Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

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Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

Postby Jebediah » Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:45 am

Hi. Big Newbie here. Trying to add a Beardie to our animal therapy clinic. In the process of a self-build. i live in Israel and the very limited purchase options are crazily expensive (the only vivarium i found that is appropriate for an adult is $500USD).

I have found a great storage box that i want to convert. It is wood with a non-toxic plastic coating. Dimensions are 145x40x40cm. It will have solid top, with a sliding glass front.

My main concerns are regarding the heating and lighting, especially as almost none of the recommended equipment is available here.

Here are my main questions -

1) Heating. I can buy a heating lamp and a ceramic fitting that can screw to the top of the 'ceiling'. That will mean that the lamp is about 30cm from the bottom of the enclosure. I am concerned that this is not enough space and my little guy will overheat. Can his basking area be on the flor or does he need somewhere to climb? is the 30cm enough? What wattage bulb is best (i understand that trial and error is recommended). My other worry is burning/melting the enclosure. How close to the sides and top of the enclosure can it be. I have also heard of domes but haven't found them in Israel. If i import one and cut out a hole for it in the top of the enclosure, how hot will the dome get? Might that burn/melt the enclosure?

2) Lighting. Specialist tube fixtures do not exist here! Should i settle for a (maybe 2) coil bulbs like everyone else in Israel (maybe because it is sunny here)? Can i try and find a regular tube fixture from a hardware store and use that? It seems that i could easily make a DIY reflector.

Thanks so much! :wave:
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Re: Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

Postby CooperDragon » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:25 am

Those dimensions are a bit small for an adult. I would look for something around twice the height and depth. Especially if you have a solid top that doesn't allow you to suspend the lighting above the enclosure. 145cm for the length is very good though. If you have access to plywood and some basic lumber, you can build a frame with larger dimensions and use the plywood to build the sides. Then you could frame a piece of glass or plexiglass for the front and attach it with a hinge to drop it down (with lock on the top) or you could put in rails to create sliding doors. If you would prefer to re-purpose furniture, that can be done very well, but I would look for something a bit larger. The basking area can be on the floor if you wish, but you should also provide some areas for climbing. Young dragons especially love to climb around on logs and branches.


As far as lighting goes, you can use a halogen bulb for heat. PAR38 or BR30 or BR40 bulbs are popular and don't require a dome fixture since they have a built in reflector. You'd just need to install a socket to screw the bulb into over the basking area. I would start with something around 60-80w and see how that goes, but as you said it does take some trial and error at first.

For UVB, a T5 fixture is recommended because it allows you to provide a wide beam of UVB that allows a dragon to bask under evenly. Given that an adult can be anywhere from 45-60cm (roughly) in length, you'll want to provide that diameter for a basking zone. The downside of the coil bulbs is that their output doesn't spread out very wide. If you cannot get a T5 fixture and tube bulb, then an array of the compact bulbs might do the trick. You'd want to use 2-3 of them though. The 25w Exo Terra UVB200 bulbs are decent at about 35-50cm above the main basking area. As I mentioned in your initial post, if you can import some of the supplies then it's often worthwhile. I've gotten several years use out of my Arcadia UVB bulbs.
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Re: Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

Postby Jebediah » Thu Jan 14, 2021 5:36 am

Thanks so much for the quick response.

I had a feeling that the size wouldn't be ideal, so no big surprises there. Back to the drawing board (literally and figuratively). I still really like the idea of up-cycling, so will see what i can find. The self-build seems pretty simple, and my only question is about air vents -- how many and where to put them?

I took your advice and have ordered everything from the UK - either through Amazon shipped direct to Israel, or with onlinereptileshop.co.uk, via my parents (I am an exiled Brit). The people at onlinereptilshop were really helpful. Highly recommended. Total shipping was about £70/$95.

I now have everything i need, except for one important thing, my Dragon.

I know this question is a bit off-topic for this thread, but my next big query is what age should i go for? I have found some approx 1-year-olds for sale, but am worried about the fact that people are getting rid of them. Does that mean they maybe have issues or have been mistreated?! The 3 people i have asked here in Israel all say to buy a baby, but i have a few reservations. The mostly protein diet seems tough as it isn't so easy to source the recommended food where i live. The only live food i have found is mealworms, which is somewhat ironic as we get so many wild locusts and cockroaches here. Also enclosure - will he be able to live in the big one that i am building?

Thanks again.
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Re: Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

Postby CooperDragon » Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:03 am

For air vents, I usually recommend one or two (depending on size) low on the cool side, and one or two more high on the warm side. That will allow for convection currents to draw air in through the cool side and out through the hot side.

I'm glad you were able to source some of the good stuff out of the UK. I've also had really good luck with Swell Reptiles based there. Hopefully the items you ordered can arrive quickly and without damage. I'm not sure how it is over there this year, but the shipping systems in the US have been overloaded recently and 3-4 week delays are not uncommon.

The size/age of the dragon you get has a lot to do with personal preference. Raising a young dragon will help you form a bond early and possibly influence their personality a bit. Not having an abusive past makes a difference with them as well as any other animal or human to an extent. It is fun to watch the little ones learn and see how curious they are. The downside as you mentioned is that they do eat a ton. It's best to have a roach colony on hand to keep up with their eating habits, especially when they are in a growth spurt. The tales of them eating 80+ bugs per day is not constant, but it is not unheard of at times. Generally they require 2-3 meals of bugs per day. The actual amount they eat will vary quite a bit over time depending on their mood and growth spurts. If you won't have easy access to different feeder bugs, then that is certainly something to consider.
A young dragon can be started off in a large enclosure. They often enjoy the space to climb and roam. In some cases they don't feel secure enough, but you can set up a divider to make the space temporarily smaller.

Adopting an older dragon can also be a great choice. Sometimes they are neglected to the point where they need special care. These cases can be quite sad and are what I try to focus on helping. The vet bills can be high and it's good to have a reptile specialist available to help in severe cases. Often though, dragons are just discarded for reasons such as boredom or kids losing interest, or unexpected life changes etc. These dragons are older, but are usually either quite healthy, or easy to get back into health with some time under good care. Adult dragons (18 months and older) eat much less in general and are mostly vegetarian (ideally - it can take some time to get used to a healthy diet if they haven't grown up with one). I feed my adult a bug meal once or twice a week and he eats a big salad with dark greens and squash and capsicum and other offerings depending o whatever looks fresh at the time. Their preferences for food can vary quite a bit between dragons, so it takes some trial and error to find their favorites. I can give you more specific details about each option if you wish. I have experience with raising a young dragon, caring for an adult dragon who could not be saved, and successfully rescuing a neglected adult and bringing him to good health.
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Re: Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

Postby Jebediah » Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:45 pm

That's an amazing help. Thanks so much.

I have found a 7-month-old. I think he is perfect for us, and the guy selling him seems really decent and an attentive owner. From what i can tell his setup is good and the Dragon looks healthy (photo attached - what do you think?). Unfortunately with the lockdown here in Israel, i can't pop over to take a look, so will just have to trust him. He is also trusting me and holding on to him for 3 weeks until i can get everything organized.

He also seems to have the inside scoop on all the yummy edible bugs in Israel, so hopefully i can get started on that as well. My 7 year old son is almost as excited about the locusts and roaches as he is the lizard. I should have just bought him a pet cockroach - would have been much cheaper :lol:

I have a neighbour who is a retired handyman, and he is helping me with the build. We went over plans today and he was totally excited and involved. He had not heard of bearded dragons and has never had a pet in his life. Was great to see him sending links to his grandkids and he made me promise that they could come and visit as soon as possible.

[Click image to enlarge]


Onwards and upwards. Have set myself 3 weeks to get him in his new home.
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Re: Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

Postby Jebediah » Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:50 am

So my 6 year old presented me with a beautiful log that he has apparently been keeping in his room for a year. He has declared that it is for his new pet! The only problem is that i am pretty sure it is pine, which i have read is a big no-no. Is there anything i can do to make it okay - several layers of water-based polyurethane perhaps?

Thanks
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Re: Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

Postby Claudiusx » Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:52 am

I would bake it in the oven at 250 for an hour or so (depending how thick it is) and then you can go ahead and seal it. Sealing it will lock in any potential toxins.

-Brandon
Follow along with all my beardies. Check out my thread here!: Claud's Crew
P.S. We have lots of pictures ;)
Click here if you use a Sunblaster fixture - IMPORTANT
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Re: Newbie DIY questions (mostly lighting/heating)

Postby Jebediah » Sun Jan 17, 2021 1:23 pm

Claudiusx wrote:I would bake it in the oven at 250 for an hour or so (depending how thick it is) and then you can go ahead and seal it. Sealing it will lock in any potential toxins.

-Brandon

Amazing. Thanks
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