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" all I can say is "WOW and Thank You" . they will make my cage making a much easier and a more fun task. Once again thank you for your web site and you prompt support"
Burt Tejada

I am ... very happy with your plans, the organization that you have put into it and I am extremely happy with the response I have gotten from you when I have encountered a problem.
It sure does save money. At the same time it allows me and others like me to experience making the cage for our animal (animals) that we care so much about. I think that when someone takes the time to sit down and make something like this for their animal it really shows how much they care for them and respect them.

With your plans you can also alter the cage to each and everyone's specifications, or needs. I think what you are doing is wonderful and I want to thank you again.

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Spent $108.00 at Lowes, another $65.00 at Home Depot buying things that Lowes didn't have..... Spending time with my son in a hardware store.... PRICELESS!"

 


"Overall, the best thing I have found from the cage designs... is that:
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Once you have the material list you don't go back to the hardware store.

Just follow the instructions and it comes out perfect.

Your maintenance will be much easier.

Your iguana will thank you

Once again, you will have built something cool. "

Regards and best to all our Green Iguana friends, Lance and Joey Portwood Glidden, Texas ".

 


"Very well thought-out designs"

 

 

The Argentine Black and White Tegu

by Bert Langerwerf

Housing

Outdoors

Housing a tegu outdoors is far easier than housing it indoors and if you're in a climate which permits it, we strongly recommend it. It's not that housing a tegu indoors is difficult, but keeping them outdoors requires very little work after the initial setup. The direct sunlight and dirt burrow will mean not having to worry about UV light bulbs or keeping their burrow moist.

For the first half-year the baby-tegus can be housed in a rather small enclosure of 3-4 feet long. But as they grow larger they will need more space and a ground-surface of 4 by 8 feet or more is needed for adults. Tegus are from a horizontal habitat and therefore the terrarium should be as large as possible in horizontal direction. In nature they spend all night, all winter and also the hot part of summer-days inside their burrow, which is over 80% of their time. The burrow is always damp inside and that damp atmosphere is needed for shedding. Therefore the tegus should have a hidebox that can be kept damp also. Best is to place a hidebox under the terrarium, and an opening in the bottom of the terrarium will lead to that hidebox and imitates the burrow. This hidebox can have its own little inspection door. As the most natural substrate inside the terrarium hay can be used. Then cleaning is easy by simply replacing the dirty hay by new hay. The floor of the pampas is also covered with some hay fallen from the grasses. Further the tegu may decide to use part of the hay to stuff his hidebox.

The climax of terrarium keeping is having your own pampas in your backyard with pampasgrass and Argentine tegus combined within a fence of metal. I have constructed 3 such habitats of 1000 sq. feet (92 sq. meters) each for the tegus. I use galvanized corrugated steel of good quality. I noticed that such steel does not rust after 10 years in the ground. I buy this steel at a big steel company, where I am allowed to cut in "my" size pieces of 5' (1.5m) and a few inches. I place it 2 feet (61cm) deep and 3+ (92+ cm) feet stick out of the ground. I top it off with angle metal and fix the entire structure with blind rivets. It takes me a week to make such a 33 by 33 feet enclosure. I do that in winter, when my animals hibernate. Since it takes a few years before pampasgrass grows to nice large bushes, I leave other local plants in at the start, and as the pampasgrass takes over I take the other plants away. Also I have another thistle like decorative plant from the Argentine pampas growing in it. Eventually this will become a habitat with 2 plants and the tegu from the pampas.

Every 'Pampas-enclosure' gets also 2 underground hidingplaces, from where I can remove the animals in case winterweather turns exceptional cold. Nightfrosts are no problem, but several nights with temperatures below freezing are too cold, and then I take them to the basement, where boxes are ready for them to continue hibernation. Such a pampas-habitat can also be made further north in the USA, as long as the pampasgras will survive. Primarily it is important that there are 5-6 months of good weather, while the weather in winter is not important, as the animals can be taken out of their hidings and brought to safer ground to continue hibernation. And they can be put back in the end of March or start of April, depending on the weather.

So, here I walk in-between my tegus. It is like feeling on Galapagos or having Jurassic Park in your own backyard. Since I only keep full-grown tegus in that habitat a protective netting above it is not needed. The Opossums, that occasionally enter to eat the food, which the tegus did not finish, are even chased out by the tegus in the morning.

An outdoor tegu enclosure does not need to be that big. I find it nicer, when bigger, but a 100 sq. ft (9.3 sq. m) terrarium, made out of corrugated steel is an ideal size for an adult pair. Such a smaller enclosure I give a ridged roof of good quality metal wiring screen, which enables me to cover the terrarium with plastic during winter, so that during hibernation animals are safe in the burrows in case of heavy rainfall.

Indoors

While keeping a tegu indoors adds a bit of complexity, it is still not very difficult. However, you should be aware that tegus are very intelligent animals and really like to roam around and explore. If you are going to keep your tegu indoors, try to take him out and let him roam around. Tegus can learn to come when called, love people, and are fascinating to watch as they roam about. While they are somewhat prone to knocking things over, a little forethought will keep them out of trouble. Also, though they are terrestrial animals, they are excellent climbers and can make their way up nearly anything which is not slick (for example, one person discovered his tegu had climbed all the way up the bathrobe he had hanging on a hook and was looking around wondering where to go next). Since indoor tegus will not have the stimulation available to outdoor tegus, you should make sure to provide it to them via frequent time out of their enclosure. You'll enjoy it too.

The enclosure for a single adult tegu should be 8' (244 cm) long by 4' (122 cm) wide and a little more than 2' (61 cm) tall. (While the tegu won't really use the height, you will any time you want to do anything inside of the enclosure.) 3/4" Medium Density Fiberboard painted with polyurethane or other good waterproofing agents (shellac will not last) works well for most parts. For the viewing window (or doors), 3/8" plexiglass works well. It is more expensive then the thinner plexiglass which is a little more common (though Home Depot does sell both thicknessses), but the thin stuff is too flexible relative to the strength of adult tegus. They won't break it, but they will likely be able to bend it far enough to escape out of their enclosure.

There are two options as far as the door goes. A top-opening enclosure is simpler and cheaper, and perhaps a little more convenient as far as working on the enclosure goes, but it means that you can't keep anything on top of the enclosure (the astute reader will notice that front-opening doors allows one to stack enclosures on top of each other to save space).

If you're going with the top-opening version, there are several ways to put in the front viewing window. The easiest way is to use a router to create a grouve 3/8" deep along the edge of the hole for the viewing window, insert the plexiglass, and then use screw-wings to hold it in. If you make the front out of two or more pieces of wood, you can also use a router to cut a groove for the plexiglass into the middle of the appropriate edges of the wood and just screw the middle of the wood into place. If so, make sure that the groove is at least 1/2" deep, as even thicker plexiglass has some give to it over the 6' or so that the window will be wide.

If you are going to go with front-opening doors, the easiest method is to use the plexiglass as the whole door. Thicker plexiglass is especially important here, as tegus trying to get out can exert quite a lot of pressure on the doors. You will want to make the door in two pieces, opening in the center. You will need hinges on both ends as well as several sets of dead bolts to keep it closed. Make sure that the base and top of the enclosure overlaps the front by about 2" (5 cm), as you will need to put holes in it for the dead-bolts to slide into. Attach dead bolts at the middle and end of the door, both on the top and bottom. When attaching the dead bolts and the hinges, drill holes in the plexiglass and use metal grommets. Other things like screws, super glue, epoxy, or silicone may be tempting, but they don't work. Screws will crack the plexiglass and likely hurt your tegu (their skin is thick, but screws are sharp, and they are quite persistent when trying to push through the plexiglass). Adhesives simply don't stick well enough to withstand week after week of determined pushing.

And your tegu will push against them. Tegus do not really understand transparent hard surfaces, like glass or plexiglass. They know that if they can see through something, they should be able to walk through it, or at worst dig through it. And if you use inferior methods of attaching your plexiglass, they will eventually be correct.

Tegus are thirsty animals, so it is a good idea to get one of the several-day water bowls with the attached reservoir. (Don't let the fact that it will last for a while fool you into not cleaning it, standing water is not good to drink after a few days.)

The best way to light the enclosure is with a standard 4' fluorescent shop light. Electronic ballasts are better than magnetic ballasts for a number of reasons, the biggest being energy efficiency. Electronic ballasts use up to 30% less electricity than magnetic ballasts. They also run cooler and don't produce a 60Hz hum, which your tegu would likely find annoying. At least one of the bulbs should be a ZooMed Reptisun 5.0 UVB bulb (choose the other based on whatever lighting you think looks best). Tegus need UVB light to synthesize vitamin D-3 which they use to absorb calcium. Not getting enough UVB is a very good way to cause all sorts of health problems. Make sure to change the bulb every 6 months as the UVB production of fluorescents drops off too low after about 6 months. Also, get only the zoomed bulbs. There is very little quality control in the reptile product industry and as of the time of this writing, most other fluorescent bulbs do not produce enough UVB.

As for heating, the safest and most cost effective method is to get a T-Rex Cobra Heat Pad in the largest size (the one for a 60+ gallon tank). It is important that the heat pad be larger than the animal laying on it to avoid burns due to heat build-up. As long as the pad is large enough for some portion of it to be exposed when the animal is laying on it, the cobra heat pads are very safe as they heat very evenly to 100 F (38 C). They are also very energy efficient. The largest model uses only 28 watts. Also, they are not a fire or burn hazard the way that light bulbs are. Place the bad on top of the substrate and underneath the UVB bulb so that the tegu gets its UV light while basking. (It is important not to cover the heating pad, so that it can dissipate its heat.)

Ground coconut fiber (such as Bed-A-Beast or ZooMed Eco Earth) is a good substrate to use as it is very absorbent and easily spot-cleaned. It does very well in the hide box/burrow as well, since it holds moisture for a long time but is not prone to mildew or mold. Cypress mulch also works well. You will want the substrate to be at least 6" (15cm) deep. Tegus love to dig and rearrange their substrate. They also like to use it to close up the entrance to their burrow or hide box when they go to sleep at night. Do not try to bother with substrates like carpet or paper. Carpet can get claws stuck and rip them out (and does so not infrequently), and paper will be ripped apart in very short order. Also, none of these will satisfy a tegu's digging needs.

The final thing that you'll need for an indoor enclosure is the hide box/burrow. Nearly anything that will fit your tegu and has a small opening will work. The clay bases to a large flower pot will work if you remove some portion of the side to make an opening (which is easy enough to do just by hitting it with a hammer). You can also buy concrete blocks cheaply and arrange them to make a burrow, though make sure that whatever you build is stable. A larger litter box for a cat will also work, though you'll want to put something on top of it to keep it from moving around. Whatever method you use, make sure that there is substrate, hay, or something else which will hold moisture without getting moldy inside of the hide box. Tegus naturally spend much of their lives inside of their burrow and so rely on it to be very humid. Good shedding, and consequently a healthy animal with all of its toes and tail, depend on a humid hide box.

One final note: it would be a good idea, before you put the substrate in, to seal the edges of the floor of the enclosure with silicone (use pure silicone rather than caulk as it is stronger and lasts longer, and is also more mildew resistant). When wetting down the sleeping part of the enclosure, this will keep excess water from pouring out of the edges and ruining the carpet underneath

 

Article reproduced with permission. Bert Langerwerf breeds and sells a wide variety of animals including Australian Eastern Water Dragons, Tegus, Bearded Dragons, Shinisaurus crocodilurus, Uromastyx. Berts website is:
www.agamainternational.com

 


Mark Chapple is the Author of "How to build enclosures for reptiles"
Find out how to build these cages as well as arboreal cages. Full color pictures, detailed diagrams and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions.
http://www.reptile-cage-plans.com