Details on our new viv...

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Our dragon has been in his new viv for about a month now, so I figured I'd post some info about it.

I posted some info about building it in the DIY section here: viewtopic.php?f=75&t=233838

Here are some pictures of the overall viv before we finished the dig box:



The two back walls are 4'. The two side walls are 1.5 foot. The front is about 3.5', and it's 2' high. Overall it's about 12.5 square feet of floor space, with a total of 16 square feet of "living space" counting the corner shelf. The viv is in my son's room and he did a lot of the interior painting. He painted most of the backgrounds, etc. and I helped a little.

The flooring I used is cork flooring from Home Depot. I'd say I'm pretty happy with it. It can be a little difficult to clean if poop has been allowed to dry on it, but it can be cleaned up with a sponge or toothbrush in those cases. In addition to the cork I'm using a lot of flagstone that I got from a local nursery. I really like the flagstone and it was only 25 cents a pound. I did shape some of the flagstone using a hammer, especially the main ramp.

The cork is soft so the flagstone does a good job of filing down his nails. What I like about the cork is that it looks seamless and it looks very naturalistic (because it is), like a dirt floor.

The shelf is about 11" from the floor and 13" from the ceiling. If I were doing it again I'd make it more like 9" from the floor to be a little farther from the ceiling to create a little more distance from the lights.

As it is, however, it is low enough to the floor that our dragon still often jumps off the shelf onto the floor (another reason I like the soft cork) and even sometimes climbs up without using the ramps. He'll grab the shelf and do a pull-up. I was surprised to see that!

Below is one of the features I designed for this, which is a "feeding pit". The floor has an additional layer of 3/4" plywood, that I cut a hole into for the feeding pit. The cork floor added more depth. A big reason I went with cork was also because it was easy to cut a hole into for the feeding pit. The pit is lined with a 10" diameter plant saucer (I discuss here: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=231135)


Even adult roaches can't climb out of the saucer, but the lizard easily can, so it makes a great feeding dish. If I were to do it again I would have figured out the configuration before making the hole and moved it over to the left a bit. Since I wasn't sure how I was going to set it up I just made it the middle.

The pic below shows the finished dig box. I basically made a plywood box around the plastic bin. I could eliminate the plastic bin, but I think it's just easier to clean, etc. with the plastic bin in it. The wood box is coated in the same polyurethane stain I used on the outside, with sand mixed in. I used about 6 coats.


I'm still working on finding or making a naturalistic planter for the "hens and chicks" plant. It seems that this plant is doing really well and I may add some more once I get a good solution for planters.

I made the viv with 2 largish screened openings on the sides for air flow, but I found that they were causing the viv to be a little too cool, so I've covered them with aluminum foil for now. This may change in the winter when the room is actually warmer due to heat and I may replace the foil with Plexiglas with small holes in it.

I've got the lights all "mounted" externally. I don't care for internal lights especially on something with this little height. On a 3 or 4 foot tall viv that may be a different matter. Below shows how I've got my lights setup.




Juvie Member
Original Poster
Continued... (For some reason the forum wouldn't let me post everything in a single post)

The lights are resting on 1/2" "screen" which is basically a large enough mesh that it doesn't interfere with the lights and allows virtually 100% light penetration. (I'll assume it's like 98%). I'm using 2 basking lights, a 24" Reptisun T5 10.0 UVB bulb, an LED aquarium light for full spectrum lighting, an LED blue light on a dimmer for 2 hours of evening light, and also a CHE. I'm going to make a separate post to go into details on the lighting setup.

The basking spot runs at about 107 F and the lowest temps on the top shelf are in the high 80s, like 88. The rock ramp and dig box run in the mid to low 80s and the log side runs in the mid to high 70s.

Some other features of this viv are that the top is totally removable. It is held on with 2 screws, but is easy to take off for cleaning or repainting, etc.

Everything in the viv except the main shelf is removable. I wanted to make sure it was modular and easy to totally clear out and maintain. The cork floor isn't even fully fastened down, though I did run a bead of silicone around the edge to make sure bugs couldn't get under the edges. Still I could pull the cork out if I wanted to. The front doors are real glass.

I didn't add up the exact cost, but I'd say that overall it probably cost me about $400 to build (I'm not counting lights), but I could do it cheaper knowing what I know now. Still, using all new materials I'd say it could be made for about $300. I didn't need to buy any tools, so that's also something to consider.

I think the size is good. He does still spend 75% of his time on the top shelf. He uses the big box on occasion. He'll walk around it a bit from time to time. The best is when I loose feed crickets. I like having the feeding pit for roaches, I don't want to loose feed those, but I like giving him crickets about once a week and will dump like 20 large in there and it's fun watching him hunt those down. Usually ends up taking him half a day to get them all. He doesn't go under the shelf much, but he does go under there sometimes on his own, and of course to chase crickets.

For those looking to build a viv for adults, I'd say that this is a challenging build and if you don't have experience building this type of stuff I'd stay with a rectangular build. However, I think a simple 4X2X2 is still quite good and honestly they spend most of their time basking anyway. I think if I were going rectangular I'd try to opt for 4X2X3 or even 4X2X4 as an ideal size, but that's a more expensive build than 4X2X2 because of the way the materials work out.
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