Choosing A Home Within Your Home For Your Scaly Companion

 

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“I want out….I’m not playing!”
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“Sigh….I can’t believe she’s not going to let me out!”

As you see, Mr. Pitiful here is in a 55 gallon aquarium. It was given to me with my lizard because a family member wanted me to give this baby a better life. I had to buy nothing but more bulbs and of course, locate new blankies. This aquarium previously contained fish (sanitized pre-lizard, of course). For the lizard, the previous owner secured with screws 2 little framed screens (found at a hardware store) that fit the opening  at the top. He screwed into these 2 knobs for handles to lift up and open the new doors (likened to the reverse of how a butterfly spreads it’s wings). This was done to ensure the lizard would stay contained and their cats would stay out. Like cabinet knobs next to one another, you can open both sides at once with both hands. Unfortunately I’ve not a picture, but you can visualize with the description. It is troublesome to hold them open with your shoulders as you clean, set food, etc. But, it’s one solution if you’re on a tight budget. I secured the knobs together with a rubber band so there was no chance a door would slip down and bump baby and they couldn’t be lifted from within. A dual light bulb lamp (heat & full-spectrum) was rigged high with twine and duct tape by the original owner.

Now, here is my truly rigged and totally ingenious (I must say) enclosure:

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Okay, this rarely happens. It’s nearly perfect!

As you see, this is a cage for a furry friend not for the scaly sort. But if you’ve weened or simply denied your lizard of live crickets that jump around, this sort of non-glass enclosure will do well with an amount of painstaking labor. Worth it if you can’t afford a large aquarium and love your lizard(s) and choose an enclosure such as this.

**Warning: You may bleed in the construction

I say this because I did! Obviously. I’m a girl. ….but a determined one!! Hours were spent, blood was shed, frustration and adrenaline flowed as I fought this labor of love!!! It was the darn rolls (2) of thin wire I bought and the reel of super thin wire that scraped me up and poked wee holes in my fingertips! I wanted to drop-kick all of it but that would have led to further injury!!

I purchased this cage from a pet store for my previous beloved friend and kept it. It’s approx. 20″ w, 21″ h, 30″l. On the exterior is draped across the roof and flowing down the left & right sides a thick cloth shower curtain to aid in heat and moisture containment (this is important for their skin and health). The front door is uncovered by cloth most of the time. The back wall is uncovered because I keep the back pressed against a window so my sweetie  can look outside. When the weather is nice I open the window. I got lucky in that I have a sturdy desk to hold the weight of the cage that is exactly as tall as my window sills are high. 20171014_16363820171014_163844THIS UVB BULB HAS OLDEN-DAY STYLE  METAL DRAPE HOOKS CRAMMED INTO THE HOLES ON THE BACK USED FOR MOUNTING. THEY ARE BENT TO PERFECTION AND WRAPPED AROUND THE BARS ON THE TOP OF THE CAGE. IT IS SECURED AGAIN WITH A WIRE AROUND THE CENTER OF THE WHOLE THING AND SECURED TO CAGE. WE DON’T WANT THIS TO FALL!! THE CORDS OF MY LIGHTING ARE ALSO WIRED TO AND FED OUT OF THE CAGE THROUGH SNIPPED OPENINGS LARGE ONLY ENOUGH TO GET THE PLUGS OUT AND INTO A POWER STRIP (NOT A CHEAP EXTENSION CORD).

If you want to try this for your lizard(s) you will need:

  1. Cage: (of a humane size) they need space to climb a little, be able to get away from their poo, have  sections for food, water, basking and sleeping
  2. rolls of  thin wire: (similar to chicken wire) measure the cage to determine the amount of wire roll(s) you will need to purchase. The purpose of this to keep all body parts from getting stuck (if your lizard is small, to prevent escape, amazing the small spaces they can wiggle through) between the metal bars of the cage.
  3. reel of much thinner easily bendable wire:  1 reel should work but be certain. This is similar-slightly thicker in width to the wire within a twisty tie for bread loaves. The purpose of this is to secure the thin wire to the exterior of the wire cage.
  4. very sticky clear tape: You will have to cut and piece in small sections of wire roll to conceal gaps. Placing tape inside (sticky side facing the outside) at all places where cut wire may come into contact with your lizards feet for example if they climb the walls will protect them from injury.
  5. wire snips: to cut the wire rolls. However, your thinner wire should be thin enough that scissors could cut it
  6. stage / gaf tape or equivalent: this is a stretchy and strong tape. This is ideal for wrapping inside or out around the gap that will remain around the perimeter of the cage by the bottom tray after you’ve secured you wire roll to the exterior. If you wrap the inside it will be sticky side facing out and for the outside, sticky side facing in, obviously
  7. PATIENCE and time: As stated, this is a labor of love

     These cages have a removable plastic tray on the bottom. Remove it before and replace it after the project is completed. Have plenty of work space for the cage and to unroll the dastardly wire rolls. To cover the majority of the cage you wont have to do any snipping for a while. You will need to lay the cage on it’s side to begin at at a corner. Secure with thin wire as you work so you can be sure it lies flat and tight against the cage structure. You don’t want a lizard stuck between the cage and wire! A securing wire every 6-10 inches should work. Jump around with placements of these using your best judgement as to where 1 should be. You may need 4 hands but I did it with 2. Sometimes you may have to squeeze into the cage for certain things!

Pre-cutting a bunch of reeled wire into the same size ahead of time is very handy. Lay them near you upon something light in color so they’re ready and visible. Shape them into a U-shape but longer on the side you’re holding to feed it through, being certain it is tightening the bond of the exterior wire to a bar of the cage.20171024_090257 Remember to have all ends of all cut wire facing out/away from the interior of the cage. These ends may snag flesh and draperies but it’s a petty price to pay to ensure your loved one’s safety.

*note: My beardie is about the equivalent of a human pre-teen, as such still likes food that moves. Do to enclosure selection and the guilt I experience when watching innocent little critters be devoured, my lizards live nearly vegetarian life styles. I have had healthy lizards by providing them a good variety of fruits (never citrus) and veggies, some contain protein to replace meat. I also crush unsalted nuts with the butt end of a steak knife for protein. I do have freeze dried crickets given as a snack. These can easily be found online and are cheap.

An excellent source of knowledge about bearded dragons can be found at: www.beardeddragon.org

More on diet at it’s home page  >at left tap #2) what to buy  >scroll to and tap food items and supplements.    I do give my lizard in small portions, frozen (but mostly fresh and rinsed veggies) rather than canned (and often high in sodium) veggies. I pour a small amount in a covered dish to thaw in the refrigerator and for the outside animals, toss out any remainder after a few days. I’m not sure what eats the food I throw out but I enjoy thinking I fed a family of raccoons or something for the night.

In conclusion, this is a long post fellow lizard-loving friends. The cage is laborious in materialization and description. I hope it helps at least one person and lizard. Thank you for being here! If you have any questions or comments please contact me via the options above. 

“Give me lizardry or give me death!”   –Dawn Renee