Need advice on builng a vivarium for the first time.

Discussion in 'DIY Zone' started by AMY22, Nov 25, 2011.

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  1. AMY22

    AMY22 Well-Known Member

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    Hello my dears, I need all your knowledge to help me right now.
    I am pondering the concept of building my Monty boos next vivarium (he would be an inland carpet for all you playing at home), I'm in no huge rush, but at this moment I'm putting together ideas and info. One thing I do need info on is the best materials to use to build, now I've heard- and for all I know it could be internet porkie pies- that using pine wood isn't the best. True or untrue? What are the things that should NOT be used at all when building a vivarium?
    Any advice you can give me really will be beneficial.
     
  2. ashisnothereman

    ashisnothereman Well-Known Member

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    there is a wikilink with a very good tutorial on building a melamine enclosure. i have made several and max cost is around 200 incl. glass. then you need to add the lighting which can be tricky and add to the price depending how you go with it.

    the wiki actually doesnt seem to be there anymore..
     
  3. Justdragons

    Justdragons Very Well-Known Member

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    It really does depend on what you would like you viv to look like, i like melamine because its cheap, easy to work with and you can get a cabinet maker to cut up your sizes quite cheap aswell. plus being a young female and having this built for a snake most cabbies will be keen to help you out. melamine is waterproof if you silicone the joins and comes in a fair few colours. hmmm sounds like i work for melamine lol. well thats what i have made mine out of and it works great for me. :)
     
  4. Pufferfish

    Pufferfish Suspended Banned

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    Melamine is not water proof.
    It's water resistant. I use pine, it look better when painted and if it's painted and sealed right it turns out cheaper and looks better than melamine IMO.

    Also, I've found with pine it's easier to make home made grounds that stick to it.
    Glass is the best option. Water proof and despite what everyone says about heat loss if you house the enclosure correctly it's fine. Easy to clean but expensive unless you know a guy.
    I've made 4ft enclosures for under $100 but that depends on how you cheap you want to be.
    That was just pure ply wood, the vents were drilled holes, the glass from a friend second hand and I used a lamp for a heat source.
    After ten years it still works perfect.
     
  5. Justdragons

    Justdragons Very Well-Known Member

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    melamine is as good as waterproof the only part that isnt is any cut edges hence the silicone to seal it. ive seen quite a few black melamine vivs for gtps that worked really well, but i agree glass is still great. easy to clean and looks great just a little more expensive to get built.
     
  6. Virides

    Virides Guest

    Some pine has natural oils/resins in it that is dangerous to some animals depending on the finish. If you leave it unsealed there is potential for some pine to leech out this resin. As far as i know, this is only some species of pine and not all pine.

    But no fear, just make sure you do 2-3 coats of clear varnish and you will be protecting against the potential hazard. Also this will make the wood surfaces water resistant and depending on the coats applied, water proof.

    Melamime is cheap, but if water gets under the outer skin, the glue binding the chips together will degrade and either break apart or swell.
     
  7. AMY22

    AMY22 Well-Known Member

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    So if I use a varnish, that won't be hazardous? I want to know if there is anything chemically (glues, varnishes, etc.) that I should avoid using.

    Melamine and wood are the 2 I'm really thinking of using, depending of works out cost, appearance and efficiency wise. His current vivarium is melamine, but if I did use that I'd choose a darker colour.
     
  8. Virides

    Virides Guest

    Once it has dried and had time vent off most of the fumes (usually once dry, shouldnt be much fumes left) it is ok to put them in. After it has dried, the ingestion of fragments of wood which have the varnish coating may cause a problem. But chipping off is unlikely to happen at all with the rep in there alone.
     
  9. AMY22

    AMY22 Well-Known Member

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    Okay I'm coming back to my old thread because the time build the vivarium approaches. I'm thinking of starting with a few small things to test my building abilities (I think I made a spoon once in high school). I was thinking of starting with the small task of making a new hide to go in the vivarium once it's completed.
    From what I have gathered from my recent stalkings through the DIY forum, I can use a 'mould' in the form of a container or the like, and cover it with expanda foam, wait for it to set overnight, cover it with grout or similar, wait for that to set, and then paint it with coloured silicone and acrylic paint.
    Have I got that right? I'm envisioning the Taj Mahal of hides here. The best rock on the block.
     
  10. eddie123

    eddie123 Well-Known Member

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    yeh you got it get some stryrofoam for the back make sure ite a bit smaller if you want to remove it. Chuck on the expanda foam and make sure you have gloves on then wait a day cut it then put grout on then you can seal it.
     
  11. AMY22

    AMY22 Well-Known Member

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    I have rubber kitchen gloves, in the kitchen somewhere. I couldn't find any expanda foam exactly, I bought something called Fulla Foam. I didn't buy anything else as of yet, I looked at grout but they all seemed to be mould resistant which from what I've gathered I shouldn't use? Render only came in a 20 kilo bag which was too much, I definitely won't need that amount. I'm going to use a large shoe box for the mould of the hide, if I covered that in plastic before using the foam, will it be easier to separate after it's set a bit, than if I put it straight on the box?
    And I'll definitely use styrofoam for the backing when I make that, the hide is a test challenge to see if I can actually do this.

    When I've come up with some designs for the vivarium itself I'll post pictures, I want to make it vertical because Monty loves to climb (last time he escaped he was located on top of a door), and because my meager home is somewhat limited in space, but there will be gradient issues with that. My idea was to make a large shelf at the top of the vivarium and put the heating up there, so he can sit up higher to get toasty and sit down lower when he is too warm. What do you all think?

    I have rubber kitchen gloves, in the kitchen somewhere. I couldn't find any expanda foam exactly, I bought something called Fulla Foam. I didn't buy anything else as of yet, I looked at grout but they all seemed to be mould resistant which from what I've gathered I shouldn't use? Render only came in a 20 kilo bag which was too much, I definitely won't need that amount. I'm going to use a large shoe box for the mould of the hide, if I covered that in plastic before using the foam, will it be easier to separate after it's set a bit, than if I put it straight on the box?
    And I'll definitely use styrofoam for the backing when I make that, the hide is a test challenge to see if I can actually do this.

    When I've come up with some designs for the vivarium itself I'll post pictures, I want to make it vertical because Monty loves to climb (last time he escaped he was located on top of a door), and because my meager home is somewhat limited in space, but there will be gradient issues with that. My idea was to make a large shelf at the top of the vivarium and put the heating up there, so he can sit up higher to get toasty and sit down lower when he is too warm. What do you all think?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Soooo it turns out a 350g can of foam doesn't get very far...

    I have rubber kitchen gloves, in the kitchen somewhere. I couldn't find any expanda foam exactly, I bought something called Fulla Foam. I didn't buy anything else as of yet, I looked at grout but they all seemed to be mould resistant which from what I've gathered I shouldn't use? Render only came in a 20 kilo bag which was too much, I definitely won't need that amount. I'm going to use a large shoe box for the mould of the hide, if I covered that in plastic before using the foam, will it be easier to separate after it's set a bit, than if I put it straight on the box?
    And I'll definitely use styrofoam for the backing when I make that, the hide is a test challenge to see if I can actually do this.

    When I've come up with some designs for the vivarium itself I'll post pictures, I want to make it vertical because Monty loves to climb (last time he escaped he was located on top of a door), and because my meager home is somewhat limited in space, but there will be gradient issues with that. My idea was to make a large shelf at the top of the vivarium and put the heating up there, so he can sit up higher to get toasty and sit down lower when he is too warm. What do you all think?

    I have rubber kitchen gloves, in the kitchen somewhere. I couldn't find any expanda foam exactly, I bought something called Fulla Foam. I didn't buy anything else as of yet, I looked at grout but they all seemed to be mould resistant which from what I've gathered I shouldn't use? Render only came in a 20 kilo bag which was too much, I definitely won't need that amount. I'm going to use a large shoe box for the mould of the hide, if I covered that in plastic before using the foam, will it be easier to separate after it's set a bit, than if I put it straight on the box?
    And I'll definitely use styrofoam for the backing when I make that, the hide is a test challenge to see if I can actually do this.

    When I've come up with some designs for the vivarium itself I'll post pictures, I want to make it vertical because Monty loves to climb (last time he escaped he was located on top of a door), and because my meager home is somewhat limited in space, but there will be gradient issues with that. My idea was to make a large shelf at the top of the vivarium and put the heating up there, so he can sit up higher to get toasty and sit down lower when he is too warm. What do you all think?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Soooo it turns out a 350g can of foam doesn't get very far...

    - - - Updated - - -

    View attachment 263341 Okay here is a quick draft of what I'd LIKE to build. Beautiful isn't it? Anyway, my main concern is the location of the lighting and heating, is it realistic? Laugh if you feel the need, but be nice to my face!
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  12. mudgudgeon

    mudgudgeon Active Member

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    Fuller foam is expanda foam, just a different brand.
    Even if you only use a little bit of a 20kg bag of render, It's still likely to be cheaper than grout.
     
  13. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    The chemicals (terpenes) given off by dressed pine are not an issue. The wood is aged first so it is dry and workable and will not bow out of shape. The aging prcoess tends to get rid of most of volatile chemicals. If they were a hazard, then they would not make bedroom furniture out of pine or have stores chockers full of unpainted unstained pine furniture. It is really only fresh chipped pine bark or pine shave or chips in a very encllosed area that might present a hazard. Raw wood needs to be sealed to make it waterproof for use as a terrarium. Paint, varnish or resin will all do the job. If you want a natural timber look, then I woulf recommend 3 or 4 coats of polyurethane. It is what the professionals in sealing and staining high quality wooden floors and is readily available from paint stores or hardwares. I using silicone to seal the joints, get the stuff recommended for use in aquariums. It ustilises acetic acid to cure it - easily recognisable when used as it stinks like string vinegar.

    Remember your snake's hide should be cosy. They prefer a tight fit. They feel much more secure it they can touch the roof and at least one side and preferably both. It is quite amazing how small a volume they can squeeze into.

    A couple of suggestions for making a mould, none of which I have tried. A sheet of alfoil pressed onto a rock to take on the surface texture of the rock. Spray inside with cooking oil. Then spray your layer of foam. Wash the foam with warm water and detergent to get rid of the oil. You might be able to do the same using papier mache instead of alfoil and then just soak it in water to remove the paper and glue. Alternatively, make a mould out of a block of styrofoam using a soldering iron to melt it and a paint brush dipped in a little metho to dissolve it and give texture. The non-alcohol soluble foam I think is soluble in turps. Google it to find out if need be. Spray in tour layer of foam then melt and dissolve the stryofoan that sticks, to remove it. There are probably much easier methods if you google or search APS.

    Blue
     
  14. Lockie_1

    Lockie_1 Not so new Member

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    Go to a joinery or a joinery supplies with your dimensions they will cut and edge all board to size better than anyone could do at home and if you use white it will cost bugger all! eBay a thermostat $15-150 depends how advanced you want to go. Once the carcass is out together get a glazier to cut glass to size, if you fit it yourself it's really cheap and for all electrical stuff go to bunnings or an electrical wholesaler. I usually make a few at a time and I've done so for around $180-200 an enclosure
     
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