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    Default DIY leopard gecko enclosure...


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    Hey, Im planning on getting a leopard gecko and at the moment Im considering a DIY wooden vivarium.

    I just want to make sure it will be safe for a gecko, as in all the materials used etc...

    I just have a few questions, what is the best type of wood to use? I was thinking of plywood or chipboard.

    I wasn't going to varnish or paint it just leave it natural, will it need to be sealed? I read somewhere that after a while the humidity could cause rot but would this be an issue for a leopard gecko as they require low humidity?

    Any advice or help would be appreciated.

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    Welcome to Geckos Unlimited!

    I do recommend sealing any wood you use. Some keepers have built enclosures out of melamine-faced particle board. I can't advise on wood types, but especially no cedar or pine.

    Have you thought about heating yet? If you use a heat mat, sandwich it between 2 tiles and elevate those tiles above the floor of the enclosure something like this:
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 01-03-2019 at 02:19 PM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside a vivarium <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

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    I was going to heat it with an UTH but I was going to place it on the floor of the enclosure, covering a 1/3 of it and controlling it with a thermostat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benson1990 View Post
    I was going to heat it with an UTH but I was going to place it on the floor of the enclosure, covering a 1/3 of it and controlling it with a thermostat.
    What happens with the other 2/3rds? It can't just be bare. It could possibly get hot should your thermostat malfunction.

    UTHs are designed to be placed underneath a glass enclosure. Sometimes the directions say to place a styrofoam sheet on the UTH next: first UTH stuck on glass underneath, then styro covering, then air space for ventilation. Whichever is your last layer, it's important to have airflow next.

    You might consider a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) bulb instead.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside a vivarium <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

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    I was planning on a set up like this girl, she also has a wooden viv and recommends the heat mat be placed inside the enclosure, monitored by a thermometer and thermostat.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6LPnrgiGeQ&t=152s

    The heating part starts at around 1:22.
    Thanks Elizabeth Freer thanked for this post

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benson1990 View Post
    I was planning on a set up like this girl, she also has a wooden viv and recommends the heat mat be placed inside the enclosure, monitored by a thermometer and thermostat.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6LPnrgiGeQ&t=152s

    The heating part starts at around 1:22.
    I watched the entire video. I only see a bare heat mat @1:22 minutes. She may have covered her Habistat UTH with substrate. Substrate like she used insulates. Only a thin layer atop an UTH would allow sufficient heat transfer.

    Your best bet is to check ventilation recs from the UTH manufacturer. Maybe they don't recommend ventilation.

    Thermostats and and a thermometer to monitor the thermostat are important for leo habitats.

    In 2018 Arcadia began manufacturing ShadeDweller UVB lighting especially for leos.

    If you plan to use UVB, I recommend an enclosure at least 3 feet long. Success with UVB depends upon knowing the strength of the rays your leo is getting. Please google Ferguson Zones. FB's lighting guru, Fran Baines, DVM, strongly suggests a backup dose of powdered calcium with D3 at 1 feeding per month when you use UVB. I suggest Zoo Med's Repti Calcium with D3.
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 01-03-2019 at 04:31 PM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside a vivarium <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
    Thanks Benson1990 thanked for this post

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    Thank you so much for the tips, I'll be following all the advice given.

    Just to add the enclosure I am making will be 39 inches long * 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep.

    I may have to supplement extra heat with a ceramic heat emitter if air temperatures get a bit low, I live in Ireland and it can get quite cold, would the CHE have to be placed above the heat mat leaving the cool side untouched?

    Do I have to create a temp drop at night? the nights gets quite cold in Ireland. Also what device do people recommend I read the air temperature with?
    Likes Elizabeth Freer liked this post

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benson1990 View Post
    Thank you so much for the tips, I'll be following all the advice given.

    Just to add the enclosure I am making will be 39 inches long * 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep.

    I may have to supplement extra heat with a ceramic heat emitter if air temperatures get a bit low, I live in Ireland and it can get quite cold, would the CHE have to be placed above the heat mat leaving the cool side untouched?

    Do I have to create a temp drop at night? the nights gets quite cold in Ireland. Also what device do people recommend I read the air temperature with?
    You're welcome. That's a fine size enclosure for a single leo!

    How low could temps drop in winter in your home? If lower than ~65*F (18.3*C) CHEs of different wattages could be used on both the warm and the cool ends during the night. In that case both CHEs would need separate thermostats.

    Air temps can be read with the probe of a digital thermometer.

    Here's my general leo temp guide.

    Temperatures - A temperature gradient from warm to cool maintains your leo's health. Here's a temperature guide for all leopard geckos as measured with the probe of a digital thermometer or a temp gun (and controlled by a thermostat set at 91*F/32.8*C):
    • 88-92 F (31.1-33.3 C) ground temperature right underneath a leo's warm dry hide
    • no greater than 82ish F (27.8ish C) air temperature - 4 inches above ground on the warm end
    • no greater than 75 F (23.9 C) air temperature - 4 inches above ground on the cool end

    Leave the heat mat/UTH on 24/7. At night turn off overhead lighting/heating (~12 hours on and ~12 hours off) unless ambient room temperatures drop lower than 67ish*F (19.4*C).

    Zoo Med Excavator Clay Custom Build......swisswiss (Jeff) -- 27 Jan 2016
    Click: Swisswiss's terrarium
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 01-05-2019 at 06:58 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside a vivarium <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
    Thanks Benson1990 thanked for this post

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    I just checked the temperature on the wall with my infrared thermometer gun where my enclosure is going and its reading 65 F and thats at nearly 12:00 in the day.

    I'll almost certainly need to supplement with CHE, what would be the best way to fit them? inside or outside of the vivarium? I could go with a mesh roof? or I could cut two holes to size in the roof to accommodate the CHE dome ?or fit them inside the viv but then would they be too close to the floor considering the viv will only be about 12 inches deep?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benson1990 View Post
    I just checked the temperature on the wall with my infrared thermometer gun where my enclosure is going and its reading 65 F and thats at nearly 12:00 in the day.

    I'll almost certainly need to supplement with CHE, what would be the best way to fit them? inside or outside of the vivarium? I could go with a mesh roof? or I could cut two holes to size in the roof to accommodate the CHE dome ?or fit them inside the viv but then would they be too close to the floor considering the viv will only be about 12 inches deep?
    65* F (18.3*C) at noon is about 25*F too low considering the temperature chart I shared in post 8. An enclosure 12 inches deep is too short for any CHE heating within the enclosure. I don't think you'd appreciate how 2 large CHEs would look inside the enclosure either. Most leos climb on cage furniture. I don't think a mesh roof would help much.

    I recommend cutting out holes in the roof and sitting the CHEs directly above those holes. Do you think 2 CHEs will be enough? How about 2 along the warm end and 1 for the cool end? The CHEs will probably need to be controlled by separate thermostats or by a proportional thermostat like a Herpstat. If 2 CHEs will be set at the same temp, there's an Inkbird thermostat model that would work.


    How are you planning to dimly light this enclosure during the day for a photoperiod probably in addition to room lighting?
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 01-09-2019 at 08:01 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside a vivarium <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

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