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Custom Cage Dimensions - Input Wanted

Discussion in 'Snakes - General' started by TitoAndKatt, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. TitoAndKatt

    TitoAndKatt Elite Member

    We will be moving this summer and plan to order a pair of custom cages for the snakes. We'll be ordering them ahead of time and having them shipped down ahead of us and leaving the old/current cages behind. I have a lot of things to figure out though and would love some input. We're on Spring break next week so I plan to do most of my research and decision making then, so I'd like to get some good input now. :) We have a corn snake who is currently living in a 29 gallon, and a ball python who is currently in a 40 breeder.

    Right now I'm mostly leaning towards ordering from PVC Cages: Snake Cage and Reptile Cage at PVC Cages | PVC Cages: For Healthier and Happier Snakes and Reptiles

    BUT I've discovered these too and I love the price, but I can't tell anything from the site in regards to lighting, heating, and ventilation: Animal Plastics

    Lastly, Monster Cages is our 3rd option right now, but it appears they don't come with an option for a radiant heat panel, and I don't know how well we can control heat with just heat tape... Monster Cages Four-foot Plastic Reptile Cages

    We will be making a few more moves after this one, so I REALLY like that the PVC cages aren't preassembled - we can take them apart for easier packing/shipping when we move again. If you have any other suggestions for places to buy good custom cages, please let me know! :) (Or if you have any good or back feedback on any of the above cages).

    What we need:
    - Safety - needs to be 100% escape proof (obviously)
    - built in lighting and heat
    - easy ability to control heat/heat gradient
    - Must be stackable, space is an issue since we have no clue what our future apartmentS will be like space-wise
    - Costs need to be kept as low as possible, but I am expecting/prepared to spend ~$300 for each cage, give or take (though lower cost would be a great bonus)

    My Questions:
    1.) What size to order?
    - Right now we are leaning towards getting a pair of 48" wide cages (both cages will be the same size for easier stacking). We could go with a 36" cage, but that wouldn't be much of an upgrade for Shiiva. Both snakes are super active, and with the money these will cost, these will most likely be their permanent cages.
    - With that in mind, we need to decide on height. Space and size are an issue, since we have no clue what our living space will be like, and we will be making multiple moves (so a big bulky cage will be more difficult to transport). Because of this, I'm leaning towards the 12" height. That would be less expensive as well, and only 4 inches shorter than Shiiva's 40 breeder. My hesitation with that is that no one seems to have told either snake that they are both terrestrial! lol Both snakes love to climb. Would the increased floor space be enough to make up for the lack of height? I mean it should....
    - Also, if we DID decide to go with the 36" cages, they would have a 36x24 (864 sq" or 6sq') base instead of 36x18 (648 sq" or 4.5 sq') so they would have an extra 1.5 square feet of floor space. I know that technically a 40 breeder is big enough for an adult Ball, but I just feel like it's not enough room. Shiiva is close to 5' long and super active. The SO and I will be discussing before we make a decision, he's leaning towards bigger is better also, but IF we got the 36x24 cages we could get 24" tall cages that come with perches. Would that possible be better, considering how much both snakes like to climb around?

    2.) Heating?
    - We will probably be going for radiant heat panels. The choices (on PVC cages) are 40 watt or 80 watt. I'm assuming we need at lest 80 watt. Assuming that the house temperature might be as low as 60F, (hopefully not, but if we come back up to Alaska some days it's just darn cold), but will Probably be around 68-72F, and
    a.) Is the 80 watt radiant heat panel going to be enough heat?
    b.) If that isn't enough heat, how can we increase it without heat lamps?
    c.) How can we control temps and establish a proper temp gradient with a radiant heat panel?
    d.) Will the heat panel get hot enough to risk burns? I've heard they don't but want to be sure
    e.) How often to heat panels need to be replaced?
    - Some cage companies offer heat tape - I don't know much about heat tape. Does it go in or out of the cage? Would it even get through the cage wall/floor material enough to warm the cage? Would it get warm enough? How would we make a gradient? How would we control temps?

    3.) Lighting?
    - Do fluorescent tube lights get hot enough to cause burns if they touch them?
    - I know there was some info a while back on coiled fluorescent lights causing eye damage in reptiles, have there been any indications since then that straight tube lights do also? I wouldn't think so, but I want to be sure!
    - On that same line of thought, IF we at any point wanted to try live plants in the cage (I know, I know, they'll probably just get crushed/destroyed lol), would a fluorescent bulb made for plants be safe for their eyes?
  2. TitoAndKatt

    TitoAndKatt Elite Member

    Yikes! Just got an email from Monster cages that sipping would be $150-200. They are out. :/
  3. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    I use a 48" enclosure for my adult ball and love it. I think its the perfect amount of space for an adult, she uses every inch.

    A lot of people use Animal Plastics T8s for balls and swear by them. From what ive heard AP has longer lead times compared to smaller companies, 8-12 weeks is not uncommon with them. Some of the smaller companies have shorter lead times but their are also others that will be in that same range.

    Personally I have a Boaphile 421 Coupe which is 48x24x12 (double door instead of single door, purely for looks, actually kind of a pain in the butt) that I bought with a 50 watt radient heat panel installed. Their are a bunch of things I really like about my Boaphile. For one, shipping is encluded in his pricing. All his prices are on the website encluding any add ons, so you can add it up yourself and that will be the final price end of story. You can also buy your heating elements directly from him and they will come completely installed and wired for use. The RHP in my cage looks phenomenal, its built in place with a custom housing that looks way better then anything I could have done myself, and its only slightly more expensive then buying one separately and installing it yourself. It came completely ready for use, all I needed was a thermostat I ordered separately and Lucy moved straight into the cage 30 min after the box showed up. Also frankly think they look better then other cages. To me the AP T8s just look crappy comparatively.

    I know you mentioned that you like something that can break down, but I actually think thats not ideal. Any cage you assemble yourself really needs to be at the very least caulked with silicon, chemically bonding the panels together with pvc glue would be better (but should be left to someone who knows what they are doing!). If you bond it, its never coming apart ever. If you caulk it, your going have to remove the caulk to break it down, then put it back together and recaulk it and let the caulk dry and outgass before using it again. PVC cages are so light and easy to transport there is really no reason to go through the hassle of taking it apart. Seriously they weigh next to nothing.

    Like I said my RHP is 50 watts, and gives me a perfect thermal gradient all seasons. A 40 watt in a 12" high cage may be enough but i dont know for sure, 80 will definitely be plenty in any situation. You install the RHP all the way to one side of the cage, place the probe to your thermostat (sold separately) directly under the panel in a way that is secured from your snake moving it around, plug the panel into the thermostat, set your temp to 90 degrees and your done. Perfectly consistent thermal gradient 24/7. And yes, RHPs are completely snake safe. Actually as I was typing this Lucy was rubbing her nose across her panel, she does this all the time. Tried to take a pic but wasnt fast enough.

    Heat tape, in my opinion, is really only appropriate when you can control the ampient temp in the whole room. All it does is provide a basking site, so your cool side will be the same as the ambient air temp of the room.

    I cant speak to your questions about lighting. I tried using a peel and stick LED strip designed for aquariums and hated it. I was planning on installing a fluorescent, but then I found that Lucy actually likes her cage dark during the day and left it without lights. If you really wanted to im sure you could make a fluorescent work or a different type of LED.

    For your consideration: a Boaphile 48x24x12 with RHP installed, cage assembled and shipped is $356. You may find something SLIGHTY cheaper, but you wont find anything nicer. The only other thing you'd need is a thermostat :)
  4. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member


    *escape artist sold separately
  5. TitoAndKatt

    TitoAndKatt Elite Member

    Thank you for the input! That is very helpful!

    Would my little Zilla thermostat work okay? If not, what type do I need and what is the cost?
    My issue with the need for the cage to be able to be broken down isn't the weight, that isn't going to change, it's the Size. How am I going to transport a 4' long cage? lol I mean I could, but the more we can condense stuff for moves the better. Though we may jsut end up packing stuff IN the cage and transporting it whole anyways.
    My main reason for going with PVC over Boaphile though is the price honestly. If I get the Boaphile cage, with heat (of unknown wattage) and light, it costs $395.The PVC cage with light and 80 watt heat is $345 and I can take it apart to move. $45 may not sound like a huge difference, but when you are a starving medical student living on loans $45 is a lot of money. lol

    Do you think that a PVC or AP cage would be strong enough to support a 29 or 40 breeder tank? Was talking with SO about the cages. He thought when I said $300 I mean for BOTH cages, not EACH. -_- Now he doesn't want to do it. I'm still very much considering buying the cage anyways, (forbidding something come up financially so I can't afford it *knock on wood*) I really feel Shiiva needs a bigger cage bc she is so active, and don't really have the time to commit to building one. If I did that, his corn snake could have Shiiva's 40 breeder and we could stack it on top. Would that be too heavy though?
  6. TitoAndKatt

    TitoAndKatt Elite Member

  7. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    Does that 345 include shipping though?

    I dont have any experience with that zilla stat, but if it can run a UTH or a CHE effectively it can run a RHP. I currently am using a hydrofarm brand stat, it works fine but Im planning to upgrade to a herpstat soon because I can run a stack of cages off a single herpstat, which I wouldn't do with a cheaper brand.

    Yes, a PVC cage can easily support a 40 gal tank no problem. I had a 55 gal on top of mine for a year, now i have a 4' melamine 100lb beast on top of it without issue. Just be careful with the tank. The PVC is very strong, but it scratches REALLY easy.

    Ive also heard that Constrictors Northwest has awesome cages, but they dont supply RHPs so youd have to buy one separately and install yourself. They have a much shorter lead time then AP or Boaphile, which is nice.
  8. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi Kitty, a 2-0 fluorescent tube is o.k for plants, and no, it won't get hot enough to burn.

    P.S. That would have been my shortest ever reply to anything you`ve ever asked but I added this on the end to make it even more interesting for you.... :-"
  9. TitoAndKatt

    TitoAndKatt Elite Member

    It does include shipping actually! :) And yes my Zilla thermostat runs a UTH and a CHE together. I'd like to get a hygrometer control set up some day too but I don't know much about setting those up, and this cage is going to suck up all of my non-existent extra funds as it is.

    Good to know it should hold the weight of another tank, that is super helpful. I'm considering getting a PVC cage for Shiiva and then giving Pluto (corn) Shiiva's current 40 breeder so it would still be an upgrade for both of them.
  10. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I use that same thermostat to run the RHP in my Carpet Cage, and it works just fine. You simply put the probe near the basking spot.
  11. TitoAndKatt

    TitoAndKatt Elite Member

    Okay it's finally time to order the cage! :D I decided to go with the PVC 48' cage: Snake Cage and Reptile Cage at PVC Cages | PVC Cages: For Healthier and Happier Snakes and Reptiles

    I'm nervous about ordering a cage without seeing it first, but super excited for the upgrade. :D Just have a few more questions that I want to be 100% sure about before ordering so I emailed them. I'll try calling tomorrow, but with the time difference they are closed right now.
    My Q's that I emailed them:

    1.) I see that your website states these cages must be used with a thermostat. Right now I have a cheap Zilla 1000W Temperature Controller: : Zilla 11939 Temperature Controller, 1000-Watt : Reptile Thermostat : Pet Supplies
    Will this or a similar device be sufficient?

    2.) Is the cage sturdy enough to support the weight of a 40 gallon breeder tank? (reptile cage, not filled with water).

    3.) We are moving and I am having this cage shipped ahead of us so it will be there when we arrive. Are there any tools or other equipment that I need to have prepared for assembling the cage?

    4.) How long does it take from the time that I order to the arrival of the cage?

    This is going to break the bank, but hopefully selling Pluto's old cage will help to cover some of the costs. I can't wait to get everyone upgraded! :D

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