Thursday, January 28, 2010

Building a cage for my Green Tree Monitors

So finally I am done building a cage for my green tree monitors! This is the first cage I've ever built. I am quite pleased at how it came out considering it was my first time building one. A lot of thought, time and hard work went into it.

I must admit it was difficult for me because I was building it by myself and I am not a strong person, lol! When I was trying to screw the frame together I couldn't get the screws in all the way and had to take them all out and use nails instead.

First I had my friend help me figure out all my wood cuts so I could take a list to Lowes and have them cut everything for me. I didn't know anything about building a frame and I am very thankful to my friend Jason for taking the time to explain and figure it out. He spent many hours on the phone with me:)

Next I stained the wood to match my living room furniture and applied 5 coats of poly crylic with a roller. To waterproof wood you only need to do 2 coats with a brush but since the cage is very humid and wet I put extra coats and made them very thick with the roller.

Next I cut out holes for my vents to go in. Since I wanted the cage to hold a lot of heat and humidity I did not want to use any screen. The vents are placed so that the air will circulate. One vent is at the top (in back) and one vent is at the bottom(in front). I stuck them on with sealant and after it cured I reinforced it with screws.

Next I put together the frame and attached my plywood to it. When it came time to attach the pieces of plexi glass for my windows and doors I noticed Lowes had cut it wrong! I had to go back so they could fix it.

When I attached the lights in the ceiling I did it backwards and had to redo it, lol! There are 2 basking, 1 florescent(UVA/UVB), and a ceramic heat emitter. I plan on switching to Mega ray MVB soon. They are the best for these types of cages.

Next I attached cork sheeting to all the walls. At first I tried doing it standing up but that was a disaster! It kept falling down and getting wavy. I had to lay it down, screw it in my frame and put sealant under the edges and on top of the edges. I also put sealant around the egdes of my vents where the cork meets.

Next I made their nest box. I used a sterlite tub with a clear opauge bottom so I could see up through it but the monitors can't see through the bottom and feel secure. This will help when checking for eggs. When eggs are laid under the moss in there I will see white spots and know to take them out. The nest box I attatched to a pulley system so I can lower and lift the box when I need too. The outside of this tub I covered in cork sheeting so they can climb on it and feel secure when inside the box. I also drilled a hole and attached a branch for them to crawl in and out of the box on.

Next I put together their tree. I found a huge Y branch and cut the tips off and placed the bottom into a plastic Xmas tree base. I measured out where I wanted their basking spots to be and how far they would be away from the lights and I screwed branches in those places. Then I screwed other branches all over the tree. I put a huge cork tube in the center of the Y in the branch. I also bought 12 fake ficus sprays and drilled holes in the wood branches and stuck the ends through. This way it looks like a tree with branches and leaves. It turned out pretty cool! The base I filled with rocks so the monitors cant get in it.

Next I drilled holes for all my plugs to go through. I put a cord gromet in 2 places. 1 on the ceiling for my lights and 1 above the nest box for the heat mat I am using attached to the side of the nest box. The heat mat is very small and does not get hot enough to melt plastic or burn reptiles. I have it so the female can choose what spot she wants to lay eggs in. Warmer vs cooler. I also drilled a hole at the bottom for the cord on my aquarium filter. I put a filter in their water bowl which is very large. It keeps the water clean and the moving water releases humidity into the cage. I drilled a hole in the ceiling for my mister's tubing to fit through. The tube comes into the cage and has a nozzle on the end for spraying. The mister is attached to the outside wall of the cage.

I attached vines and plants to the sides of the cage for climbing and put up my humidity and temp gages. Put their water bowl in and placed plants around it. Put in the filter, added water. Lined the bottom with cypress mulch and then a thick layer of moss on top.

Then I added the monitors!!! Here are some videos.

This is me building the cage with the end result

This is right after I put in my GTmonitors