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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.

Robert Hansford


"This is going to make an 11 year old and his lizard Rex very happy".


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:
They work!!!!

They allow you to view and touch your Iguana from all sides, This is a must!

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"



A Guide to Buying Lizards

by by Bert Langerwerf

gold tegu


A Guide to Buying Lizards
The ins and outs of the reptilian pet trade
Nearly every day I get an e-mail that goes like this: "Hi, I went to the local pet shop and saw a nice lizard, fell in love with it and bought it. The people there did not know much about lizards and now I am trying to find out...." This is about the worst possible scenario.

The first thing that you should do is decide what kind of lizard you want. Then you should search for information in books, magazines and on the internet. Now, the internet can be somewhat tricky. In general you should avoid personal sites and pages with almost no information on them, as they are likely wrong or misleading. The best sort of sites are the pages of breeders who breed the sort of reptile that you are interested in. There is a certain level of care necessary to keep an animal alive, and a better level of care necessary to get an animal to breed. Someone who successfully breeds the species that you are interested in will have to know how to care for them well. Someone repeating what they heard from a pet store about the animal which they've owned for three months does not. (Reptiles are very good at surviving bad conditions for a long time, so make sure that whoever you are getting your advice from has at least a year of experience with the species. Many types of reptiles (especially snakes) can withstand starvation and all-but-complete dehydration for months.) NEVER buy a lizard if you do not know how to take care of it.

While a few wild caught lizards are OK and do well, like Sudan Plated lizards, most of them do not do well at all. The reptile import business is often very harsh and usually the animals are badly overcrowded. Pretty much every horror story which you've heard about the old parrot trade applies to the modern reptile trade (though reptiles will usually live through conditions which will immediately kill parrots). Typically imported reptiles are weakened and very stressed. Worse, the overcrowding usually spreads disease and parasites.

While all sorts of animals are important, this is especially common of cheaper species. And the cheaper the animal, the more likely that it was treated badly and will die within weeks of purchase. Here are a few of the cheaper species which are always imported: butterfly agamas, ameivas, red headed agamas, toadhead agamas.

The other problem with wild-caught animals is that they are often handled roughly by humans and as a result very distrustful. If they are adults, it doesn't much matter if they were mistreated, as adult animals which grew up in the wild (where they have escaped being something else's dinner many times) will naturally just be anti-social. They will have learned through a long and hard life that being social to other species is a good way to get eaten, and we look like predators.

Finally, recently we have seen how African rodents can pass a life threatening virus to American rodents (prairie dogs). This is also true for lizards. The lizards from different continents have different viruses and parasites. In places where they come all together for distribution they may infect each other, but still look good. Then they may die in your well meant care weeks later.

For all of these reasons, you should only buy captive-bred animals that are well cared for. If at all possible it is best to buy directly from the breeder, as this minimizes the chance that the animals are infected with dangerous parasites due to contact with other reptiles at dealers. (Buying direct from breeders also generally minimizes cost on captive-bred animals, though that is not always the case.)

Even with captive bred animals, however, here there are a few things to watch out for. For the breeder, it is easier and cheaper to sell the babies as small as possible. Newly hatched baby lizards are often delicate, especially lizards like bearded dragons. Even if the somewhat older ones are more expensive it is worth while to choose them over the younger ones.

Now we come to the subject of pet stores. Pet stores are sometimes good places to buy a reptile, but most often they are terrible. Between overcrowding, the spread of disease, mite infestations, no information (or bad information), and an often completely incompetent staff, many pet stores are traps that you can only escape by buying nothing. Even worse, there are too many pet stores run by hustlers who will happily lie to you in order to make a sale. Here are some signs to look for and signs to watch out for when buying a lizard in a pet shop:


  • There are only a few lizards in a terrarium
  • There is ONLY one species to a terrarium
  • The animals look alert and have their eyes open
  • There are even scientific names
  • There are care sheets for every species sold
  • Every animal has a clean and full water dish
  • Animals (except temperate animals such as corn snakes and garter snakes) have heat lamps or heat pads
  • Hiding places are provided to keep the animals from stressing
  • They may have adults as store pets so you can see what you are going to be getting yourself into


  • The seller tells you that the care is "The same as in iguanas", or "the same as in bearded dragons" (or any other lizard). That is almost always not true, and by saying this they are trying to avoid spending time explaining with you. Often enough, they simply do not know the correct care and are trying to dodge the issue
  • Lizards are crowded into few enclosures
  • Dead or sick lizards are still in the enclosures with other lizards. Dead animals should always be promptly removed, and responsible stores will quarantine any sick animals (usually in a back room) and refuse to sell them
  • People that do not tell the truth to you. One easy way to check this is to point at a lizard that is always wild caught ( like an adult Mali Uromastyx, a butterfly agama, a red headed agama, a baby green water dragon, etc) and ask: Is that captive bred or wild caught? When they say captive bred, then they are lying. Expect more lies to follow
  • Mislabeling: One example of typical mislabeling is small Ermeias lizards, which have eyed dots on the sides. They are often labeled as Jeweled Lacers, which is not true. Columbian tegus are often labeled as argentine tegus, probably because argentine tegus cost more. As you may not be familiar with what every lizard looks like, if you see a lizard that you are interested in, go home and look it up on the internet. If the pictures do not match the name, you should look elsewhere to purchase a reptile (be careful, however, as sometimes animals will have multiple common names, or the same common name is used for more than one species)
  • Different kinds of lizards in one terrarium
  • If you sniff at the corner where the garbage cans are, it smells like dead animals
  • Feces and urates are not promptly removed and cleaned.
    There are no sources of heat like heat lamps or heating pads. (this is not a problem for temperate animals like corn snakes and garter snakes.)
  • There is no water dish, or the water dish is dried out.
    While poor lighting is not always an indication of mistreatment or poor quality, it often is used in an attempt to keep you from noticing problems.

While, as stated above, it is best to get your lizard directly from a breeder, specialized reptile pet stores are often good. These will be easy to tell, as they will feature their reptiles proudly and prominently, and often in their name. These specialized pet shops often have captive bred animals and you will find there a bigger variety of lizards. However, there are still bad specialized pet stores, so you should still be careful and look for the indications mentioned above.

If you purchase a lizard at a reptile show that is on Saturday and Sunday, then you should realize that many sellers live far away and need to drive all Friday to get there. That means that the animals are often bagged on Thursday already. It is therefore preferable to purchase your animal on Saturday morning, if you can get there. These animals have been packed for less then two days. The Sunday afternoon animals were packed 3 days and are more stressed and weakened. This is why I prefer the one day shows.

It may be counter-intuitive, but shipping an animal from a breeder will be much less stressful for the animal, as it can be shipped in the afternoon and arrive 18 to 20 hours later at your door the next morning, avoiding the midday heat in summer.




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.