DIY accessibility ramp for elderly dragon

Spider8ait1994

Hatchling Member
Sharing this here since I’ve just made an accessibility ramp for my oldest rescue to help him access his higher basking platform.
Previously he’s accessed this platform using a log/branch decor piece however he’s getting old now and isn’t quite as mobile as he used to be in addition to having slightly decreased vision in one eye.
I wanted to replace the decor piece he used to access the platform with a ramp because I figured a ramp would be a flatter and wider surface for him that would be easier to grip and lack any protruding pieces he could bump himself on if he steps off the edge of the platform.
I measured the highest end of the ramp to be slightly shorter than the height of the basking platform and the overall length I measured to form a climbable slope that would still fit within his enclosure.
For the one I made the height at the highest end is 21cm and the length of the ramp is 28cm.
I used some offcuts of Merbau plank I had leftover from building a deck extension, secured the two pieces together with outdoor wood glue and some small brad nails.
To add some extra grip and make the ramp surface softer I used an offcut of reptile carpet which I attached with some Selleys Kwik Grip.
Spike has trialed it and is able to climb it just fine so for now I have it out in the garage to ventilate for a while before I’ll put it in his enclosure.
I’ll add to this thread with some photos once it’s in his enclosure but for now here’s some photos of the assembled piece.
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Rocky2022

Gray-bearded Member
Beardie name(s)
Rocky, Ruby
Awww I love this and love that you care more about your beardie!!!
I spent money on ramp that now sits in my basement!
 

Spider8ait1994

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Awww I love this and love that you care more about your beardie!!!
I spent money on ramp that now sits in my basement!
Yeah I was initially planning on buying him one of the Komodo ramps but I found when I looked up the dimensions they didn’t quite fit the space in his enclosure I would be putting it so I figured I’d try my hand at DIYing one because that way it’s a custom fit and considering I already had the bits and pieces to make it lying around it saved me $$$ too.
It’s definitely been a benefit to have some DIY skills when caring for rescue dragons since I’ve found most of the pre-made enclosure pieces you can buy aren’t catering to dragons with special needs like mobility or missing toes/limbs or even just an aging dragon.
With some creative thinking and the right materials you can really modify pre-made pieces or even make custom stuff to cater to the specific needs of your dragon.
I’ve shared a few DIY things here before like collapsible outdoor enclosures to allow for safe, easily transportable outdoor time in the natural sun and more recently an ‘anti-scratch sock’ to stop Spike scratching at an eye issue and risking damaging his eye.
Either way I’m definitely of the opinion that with any sort of pet owners should make an effort to address their unique individual needs through all life stages to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible and able to access their surroundings with minimal risk regardless of their age or condition. It just makes for a happier companion that’s more likely to keep active and by extension healthier (ie maintaining muscle mass, avoiding femoral pore blockages bought on by prolonged inactivity and less likely to put on excessive weight)
Just because they’re not human doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat them with the same courtesies we do ourselves as we age or encounter needs for accessible options.
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
I wish everyone had that mind set.
I make a bet with ya, i bet spike uses the ramp as a leaning post as much as a ramp. (I have an advantage, i have a ramp in one of my habitats and my girl lays on it more than her basking decor lol)
 

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Spider8ait1994

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
I wish everyone had that mind set.
I make a bet with ya, i bet spike uses the ramp as a leaning post as much as a ramp. (I have an advantage, i have a ramp in one of my habitats and my girl lays on it more than her basking decor lol)
He likely will. He has a big piece of ironbark in his enclosure that I’ve stood up to mimic a tree trunk in his natural environment and he loves standing himself up against that and he’ll also often sit himself on top of the hide I made for him when he outgrew the commercially available ones in my area.
Now here’s some photos of the ramp in his enclosure and I’ve also included some photos of another modification I made to his climbing/basking wall to assist him in moving between the two platforms.
It’s just a bird ladder that I cut to the required length, rounded off the edges of the cut end then attached to the underside of the higher platform with the hooks included with the ladder.
I initially did that for my younger dragon Puff who has the missing toes on one foot because I’d been noticing he’d try to jump the gap and only just make it. Now they’ve both got a ladder bridge and Puff has also taken to using his as a pillow.
Also included a photo of the decor piece that Spike used to use to access the higher platform, as you can see it’s made of resin and has protruding parts and a narrower surface to hold onto.
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xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
His habitat looks really nice. The ramp should make it easier for him. How does he handle the spacing on the ladder? I've used the bird stuff in the past but there wasn't spacing, i have wondered how well those would work.
 

Spider8ait1994

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
His habitat looks really nice. The ramp should make it easier for him. How does he handle the spacing on the ladder? I've used the bird stuff in the past but there wasn't spacing, i have wondered how well those would work.
It did take them a little bit to get used to the ladder but after a while they both worked it out and don’t seem to have any issues with the rung spacing.
I figured that if they struggled with the rungs I could always knock the rungs out and use something like some plywood to create a solid surface.
My youngest one was the one who initially had issues because he’d attempt to climb up THROUGH the ladder to begin with but I’m sure that was just him being a bit slower to learn things as I do suspect his little brain is a bit scrambled as a result of some sort of head injury he sustained as a hatchling with his original owners as I’ve found he does seem to behave slightly younger than he actually is and generally takes more time to work things out.
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
I have a rescue that was severely neglected, she seems a little off mentally compared to my other dragons. She is the sweetest but certainly not the brightest. Some days it's like she can't figure out what food is or how to eat it.
 

Spider8ait1994

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
I have a rescue that was severely neglected, she seems a little off mentally compared to my other dragons. She is the sweetest but certainly not the brightest. Some days it's like she can't figure out what food is or how to eat it.
Sounds a lot like Puff. He’d only recognise live insects as food when I first got him so I had to introduce him to non insect food and teach him what’s edible. His lip deformity actually made that process a bit easier because with his lips open at the front like they were I was able to thinks slice or grate veggies and just poke them in there for him to taste and realise ‘oh? This thing is tasty!?’
I’ve had some success with his learning through showing him videos of other dragons eating greens and he’s definitely learned a few things through watching Spike.
Finding greens for Puff is still trial and error but he is improving. I used to have to hand feed him greens but as of September last year he eats peas, corn, green beans and zucchini on his own, he’ll eat pumpkin but needs help with that because it’s steamed and slippery for him and I’ve found he loves the blue cornflowers I grow for them.
I’ve got endive, Tuscan Kale and collard greens growing at the moment for them plus the cornflowers and calendula flowers.
I’ve also found that my boys seem to prefer home grown versions over store bought so most of their greens I homegrow now which actually saves me money and I have peace of mind that what they’re eating is chemical free and fresh and Spike in particular likes to go and forage for his greens when I have a lizard safe food only garden bed set up.
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
Man that is cool 😎 👌. I live in the city now so not much room for a garden, but we bought property over in Arizona eventually i hope to be living there. Once we ever build there I'll grow all my guy's green as well.
 

Hatchi

Member
Beardie name(s)
Alfred AKA The UlanBaby
Sharing this here since I’ve just made an accessibility ramp for my oldest rescue to help him access his higher basking platform.
Previously he’s accessed this platform using a log/branch decor piece however he’s getting old now and isn’t quite as mobile as he used to be in addition to having slightly decreased vision in one eye.
I wanted to replace the decor piece he used to access the platform with a ramp because I figured a ramp would be a flatter and wider surface for him that would be easier to grip and lack any protruding pieces he could bump himself on if he steps off the edge of the platform.
I measured the highest end of the ramp to be slightly shorter than the height of the basking platform and the overall length I measured to form a climbable slope that would still fit within his enclosure.
For the one I made the height at the highest end is 21cm and the length of the ramp is 28cm.
I used some offcuts of Merbau plank I had leftover from building a deck extension, secured the two pieces together with outdoor wood glue and some small brad nails.
To add some extra grip and make the ramp surface softer I used an offcut of reptile carpet which I attached with some Selleys Kwik Grip.
Spike has trialed it and is able to climb it just fine so for now I have it out in the garage to ventilate for a while before I’ll put it in his enclosure.
I’ll add to this thread with some photos once it’s in his enclosure but for now here’s some photos of the assembled piece. View attachment 79242 View attachment 79243 View attachment 79244 View attachment 79245
WOW This is nice! Keep up the good work!
 

Hatchi

Member
Beardie name(s)
Alfred AKA The UlanBaby
He likely will. He has a big piece of ironbark in his enclosure that I’ve stood up to mimic a tree trunk in his natural environment and he loves standing himself up against that and he’ll also often sit himself on top of the hide I made for him when he outgrew the commercially available ones in my area.
Now here’s some photos of the ramp in his enclosure and I’ve also included some photos of another modification I made to his climbing/basking wall to assist him in moving between the two platforms.
It’s just a bird ladder that I cut to the required length, rounded off the edges of the cut end then attached to the underside of the higher platform with the hooks included with the ladder.
I initially did that for my younger dragon Puff who has the missing toes on one foot because I’d been noticing he’d try to jump the gap and only just make it. Now they’ve both got a ladder bridge and Puff has also taken to using his as a pillow.
Also included a photo of the decor piece that Spike used to use to access the higher platform, as you can see it’s made of resin and has protruding parts and a narrower surface to hold onto. View attachment 79325 View attachment 79326 View attachment 79327 View attachment 79328 View attachment 79329 View attachment 79330
Sweet!
 

Spider8ait1994

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
I’m back to this thread again with some more DIY for Spike to make his enclosure more accessible to his mobility and sight needs as he’s aging.
This time I’ve modified the bird ladder bridge between his basking platforms by turning it into a solid bridge.
I planned the design so that I wouldn’t have to do anything to the ladder itself and would be able to revert the bridge back to a ladder if I ever need to and I was able to make it with things I had lying around.

Materials used:
MDF board
Reptile terrarium carpet
Same selleys glue used for the ramp
String (I used waxed string for strength)

Tools:
Drill and size 4 bit
Jigsaw with wood blade
Set square, measuring tape and pencil
A screw
Hammer
Vice grips and work horse table
Box cutter

Process:
Measured the ladder’s length and width and added some to the width while removing some from the length so I ended up with measurements of 29cm by 10cm.
Marked that out on the MDF with the pencil, measure tape and set square.
Cut that out with the jigsaw.
Lined up a corner with the edge of the terrarium mat scrap and pinned that down with the vice clamps then used a box cutter to cut the mat to size.
Positioned the ladder as required and marked out 4 drill holes, 2 at the top and 2 at the bottom then drilled those.
Glued the mat on.
Used the screw and a hammer to puncture through the glued on mat from the reverse side using the drilled holes as a guide.
Placed the ladder back in position on the underside of the board and threaded the string through the holes. Tied the string around the board and ladder to secure the pieces together.
All done.
I’m just leaving it out overnight to air out with the glue before putting it in the enclosure but I placed it back for a few seconds to get a photo of it in and make sure it still fits with the added thickness from the MDF.
I’ve also included a photo of the ladder in my younger dragon’s enclosure to show how the ladder in Spike’s originally was positioned before modification.
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xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
I wish every keeper took as good of care of their beardies as you do. We'd see a lot less sick and neglected beardies in the world.
To many people let thier beardies become sick and frail, you brought yours back from the brink and give them great lives. My hats off to ya man 🙂
 

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