Artificial Reptile Enclosure Wall
How to build an artificial reptile enclosure wall
Paint Thinner/White Spirit
PU Foam/Insulation in a can (Great Stuff)
Silicone (which I personally don't recommend, as it takes a long time to dry) or something else to stick the polystyrene to your wall (I used a hot glue gun) Tile Adhesive (the same stuff you use to lay the tiles in your bathroom)
That's about all you need and, as I said, it's really cheap.
Take a brush and put some paint thinner (maybe diluted with water) onto the polystyrene. This is how you create your realistic rough surface and holes. Don't use too much thinner straight away, as the holes will probably end up bigger than you thought!
Stick the polystyrene onto the walls using whichever method suits you best. If your enclosure is made of wood or mesh, maybe you could use wire. I used a hot glue gun as silicone takes so long to dry.
You can also stick pieces up at angles to make shelves and ledges for the reptiles to bask on and hide under.
Here we use the "insulation in a can" to fill in the gaps between the pieces of foam.
Cover everything with the tile adhesive. For the first layer, put a bit more water into it to let it really settle into all the little nooks and crannies.
Let each layer dry for about 24 hours, making about 3-5 total layers. This will make your wall very hard and durable.
You can also put colors into the wall by adding different colored sand, stones, pieces of wood, etc. in the final layer of the adhesive. If you don't put any additives into the tile adhesive, it will probably end up grey. You can always paint it afterwards though with a non-toxic paint, and allowing at least 48 hours for it to completely dry in a well ventilated area.
It's really easy and quick to make (except for the time the tile adhesive needs to dry) and I'm sure your dragons will enjoy it and love you for it!
Here is the finished product:
If this technique is used in a humid environment (for water dragons, etc.) it is a good idea to seal the last layer with Epoxide Resin. (or other water sealant) The reason for adding a layer or 2 is to help prevent corrosion. This current application is for use with less humid climates. In a humid environment, this technique could fail. Take the appropriate measures and seal your creation to ensure that it will withstand the increased moisture.
Another thing to note is that it would be a good idea to put flat stones or something comparably durable and easy to clean on the basking spots. (Heat speeds up digestion and that's why these areas require frequent cleaning. After several months or years the tile adhesive might start to crumble. Adding basking stones will help keep the area "cleaner" because they can be removed and washed regularly.
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Author: Carina Stumpf
Images - © Carina Stumpf