DIY Vivarium

Updated April 17, 2017

A vivarium is an enclosed space designed for housing reptiles or plants. Vivariums come in many shapes and sizes, but building your own allows you to design to your individual needs. Vivariums are relatively easy and inexpensive to build, and may be completed in a weekend. Vivariums can be made entirely from glass, but for a quicker project, a wood framed version will be simpler.

Decide on the size of vivarium that you want to build. Take your measurements to a local building supply store that offers cutting services. Conti board, which has a prefinished surface, is a good product to use for this project. Make sure that you have correct dimensions, because you will often be charged for each board the store cuts. If you decide to cut the board yourself, use a handsaw, because this type of board is very difficult to cut with a power saw.

Stand the top, bottom and side pieces on the floor in the design that they will fit together, making sure that the corners are aligned. You may find it easier to get a friend to help, because trying to hold the pieces together yourself can be difficult.

Drill holes along the edges of the frame where they will be joined. Apply a layer of sealant to the edges. Fit the edges together using the chipboard screws.

Cut a piece of exterior plywood to fit the back of the vivarium, or get your building supply store to cut it. Stand the vivarium on its front edge and lay the plywood in position on the back. Drill holes along each length at regular intervals, apply a layer of sealant, and join by using the screws to attach the plywood to the frame.

Attach the double-sided sliding door track to the front of the vivarium. You will get two pieces in the door pack. The deeper one is for the top and the shallower one for the bottom. Glue the tracks in place. When dry, apply sealant along the edge.

Slide the glass into position. The glass will need to fit exactly, so you may need to get it cut professionally. The glass should come in two parts, both just slightly larger than half the width of the vivarium. One pane will slide behind the other, allowing one side to be opened while the other one is closed.

Drill holes in the back of the vivarium for ventilation. Install lighting or lamps that you wish to use.

Things You'll Need

  • Pieces of furniture lumber cut to size.
  • Drill
  • Chipboard screws
  • Sealant
  • Exterior plywood
  • Doubled-sided sliding door track
  • Glue
  • Glass
  • Lamps
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About the Author

Colette McCormick started writing in 2006 and has had work published in books, newspapers and magazines. She has recently written travel articles for "My Weekly," a leading weekly magazine in the U.K. McCormick was educated in Sheffield, England and gained A levels in economics and politics.