Most people have furry friends. Dogs. Cats. Goats. What do I have? A bearded dragon. And naturally, I treat him as if he were a dog or a cat. This spring he's coming out of a long ~3 month hibernation (or brumation, as lizard-folk call it) and his testosterone is OFF the charts. Poor little guy is clawing at the sides of his tank constantly trying to get outside. I figured now would be a great time to put together a little outdoor house for him that I've been thinking of doing for a very long time.
The Finished Project:
More About Fezz:
Fezzick is our 8 year old male bearded dragon. He came to us in November, 2011 from a kid going to college that just couldn't keep him anymore. Naturally, being a vet student, he has become my pride and joy. His favorite food is green beans and he loves a good long soak in the Jacuzzi tub. He also loves to frolic in the grass and maul clover flowers, his other favorite food.
To the left is Fezz at Easter - can you tell we adore this little guy?? He is such a good sport with photos, too.
Notes About Design:
I've wanted to make this pretty much since we adopted the little guy. I had looked up several pictures of other enclosures on the internet but most of them had chicken wire for sides. Being in New England, we have a lot of fireflies which are actually extremely toxic to bearded dragons. This is why I opted to go with a window screen material for the sides of his house. The screen also allows him to still get the UV rays that are so desperate to general reptile metabolism. There is no bottom to the house, which will make for easy cleaning - just lift it off, put him away, and throw the towel in the wash! The top has hinges and will swing open so I can put food in and take him in and out as I please.
Now I know you're just DYING to figure out how I did this - so here we go!!
What we Used:
- 3/4" x 1.5" x whatever feet pine strapping
- Window screen - 36" width
- Staple gun and 3/8" staples
- Screws - but I don't remember how long...
- 2 Hinges
- Eye Hooks
My dad helped me build a lot of this, so I'm not sure how good i'll be at recreating the technical steps...
1. Determine the dimensions!
I wanted this house to be at least the same size as the 40 gallon tank he lives in. 3ft x 2 ft x 1.5 ft looked good!
2. Cut wood according to dimensions!
For the dimensions we chose, we needed:
6 boards 3 ft long
6 boards 2 ft long
6 boards 1.5 ft long
That totals to 39 ft of wood
My dad thought it would be a good idea to make panels so that I could take the enclosure apart if I ever need to for moving purposes. He is a smart and wise man. We made 3 panels 3ft by 2ft - one each for the front and the back and one for the top door of the enclosure. Then we made 2 panels 2ft by 1.5ft for the 2 sides of the enclosure. Remember, there is no bottom of the enclosure in our design.
When the drilling and assembly was all said and done this is what we had:
(top door not shown)
Next it would probably be ideal to put the screen on each panel before putting the whole thing together. We forgot this step. But it's okay it works out in the end!!
Then it was time to put the entire thing together. We drilled holes into the smaller panels so that we could screw those into the large panels. This means the screws with which to take the enclosure apart are on the smaller panel ends.
Here's what we have now:
4. Adding Hardware!!
Hinge time! You have to look closely because the fittings for the heads of the screws do go a certain way. Here's what the hinges looked like after they were added to the base and the top door:
Then we added eye-hooks to the front. To "lock" the enclosure, I put green florist wire through the eye hooks later and twisted it.
Finally, what kind of bearded dragon enclosure doesn't have fancy little handles?!?! Note - we did add these after we did the screen - but they fit better in the hardware section...
Our window screen was 36" wide - which is great because that's the same width as the enclosure! We decided stapling it to the inside would be more aesthetically pleasing. So we loaded up the staple gun and went to work. After finishing each side, I made sure to pound down the staples so nothing sharp remained. Bearded Dragons are fairly body-unaware and could hurt themselves if something was left sticking into the enclosure. They'll also eat things they shouldn't haha.
Here's a close up of a staple - sorry its blurry!
7. Tada!! Take lots of photos now that it's done!
8. Don't forget to get the beardie seal of approval!
Fezzie LOVED it!! He stayed out for almost 2 hrs this afternoon!
If you want to see more of Fezz - check out some of his YouTube vids!