Making two enclosures out of one.

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Brad Hofman

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I've owned my Children's python for a while now, and she's slowly but surely getting closer to needing a new enclosure. A friend offered me one of his melamine enclosures for $50 which I grabbed, but soon realised that this enclosure was far too large for a small, terrestrial snake like mine. This friend also offered me to buy his adult Childreni, which I plan on doing. So, I have one young small snake, one large enclosure and another small snake coming in the near future.

The obvious thing to do was to convert the enclosure into two bays.

Here's how I got the enclosure.

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No glass, no light fixtures, no heating. Chips in the melamine, vents missing and dirty as hell. Dimensions are 880x600x500mm.

The plan is to create two enclosures with equal dimensions, spruce it up and give my one (soon to be two) little noodles a permanent home.

Here are the plans I drew.

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After buying the necessary bits and bobs, I set out by cutting the melamine boards for the floor and front face of the top level. I threw the pieces in for a test fit, holding it all up with a brick.

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I then worked out where I was going to place my heat cord. I had to work within the limits of the router I had borrowed for the afternoon, and since I didn't want to tear the whole thing apart to get closer to the walls on the lower level floor I simply made do.

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Looks awful, but it'll be under tiles so who cares.

By the end of this day I was able to do a dry test fit using screws. The measurements I made were pretty much perfect; the bays are almost identical in size, with a couple millimetres difference in height at most.

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Based on my measurements, each bay should be around 0.395m2, and according to the Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Reptiles, Antaresia Childreni only need 0.15m2 of floor space. Also being terrestrial, they don't need a lot of vertical space.

Will add to this thread as I do more.
[doublepost=1524498143,1524497132][/doublepost]This post regards rear wall backgrounds for enclosures.

I've seen plenty of threads, videos and diy guides on making the foam backgrounds for enclosures. They generally look great, are safe and lightweight. Ideally I'd go down this route, however I have a heavier alternative I'd like to explore.

My in laws have three boxes of these left over from renovating their house:

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According to Bunnings they are "
Made from charcoal grey natural slate. Natural stone wall cladding. Individual slate pieces epoxy joined into 400 x 100mm panels."

Id like to use these as my rear rock wall for both bays.

Naturally this comes with pros and cons compared to a foam one:

Pros :
Real stone (kinda?)
Free
Looks wicked, can't really screw it up.

Cons:
Heavy
Unsure if safe for reptiles
Unsure of safe mounting method into melamine boards.

I'm currently testing two pieces of this stuff on some scrap melamine; one secured with liquid nails, the other secured with.... Whatever builders normally use to mount tiles to walls (white powder stuff you mix with water to a toothpaste consistency and apply between wall and tile).

If I use these stone tiles, I'll be using whatever securing method is safest and strongest. I'll also be using aquarium safe silicone between each tile to seal off potential exposure to the adhesive, and potentially even covering the gaps with crommelin's clear pond sealer for good measure .

I'd love some opinion on this idea.
[doublepost=1524542255][/doublepost]I let the test stone tiles sit for 24hrs, then tested the grip of the two adhesives. The liquid nails held on better, but both were able to be removed by hand with some considerable force. I feel like if I can pull the tiles off with my bare hands, it's not safe enough to be in a snake enclosure.

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So, after consulting some Bunnings employees I picked up a safer, water based liquid nails that is low VOC, no fumes and solvent free. I also used an angle grinder to remove the plastic melamine surface to expose the wood underneath in an effort to make the liquid nails adhere better.

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This adhesive advertises strong bong within 24hrs and full cure in 7 days.

I also grabbed some wood filler to start repairing all the holes, scratches and chips

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I plan on painting the entire enclosure. The inside will remain white to help reflect the LED lights I plan on installing, and the outside will probably be black.

Once the method for securing the stone tiles and floor tiles has been sorted out and all of the holes patched it'll be time to sand and paint.
[doublepost=1524813434][/doublepost]UPDATE:

It's been three days since I applied my second test stone tile to the ground down melamine board using the new safer liquid nails. I attempted to remove the tile today and could not physically do so. This gave me the confidence that, if I use these tiles over the entire rear wall, they will not fall off using this method.

So today's chore was to grind back the rear wall of both levels, as well as drill the side vents for the bottom level.

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Next step is to measure and cut the stone wall tiles and white floor tiles to the correct shape to cover the areas necessary. Once I have all the pieces ready to glue in, I'll need to purchase the two heat cords (next week). Still trying to decide if I should paint the enclosure first and risk damaging the paint with further work, or wait to paint until the end and risk getting paint on the tiles. Decisions decisions.
 

dragonlover1

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looking good so far ,and at least you are thinking in advance and not in retrospect,"ah sh17 what happened to my snake?"
I'd stick with the trial fit before painting to be sure to be sure
[doublepost=1524895407,1524895200][/doublepost]I'm about to build a 3' each for my Childreni and my Maculosa so this gives me ideas
 

Bl69aze

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Just cover the tiles with paper tape, around the edges or cover the whole thing :)
 

Brad Hofman

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looking good so far ,and at least you are thinking in advance and not in retrospect,"ah sh17 what happened to my snake?"
I'd stick with the trial fit before painting to be sure to be sure
[doublepost=1524895407,1524895200][/doublepost]I'm about to build a 3' each for my Childreni and my Maculosa so this gives me ideas
Yeah man, I'd rather spend the extra days/weeks making sure everything will be good instead of the alternative. My childreni 'Coco' is a beloved family pet, and everyone who meets her is amazed at how placid and tolerant she is. It'd be awful to lose her due to simply not making sure my tile adhering method wasn't 100% secure.
Glad I've given you some ideas!

@Bl69aze yeah that's what I was thinking, I just wanna make sure the paint is seamless with no gaps or missing bits near the tiles. As dragonlover1 said, thinking in advance :)
[doublepost=1524989141][/doublepost]Spent a good part of the day working on the enclosure. Sanded down all the surfaces, smoothing out the wood filler and got rid of all the dust with a combination of the vacuum and some wax & grease remover.

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I used some leftover acrylic multi-surface primer my in-laws had laying around. This stuff can be used on most surfaces and advertises itself as a filler, primer and undercoat in one. I covered the entire outside with this stuff, and most of the inside got a coat too, except for the bare wood where the liquid nails will be applied later.

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While I waited for the primer to dry before applying a second coat, I pulled out the box of tiles and worked out which combination of tiles looked the best and where they would sit.

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I then chopped down the necessary pieces to make them the perfect width for the back wall.

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All that needs doing now is chopping about 20mm off the top row of tiles and they will fit perfectly against that back wall.

The enclosure got a second exterior coat before the sun disappeared on me. Looking at painting the exterior black and applying the stone wall tiles within the next few days.
 
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