building a habitat

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building a habitat

Postby DonnaG » Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:53 am

I just got my bearded dragon this past Thursday. The kit that the store manager sold me is kind of small. He said that it was a 20 long. I'm not so sure. It is 20 inches long; but, surely it is not a 20 gallon long. It seems to be more the size of a 10 gallon tank. I'm considering building a bigger enclosure for him. He's still a baby; but, he is growing.

I can easily get pine plywood and have read that it can be safe if it is sealed. So, what can I use to seal pine wood?
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Re: building a habitat

Postby CooperDragon » Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:07 pm

A 20g long is much larger than a 10g tank. That would be suitable for a young dragon, but if it's only the size of a 10g I'd get something bigger. If you have access to plywood I'd just plan on building a 4'x2'x2', invest in good lighting, and be done with it. You can get some build ideas in the DIY section on this site, but I'd look at plans for a crossfire enclosure and go from there. They are fairly simple and work well. I would seal the plywood with a couple of polyurethane coats. That should protect it and keep it water tight.
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Re: building a habitat

Postby Gail » Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:29 pm

You can also use melamine instead of ply and it doesn't need sealed.
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Re: building a habitat

Postby Gormagon » Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:03 pm

Yup, I am using melamine for the double enclosure I am working on now! Inexpensive, solid and a good finish. The one I am building is 8'x2'x2' divided into two 4'x2'x2' vivariums so they can't see each other.
The wonderful world of bearded dragons is a magical land of mystery, enchantment, cuddles, love and, worry! A mysterious realm where things always seem to change in an instant and, the moment you think you have it all figured out, the rules change! You think you own your dragon, guess again. You are now a slave!!!
RIP Peaches 10-1-18 Forever in my Heart
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Re: building a habitat

Postby DonnaG » Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:21 am

CooperDragon wrote:A 20g long is much larger than a 10g tank. That would be suitable for a young dragon, but if it's only the size of a 10g I'd get something bigger. If you have access to plywood I'd just plan on building a 4'x2'x2', invest in good lighting, and be done with it. You can get some build ideas in the DIY section on this site, but I'd look at plans for a crossfire enclosure and go from there. They are fairly simple and work well. I would seal the plywood with a couple of polyurethane coats. That should protect it and keep it water tight.


Thank you. I do not know what a crossfire enclosure is. When I do a web search for the term 'crossfire enclosure' I get all kinds of results. Nothing that is similar enough to give me an idea.
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Re: building a habitat

Postby CooperDragon » Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:32 pm

It looks like a lot of the old instruction sets for that are now gone. Generally speaking, it's a 4'x2'x2' box (I'd probably build it a little taller) and the more space you can provide the better, for the most part.

You want vents along the sides. Low on the cool side and high on the warm side. You can use circular holes or a rectangular one, and just plug it with a vent cover like what you'd see in a house. You can be pretty flexible about that part.

For the front, a lot of people install a railing and put in sliding glass/plexiglass doors. Plexiglass is cheaper but is more prone to getting scuffed or discolored. You can have the doors slide to the side, or could put a hinge on them and have them swing out or drop down. What I'd probably do is make a frame for the front out of wood, put the glass in the center of the frame, then build a hinge on the bottom and a latch on the top so that it will drop down to open and when it's up you can latch it closed.

You'll want holes to fish wiring through to mount lighting if you go with a solid top. Mount the basking light socket and a T5 fixture over the side you want to build for basking.

That's generally it, but I do recommend browsing the DIY forum and taking your time to plan it out as you get some more ideas from builds other people have made. There are many great ways to go about this, so don't feel too confined to one approach.
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Re: building a habitat

Postby DonnaG » Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:02 pm

Thanks so much for the detailed reply. I have been watching YouTube videos even before I signed up to this forum. I've also found some instructions without photos. Sometimes, they had enough details that I could understand what they were doing. I've already got an idea going on. I don't think I'll be able to make it taller than 24 inches since I've already ordered the melamine sheet and will be having it cut. I'm going to make a screen top and figure out how to make a frame around it. I'd kind of like to be able to have the top be hinged and also have sliding doors on the front.

The only place in town that sells plexiglass is Ace Hardware. The have 1/8 inch and 14 inch thicknesses. But, the guy I talked two said that I'd probably be better off going with glass. I'm pretty sure glass would be more expensive. The Ace guy's reason for going with glass is that the plexiglass would not hold up to heat very well. I think that I would prefer plexiglass because it's less likely to break; but, if it is going to warp or melt...

What do you think?
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Re: building a habitat

Postby DonnaG » Tue Jun 29, 2021 12:34 pm

There is a place in town called Jim's Glass. It can cut to size glass or plexiglass. The track and guide I was able to get is 4 feet long and can accommodate 1/8 inch thick glass. The track and glide is made of plastic. It can be nailed, screwed, or glued in place. But, I'm having trouble finding screws that thin. So, I'm thinking maybe just gluing the pieces in place. But, what kind of glue? The habitat is made of melamine which looks like particle board covered with a white acrylic finish.

We have three different hardware stores here in town; but, I don't think anybody that works at any of these places would know what to suggest if I went asking for an adhesive with a good bond that is safe fore a reptile enclosure.

Can you give me some suggestions? Then I will be able to take these suggestions to the hardware stores to see what they have that will work.
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Re: building a habitat

Postby Gail » Fri Jul 09, 2021 3:50 pm

I would use a epoxy to glue the tracks down if thats the route you decide on. Find someway.to clamp.them down tight while the epoxy dries.

If possible, try to use 1/4" plexi, 1/8" is pretty thin and could be too flexible.
I need to build a new cage myself and would like to use glass this time, the plexi got really scratched up, looked awful after a couple years.
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Re: building a habitat

Postby DonnaG » Fri Jul 09, 2021 4:45 pm

Gail, thank you for replying. We did end up using a two part epoxy to glue the track and guide down. My son has clamps and was able to clamp the track down pretty good. The problem was, he misread the instructions and switched the tubes of epoxy. So, instead of using 1 part to 2 parts. He used 2 parts to 1 part. The adhesion was fast and strong and he said that if he had done it right, there might have been enough time to align the track with his marks. It's off a fraction; so, I suggested he measure in for the guide to match where the track ended up.

We went to Ace yesterday to get some plexiglass. But, their cutter is broken; so, I don't know if it broke while it was cutting our pieces or what. We got 1/8 inch thick; because, that is the size of the track and guide that I got. Ace didn't have enough acrylic to cut both doors; but, did have enough to cut one door and the sheet for my son's palette. The 1/8 inch acrylic will work for now. At some point, I will probably get some tempered glass. My son used this thickness in his last palette and said it did not flex, even when he was using a 4 inch brush to pick up his oil paint. He said he gets kind of wild when he's packing the paint into the brush.
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