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Reptile Enclosure Screen Tops

How To Build Reptile Enclosure Screen Tops

Reptile Enclosure Screen Top

Reptile Enclosure Screen Tops are a neccessity for keeping the animal in, as well as for allowing adequate ventilation. Screen covers are also of great value for custom reptile enclosures and feeder insect colonies.

This tutorial will explain how to create your own screen covers, for tanks of all shapes and sizes.

Materials

An old window screen (or buy new material)
Hack saw or Jig saw with metal blade
Flathead Screwdriver
Tape Measure
Razor Knife
Aluminum Screen

Disassembling Old Screen

The old style screens are easily acquired and can often be found in basements or attics of homes. You can also buy the building materials at the store if you like. Assembly is the same for new and used window screens. This is how an old style window screen will look:

Reptile Enclosure Screen Top

Each screen will be composed of 10 parts. There will be 2 long sides, 2 short sides, 4 corners, screen, and screen lining. It is now our job to disassemble the screen so we can use it for our project.

To begin, we first must remove the screen lining. It will be found "surrounding" the screen itself. You can start a corner of it with a flathead screwdriver, or your razor knife. Once you can grab it, just pull it out of the slot. An example is below.

Reptile Enclosure Screen Top

Once the lining is removed, pull the screen itself out, and then separate the sides from the corners by pulling them apart. You should now have a pile of materials that resembles this:

Reptile Screen Top

Reassembling New Screen

You now need to determine how big of a screen you would like to make. Measure the INSIDE dimensions of the tank that this screen will be covering. Write that number down.

Now using your tape measure again, measure the corner piece like the image depicts:

Enclosure Screen Top

The measurement you took of the corner now needs to be multiplied by 2. The reason for this is that there are 2 corners. If the distance between the points above were 1/2", you would then subtract 1" from the length of ALL of your inside dimensions. That 1" would compensate for the corners.

After you have subtracted the width of the corners from your inside dimensions, you can proceed to the next step as you now have the lengths that each piece of aluminum will need to be cut too.

Using your tape measure, scribe (mark) the lengths on BOTH sets of aluminum framing. The 2 long sides should have the same length as well as the 2 shorter sides.

Now using the hacksaw or jigsaw, cut the lengths you have marked.

Once you have all of your pieces cut, it is time to reassemble the pieces. Lock your corners in place and connect everything together. (Make sure that everything is facing in the same direction. All of the smooth sides should be facing you.) This will leave you with an empty frame.

Now lay the newly sized frame on the floor, with the "slots" facing up. We now need to reattach the screen to the frame.

Take the screen and lay it over your frame. We don't want to cut it yet, we just want to lay it on the frame so that the new frame is centered below it.

Take your flathead screwdriver and lining, and press the end of the lining into the slot in one of the corners. There is an example below.

Rainforest Enclosure Screen Top

Since we have held off on cutting the screen at this point, we are ensuring that we will not/ have not cut it too small. Continue pressing the lining in all the way around the frame. Make sure you keep the screen tight as you progress so you have a nice smooth finish.

Once you have made your way around the entire frame, take your razor knife and cut off the extra lining. Then, using your razor knife again, cut the excess screen following the lining as your guide.

You should now have a smaller framed screen that resembles something like this:

Vivarium Enclosure Screen Top

If you are using a heating element on this screen you are creating, you will need to purchase a new screen that is made of stronger metal. Most of these screens will be made of mesh or lightweight aluminum and they will not be capable of withstanding the output from a heating element. I would suggest a screen with 1/4" openings. You may need additional tools for installation, as it won't be as easy to cut as the screen from the original window screen.

Attribution

Author: Richard Brooks
Images - © Richard Brooks

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