DIY Snake Cage: Part 2

Best Substrate for Ball Pythons- 5 Options, 1 to Avoid

DIY Snake Cage: Part 2. Let’s GO!

Scroll to the bottom for a material list with prices.

DIY SNAKE CAGE: PART 2

STEP ONE: TIME TO LAY SOME FLOOR

Ok, so now it was time to start laying the floor in the enclosure. This flooring is basic vinyl flooring, it comes in a large roll. I found it in a discount box at Home Depot! I went with a large plank, hardwood appearance. Here are the main benefits vinyl flooring provide:

  • Incredibly easy to clean
  • Durable
  • Seals and protects the floor and back wall from damage
  • It actually looks pretty decent, there are may different designs to choose from (ceramic, brick, rock, wood)
  • Easy to install
  • Absorbs heat
  • Non-abrasive on the animals

I used an exacto blade to roughly cut out the size of vinyl floor I needed.  I decided to cover only the bottom and back wall with the flooring.  The sides do not see enough wear for flooring to be necessary, nor does the ceiling.

Cutting vinyl flooring

Then, I dry fit the piece of vinyl into the enclosure. Once I was happy  with the fit, I was ready to glue it down.

NOTICE: I only used a single piece of flooring for the back and the bottom.

This means there is no seam where the back and bottom of the enclosure meet.  This is definitely the way to go as now I don’t have to worry at all about any leaks, etc.

Dry fit vinyl floor

Instead of using proper vinyl floor adhesive, I used my trusty tube of  General Electric Silicone I. I used silicone to glue the floor down for 2 reasons:

  1. I knew it would hold (silicone sticks to pretty much anything)
  2. It is completely non-toxic to the animals when it is dry

First I laid down a bead of silicone in a “squiggle” pattern on both the back wall. Then, I used a scrap piece of hardboard (from Part 1) to smear the silicone out as best I could.

Silicone

Spreading out Silicone

Once I finished smearing the silicone on the back wall, I “squiggle-smeared” the bottom with its share of silicone as well (not pictured).

Now it was time to insert the vinyl flooring in for real. The flooring is very easy to work with and the silicone is quite forgiving. I was able to set the floor in the enclosure and wiggle it around till it sat in the position I wanted.

Inserting floor

I used a rolling pin to press the flooring into the silicone to ensure they were bonded together thoroughly.  Then, I cut off the excess flooring that was hanging off the bottom.

Pressing down floor

And finally, you guessed it… more silicone! (my personal rule of thumb: if your lungs and eyes aren’t burning… you haven’t used enough). I used more silicone to seal the seams where the vinyl floor meets the melamine of the cabinet.

Silicone seams



STEP TWO: WE HAVE A RUNNER

I’m not sure if you can actually call that board in the picture below a “runner board” but that’s what I call it! Anyway, at this point I was ready to install the runner board along the bottom of the enclosure.

This board is being installed so the glass tracks on the bottom have a place to sit. Technically, I could have installed the glass track directly to the cabinet itself but this way substrate doesn’t fall out every time I open the doors.

The board is a 1″ x 3″ and the wood is oak although you could probably use any type of wood (hardwoods should only be used).

Dry fit runner board

I punched about 5-6 screws through the bottom of the enclosure to secure the runner board in place.

Screw in runner board

And of course… more silicone!  This is the inside seam i.e. where the oak board meets the vinyl floor. Seriously, when in doubt you should seal it up!  There is no point in risking moisture damage. Realistically, oak can resist a lot of moisture but it just makes more sense to make sure it is completely sealed.

Silicone seam

STEP THREE: SKIS!

One little thing I did that I forgot to record was add “skis” to the bottom of the enclosures. I made these from scrape 1″ x 3″ lumbar I had lying around as well as some left over vinyl flooring. I installed 3 of them as you can see two pictures down. These skis serve two main purposes:

  1. They allow air flow between the top and bottom enclosure and the bottom enclosure and the carpet in the reptile room. Since I am using heat mats for a hot spot, air flow is very important to reduce heat transfer between enclosures.
  2. They make the enclosures far easier to slide around on the floor when moving.These skis weren’t in the original plans but I am glad I thought of them! Sometimes the ideas that come to you on the fly are the best ones!

Bottom "skis"Three skis on bottom

STEP FOUR: BACK TO THE REPTILE ROOM AND WAIT…

At this point  all the dirty work is done! I am very pleased with the way the enclosures have turned out.  Part two is complete!

Unfortunately, the glass I ordered took about two weeks to come in which left me waiting in anticipation.  If you are as excited as I was to install the glass… check out PART 3!

Also, at the end of the video I briefly discuss how I built my own radiant heat panels shown in the photo below. I ended up making a more detailed version to help answer any questions some of you had, you can check that video out HERE –> DIY RADIANT HEAT PANEL

DIY Radiant heat panelSnake cages without glass

DIY SNAKE CAGE: PART 2

MATERIAL LIST (appropriate prices, in Canadian dollars), keep in mind I built TWO enclosures so this is the list of materials I used to do both.

  • Vinyl floor= $45.00 (had tons left over)
  • Silicone= (see Part 1)
  • Oak board, 8′ L 1″x3″= $15.00

TOTAL: $60.00

Move on to DIY SNAKE CAGE: Part 3 to install the glass and any other finishing touches!

DIY Snake Cage: Part 1

Best Substrate for Ball Pythons- 5 Options, 1 to Avoid

Welcome to my DIY Snake Cage 3 Part series!

I just finished uploading a video tutorial for my latest DIY project, which was converting two cabinets into snake enclosures for my boas.  I have posted Part 1 of the video below, but in case you don’t have time right now to watch it… OR maybe you are at work and you need to make it look like you’re “working” I have broken it down into steps below with pictures!  Although I highly recommend eventually watching the video as I go into more detail.

Scroll to the bottom for a material list with prices.

DIY SNAKE CAGE: PART 1

STEP ONE: ACQUISITION 

Hunt the local classifieds for cabinets and/or shelving units! These can be very useful, especially if you’re like me and have limited carpentry skills and/or a limited space to work in (I live in an apartment). Usually old cabinets can be picked up for rather cheap and provide a solid foundational  structure to work with.

The cabinets I found were vertical standing, about 72″ high, 20″ wide and 18″ deep. Originally they were used to house my Exo-Terra 18x18x24, which they held perfectly.

I rotated the pic below so you are able to sort of picture what they originally looked like.  But don’t stare at that picture for too long… it will really mess with your mind.

diy snake cage
DIY Cabinets into Snake Cage

Eventually I moved my Exo Terra’s from them and got the idea to lay them on their side so I could store a large bin in each one as shown in the picture below.  But just like my reptile induced debt, my snakes grew and it was time for an upgrade.

DIY Snake Cage: Part 1

STEP TWO: DEMOLITION

Next I had to remove parts of the cabinet that I either hated or did not need. These particular shelves had two things that fell into both categories:

  1. The back panel:The back panel was maybe of a very thin sheet of essentially a melamine type material. I had punched holes through it in the past and it was just overall too flimsy of a material to have as a back wall, so it had to go.DIY Snake Cage: Part 1
  2. The fixed shelf: These cabinets came with several removable shelves as well as a few fixed shelves. The fixed shelves are held in place with wooden pins. I had to remove the highest shelf, as I wanted to use the full 46″ length the cabinets had to offer.

DIY Snake Cage: Part 1

If you are interested in watching a man struggle doing a man thing, watch me try and cut that shelf out with a hand saw. It’s pretty funny.



STEP THREE: “CONSTRUCTION” 

Now it was time to add a new back to the unit. I choose a product called “hardboard” which I found at Home Depot. It is essentially a very thick, very hard (I’m going to stop you right there)… very compressed sheet of cardboard.

Hardboard was cheaper than plywood and has more than enough structural integrity. Plus it would eventually be sealed with vinyl floor and silicon so I wasn’t worried about water damage, etc.

DIY Snake Cage: Part 1

First, I ran a bead of No More Nails Adhesive by LePage around the perimeter of the unit. I really recommend picking up a tube of No More Nails, even just to have for around the house. I was amazed at how well it adhered once it was dry, and it basically has zero chemical smell. Although, I can’t say it is non-toxic for animals though so I’d stay away from using it where the animals can readily access just to be safe.

DIY Snake Cage: Part 1

Once I compressed the hardboard into the adhesive, I added a few screws per side for some extra support. The screws probably weren’t necessary but, why not?

DIY Snake Cage: Part 1

STEP FOUR: SEAL ‘ER

It is very important to seal up all seams in the enclosure! Melamine and wood cabinets can quickly become damaged due to moisture, so I went heavy on the silicon! Boa constrictors aren’t kept in wet/damp enclosures by any means but their urates/pee can do some real damage.

I used General Electric Silicone I. This is very IMPORTANT because GE Silicon I is 100% non-toxic and safe for animals once dry. GE Silicon II, is not!

GE Silicon II is labelled as “Mold Free”, meaning they add a chemical to the silicon to prevent any mold growth. This chemical is toxic to animals. GE Silicon I is labelled as “Mold Resistant” meaning no additional chemicals are added.

DIY Snake Cage: Part 1

DIY SNAKE CAGE: PART 1

MATERIAL LIST (APPROXIMATE PRICES, in Canadian Dollars), also keep in mind I built TWO enclosures so this is the list of materials I used to do both.

  • Cabinets= $50.00 for both
  • 2 x Hardboard 2′ x 4′ sheet= $17.00
  • No More Nails= $9.50
  • 4 x tubes GE I Silicon= $20.00
  • Screws= $5.00

TOTAL: $101.50

Okay, that is enough for DIY Snake Cage: Part 1!  Next up is installing the vinyl flooring, below is a shot of the flooring I picked. Click PART TWO to see how it got installed.

DIY Snake Cage: Part 1