Me and Lydia build and design all our own reptile enclosures and backgrounds. We think it's important to make sure your animals have as much of a naturalistic or entertaining enclosure as possible. Since these animals spend a majority of their lives either locked in a cage or enclosure it's pretty key to ensure they won't get bored and that it suits their needs.
Beardie in his custom tank enjoying the heat
When we build an enclosure we try and make it at least 1.5x as large as recommended unless the species that will inhabit it doesn't do well in large spaces. Eg there was a monitor lizard at my mums for a few years who seemed like his enclosure was far too small however any time he was in a larger tank he would freak out and stress, trying to find somewhere to hide and get away.
Other animals will thrive in as large a tank as possible. Lizzy our blue tongues tank is 1.5mx450mmx450mm. The bearded dragons tank is 1.2mx600mmx600mm and the large snakes tank is 1.8mx600mmx600mm.
Beardies full enclosure
Different animals require different dimensions and enclosures, for example the blue tongue lizzy has a longer tank but it isn't as tall. This is because blue tongue skinks don't climb and he will only use the floorspace, by making it longer we can incorporate more things for him to do.
The beardie and the snake tank are both taller because they have a number of climbing apparatus's in their enclosures. Both love to climb and explore in the branches but spend a lot less time on the floor, by increasing the height and the width we increase the amount of usable space for the animal whilst reducing the size the tank takes up in the room.
Lizzy's tank which is longer but not as tall and has nothing to climb about on as blue tongues don't really climb.
Currently I am making the backgrounds for the smaller tank we have for the young blue tongue that will come to live with us soon. The tank itself is pretty small but she is a pretty small lizard so it should suit perfectly, at least for a year or so.
New tank in progress for a small blue tongue, the entire background is expanding foam coated in grout and then pond sealant. It includes a naturalistic hide/basking deck.
To make the fake backgrounds for the tanks sometimes we use fake plants or simply pieces of wood and rocks, this time though we have made full wall fake rock backgrounds to stick to the walls. The fake rock walls also incorporate hiding areas and basking decks for the lizard.
To make the fake wall I took a piece of cardboard cut to the size of the wall, sprayed expanding foam all over it in a vague pattern of what I wanted and then let it dry. After drying you take a knife and cut and shape it how you want, you may need to add more foam in some areas but just see how it goes. After shaping I mix up a grout or render mix and cover it in a render. This helps fill the holes in the foam as well as texturing the surface and making it look nicer. After the grout dries take a pond sealer or similar that is safe for animals and coat the entire thing.
Lydia had some sand coloured sealant left from her last project so I used that which makes it come up as a sort of sandstone but you can also paint the grout/render whatever colour you want or add an oxidiser, then use a clear sealant to give you you a waterproof/non toxic finish.
Carlos the 6 ft Bredli pythons enclosure, all home made
If anyones thinking of getting a reptile and wants some help setting up an enclosure feel free to let me know and I'll help if I can.