DIY Aluminum Ledges and Cage Makeover

Mendez

Chameleon Enthusiast
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!)!
Haha fine, I'll probably start a youtube account once this semester ends and once I have more than 1 cham.
 

Mendez

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.
Thanks for the compliment!

And yes! I do enjoy the calmness of a Jackson's as well! A miniature dinosaur that doesn't bite! So fricken cool!
 

Jo00

Member
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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
I’m just seeing this now. I absolutely love this post. Full of great ideas and a good dose of humor👍
 

Mendez

Chameleon Enthusiast
I’m just seeing this now. I absolutely love this post. Full of great ideas and a good dose of humor👍
Haha, thank you, I genuinely appreciate the kind words! You have made my day!

I bought dragon stand ledges the first time and after installing them my husband and I wondered how we could do them ourselves. Thank you for sharing!
Very nice! The dragonstrand ledges are great because of their production quality. They are a little expensive but well worth it if you only need them for one or maybe two cages--especially if you don't have the tools yourself. If you plan to have a lot of ledges, it definitely becomes more economical to do it yourself. Though, depending on the tools you have (hacksaw vs circular saw), DIY ledges can take a while to make. And as the saying goes: "Time Is Money!"

If you have the tools and drive to do it yourself, I highly recommend that you do. There is nothing more satisfying than a DIY project!
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
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