My son wanted a bearded dragon lizard for his birthday. After much research into habitats we decided we would make our own (for a fraction of the cost!)
Here's what you will need:
A bookshelf! (we purchased a cheap 5 shelf bookshelf for $32)
Window screen material
Sand (we used specialty sand made for lizard habitats)
Heat lamps and other lizard supplies
Hook and eye closures
Step 1: Prepping the Shelf
We built the bookshelf following the manufacturing instructions. Instead of putting the back on right away, I chose to paint it with a fun jungle scene. We are pretty sure Ditto (the lizard) is glad that I took the time to do this!
We took one of the shelves that came with the bookshelf, and attached it across the front bottom of the case. We sealed the cracks inside and out with caulk. This acts as the bottom of the habitat, holding in the sand so we wanted to seal it well to avoid sand leaks.
We used the jigsaw to cut holes in another shelf to match the shape of the heat lamps. Screen material was stapled to the bottom side of the holes to prevent the lizard from escaping and injuring himself on the hot lamps.
We also used the saw to cut out a portion of the middle fixed shelf to create passage for the large branches and a perch mid cage.
We also used the saw to cut two holes into the side of the book case. We used hinges to attach the hole pieces back into place and hook and eye pieces to keep the new doors closed. These small doors (one on the top half, and one on the bottom) allow easy access to the habitat for feeding, interacting, and cleaning.
Step 2: Setting Up the Enclosure
Next we laid the shelf down and nailed the back into place with the nails provided by the shelf manufacturer. After the back was in place we sealed it with caulk around the edges for extra security.
Then we found the perfect branches (the large branch is from a very big honeysuckle vine!). We needed to clean the branches well, sand off any rough spots, and then let them dry completely. The branches are nailed and caulked into place on the shelf walls and floor for stability.
Step 3: Adding the Screen
With everything else in place we could lay down the enclosure and staple the window screening to the front. We used lots and lots of staples for a nice tight fit all the way around the front of the enclosure. Pulling the screen tight enough while stapling it down required two people.
Step 4: Finishing Up!
After your screen is on, move the habitat to where you will keep it before you add the sand, rocks and decorations. adding the sand first will make it heavier, and awkward to move. We poured the sand in through the lower door in the side.
Mr Ditto loves his enclosure. In the year he has lived there he has more than tripled in size! He spends a lot of his time climbing the actual screen material, or enjoying his heat lamps on the branches.
This was the perfect enclosure for a bearded dragon because extra humidity was not required to keep him comfortable. Adding in humidity would not work very well with the wood enclosure I think. Also screen material should not be used for a snake habitat as they can injure themselves by rubbing against it.