Weekend Project

Weekend Project ***UPDATE PG2***

Hello all,
Thought I would share my little weekend project. I have always struggled with outdoor housing and all its problems. So I set out to solve them. I designed this enclosure such that I can free range colonies of chameleons outdoors and simply put young and small chams in their cages inside the enclosure to keep them safe from the other chams. I will post more as I get it furnished over the week and move my animals into it. The end goal will be to build three of these and use them to house large breeding colonies of single species together when weather is good. The design also allows one to cover the enclosure with 6mill poly during the colder months and create a greenhouse that will create and hold its own heat. I am going to install a misting system on a hydrant timer as well as use a fan type yard sprinkler to literally rain on the cages during the day. The ground will be left natural dirt/grass. The design is light enough that one person can move it easily, so I will move it around my back yard in and out of shade as the weather demands. Feedback is welcome.

The day started with lots of PVC!

That was cut up into more PVC!

Test fitting and gluing.

1"x1.5" hardware cloth was ran around the bottom edges 2' high to help keep any curious critters out, I live in town and have three dogs but better safe than sorry.

Lots of zip-ties. I sprung for the UV resistant type so that the sun would not break them down as quickly, the white ones will need to be replaced once a year these are rated for 10 in full sun!

I choose a medium shade cloth as my covering and like the green as it gives the light a good feel. It is rated at 15 years in the sun, and has a special thread in it that makes it bird proof.

It took two panels to go the 12' length so I stitched then together with zip ties first then with a "blind" upholstery needle and UV resistant twine.

As the stitching progressed the desired tautness was achieved.

The end-wall were covered in the same fashion and then the upholstery needle was used to seal the enclosure.

Finally the doors were built and covered with 1/2"x1/2" pvc coated hardware cloth. The door is simply hinged with large zip-ties and latches with 2 velcro zip-ties. I left an overhang on the PVC coated hardware cloth to act as a door stop and seal all gaps between the door frame and door.

Finished dimensions are 12'x5'x6' the doors are 5'x2' it is comfortable to walk in since I am only 5'11" but the design is very flexible and can be easily modified smaller of larger.

Hope you enjoyed!
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Looks great! Too bad you couldn't take advantage of all of the pipe and hook into it as part of the mist system :rolleyes:.

I did a sloppy-build of a 7'x7'x7' pipe box and bird netting for my panther. As a quick test, I just tucked the netting under the edges. Panther eventually came down off his big ficus to do a little exploring. He found a slightly untucked edge and escaped. Was I ever lucky! He walked across the driveway, up the deck stairs, across the deck and back into the house! I guess he got bored and wanted back in his indoor enclosure.
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Thanks Dave,
I looked at a few ways to use the PVC as the misting supply but in the end decided against it. I thought if it leaked or needed repair I would have to tear the enclosure down!

Escape was my primary concern so all edges have been stiched with UV resistant twine, long process but worth the peace of mind. I am going to use 4 rebar U's to secure it to the ground in the corners so that nothing can sneak under.

Thanks again!
Wow, that really turned out great, Zerah! It is too late in the year for a project like that, but I think I will put one together next spring. That green shade cloth looks great. I wonder how it would hold up as the sides and back of a cage..?

Thanks Heika,
I think it would work well as the sides of a cage. It has a higher visibility than the black shade cloth used on the repatariums. It is pretty cheap, I bought mine in 15'x6' rolls for $22.98 a roll.

thanks as well, yes I will tell them they are cats! As for the concrete it provides no advantage over the U bar stakes.

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Zerah are you a carpenter or something? Everything you build is awesome. It really is kind of making me mad. I try to make stuff all the time. It ends up crooked or weak. Everytime I see something of yours it looks like Bob Villa and friends where over helping you put it together. Besides my jealous rant I would like to say: great design, great construction, and I can not wait to see it all done.
That’s one of the funniest rants ever LOL. I am a loan officer for a mortgage company. I did however work my way through high school, and college, as a carpenter. I built cabinets and counter tops primarily but did a bit of everything over the years in construction. I still build custom Arts & Crafts style furniture for hobby and private commission, mostly Greene & Greene reproductions. So I have a wood shop that Norm would be happy in.

The doors are hinged using large 15" zip-ties and then latch with velcro zip-ties, I will try and get a pic up close when I get home. I will mostly tub feed, similar to cups but using small rubbermaid tubs hung around the cage. The mesh is cricket and roach proof, but the door is not, so I will free range some for variety and exercise. My intention is to grow at least one mulberry bush inside to turn silkworms loose on.
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those greenhouses are awesome matter of fact i'm gonna biuld a smaller version for my chameleons in the spring.
Ok well here is the update. I am really pleased with how this project turned out. I think that it will end up being on of my favorite additions to my cham keeping obsession! I am not completely done furnishing it but it is up and some chams are in.

The misting system was created from 1/2" misting couplings often used at theme parks to cool people while standing in line. I have used these mist heads before for different projects and they work really well. Key is to have multiple extra heads and pull them down from time to time and soak them in CLR.


Shot of the misting bar installed. 10 mist heads were used off set side to side for full coverage. The system hooks to a RV/Marine garden hose and to a hydrant timer. I will be playing around with misting duration and times over the next weeks.


Inside the cage. It is very interesting to be able to walk in the cage with the chams, will take some getting used to for me and them!


In addition to the plants pictured various ivy have been rooted and will be allowed to overtake the inside, but pruned back to keep the central path.


Je-uel chilling in her new home.




Wasabi took a little while to calm down but finally relaxed. He is the most concerned about me being inside with them.



I will do a few more updates as chams settle in and time goes by. Panthers may be tough in here. The two males I tried decided to bob and pursue everything with a tail, so they were quickly removed. The female panthers so far have done better but are being closely watched. I did move two baby deremensis in their cage just as a test to see how it would work, so far so good.
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wow zerah!! the new home for them is amazing!!!! thats probobly the best cage i've ever seen or even heard about . great job!!
I just assumed you would keep the Parsonii out there as I figured they needed a lot of room when bigger.
Wow, that turned out really well, Zerah!

I use those misting heads in my homemade misting systems now.. I buy them online in quantity! I have limited experience with misting heads, but they have done a great job for me. Did you tap screw holes into PVC for the misting heads, or did you find 1/2" fixtures? I have seen them on 1/4" and 3/8". How does it work running it with a garden hose? Is there enough pressure to get a nice fine mist? Can you tell I am thinking of copying you? :D

Anyhow, your new cage looks like a true jungle. Beautiful! I would be tempted to spend my day out in the cage with the chams.

Thanks guys. Yes I have spent most of the last two day sitting in a chair just outside the door!

The 1/2" fittings are sold by Orbit misting systems and come that way. Great design as you can just unscrew them and change them for different pattern heads to adjust coarseness, angel of spread etc. The pressure is good through the garden hose, but RV/Marine garden hoses are only 1/2" as well so i do not know how it would do on a normal hose.

Overnight lows are going to need to be watched. Last night the cage hit 53 degrees. No stress shown by the chams though and the sun is warming it right back up. High today will be 74.

This will likely turn out to be just for the parsonii, but I will use it as a sun cage for some of my other chams as well until I get another one built. As long as they are good citizens!

Thanks again guys.

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Well you guys are in trouble now. The new cage presents way to many photographic opportunities! I spent the morning watching everyone warm up.

Overview of enclosure.

A few of the better captures from the morning.



Zerah - I have to say that is the most FREAKING incredible setup I've ever seen. You mention that you have different breeds in there with each other? How's that working out so far? I guess with a habitat that size they have plenty of room to setup their own territory. You should consider putting a patent on that setup and marketing it :) Congrats on an absolutely AWESOME job!
I'm just curious if you have a problem with ants in your area? I could see doing something like that for the warmer months here but fire ants are a huge problem in this area. Can you think of a way to deal with that problem?
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