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Enclosure Questions

Discussion in 'Monitors' started by Alexjackson617, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. Hey all. I'm new to monitors and to this forum. I've been keeping fish my whole life and have some experience with lizards as well but this is my first big lizard.

    I'm in the process of building the enclosure now. It's 5'x3'x3'. Once the monitor gets a little larger I am going to double the height. I can also expand the length if need be.

    I'm most likely buying a Quince Monitor as I really like that adult size range, the temperament and that they use the water. I'm open to other suggestions from experienced people about similiar monitors as well if anyone has ideas.

    My main question is about the enclosure. I want most of the bottom to be a relatively shallow pool of water for swimming as well as humidity. I've been looking at pre-formed pond liners but haven't found anything that will work yet. Any ideas about something to use to contain the water would be great.

    Also, as far as heating an enclosure of this size. What wattage should I be looking for as a basking spot as well as the ceramic bulbs.

  2. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I'll start off with saying the absolute biggest mistake people make with monitors is not having a constant adequate relative humidity in the air.
    Just having a tub of water will not help this much unless the enclosure is sealed and some heating source to cause the water to evaporate.
    Rubbermaid containers would be your best bet and I would install a drain for easy cleaning. He will crap in it and having to haul it out of there all the time you just aren't going to want to do.

    Draw it out, plan to keep all bulbs inside. No top mesh with lights sitting on top. You'll need to heat the water from below as well. With a sealed enclosure you should be able to run a bank of 2-60 watt bulbs.
    That's just a guess of course but put them on a dimmer so you can adjust the temps.
  3. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    I'm curious on the dimensions, are you trying to fit this in a certain spot? For the materials your going to have to purchase anyway, you could probably go with a 6'x4' footprint and incur no extra materials cost. And I would definitely recommend going bigger, and you will definitely need taller too so you might as well just build what you need from the start. And although v. melinus will use a water featured if provided (most monitors will), I'm not aware of them being aquatic really, so a full water floor is likely a bad idea. You could do a water feature that is around 1/3 of the floor space and be fine. The plan I have for one of my cages, if I ever finish it, is to have one of the larger size mortar tubs on one end as the water feature, with the rest of the cage having around 18" of soil, to give you some idea.
    Now as for the heating and basking, no one can really tell you what you'll need. It takes some trial and error to get the basking and general heating running properly, which is one of the reasons we recommend that the cage be set up and running before bringing the animal home. It will depend on the size of the cage, how well insulated it is, how warm the outer environment is, and so on. All of my monitors, and some of my other lizards as well, have basking sites ranging from 135-150°f+, and I achieve this by adjusting the wattage of the bulbs, and the distance to the basking surface. Even the basking surface material choice will affect heating. I use natural slate tile from the home improvement stores. Most of the time the cages stay warm enough during the day on the basking lights alone, but if I need supplemental heat at night I use a ceramic heat emitter on a thermostat.
    murrindindi likes this.
  4. Thanks for the advice! Having a drain is a great idea, I planned on cleaning the water with a syphon like a fish tank. Thanks for the bulb suggestion as well. I'm going to measure it with a temp gun but just needed somewhere to start.

    I planned to seal the enclosure with 100% silicone unless you have a better suggestion. I also plan to use as a heater (somewhere the lizard can't access it and 2 sponge filters in the water to help warm it and create evaporation. I also plan to have a soil mix either surrounding the water or above it using a plastic tub on PVC pillars.
  5. Thank you for the advice!

    I am trying to fit it in one spot for now. I have a 5ft space near my couch I plan to use. In the long run I can expand but I plan on buying the youngest monitor I can find. I want to keep it near a place I generally hangout (but not too close) so it gets used to my presence and I can observe it. I also wanted the height at 3' so I can put it on top of a stand I have so that I am not looming over the animal everytime I go near the cage. I was thinking that would be a good start to gaining it's trust. If I'm off base with that thought let me know!

    I have a whole empty fish room from when I business shipping fish. Space isn't an issue Id just rather have it someplace I can enjoy it.

    The enclosure will be fully set up before I order the reptile.
  6. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    You're right with not having the monitor below you. My v.tristis were more nervous at a lower level and when they moved into their larger taller habitat the male thought he was king sh@t perched up there.
  7. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, a properly supported hatchling will grow at between approx 2 to 3+ inches per month especially during it`s first year or so, that means it could be sexually mature well within that time and if female (a 50% chance) it will require suitable nesting (preferably as large an area as possible). I do not think the above sized enclosure would work more than a few months at the very most, and rehousing them can be very stressful, much better to build the "adult sized" enclosure from the beginning, in my opinion.
    Darkbird likes this.
  8. I will not be building a completely new enclosure. I will be making the current enclosure 6ft tall by building another enclosure exactly the same size and securing it to the top. Doing that should make it easier to move as well. I can also add length in a similiar way. I already have the materials for the top and it will be done shortly after the first half.

    Still looking for advice on what to use for the water feature. I'm no longer looking to cover the entire bottom of the enclosure with water so that I can have some good substrate in there as well.

    The enclosure is coming along nicely so far. Sealed with polycrylic and silicon. Gonna add more wood in the front to hold in more soil.

    Attached Files:

  9. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, it looks fine but make sure the water heater is firmly fixed in place so the monitor can`t dislodge it if it`s the "normal" aquarium type the suction cups won`t be strong enough.
    I can show you how my external heater and piping for the filter are fixed if you`re interested?
    Edit: What are you planning to seal (or cover) the bottom and sides with up to the substrate level, varnish won`t last long at all? Epoxy resin paint or FRP fibreglass reinforced plastic is much more effective.
  10. Sure, I'd like to see it! I imagine some sort of external filter / sump?

    I was thinking of using peel and stick tiles under the substrate as that's what I've mostly seen in pictures. But I may have actually been seeing pictures of people keeping other reptiles on tiles and misinterpreted? I'll check out the options you recommended.
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    050.JPG I currently use an external heater (very effective) and external filter, I had more pics but can`t find some of them (I can take a few more tomorrow if needed).
    kriminaal and AmityReptiles like this.
  12. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I think the self adhesive tiles are o.k for the walls above the substrate level (I use them that way) but below you really need something more durable such as the expoxy resin paint /similar or FRP (both will literally last years and years).
    A large male (V. melinus) can reach around 150cm (5ft) and it could quite easily dislodge vinyl tiles when digging/burrowing.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  13. That's a really nice water feature you have there! It looks huge! How big is it? I was planning on using sponge filters but I really like the way the canister filter output looks getting into the water. I have one from an old saltwater aquarium, I think I'm gonna try and clean it up and use it.

    I appreciate all the advice!
  14. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    It`s a 75 gallon dog bathing pool, although at that time I only used around 25g of water. There`s only months between the pool shots so you can see how quickly they can grow.
    Darkbird likes this.
  15. Your monitor looks great! I'm sure it's enjoying that much space to swim.
  16. I bought a ton of this stuff and some play sand to mix together. It's called "jiffy organic and natural seed starting mix". The pickings for soil were slim at the hardware store this time of year.

    Do you think it's safe for a small monitor? The small white peices in the soil worry me, not sure what it is. IMG_20180206_072925.jpg IMG_20180206_072947.jpg IMG_20180206_073007.jpg
  17. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Take it back. The white pieces are perlite and the "soil" is largely vermiculite. Both items are hazardous.
  18. Thank you! Any recommendations for widely available safe soil?
  19. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Just plain unadulterated top soil, mixed with playsand.

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