DIY Chameleon Mansion Build


Avid Member
I've been working on a big boy home for my 10 month old ambilobe, Loki, for the last few months and am almost finished so I thought I'd share some pics. The only thing I'm still waiting to get are the screens that are being built by my brother-in-laws window screen company and then I can finish setting up the branches and the rest of the plants. This is my second cage that I've built and only my second wood working project but I think it turned out pretty good. I used a lot of the same methods as the last cage build so in case I skip any steps they're probably in the last build thread I did Anywho here's what I got so far...

I built it in four major pieces, a stand, the cage itself, the fake rock back wall, and a canopy. I tried to build it so that the major pieces could be taken apart later on for thorough cleanings. The overall dimension are 80"T x 40"W x 28"D and the cage interior dimensions are 54"T x 36"W x 24"D. I built it mainly as a hobby in my spare time but also because I wanted the cage to look like a piece of furniture that matched the rest of the house instead of a clunky cage with all the hoses and wires coming off the top like the store bought ones I have. It's made mostly from red oak 1x2's and 1x3's and was put together with cabinet hardware. It's finished with a black cherry stain and satin polyurethane coating and satin nickel hinges, handles, and sash lock. The screens on the sides and doors are custom made with aluminum rails and fiberglass screens. I have two Mist King nozzles in the cage for water/mistings and I have a sink drain installed in the floor of the cage that drains in to a small bucket in the stand.

Here's what it looks like so far:


Here's the cage before it was finished:


For the screen on the sides I routered a channel for the screen rails are recessed in the wood and sit flush with the rest of the cage:


The canopy was made with a pine frame and red oak 1/2" x 6" sides. There's charcoal aluminum screen that stapled down at the sides with an aluminum bar that runs down the middle to hold up the screen once the lights are put on.


I also have recessed holes at each front corner for the mist king nozzles to attach to.


All of the hoses and wires are hidden in the canopy and run down the back side of the cage so they're out of sight when looking at the cage. I also found a 15' three outlet extension cord that is mounted to the canopy and all of the lights are plugged in to that so there's only one long cord coming out of the back instead of several short ones.



The stand was made from 2" x 4" framing studs with red oak 1" x 6"s. The stand was painted satin black except for the oak top that was stained black cherry to match the rest of the cage. I also built it with heavy duty casters on the base so it just rolls around when I need to move it. I also counter sunk all of the screws and filled in the holes with wood putty to hide everything and make it look a little cleaner.

The back wall was made from a 1/2" styrofoam sheet with a 1/2" plywood backing for strength. It has two planters built in to it with pothos planted in each one.


I'm hoping to get the screens sometime in the next week so that I can get schefflera, branches, and orchids all set up in the cage. I'll take some more pictures of everything once it's completely finished.

What do you guys think so far? Feel free to give me suggestions for what it might be missing or ask any questions about how I built it.
how did u do the floor for drainage? i have a simlar cage cant figure out the drainage tho man

I used Rustoleum Leak Seal on the plywood bottom and along the interior seams of the wood to fill in any cracks and and put a good seal on everything. It was the first time I had ever used that sort of thing but I really like it. It sealed everything up tight and left a smooth texture and flat back color. It's been airing out for five weeks now to make sure there won't be any fumes by the time I move Loki in to the cage. It's also water tight once dry so you don't have to worry about it breaking down from the water like other paints or sealants. I also put a plastic tray for a dog kennel on the bottom that can be removed through the door at the bottom of the cage just to make sure there wouldn't be any leaks and so it would be a little easier to clean. It also has a hole cut in it that drains in to the sink drain.
Last edited:
That looks really cool. Excellent job. Nice touch with routing the edges. Did you fabricate the faux stone back wall?
So it took a little longer than I was hoping but I finally got the screens back from my brother-in-law and was able to finish setting up Loki's new home... So here are some pictures of the completed project:

Here's a shot of the screens installed in the sides:

And here's a shot of the threaded inserts that holds the screen in with weather max screws that I'm hoping will hold up to the moisture better than regular screws:

I wasn't able to do the same thing with the screens for the doors because they weren't wide enough to router like the sides so I had to use clips for storm windows. They still turned out pretty good looking though:


Here's a shot of the branches and plants all set up. I used a big schefflera in the middle with orchids around the bottom and a couple of pothos in the fake rock wall.

I used an Exo-Terra thermometer at the basking spot and an Exo-Terra thermometer/hygrometer combo in the middle of the cage so I can get readings from the different temperature gradients:

Here's the finished product:

Here's a shot of Loki slowly starting to explore his new home:

What do you guys think?
I am difficult to impress... Impressed!

I was wondering when you were going to build up the bigger version and I can definitely see you took all the lessons from the first and just kicked butt!
Awesome, for the front doors where you used the storm door clips and the wood was not routed, what is holding the screen frame in from the front?
Awesome, for the front doors where you used the storm door clips and the wood was not routed, what is holding the screen frame in from the front?

The screen is just sandwiched between the wooden door frame and storm clips. There was around 1/2" where the screen overlapped the wooden frame so I used a C-clamp to hold the screen in place and staright while I installed the storm clips. It wound up holding the screens on better than I thought and didn't leave any gaps for feeders to escape from.
Definitely a show cage!!! What is most impressive is that it is fully functional and you have covered ALL the bases on this one. VERY nice job,well done
You are quite the craftsman, the cage is one of the most astetically pleasing I have ever seen. Its so nice, when I was looking at the pictures I thought "damn, that is a nice table he is destroying to make a stand". Then I read you built it!!

Thanks for all the compliments everyone I'm glad that you all like it. I learned a lot from everyone on this forum and got a lot of ideas from everyone as well so hopefully this build will give other people some good ideas on what they can do/try on their own future builds.:)
Would you be interested in giving or selling your plans for a cage for a similar build to this? It looks phenomenal and something along the lines of what I want in my living room for my Cham.
Top Bottom