Reptile cage units are used to keep multiple reptiles in one spot. Cage units are an easy way to access your reptiles quickly and are space-efficient. If you are breeding snakes, for example, they are a great way to store your snakes after they hatch. Commercial cage units are available, but they can be expensive. Luckily, you can make your own unit at home for little money, using melamine and plastic storage bins.
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Things you need
- Plastic storage bins
- 1 5/8-inch drywall screws
Purchase 16 plastic storage bins. If you do not intend to use all 16 bins for reptiles, you can cut down the number you purchase, but you will have empty spots in your unit. The bins should be 13 1/5 inches long, 8 1/8 inches wide and 4 inches tall.
Purchase a sheet of melamine from your local home improvement store. Melamine is a resin-based material. The sheet should be 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 3/4 of an inch thick.
Cut your sheet of melamine into eight pieces. Six of the pieces should be 35 inches long and 13 1/2 inches wide, which will be the shelf pieces. Two of the pieces should be 25 inches long by 13 1/2 inches wide, which will be the side pieces.
Use a drill to place three holes into the short end of one of the side pieces of melamine. Place two of the holes 1/4 inch from the corners; centre the third hole between the two corner holes. All holes should be in a line and 1/4 inch from the edge of the piece.
Repeat Step 4 with the second side piece of melamine.
Attach the first shelf using a drill and drywall screws to the side piece. Make sure the shelf piece is flush with one of the side pieces, and use your drill to make one pilot hole that lines up with the corresponding hole you drilled in the side piece. Insert one drywall screw through the pilot hole and tighten it. Repeat this process with the other two holes in the side piece.
Repeat Step 6 to attach the shelf you were working with to the second side piece.
Turn the unit upright so that the shelf you just attached is lying flat on the ground and the sides are pointed upward.
Place four of your storage bins, without the lids on, on the shelf, side-by-side. Place the second shelf piece on top of the bins. This will help you determine the exact spacing for your second shelf. Draw lines on the side pieces with a pencil where the second shelf hits. You want the shelf to be flush against the bins.
Remove the second shelf. Leave the bins in place. Measure down 3/8 inches below the lines you drew and drill three pilot holes parallel to the holes from the first shelf into the side piece.
Place the second shelf on top of the bins again. Double-check to make sure the bins are flush with the shelf but are not so tight you can't pull them out and air can't get in. The bins and shelf should be close enough so the reptiles will not have space to escape. Attach the second shelf to the side pieces as you did in steps 6 and 7.
Continue to install the remaining shelves following steps 9, 10 and 11 until all the shelves are attached. The completed unit will have four shelves with four bins on each shelf.
Cut strips of wood to create barriers to keep your boxes from sliding out the back or creating spaces in the back where the reptiles can escape. The strips should be 25 inches long, 4 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. You will need four strips.
Lay your completed unit back down on the ground. Place your bins in the unit for spacing purposes. Lay the wood strips over the bins so they are centred on the pins running from the top of the unit to the bottom. Attach screws through the strips of wood into the shelves of the unit to hold them in place.
Set your unit upright and place your reptiles into the storage bins.
Tips and warnings
- If you wish to use a heating element with your unit, you can use heat tape or heat rope. Install the heat tape strips on the back of your unit so they are in line with your bins.
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