind for that. One, maybe two, or three pots of alkanet at the bottom would be prime. I used to have an alkanet in the bottom with low levels of light and it did wonderfully! Sadly, I got the plant from my grandma with the sole purpose of rehabilitating it. Once the plant fully recovered, I gave it back to her and forgot to check up on it... I'm sure you can guess the outcome of that story, so I'll leave it at that (fine--it died...). So, ummm... oh yeah! Back to the cage build!

The polywall I bought had a thickness of 0.06 which is super thin (essentially 1/18th on an inch). While quite flimsy--which made it easy to roll up in the back of my tiny honda fit--I had to use a bunch of screws to prevent gaps from appearing on the sides. What I saved in material was spent on screws... Granted the screws were pretty cheap...but if I had to do it again, I would have chosen a thicker material that would have used fewer screws.

So far, in all of this text, I have managed to tell you that I screwed some material to the sides of the aluminum frame and that my favorite plant is alkanet; okay fine, I'll be more concise from here on out.

So after finishing the sides, I cut aluminum ledges (48" x 1/2" x 1/8") with a hacksaw in half. I then cut off another 3 inches from half of them. The longer flat bars (24 inches) would be screwed into the aluminum frame while the short bars (21 inches) would then be placed on the inside of the cage to hold plants and branches. I used two large nuts (stainless steel) as the spacers for each ledge. The aluminum is nonferrous, meaning it won't rust. The machine screws are used to hold the two aluminum pieces together. I also used lock-washers to ensure a good hold between the two aluminum pieces.

20210807_175523.jpg

As you can see above, the large nuts give me plenty of room to zip tie the branches to the aluminum ledges. I zip-tied large branches to the ledges that allow me to put branches anywhere in the cage. Word to the wise: the greater the space between the cage wall and the aluminum ledge (e.g. the greater the spacer thickness) the less straight the large branches have to be. Luckily I managed to pick up quite a few more sticks than I needed so I was able to sort through them and pick the straightest. Some had too much of a bend to them in every direction that they couldn't be zip-tied securely with pushing heavily into the side walls.

20210807_175506.jpg

Here I am using the double potting method used by many smart chameleon keepers that I decided to use for myself. For those who don't know, double potting utilizes two pots. The first pot is zip-tied securely into place which allows the potted plant to rest nicely inside. The benefit of this method allows you to easily take out and replace your potted plants if they were to suddenly die. It makes keeping the cage nicely planted a whole lot easier for people lacking a green thumb--which fortunately for me--isn't my case. Plants adore me.

20210807_115038.jpg

And here is the unhappy customer with no wallet to pay me. I give him everything for free and I don't even get a thank you? So pretentious! His name is Grommet for those of you who don't know. And he's on a diet. A quick rant on overfeeding: the best way to understand overfeeding is by simply getting familiar with what a healthy chameleon weight looks like, as well as what a fat and skinny chameleon looks like. You can always follow the simple numbers game, but at the end of the day, chameleons are individuals with different metabolisms. You don't want an obese chameleon. I followed the wrong people on social media--which have normalized obese reptiles--and now I have to be the bad guy and limit his feeding. Though in all honesty, my jackson's chameleon's demeanor is so lax that I don't think he really cares. I try to create drama with him in my mind--perhaps that he hates me or is plotting to kill me (which is my dream)--but sadly he is too calm and undominant to make his move. I think he likes me in his own chameleon ways, but I wish he had the personality of a veiled...haha jk he's a good boy and I like him for it. Though I wouldn't mind a little drama to keep our flame alive...

I can add actual details into how I assembled the DIY ledges if anyone wants to build ledges themselves. It's probably just as expensive as buying dragon ledges the first time. Dragon ledges look super sleek and professional. Honestly, if you don't like a lot of manual labor or aren't DIY-oriented, I wouldn't recommend doing the DIY build for the ledges--just buy the dragon ledges. I'm happy with the end result, and at least I can say that I've done it. Though I might just buy them from Bill in the future if I'm constrained on time.

If anyone actually reads through the whole post, I'll give you a free chameleon someday in the future. And if you just skimmed through to look at the pics, that will be 25% off any chameleon for sale when I start breeding one day. Sorry for all the unnecessary tangents and terrible info. I really should proofread my work, but school starts up again in a few weeks, and then all I'll be doing is proofreading. AND another tangent; dang it! Fine, I'll end it here. Good day.
 

Sonny13

Chameleon Enthusiast
Good job, looks great and thanks for sharing it so detailed (y)(y)

And here is the unhappy customer with no wallet to pay me. I give him everything for free and I don't even get a thank you? So pretentious! His name is Grommet for those of you who don't know. And he's on a diet. A quick rant on overfeeding: the best way to understand overfeeding is by simply getting familiar with what a healthy chameleon weight looks like, as well as what a fat and skinny chameleon looks like. You can always follow the simple numbers game, but at the end of the day, chameleons are individuals with different metabolisms. You don't want an obese chameleon. I followed the wrong people on social media--which have normalized obese reptiles--and now I have to be the bad guy and limit his feeding. Though in all honesty, my jackson's chameleon's demeanor is so lax that I don't think he really cares. I try to create drama with him in my mind--perhaps that he hates me or is plotting to kill me (which is my dream)--but sadly he is too calm and undominant to make his move. I think he likes me in his own chameleon ways, but I wish he had the personality of a veiled...haha jk he's a good boy and I like him for it. Though I wouldn't mind a little drama to keep our flame alive...
Hilarious and soo familiar :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:(y). Veiled´s definitely are more spiced-up, that´s really great about them. After few days with the Jackson I understand the love for Jackson´s, they´re special in every way. Social media, o my god, I think 90% of the IG chams are overweighted :cautious:. Saw yesterday a posted from a vet with an overweighted Jackson and in stead of making it an example, they made it an object of cuteness!! Sad, just sad they should be the role model!!

I did the same, however with the material called Forex, and that´s the material on which they do photo prints. Therefore I printed the Forex with a forest background, to give it even more aesthetics. It´s a bit more expensive, here in the Netherlands, it would double your paid price. Strangest thing is, that is almost cheaper printed, then plain 🤷‍♂️

This is how it looks

DF3AAEC2-1945-4E7C-83C0-281D2CE7A04E.jpeg

image00003.jpeg
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
I had a heck of a time finding out what Polywall is.

Q: What is Polywall made of?
A: Durable reinforced plastic

Q: What kind of plastic is Polywall?
A: Reinforced plastic

It was a circular nightmare. I still don't know.🤪
 
Last edited:

Mendez

Chameleon Enthusiast
Good job, looks great and thanks for sharing it so detailed (y)(y)


Hilarious and soo familiar :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:(y). Veiled´s definitely are more spiced-up, that´s really great about them. After few days with the Jackson I understand the love for Jackson´s, they´re special in every way. Social media, o my god, I think 90% of the IG chams are overweighted :cautious:. Saw yesterday a posted from a vet with an overweighted Jackson and in stead of making it an example, they made it an object of cuteness!! Sad, just sad they should be the role model!!

I did the same, however with the material called Forex, and that´s the material on which they do photo prints. Therefore I printed the Forex with a forest background, to give it even more aesthetics. It´s a bit more expensive, here in the Netherlands, it would double your paid price. Strangest thing is, that is almost cheaper printed, then plain 🤷‍♂️

This is how it looks

View attachment 307328
View attachment 307329
Thank you!!

And yes, the state of social media is so sad. Two of the most popular chameleon accounts feature overweight chameleons. 😭 Too bad; you think that vets, of all places, would highlight obesity in chameleons...

Your cage is beautiful! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your cage build as well! Yours and @Beman's cage builds were the inspiration for embarking on this journey! I looked into forex, and like you said, it's more expensive, though I might consider it next time since it would definitely use fewer screws.(y)

@Klyde O'Scope gave me a great suggestion in my PMs that I could have looked into caulking to keep the polywall on the frame. I also think there is a special adhesive made specifically for polywall--which means I could have used far fewer screws! I think I'll try using an adhesive in my next build and let you all know. I thought it might be nice to remove the panel by unscrewing the screws; however, this would only be a nightmare--so many screws and so much time! Permanently fixing them would have been a much better choice!
 

Sonny13

Chameleon Enthusiast
Your cage is beautiful! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your cage build as well! Yours and @Beman's cage builds were the inspiration for embarking on this journey! I looked into forex, and like you said, it's more expensive, though I might consider it next time since it would definitely use fewer screws.(y)
👏🏻👏🏻✌🏻

And yes, the state of social media is so sad. Two of the most popular chameleon accounts feature overweight chameleons. 😭 Too bad; you think that vets, of all places, would highlight obesity in chameleons...
Frustrating 😡🤬
 

ERKleRose

Chameleon Enthusiast
@ERKleRose, I see that you left a laughing emoji response to this idea. So I take it that I shouldn't start a youtube channel?!?! Way to crush someone's dreams.😭🤣
Oh, please, you're always thinking about starting one, so it's just funny whenever you mention it, do it already (especially when you get those upcoming chams! YouTube is the only social media I have right now, so I'd be your biggest fan and best follower!)!
 

Lindasjackson

Chameleon Enthusiast
I love you tube as well and it’s the only social media I tolerate. I do have face book but only go there if my kids or family post something there.
I love your new build Mendez and your Jackson’s does as well, I can see it in his eyes! I love the calmness of Jackson’s. I don’t think I could handle having a Cham that’s big and spicy, that’s not to say they’re not beautiful but I’m happy with Eustis.
 

Mendez

Chameleon Enthusiast
I solely follow animal-specific accounts on social media. It helps me determine where all the good stuff is. So many chams and other cool reptiles and amphibians in my feed--the only redeeming quality of social media. Everything else is too fake for me.
 
Top Bottom