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DIY Reptile Enclosures

DIY Reptile Enclosures

Reptile enclosures are habitats for reptiles. They can be designed to work with specific species of reptiles, or created as general reptile habitats.

What kind of habitat do you want? It’s important to research what type of enclosure is best for your particular pet reptile before you start building it. For example, some types of lizards need a lot more vertical space than other reptiles while others like more floor space and brumating areas (places where they go in winter).

Are you looking for a way to keep your pet reptile happy and healthy? As the owner of an exotic pet, finding the right enclosure can be difficult. The DIY Reptile Enclosures blog is here to help! Experts will walk you through how to build your own custom enclosures that are tailored specifically for your needs.

What do you need to consider before choosing a DIY reptile enclosure plan?

Body type and weight

One of the most important things to take into consideration when choosing a DIY reptile enclosure is what type and size of animal you have. For example, some reptiles can be quite large in length or height so it’s advisable that you make sure your chosen enclosure has enough space for them before making one yourself. 

You should also consider how much weight they could potentially put on if they are likely to gain weight during hibernation etc., as this will affect where exactly inside their new home you need to place any heat lamps/heating pads (if using), basking spots, etc.

Lighting and heat

These are 2 of the most important elements for keeping reptiles healthy. If you are thinking about setting up a DIY reptile enclosure, make sure to choose an appropriate substrate. Make it easy on yourself by purchasing one that is easily cleaned and will not cause any harm to your pet’s health or safety! You can also consider using tiles in lieu of sand, which is toxic if swallowed. 

Reptiles need special lighting equipment when they are housed indoors because this mimics their natural environment. The type of light needed depends on the species of animal being kept as well as its age and whether it has laid eggs previously or not. If you have chosen between building a custom tank with lights already installed versus buying an all-inclusive kit, be aware of the costs and consider what you know about your pet’s needs.

There are many ways to heat up a reptile cage without buying an expensive light or equipment. For example:

  • Heating pads – which come in all shapes and sizes so they’ll fit almost any tank; 
  • Heat rocks – these popular items often get too hot and burn animals;
  • Hot rocks – use this type if you don’t want to worry about them getting too hot;

There are also other options that will work great for those who need more than simple heat such as UVB lamps (needed for strong bones) like the ever-popular UV heat lamps.


The size of the enclosure is a very important consideration. The bigger, the better – but this also increases cost and requires more space to house your pet reptile. Some people make their own enclosures by using large glass tanks or plastic storage containers that are easy to buy from shops or online stores such as eBay. 

If you want an attractive-looking container for your pet’s home then opt for one that has been designed with reptiles in mind instead of buying something generic like a fish tank – even though they can be used just as effectively!

How big should your DIY reptile enclosures be? This question comes up often with recent pet owners who want something simple without spending much money. It is very important to note that the larger an enclosure is, the more accurate you can be with your temperatures and humidity levels. Reptiles are cold-blooded so they need a basking area up high where it’s warm enough for them to function properly.  It should also have places for resting as well as climbing.

Location and Your Home

Where you decide to place your enclosure is very important. Reptiles need the proper temperature and humidity in order to thrive, so it must be set up properly for them before they move into the new home. Few things will affect this such as:

  • A/C or heating vents blowing on their basking area which can cause fluctuations of hot and cold temperatures making it hard for your reptile to regulate its body temperature;
  • Direct sunlight through a window because reptiles like some sun (UVB rays) but too much direct light can harm them and make them sick over time;
  • Cold drafts from open windows during winter months when insulation is poor or nonexistent since reptiles control their own body heat;
  • Reptiles are very temperature sensitive so it is important to consider these factors before placing them in their new enclosure;

Indoors or outdoors? If you plan on keeping your reptile inside then there’s no need for a heating source but if they will be outside then you must provide one that doesn’t harm the animal-like heat lamps, ceramic heat emitters, etc. If temperatures drop below 70F during the winter months, the animal could become sick and die because this is not warm enough for its body to function properly.  

The natural environment of your pet

It is an important factor when choosing a DIY reptile enclosure. A tortoise, for example, should live in an enclosure with a substrate that is made of sand or dirt. You can use rocks and logs to create hiding places so it will feel more comfortable living there. Before making any decisions, make certain you have everything required needed for building the DIY reptile enclosure (e.g. substrate, rocks, and logs).


Another factor to consider is the type of material you use for your reptile tanks, such as glass or acrylic. While both can be made into enclosures and are often used by hobbyists, they each have their own benefits: 

  • Glass is more affordable than acrylic. This material has a plain and clear look, but the surfaces of glass enclosures can be difficult to clean and they can break easily if dropped or mishandled;
  • Acrylics are scratch-resistant and often lightweight. However, these tanks may cost significantly more than those made with glass may. The drawback to using acrylic as an enclosure is that it does not provide any thermal insulation for your pet reptiles. If you choose this option over another type of tank, make sure you keep your reptile at room temperature rather than exposing them to too much heat from lamps above their cage. Lastly, consider whether adding substrate (elevated areas resembling natural terrain) would help simulate conditions in which your reptile comes from;
  • Wood. If you plan on using wood boards to build your pet’s enclosure – be aware that untreated woods may cause health problems in reptiles such as salmonella poisoning or respiratory issues due to harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and other toxic gases emitting from the material. These can be prevented by making sure all of their food dishes are made out of glass instead of plastic because bacteria breeds within tiny crevices found within porous surfaces like plastics which leads them to become exposed to harmful chemicals;

If you are using a plastic container then make sure it is easy to clean and wash by lining the base with a newspaper or kitchen towel first.

Secure lid

You may want something that can be easily moved because reptiles are very fond of climbing and may try to escape if they become too comfortable in their new home. If the container is an aquarium or another type of glass tank, you will probably want one with ventilation holes so there’s enough oxygen getting into it. It should also have ample floor space for them to move around on, as well as places where they can climb up out of reach (and place to grab onto). 

Try using rocks – this allows the animal some flexibility when it comes time for changes in elevation during feeding times. Many people think that reptiles don’t like to climb, but they can be very active and agile when given the chance.

You’ll want to avoid any container that has metal or painted surfaces because it will become hot enough for your pet inside of it during the day. 

There should also be an opening where you put food in at feeding times, as well as one large enough for you (and possibly other people) to reach their hand through so you can perform regular checkups on them without having to take them out first! 

This is especially useful if your reptile doesn’t like being taken out of his home often – make sure the pet still trusts you by making frequent visits.

DIY Reptile Enclosures You Can Build Today

Upcycled Bookshelf DIY Reptile Enclosure

If you’re looking for a cute DIY reptile enclosure, consider upcycling an old bookshelf! This is a great option if you have one lying around in your closet or garage. Follow the steps below to make this DIY reptile enclosure:

  1. Quick-dry cement mix, a bowl to mix it in, and something for mixing (a broom handle works well).
  2. Pour some dry cement into your bowl. Slowly add water while you’re stirring the mixture with the stick until it reaches a runny consistency similar to a thin pancake batter or heavy cream. You can always add more concrete if necessary but adding too much at once will make you end up wasting material! So be careful not to overdo it when mixing up this DIY reptile enclosure project. If the mixture is still really thick then slowly pour water into the bowl of wet concrete powder that you have set aside from earlier – about half a cup at a time should do just fine here! Again, be careful not to put too much water in. You can always add more concrete if necessary but adding too much at once will make you end up wasting material.
  3. Pour the wet mixture into one of your bookcase shelves and spread it out as evenly as possible so that it’s about a centimeter thick all-around before removing any excess with a stick or something similar. This DIY reptile enclosure project might take a few tries to perfect depending on how good your “pancake batter consistency” is – just keep trying until you get a smooth surface that isn’t lumpy from air bubbles rising from beneath the cement layer. Once this step is done, let sit for 24 hours before moving on to the next step.
  4. Take a permanent marker and mark off some measurements on your reptile enclosure DIY bookshelf from earlier.
  5. Then, take the X-acto knife or similar tool to cut along these lines so that you get a perfectly shaped opening for your pet! You can make this as big or small as necessary depending on what kind of animal it is going to be holding in there – remember, try not to keep too many animals in one container because they’ll need room to move around safely without getting hurt by each other! This part might seem scary but just take things slowly when cutting out openings for pets since mistakes are easily made if you’re rushing through the job here. Be patient with yourself at all times, especially with this DIY reptile enclosure project.
  6. Once you’ve cut out an opening for your pet into the bookshelf, put some soil or pebbles on the bottom of their new home to allow them something safe and clean to crawl over instead of having metal shelves that are too wide at the base to climb onto comfortably. This is another great way to keep reptiles happy! 
  7. Then just fill up one part of your container with water (ensure there’s a small rock in it so they don’t accidentally drown if they fall) since most reptiles enjoy coming across bodies of still water like puddles during hot weather where they can lay down and cool off when necessary. If you’re planning on keeping more than one pet in the same enclosure, you should probably fill up two containers since they’ll need room to escape from each other if necessary – this is a safety precaution that’s very important when it comes to reptiles and amphibians!
  8. Place your reptile into their new home once everything has dried out. This step must be done carefully because some animals can get stressed and lash out at people (and break glass) after being moved around too much during this part of the DIY reptile enclosure process so always take the utmost care with any pets before placing them back inside again. You might want to leave their old container next to where you now have them living as well so that they become used to having both options available for shelter.

Upcycled Windows DIY Reptile Enclosure

1) What You Need:

  • windows with screen frames;
  • aluminum tape wire mesh;
  • brackets and screws;
  • newspaper or paper towels;
  • sandpaper;
  • wood;
  • glue;
  • saw or jigsaw;
  • hand sander;
  • 1/4″ hardware cloth (optional);

2) Preparing the Windows

Take out all the screening from the windows and set it aside for later use. Measure your window frame to make sure you have enough room to fit your materials in once everything is mounted inside. Then, test each piece of the mesh by holding it up against the frame to make sure there are no gaps big enough for a lizard or snake to escape. 

Use aluminum tape along any seams where there might be a hole. If you’re clamping wood into place then you’ll probably want to also put aluminum tape at those intersections too since it’s easy and provides extra support that could prevent a really big gap if a large reptile tries its way through. 

You may need 3 rolls of aluminum tape for this entire enclosure.

You’ll notice that the glass is broken out on both windows. You can certainly remove all the glass if you want to be extra careful with your pets’ safety, especially if they’re lizards or snakes who would fit through small openings. 

Be sure to wear gloves and goggles when working with old glass because it can be very sharp! If not removing the glass altogether, make sure all remaining screws are tight so there are no more tiny holes around the frame where your pet could escape.

3) Choosing your materials

First, decide how big you want the bottom of the cage to be and cut out a piece of wood about 1 inch bigger than that on all sides (you’ll see why later). Make sure it’s the right size you want because once it’s screwed into place, there are no more options for adjustments. Just measure the width of the mesh with an extra inch or so on either side. 

Next up is cutting out pieces of hardware cloth for use as support beams across the top of each window. Measure them to be long enough to extend from side to side in both directions with about 2 inches hanging over each edge. A good trick is to hold one end where you want it in place then just bend the rest of it up with your fingers to where you think it needs to be, then let go. If it’s not staying there on its own, move the end around until it does and mark that spot for cutting. When attaching hardware cloth to the frame, make sure all edges are covered, or else they could chew away at the mesh when they’re inside trying to get out.

4) Attaching Hardware Cloth & Wood Supports

When attaching the hardware cloth or wooden support beams, make sure they extend out far enough so that the screws don’t break through the other side where your pet could reach them. For hardware cloth, it’s usually just best to use one screw per wire square, but for wood supports you’ll want at least two screws on each line because these things can be heavy once everything is set in place and attached. 

This is also where that extra inch or so becomes important since you’ll need room to drill holes along those lines without overlapping wires. Where possible, drill your holes right beside existing ones already holding two mesh wires together this will give you the most surface area to work with when using the included hex-head screws. If you don’t, expect them to snap off in no time. 

When drilling hold the screwdriver right beside the drill bit, not through it because if your bit slips out of place this could damage your hardware cloth. Drill your holes where they are least likely to be seen by all but your lizard’s hard-hitting gaze.

5) Attaching Windows & Doors

Now that everything is cut and drilled, attach each window or door with hinges at either side. You can use doorknobs if you want to for easy access, but also remember that once your pets are old enough to open these up themselves, this will no longer be necessary. 

You can use extra wood screws to hold the hinges in place, or if you want a less bulky look and possibly stronger hint than using screws alone, use binder clips too which will also allow for quick and easy access down the road when you need it most.

6) Label Each Window & Place Inside Cage

Label each windowpane with what is behind them so your pet doesn’t get confused once they’re ready to move into their new digs. Be sure that all windows and doors are completely open, then carefully pick up your structure and lean it against something firm inside your reptile’s cage (or wherever). 

Take out one pane of glass at a time and set it beside the rest until your entire enclosure is together without any glass panes holding it all together. Then simply set each pane of glass back inside its frame the right way around so your structure is still square, but now with very little open space to step or fall through!

You can also make:

  • Wooden DIY reptile enclosure;
  • Acrylic terrarium;
  • Plywood enclosure
  • Hardwood reptile enclosure;
  • PVC snake DIY reptile enclosure;


Can you build your own reptile enclosure?

The short answer is yes. You can build your own reptile enclosure! There are many reasons why you should consider building your own custom enclosures for reptiles, especially if it’s something that will last a long time and be kept in the family (like with breeding animals). 

The cost of buying an all-new cage or tank every couple of years adds up very quickly – not only that but some people find the process too cumbersome to deal with when they could just get on with what really matters – caring for their pets properly. And so using one’s personal skillset to create a safe home for one’s pet cannot only save money but also show off creativity while creating unique setups which most stores simply do not carry.

How do you make a PVC reptile enclosure?

For the most part, this is an easy DIY project! The best thing about PVC reptile enclosures is that they are really cheap to make. You can get your materials at any big box hardware store like Home Depot or Lowes for under $50.00 and it only takes around 30 minutes to put together. 

Another great feature of these DIY snake cages is that you can customize them however makes sense for your situation (height levels, how many water dishes, etc). If you don’t want a small enclosure then just buy bigger pieces of pipe at the store and go from there!

What material is best for reptile enclosure?

A reptile enclosure can be made of many different materials. The best material is one that works for your individual needs and preferences. Some popular choices are wood, glass, or plastic enclosures with screen tops. 

A good rule to follow when choosing a substrate (flooring) that holds humidity well while also being easy to clean is to place them on newspaper, tile, or paper towels at least once every week in order to spot check the animals’ waste. This will help you catch any problems early before they get out of hand like diarrhea or coccidia outbreaks from unhygienic conditions.

Can you use plexiglass for the reptile enclosure?

Plexiglass is a popular choice for reptile enclosures. It has good visibility, and it’s easy to clean. However, as with other materials (such as wood), you need proper ventilation if the enclosure does not have a screen top or front door.

Is plywood safe for reptiles?

Plywood is generally safe for reptiles, but it depends on the type of wood. The best plywood is made with softwood species like pines or spruces because they contain very few phenols that can be harmful to your reptile. However, hardwoods are not recommended due to their high concentration of phenols that can result in respiratory problems and even death when ingested by a reptile’s sensitive system.

How do you make a cheap snake enclosure?

Start by finding a container. A popular choice is an old dresser drawer, as long as it’s not made of wood and has no holes in the bottom for water to seep through. Make sure your snake can’t escape from the enclosure! You’ll also need some substrate such as newspaper or shredded paper so that their tank stays clean and dry – snakes will often relieve themselves whenever they’re stressed out.

Next, buy a heat mat with a thermostat if you don’t already have one (they are extremely useful). To prevent electrical shocks be sure to lay down something such as plastic between the mat and surface where it will be placed – experts recommend using PVC pipe because it won’t conduct electricity as metal would.

How do you seal a wooden reptile enclosure?

To seal a wooden reptile enclosure, you can use linseed oil. Apply the oil to your wood with a cloth and allow it to dry for 24 hours before placing your pet inside of their new home. The best way to ensure that there are no gaps in the seam is by adding multiple coats of this product on top of each other. You should also sand down any rough edges so that they’re smooth enough for your animal’s safety!

What is the best enclosure for a bearded dragon?

If you are looking for a simple setup that can easily be cleaned and requires little attention then probably an aquarium is what you want to go with. This option does require you to drill some holes into it though so that your dragon can get adequate airflow throughout. It also involves using special pet housing substrate which will limit odors within the enclosure itself just by limiting urine contact with wood shavings or soil type substrates which could potentially cause some serious infections in your bearded dragons‘ respiratory system.

Useful Video: Easy DIY Plywood Reptile Enclosures