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Old 01-18-18, 09:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

OK, so I have peppered this forum with some separate threads that were all in preparation for my DIY project. I am getting close to my move to the next house and I will be able to start the project as soon as we get over there. I didnt want to build and then move the big stack. So I think I have my plan about ready to execute so I am going to post it here and open myself up to (hopefully) constructive criticism.

Here is what I am housing in it eventually...
8x2x18 enclosure: Female Costa Rican Red Tail Boa
4x2x18 enclosure: Male Ball Python
4x2x18 enclosure: Female Milk Snake
4x2x18 enclosure: Unsexed Mexican Black Kingsnake
4x2x18 enclosure: Unsexed Florida Kingsnake
4x2x18 enclosure: Unsexed Brazilian Rainbow Boa

I have a wall that is 162” or 13.5 feet wide. I am about 6 feet tall. My wife is only 5’2”. That affects how high I can go with my enclosures. A step stool is OK but I would rather her be able to easily enjoy all of the snakes as well.
So I am thinking this is the configuration I will go with...



It will consist of 4 modules that I will have secured together and secured to the wall to prevent any shifting or falling.
Module 1: vertical stack of three 4x2x18 enclosures
Module 2: vertical stack of two 4x2x18 enclosures
Module 3: single 8x2x18 enclosure
Module 4: an 8” elevated base to be used for supply storage and to insulate the enclosures from the floor. (not pictured in the pic above)

This will give the entire setup a total width of ~12’ and height of ~5ft. It will also leave a vacant spot of 3’Hx4’Wx2’D for a tank or an arboreal enclosure.
As for construction I plan on building a frame of wood and using coroplast for the panels. A 2 piece sliding door system made of plexi with a latch will be the front panel. I am considering making a side panel out of plexi on the end pieces as well. It wouldnt be the entire panel but enough to peek in at the little creature. I chose the wood frame/coroplast combo to try and save weight as well as make temp/humidity a little easier to manage. I plan on using a fluorescent light in the rainbow enclosure and maybe the MBK so the iridescence shows.

Temp/humidity: I will be using heat tape from reptile basics as the heating method. I currently have multiple Zilla thermostats like this one and they work OK, if not the most accurate. I would love to use heat panels but that isn't in the budget right now. I have not decided on placing the tape on the outside or on the inside with a heat conducting material over it. I will have the 3 colubrids and the ball on 1 thermostat, while the rainbow and red tail will have their own for a total of 3 thermostats. Eventually I would like to upgrade to VE models or Herpstat 4 but I have these now so I am using them. The thought of a single unit to control them all sounds really nice from a management standpoint. Each enclosure will have a thermometer on the cool side and a combo meter on the warm side. I actually have one of these in the red tail’s tank now testing it out.


https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I place the “inside” read out on the warm side and the “outside” meter on the cool side. The only drawback I have right now is that it can be tough to read when stuck on the rear of the enclosure. I also dont have easy access to hit the “history” button to see the 24 hour hi/lo. But I check the tanks multiple times a day so I am not that worried about it.

I haven't completely figured out interior lighting. This would be for my use so I can see the enclosures well and on the rainbow and MBK I would want some fluorescent lighting to show the iridescence. For the others I will probably use some LED fixtures. Keeps them smaller and cooler. I would probably put switches on each of the lights and maybe work them into a timer. I don't want someone accidentally leaving the lights on all night.

Things I am considering changing…
I was originally wanting to do a 24” high enclosure for the boa but that would make the stack uneven. I could do the bottom 4x2 at 24” as well but I dont NEED that space. I could also do 2 bases instead of one and make the base for the colubrid stack 6” taller. That would give me more storage space and still make the stacks even. It would increase my overall stack size to a still manageable 5”. The floor of the top enclosure would be right at 3.5 feet.
Heat tape outside of coroplast vs inside with a piece of glass or ceramic tile on top. A rear vent would be needed for the inside mounting I assume.
Going back to all wood construction using ½ birch and appropriate sealant.

So that is the plan so far. Please, poke holes in my plan, offer suggestions, etc.
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Old 01-18-18, 10:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

Everything seems pretty okay, but then again I am no architect. I don't like stacking cages to much unless they are already over the 4' 6" mark, because it makes it hard to see the animals beneath the top enclosures. While your top enclosure might look nice, I wouldn't want to lean down onto the floor every time I want to see the red tail. Not only that, but all of your enclosures seem to be below that mark. If it were me, I would place the enclosures on a high table, or shelf, and make it two stacks, not one. That's just my opinion though.
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Old 01-18-18, 10:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

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Originally Posted by DJC Reptiles View Post
Everything seems pretty okay, but then again I am no architect. I don't like stacking cages to much unless they are already over the 4' 6" mark, because it makes it hard to see the animals beneath the top enclosures. While your top enclosure might look nice, I wouldn't want to lean down onto the floor every time I want to see the red tail. Not only that, but all of your enclosures seem to be below that mark. If it were me, I would place the enclosures on a high table, or shelf, and make it two stacks, not one. That's just my opinion though.
I considered making the stack higher. I agree, getting down on your knees to clean out the bedding is annoying. I have to see what that does to my overall dimensions to raise the bottom enclosure. I could always make them on shelves that I could put tanks on for my temporary enclosures as the pets grow into the full enclosure.
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Old 01-18-18, 11:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

No matter what you do, unless you put some kind of a base at the bottom, you will always be bending over; if you don't you'll lose cage space.

I have a 10" base to my BoaMaster melamine cages, so at least I don't have to REALLY bend over, but I still have to get down on my knees. In fact, I still have to get down low, lower than the BoaMaster cages, to service the 20gal terrariums in my wire shelf setups.

The base helps, but you're still bending down.

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I considered making the stack higher. I agree, getting down on your knees to clean out the bedding is annoying. I have to see what that does to my overall dimensions to raise the bottom enclosure. I could always make them on shelves that I could put tanks on for my temporary enclosures as the pets grow into the full enclosure.
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Old 01-18-18, 12:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

Yeah, but I may have enough room to waste enclosure space. Or at least put the tanks and tubs down there. I only use my tanks and tubs for the youngsters.
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Old 01-18-18, 12:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

My only two cents. I'd be .. careful about attaching the stack to the wall, if you could keep it stable without that, and have the stack on large casters. You might be able to avoid a potential escape to the back of the stacks and not be able to retrieve in a timely manor. Snakes love tight spaces remember .
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Old 01-18-18, 02:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

As already mentioned, I would raise the entire stack to raise the bottom cage at least 18 inches off of the floor. If that means that you shrink the height of the cages to 16 inches, then I would do it. Having cages much lower than 18 inches makes them a royal pain in the butt to clean or to even enjoy the snakes that they house. Just my two cents worth...
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Old 01-18-18, 02:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

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My only two cents. I'd be .. careful about attaching the stack to the wall, if you could keep it stable without that, and have the stack on large casters. You might be able to avoid a potential escape to the back of the stacks and not be able to retrieve in a timely manor. Snakes love tight spaces remember .
wall attachment for tall furniture is usually just basically a tether that screws into a stud. It prevents a topple is all. Most larger dressers or wardrobes come with them and we all throw them in the trash.

I thought about casters too but they do diminish the weight distribution. Your frame needs to be extra rigid then. If you look at most high weight capacity shelving, the bottom rails sit on the ground. With that said, If I do shelving for a good bit below and spread my stacks wider, the weight will be less and casters might be an option.
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Old 01-18-18, 02:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

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As already mentioned, I would raise the entire stack to raise the bottom cage at least 18 inches off of the floor. If that means that you shrink the height of the cages to 16 inches, then I would do it. Having cages much lower than 18 inches makes them a royal pain in the butt to clean or to even enjoy the snakes that they house. Just my two cents worth...

I could just go 3 across instead of 2 across I think. so 3 across, 2 high with shelving underneath. But that would be 16'. My wall is 13.5'. So I would need to make the enclosures not as wide. I could go to 6 feet for the boa maybe but dont want to go under 4 four the others. I guess I could go 3.5x2.5 instead of 4x2. I would waste more building material but I would have 3.5x2.5, 3.5x2.5 and 6.5x2.5 for a total width of 13.5. Thats cutting it super close and also reducing the length they can stretch to, even if it does provide the same SqIn of floor space. I think I would rather squat down for a few minutes a day than make them have less length all of their lives.
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Old 01-18-18, 10:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

Sounds like you have this pretty well planned out. I've got a similar idea in mind for when I get my own house.

I would also second the idea of the base just so you can store stuff under it.

I'll be interested to see any pictures you end up with!
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Old 03-16-18, 11:44 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

Construction has started. already figured out some stuff I want to change but not sure if I am going to plow ahead or redo it.

but while I contemplate that, I thought I would throw this out there. I have been looking at thermometer\hygrometers for a while. Picked up a few types and wanted to post a quick comparison on "accuracy". Consistency might be a better word. These are for ambient air temps. I have small probe thermometers for the hotspot and will be getting a temp gun too.




1 and 2 are Acurite 01083 calibrating combo meters
3 is the ThermPro TP50
4 is the ThermPro TP60 (same as the 50 but with a second remote sensor)

I set all of them on the same spot on my desk for 3 hours and then took this pic.

The Acurite 01083 can be calibrated to show the same readings. This lets you account for inaccuracies int he sensors. Are you making it more or less accurate? Who knows but at least all of your gauges can match. I will say the readings were very close with Humidity being spot on at 30% for both and the temp within 1 degree of each other.

TP50 shows 21% humidity but the temp is right in line at what would be rounded up to 74 degrees.

TP60 has readings for two sensors. I highlighted the one that is in the main unit. It reads the highest temp and the highest humidity by far.

I knew I was going to go with the calibrating units before I did this but wanted to throw it up here just in case anyone else was curios.
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Old 03-16-18, 11:54 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: DIY enclosure stack plans...tell me what I missed

I built the base and quickly decided 2x4 was overkill since I reduced my stack to 2 enclosures per column. Oh well. I will probably leave it in case I ever decide to go higher. Dont judge my simple but joints. I have limited tools. I will sand them and cover with some molding.

little bit of wood glue for the floor support


Drilling some pilot holes


base (almost) done. I need to put a lip on either end so the seem is supported.
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