Easiest DIY Enclosure EVER!!

SangrelX

New Member
After spotting some images of these outdoor DIY enclosures on different forums and here. I decided to try it with what I could find at my local Home Depot.

Here is what I came up with.





This is for a Veiled chameleon as a outside get-away for those nice sunny days.

Parts List

1 x roll 3ft x 15ft Hardware Cloth $16.44
2 x 24inch Fiskars Resin Tray (water tray, plant saucer) $8.78ea

(All Internet Prices) I misplaced my receipt so I cannot quote in-store prices for my area

a golden Pothos
a plant stand
a handful of small black zip-ties
some fake vines
some bamboo rods

The vines and bamboo came from a dollar store they are safe to use as long as the chameleon does not try to eat the vines. I have been using them for years now. Just wash them good first.


The Tube

Placing one resin tray upside down for the bottom gives me a nice lip to run the hardware cloth around. I ran the cloth around twice for additional stability & I stopped the wrapping right as the seams would meet. Basically you have a inner seam where you started the wrapping, a middle layer where you wrapped once and the outer seam where you stopped wrapping. I simply made sure the outter seam stopped right where the inner seam started. So I could zip tie each layer together and make the screen even all around the tube. You can see in the photo that it does not look double-wrapped but it is. I just lined up the screen so the holes/squares are even.

This gives me a nice tube shaped screen that is double layered for stability. I then took the small black zip ties and tied through each layer at the seams to make them nice and secure. Keeping them even all the way down the tube I tied them every few inches.

When I was done I had a nice evenly tied tube of screen. I also have screen left over for making more of these enclosures.

The Bottom Tray

Viewing the photo above you can see the bottom of the enclosure is the resin tray flipped upside down. You will want to poke holes right inside the channel of the center circle. This is the deepest part of the center circle where water captures naturally when it rains or drops in from the top. Poking holes here will allow proper drainage of the entire inside without having to poke holes around the whole piece or rim where the screen sits.

As a bonus the rim where the screen sits will capture and hold whatever you put in it. Oil, water etc. This acts as a barrier between the cage and ants or other crawly pests that you want to keep out of the enclosure.

So these resin trays work extremely well for a bottom piece.

The Top Tray
The top tray is the same as the bottom tray however as you can see in the photo we keep that one turned right-side up. Poking holes around the trays outer and inner ring allow for a rain effect inside the enclosure. Depending on how much water you pour into this tray it will rain fast in the enclosure or just have a easy drip. You can poke smaller or bigger holes depending on how much of a drip you want. You can also poke holes in specific locations to guide the dripping to where you want it as well.

These top trays also have a rimmed lip that slides right over the top of the screen to lock in place.

The Decorations & Greenery
As you can see in the photo's I have a plant stand inside with a golden Pothos on top. Then I used some bamboo I had around to run through the sides at different angles and places to make a lattice work. This provides a place for the Pothos vines to climb and hang as well as a place for the chameleon to roam around. It also helps stabilize the tube shape and give some structure to it. I also attached some fake vines to the sides of the tube in different places to hang down as well.

You can trim the bamboo ends off if you want but leave enough room to use a zip tie or something that keeps the bamboo from sliding out of the screen. I will eventually trim mine and tie em in. Cutting bamboo is not hard but tedious because it splinters. I recommend a fine hacksaw blade and slowly cutting through it.

In & Out
My chams are fussy and as chams go they don't like to be handled often. I find fighting to get them out of their indoor enclosure and then carrying them to the outdoor enclosure is a interesting task. That being said the biggest bonus about this enclosure setup is how easy they are to pull apart.

Simply lift the top off & place the cham on the plants/vines and replace the top.

You can set it up so you can remove the tube and top if needed but be careful not to have Pothos vines wrapped around the bamboo. You should also always check to see where your chameleon is if he is in the enclosure when you want to pull the screen off. This way you are not ripping vines out or shaking your chameleon around while trying to remove the tube.

As you can see in the photos. I setup mine with bamboo around the top portion with fake vines around it hanging down into the Pothos and around it. So I can easily lift the entire top and screen tube off without pulling the Pothos. This way when I put the cham in I simply let him climb off onto the plant then I put the screen over and put the top back on. The fake vines fall down around the Pothos & give him something to climb on around the top.

When the Pothos growns a bit more it will have longer flowing vines down around the bottom for him to roam around.

Hope someone finds this helpful.
 

Mike Fisher

Established Member
Linda J Davison published this design 20 years ago. It is just as good today as it was then. Good job on your version, and thanks for the updated parts list!
 

SangrelX

New Member
Linda J Davison published this design 20 years ago. It is just as good today as it was then. Good job on your version, and thanks for the updated parts list!
I don't know if I ever saw hers or not. I kept seeing these deals with the upside down flower pots and PVC pipe running up the middle to connect the pots. Then screen wrapped around it.

I kind of took that idea and the look and layout from the Chameleon Canopies and ran with it.

I wanted something that allowed the ends of the screen to be tucked in and out of sight as well as being stable without having a PVC pipe dead center of it. I also wanted something that provided a built in method of keeping ants away.

So this setup works great. It is very stable as well. I put 16 lbs of weight on top and it still did not buckle in or collapse.

If I replaced the white zip ties I used for the plastic vines with small black ones and trim the bamboo ends off. It would look very clean.

I will google Linda J Davison in a minute I want to see hers.
 

SangrelX

New Member
LMAO!!!

http://www.reptilechannel.com/media/lizards/lizard-care/building-lizard-cage.aspx.pdf

Damn near the exact way I did mine. That PDF is a entire walkthrough with materials and all for how she does hers.

There are some big differences between how she did hers and I did mine.

She does not flip the saucers upside down for the bottom to allow the screen to lock in place. This also allows you to make a tighter wrap for a snug fit.

This prevented the need to silicone it to the bottom piece & also prevented the need for bungee cords to hold the top down. They fit snug and firmly together.

also flipping the saucer upside down allowed the outer ring of the bottom to act as a moat for repelling ant and other crawlies.

I did the drainage holes in the bottom center ring and drip holes in the top.

I also double wrapped my hardware cloth for more stability.

So overall its an improvement for stability and a bit less costly since you don't need some of the extra pieces she used.
 

Mike Fisher

Established Member
LMAO!!!

http://www.reptilechannel.com/media/lizards/lizard-care/building-lizard-cage.aspx.pdf

Damn near the exact way I did mine. That PDF is a entire walkthrough with materials and all for how she does hers.

There are some big differences between how she did hers and I did mine.
Yeah, I like yours better especially with the moat that insects can't cross, and the top that can serve as a reservoir for water. Nice variation of an already good design. Especially amazing since you didn't know the other even existed.

Again, nice job!
 

SangrelX

New Member
Yeah, I like yours better especially with the moat that insects can't cross, and the top that can serve as a reservoir for water. Nice variation of an already good design. Especially amazing since you didn't know the other even existed.

Again, nice job!
Thank you Mike.

Actually I used these forums for the main idea.

So not all the credit is mine. It was a mixed bag of ideas from several photos I found in threads.

https://www.chameleonforums.com/diy-outdoor-enclosure-pictures-108835/
This is the one that gave me the general shape and design I wanted.
Just without hanging it from anything.

Then these others gave me the idea of what materials to use and make it look cleaner and more efficient.

https://www.chameleonforums.com/my-methods-part-3-outdoor-caging-72563/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/my-methods-part-5-cheapest-cage-ever-egg-laying-bins-73717/


So thanks to ReptiGeek and Seeco posting photo's I was able to come up with what I have now. Its crazy how simple a design it is compared to buying expensive enclosures.
 

Mike Fisher

Established Member
I'm going to do my own version that is a combination of ideas too. I like the upright style like yours, but I like how seeco's are hanging. I just need to figure out a door since mine will be hung from the top with no access that way. There are a lot of cats, possums, raccoons in my neighborhood, so I need to hang them up, but the door also has to be really secure.
 

SangrelX

New Member
I'm going to do my own version that is a combination of ideas too. I like the upright style like yours, but I like how seeco's are hanging. I just need to figure out a door since mine will be hung from the top with no access that way. There are a lot of cats, possums, raccoons in my neighborhood, so I need to hang them up, but the door also has to be really secure.

Dude LOL ... I had thought of hanging several of them from the eaves over my porch but I didn't feel like trying to solve the door issue. So I stuck with what you see now.

The issue is making it hangable means you will want it so you do not have to un-hang it to get the animal in and out. I mean hanging these with a potted plant, vines, bamboo/climbing items. They weigh enough that I wouldn't want to risk shaking em around by hanging and un-hanging them all the time.


I just came up with a GREAT solution while typing this and hammering details out in my head..... I think im going to do this myself.

Take the top piece poke 4 holes equally spaced around to run cord through. Take 4 pieces of small 1x1 wood for support.

Drill holes in the wood and place the wood under the holes in the top.
Run cord down through the top and wood and tie a knot to keep it in place.

You now have a top piece that can hang stable from 4 points of cord. Simply hang it under the eave.

Now the fun part. Using those 4 pieces of wood on the underside of the top piece you will be able to tie more rope between them off the knots used before for hanging.

So you now have a fully supported hanging top WITH ropes on the under side to hang plants from.

Attach the screen tube to the top with silicone or hot glue

and hang it from the eaves

No you simply bungie cord the bottom in place I would say 6-8 small bungie cords to be sure it cannot fall off if the chameleon is standing on it.

When you want to get the cham in and out you un hook the bottom piece and reach up into the enclosure to fetch the cham.

The only weak spot in this design is the bottom piece being held by bungie cords. Im to tired to think of better solution for the bottom right now LOL
 

SangrelX

New Member
Better description of the top hanging arrangement....

Picture those Topsy-Turvy planters for the basic design idea for how it hangs and what it looks like. Instead of vinyl tube it would be the screen tube and the top would be a solid piece not a big hole in the center.

The pieces of wood are basically the platform the lid rests on while it hangs from the eaves. Tying more rope from the knots on the wood pieces means the entire weight of the hanging plants will be supported by your eaves & not the plastic top piece itself.

So if you can picture it in your head its a really stable design. Now let your cham climb up into it and attach the bottom hatch.


 

Mike Fisher

Established Member
I was planning on using PVC pipes with all thread rod inside to attach the top and bottom, rod couplers at the top to attach eyebolts.

The door and frame parts I'd probably cut out of Sintra on my CNC machine and throw it on the thermo-former to put the curve in it. I may be able to plastic weld the screening to the frame so that nothing needs to be siliconed or hot glued.
 

jmacphee9

New Member
i made one as a full time cage for my cham, it didnt end up working out for him as a baby(little crickets fit through the mesh) but for adults its very usable! 1/4in hardware mesh looks pretty good. i cut a wood circle out of 1/2in plywood and screwed the bottom mesh around it, and used 2-1/2x1 pieces of wood screwed together with the mesh running inbetween for closure and support. 2 clip on lights worked perfect on the wood pole, those darn crickets cost me 80$!! lol
 

SangrelX

New Member
I was planning on using PVC pipes with all thread rod inside to attach the top and bottom, rod couplers at the top to attach eyebolts.

The door and frame parts I'd probably cut out of Sintra on my CNC machine and throw it on the thermo-former to put the curve in it. I may be able to plastic weld the screening to the frame so that nothing needs to be siliconed or hot glued.
hrmm.. Ya but now your getting into a spot where the average user cannot build this LOL.

welding the tube to the top and bottom and incorporating some sort of frame around the door itself would work great though. It would mean the tube itself still has proper support since there is a hard frame around the door itself.

then the door could simply be a plastic hatch.

However you will run into one problem and this is the reason I didn't continue with the door/hatch idea on screen.

If you don't make the hatch big enough you don't have room to wrestle around and catch the chameleon to take it out of the enclosure LOL.

You would need to make a door frame for like half the tube size then make the the door itself out of the hardware cloth. So the entire cage is still hardware cloth but half is openable so you can easily reach in and fetch the cham.

I can see it working that way.
 

SangrelX

New Member
I honestly think I would rather stick to having everything hang and the bottom being removable.

So when I want the cham out I simply pop the bottom off and reach up and get him.

When I want to put him back in I pop the bottom off reach up and he will climb right up into the vines.

Its easy to make and cheap on materials. Just some 1x1, cord and a eye hook.
 

VigilantSpearIII

New Member
The problem I have with these tubes is the galvanized mesh. I have always had the feeling that extended use can damage chameleon feet. Aquamesh seems like a safer alternative, but they do not offer 1/4 inch. I used 3 of these cages as a trial run a few years ago...One of my chameleons developed small pink spots on his rear legs (sores). I discontinued use after that. All in all, I am still on the fence (hehe) about these enclosures.
 

SangrelX

New Member
The problem I have with these tubes is the galvanized mesh. I have always had the feeling that extended use can damage chameleon feet. Aquamesh seems like a safer alternative, but they do not offer 1/4 inch. I used 3 of these cages as a trial run a few years ago...One of my chameleons developed small pink spots on his rear legs (sores). I discontinued use after that. All in all, I am still on the fence (hehe) about these enclosures.
Vigilant...
The hardware cloth I am using is not galvanized mesh. Its PVC mesh and contains no metals at all.

Its also smooth with no sharp edges.
 

VigilantSpearIII

New Member
Vigilant...
The hardware cloth I am using is not galvanized mesh. Its PVC mesh and contains no metals at all.

Its also smooth with no sharp edges.

I realize that, but what I meant to say is that it is hard to find 1/4 inch in vinyl or PVC coated. I can find 1 inch, maybe even 1/2 inch, but 1/4 inch is never found. They sell it online, but with shipping costs, I spend about as much or more than I would buying mats. for a regular enclosure build. Finding reasonably priced 1/4 inch is the key. I need to avoid cricket escapades, and the larger gaps just don't cut it.
 

SangrelX

New Member

I realize that, but what I meant to say is that it is hard to find 1/4 inch in vinyl or PVC coated. I can find 1 inch, maybe even 1/2 inch, but 1/4 inch is never found. They sell it online, but with shipping costs, I spend about as much or more than I would buying mats. for a regular enclosure build. Finding reasonably priced 1/4 inch is the key. I need to avoid cricket escapades, and the larger gaps just don't cut it.

Ohhh I see what your getting at. Your talking about using them as a permanent enclosure. So escaping food is not a good thing LOL.

Using the same hardware cloth with the 1/4 mesh you could instead of wrapping it around twice. Cut two separate pieces of the same size and wrap at a bit of an offset. So the mesh pattern between the two pieces is effectively so small that the average feeder cricket cannot get through it.

This gives you a tight wrap that nothing fits through.
 

Mike Fisher

Established Member
You would need to make a door frame for like half the tube size then make the the door itself out of the hardware cloth. So the entire cage is still hardware cloth but half is openable so you can easily reach in and fetch the cham.

I can see it working that way.
There would be two frames, an outer one to put hinges, and the inner one that would be for the door. The door would not be solid, but a ring to hold more hardware cloth in the right curve. No it would not be intended as DIY anymore unless that person had access to a CNC, thermoformer, and possibly 3D printer. It would be just for my chams. :)

The door parts would probably cost more than everything else put together. To save some money, the hinge could actually be incorporated into the PVC/rod supports that tie the top and bottom together. Because the PVC rods are now the main structural element, you can make the door hole any size you need without losing the strength of the design.
 

SangrelX

New Member
There would be two frames, an outer one to put hinges, and the inner one that would be for the door. The door would not be solid, but a ring to hold more hardware cloth in the right curve. No it would not be intended as DIY anymore unless that person had access to a CNC, thermoformer, and possibly 3D printer. It would be just for my chams. :)

The door parts would probably cost more than everything else put together. To save some money, the hinge could actually be incorporated into the PVC/rod supports that tie the top and bottom together. Because the PVC rods are now the main structural element, you can make the door hole any size you need without losing the strength of the design.

LOL you know how much fun I could have with a thermoformer, CNC and 3d printer.

Soooo much I could make.
 
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