So the other day I was doing some grocery shopping when I stumbled across this bookshelf. I’m not sure exactly what came over me.. I saw the price and color and had an impulsive urge to take it.. I felt like the shelf would make a good home to one of my many reptiles. That impulsive buy eventually lead me to this post about converting furniture into reptile enclosures!
I think my obsession with Walmart and terrariums are beginning to merge!
Step 1: DIY Reptile Enclosure Plans
The challenge here was figuring out what type of enclosure this will be and what additional parts I was going to need. Humidity would be my biggest enemy later down the road for this project.. So I had to be conscious about what type of enclosure would work best and how would I keep the moisture sustained in this terrarium.
I decided to build an enclosure within the media center that would pretty much be housed with Styrofoam. You ever been out to a tailgate party or cookout and noticed those little Styrofoam coolers people use to keep beverages cool? Thats kind of what I had in mind to build.. A Styrofoam cooler with a glass front!
Heres a 3D TinkerCad I drew up to better show the design with accurate measurements: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/7A0Uki7YuHi
Step 2: Materials
5 Shelf Wooden Bookcase – You can find this much cheaper at Walmart ready to assemble if you’re up for a quick drive. https://amzn.to/2mIoUGg
Acrylic Sheet – A simple sheet of any thickness will pretty much due. It needs to be at least 29in x 48in. https://amzn.to/2LOWMMJ
Corner Brace – You need about 16 of these to hold the structure together. https://amzn.to/2LOAPNt
Flat Brace – 2 of these will be used to merge the structure together at the bottom. https://amzn.to/2A4daHK
Butt Hinges – 4 of these will allow us to pivot the top piece open and closed. https://amzn.to/2LG6rs9
Weather Stripping – We will use this to seal the top of our enclosure. https://amzn.to/2LMv17i
LED Strip Kit –Most kits you will find come with more LED’s than you will need, a remote control and dimmable presets. https://amzn.to/2NI4pVL
Black Pet Screen – I wanted to have an opening where UVB lighting and fans could be mounted safely outside of the enclosure. https://amzn.to/2A8Ogqf
Saran Wrap – I used a small amount of this to shield the lights from moisture. https://amzn.to/2A8TNNF
Styrofoam Sheets – This is the what the reptile enclosure will be made from. https://amzn.to/2JQHcyb
Coco Fiber – About 3 bags is what I used to cover our background to provide an easy place for plants to root thru. https://amzn.to/2JSUTfQ
Step 3: Tools
Drill – This makes it quick and easy to assemble the entertainment center. https://amzn.to/2JQF75p
Silicone – Used to seal the enclosure and make it air tight. https://amzn.to/2uK7UnA
Polyurethane Finish – This is used to glue the coco fiber directly to the background. https://amzn.to/2JSf4dZ
Hot Glue Gun – Used to attach various things together like the pet screen. https://amzn.to/2mF7lqo
Step 4: Assembling Media Center
Lets start with assembling the media center. You use the corner brace to assemble our walls and bottom pieces.You can drill our flat brace down to hold the two bottoms together. Almost there, Now lets drill the top down with the door hinges and test the opening.
Step 5: Cutting Styrofoam
Now that our media center is assembled, Lets cut the styrofoam pieces out for our reptile house and hot glue them together.
Step 6: Applying the Coco Fiber to Styrofoam
We can now start to rub on the polyurethane and pour the coco fiber over it, one side at a time. After about 30 minutes we can dump out the loose coco fiber and repeat over areas that need touch up.
Step 7: Placing Background and Acrylic Sheet in Media Center
After about 24 hours of allowing the coco fiber background to dry we can place the styrofoam backdrop in the media center and cut our acrylic down to size and test fit. Once the fit is just right, seal with silicone and allow another 24 hours before adding plants and watering.
After allowing the silicone to cure and test for leaks, we can now add are gravel/rock layer and prepare are terrarium for plants and animals.. You can use an old bed sheet to separate the gravel layer from the dirt layer. and plant your set up accordingly!
Step 8: Setting Up LED's
Setting up the LED’s are pretty straight forward. I cut 4 two foot strips and applied them to the top of one lid and 2 one foot strips for each side of the panels that were covered by the acrylic sheet. I have a more detailed tutorial for help on better understanding the wiring in this Aquatic Pet LED Guide.
Step 9: Adding in Pet Screen
One of the final touches was to add a fitted piece of pet screen over the sides of the enclosure. This will allow me to add lamps and fans without being in direct contact of the inhabitants.
Step 10: Final Touches
The only thing left to do is add plants. I want to take my time with this and add plants as I go. Haveing the coco fiber background allows Ivy type plants to easily root into the walls and over time I will slowly get the dense jungle I am going for.
If you guys really enjoyed this tutorial and want to see updates on this vivarium as it progresses, be sure to check it out here "reptile enclosure from furniture!" If I left anything out or you would like to know more feel free to leave your comment down below:
Runner Up in the