A few months ago my dad helped me build six new cages. It's already about the time for him to return and plan out the next row of cages. Working with my dad and grandpa as a child taught me basic construction skills and work ethic. In 2 days we managed to complete these cages despite bugs, heat, rain, and my 2 boys constantly distracting us. Hopefully they will learn construction and work ethic from me. Dad if you're reading this, time to book your next flight!
This new rack cage system I built was created with my need to have an easier way to clean cages. During this time I need cages for keeping juvenile tegus indoors until next spring where they will be moved to their outdoor enclosure. The large stock tanks work great outdoors as I can just dump and hose down. Dragging the heavy stock tanks in and out gets very tiring and is very time consuming. My other rack system has worked well and cleaning is easy working with just the plastic mortar tubs. I built the sides with pvc which keeps the temps consistent and hopefully easy to clean as well. Sliding glass doors on metal tracks similar to vision cages.
Did some work this weekend to complete some of the new outdoor tegu cages I was working on. I use welded wire for the flooring and roof. I then use 2x12 for the sides and to divide the cages. Also the left over 2x12 pieces I used to build the hides. Corrugated plastic roof panels are used for the walls. This setup seems to work quite well as they can't climb the sides but some light still passes through the tinted plastic. I moved in a few new residents, albino blue tegus.
I bought this used acrylic tank off of Craigslist which is about 300 gallons. I think this will make a nice size swimming area for the large pair of caiman lizards. The cage area will be about 8 feet by 14 feet long and 6 foot tall. I leveled the ground and placed the tank on a sheet of foam to help even out the weight between the ground. I have bought a new pond filter and heater to install at the end. I will try to post updates as I make progress but I'm expanding the tegu cages as well so we'll see which one makes faster progress.
I had some branches chopped, so I figured it would make great mulch bedding for the cages. Especially at this time of the year that they are starting to push the bedding in to their hides to prepare for brumation. I try to throw the mulch as close to the hide entrance as I can to make it easier for them to guide it in. I had some help from my mother-in-law, and we enjoyed the wonderful day. I will be adding some hay to all the cages very soon as well.
Now that the weather is starting to stay warmer and the tegus are getting active I needed to finish up the cages I've been working on. It was great weather and was really fun having my wife Lauren help me out and I appreciate it as there's plenty of work involved. I built more kennel style pens and also more 8x8x3 wire style cages. I started bringing out some of last season's babies who have grown quickly out to these cages. Initially, the move made them quite skittish, but they get used to it pretty quickly.
Putting my little VW Tiguan to work. I built the walls for the cages, put the hardware cloth on them and then I'll put the cages together in my yard. This made it a lot easier then carrying each one 200 feet. Each panel is 8'x3' and the base is 8'x8'.
Today on Father's Day I figured I would do some outdoor work which reminded me of my father and grandfather. After drinking 1.5 gallons of water on this 90+ degree Florida day I almost finished this 8'x8'x3' enclosure. I'm trying something a bit different and that is to build a hide that is partially underground. The hide is roughly 2 feet deep, 4 feet long and 3 feet wide. I used the cut hardware cloth at the bottom and cemented the edges to the interior wall. I will fill in some dirt on the bottom and fill the rest with hay and mulch. I have to admit that even digging this relatively small hole was pretty tough work. Anyway, it was a good work out even though it didn't come out as perfect as I would have liked, I'm sure the tegus won't mind.
I wanted to fully utilize a corner in my garage so I figured I would make an ackie enclosure at ground level and build the caiman lizard cage on top. You can see photos of my progress in the Photos: Cages section. I first used drylok to paint everything with 2-3 coats. Since both of these enclosures are high humidity I wanted to lay
the drylok on thick and I also caulked all the corners. Next I built up from the base and tried to plan it out. This was my first attempt at a semi aquatic cage, but I used to have many fish tanks that ranged in size with
the largest being 150 gallons. For the water section I used a 50 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank and connected a 200 gallon rated canister filter with UV, and 300 watt heater. I know for the tank size it’s a bit much but I’d
rather go over for both heating and filtration than wish I had more later. I tried to use material that wouldn’t rot with such high humidity so I used all types of plastics around the stock tank like shower paneling and pvc molding for the sides. For decoration I was fortunate enough to use all types of wood from my property like bamboo and vines, and I picked up all the live plants from HD. This project was quite expensive with the main expenses being lights, filter, glass, and then all other materials which add up very quickly. I wanted to do it right as the ackies were due for an upgrade and I wanted to make sure the caimans have proper water filtration since this is my first go round with a semi aquatic lizard. There were a lot of details for this enclosure and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out even if the caimans out grow it in a year or so. When that happens I would love to look into maybe some
Shinisaurus to put into that enclosure!
Some pictures of 4 adult Tegu outdoor cages that Hector built. Cages for all reptiles are constructed at home, and we will be posting pictures and other DIY plans as time goes on. These cages, however, followed instructions from Underground Reptiles, a reptile breeder in South Florida: for video instructions click here. We like these cages because they make it easy to view the reptiles, are great for the outdoors, and have good air flow.