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Grow tent enclosure - with progress photos!

Discussion in 'Tegu Enclosures' started by Ivyna J Spyder, May 21, 2019.

  1. Ivyna J Spyder

    Ivyna J Spyder Member 5 Year Member

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    I don't see these mentioned here much... but if anyone is looking for a lower cost, and more easily moved enclosure, this may be helpful to you. I got the idea from Kaijutegu on tumblr.


    First: Get a grow tent! These are made for growing plants indoors, and are designed to retain heat and humidity.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06WD58D23/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    This is the one I got, but any similar one will do (just make sure it's an all-metal frame, not plastic). 4' x 8' x 8' is the ideal size but you can find bigger. (There are ones even taller than 4' but honestly that's wasted space for a tegu, and will just cost more to heat)

    You'll also want to buy some heavy duty clear vinyl from a fabric store or wherever, and either heavy duty thread or heavy fishing line, and some heavy duty sewing needles. (Yes, expect a lot of 'heavy duty' stuff)


    Second: Cut out a window! (Don't make the mistake I did and do this after you put it all together. Do it first.)

    I don't have many good photos of this part but...

    Basically on the flap part on front that will unzip to create the door, carefully cut out the middle, however big you need it, leaving a large border. Cut out the vinyl to be bigger than the hole, so there's a big overlap. Then, sew it in place with the heavy thread. Go over it a few times to make sure it's secure. You might need pliers to get the needle through both layers of material.


    Third: Make a base!

    I used some 2" x 12" boards, screwed into a rectangle that will fit inside the tent. Really simple. Some lumber stores will even cut them to length for you.

    20181006_145004_optimized.jpg

    Fourth: Attach a pond liner!

    20181006_150306_optimized.jpg

    Use a staple gun or similar to attach it to the outside of the frame. This is just extra security to make sure it all doesn't leak.


    Fifth: Set up the tent and put the frame inside. Watch as tent becomes new cat bed.

    20181006_193333_optimized.jpg


    Sixth: Fill with a literal ton of dirt and start decorating.

    20181008_150652_optimized.jpg
    Yes, a *ton* of dirt. Actually closer to one and a half tons. It's sifted topsoil to be exact, from 3 tons brought into my driveway by dump truck. It then had to be carried up a flight of stairs, bag full by bag full.... @[email protected] I also mixed in some cypress mulch.

    It's a foot deep, which is really the minimum for a large burrowing lizard. (They say you should have closer to 2-3 ft for a savannah, for example) So keep this in mind when setting up your enclosure!


    Then just add your lights and hides and... ta-da! It's done. Just Add Tegu.

    20181015_200413_optimized.jpg

    Here you can see how it looks with the door closed and the vinyl window in place. I prettied mine up with some green bias tape so it matched better.
    20181015_200507_optimized.jpg


    If anyone is wondering how secure this is, it's been 6 months with her in it, and I haven't had an issue yet. The mylar sides are really tough. I even tested out some scraps with various claw-like objects to see how hard they would be to cut, and it would take something much sharper than tegu claws. Because they don't tend to climb anyway, they're going to be busier digging than trying to climb the sides, but still keep an eye out. (Keep the piece you removed on hand in case you need to make any patches)
  2. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club 5 Year Member

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    What a creative idea.
  3. Caleb Collier

    Caleb Collier New Member

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  4. AlphaAlpha

    AlphaAlpha Well-Known Member

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    Awesome looking enclosure..... well done
  5. Zyn

    Zyn Well-Known Member

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    Nice a guy from the local Ohio show I go to did this says it cheap and effective
  6. BKing

    BKing New Member

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    I am going to do this! You are so awesome for this thread. Great job.
  7. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese New Member

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    This is super cool! I’ll have to share this with tortoise forum for everyone’s growing tortoises :)


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ivyna J Spyder likes this.
  8. Ivyna J Spyder

    Ivyna J Spyder Member 5 Year Member

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    Oh cool! I had been thinking this would be great for tortoises too.

    I wish I had known about it for mine, she's in a similarly sized enclosure but it's made of wood and doesn't hold humidity nearly as well...

    For comparison, I can dump water into the substrate and mist manually once a week, and the grow tent enclosure keeps >70% humidity for a good week, while the wood enclosure has a Mist King system that turns on multiple times a day, and I struggle to keep humidity over 40 :(
    TechnoCheese likes this.
  9. Sarah H

    Sarah H New Member

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    Hello! I love this idea. How did you do the lighting inside? How is it secured? Thanks!
  10. Ivyna J Spyder

    Ivyna J Spyder Member 5 Year Member

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    There are metal bars along the top that are designed to suspend lights from. Grow tents usually come with some kind of hook/pulley system for the purpose, but I also use a variety of sturdy chains and things.

    It can be tricky depending on what sort of light fixtures you use. I like chick brooder lamps, as they're big and come with hooks on top to hang them.

    I'll get some pics when I get home later :D
  11. Merlot

    Merlot Member

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    Let’s see some more pics of the lights! With my baby (actual baby lol) coming in 6 weeks I keep getting lazier and lazier to build an enclosure with all the stuff I’m doing for the baby room, this seems like a great option for me now. I will say that I’m going to be having my enclosure on the opposite side of the baby’s crib in the room. Do you guys think that going to be alright? But either way I would love to see some more pics of the enclosure and some details on your lights perhaps. Also, are you doing a bioactive enclosure in there? I say that because I see the live plants or what looks like it.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  12. Ivyna J Spyder

    Ivyna J Spyder Member 5 Year Member

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    Oh oof, I totally forgot! I'll give myself a reminder to do it tonight or tomorrow. (It's really nothing special at the moment though, just a bunch of light domes suspended from the bars across the top with chain)

    I did go bioactive and it is amazing. Mostly it was a lot of native isopods that came it with the plants, and I added some earthworms. There's probably a few loose dubia roaches too. Together they eat up the tegu poo before I ever have a chance to find it! I really cuts down on the smell.

    The plants don't last long with a giant lizard around though...
  13. Merlot

    Merlot Member

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    Did the bars that came with it for the suspension of the ballasts and etc.. come with in a way that you can suspend them where ever you want or did they come “preloaded” so to speak that you can only install them in certain designated areas? I ask because when you flip the grow tent on the side everything gets thrown out of whack in regards to how the manufacturer placed the stick vents and things like that
  14. Merlot

    Merlot Member

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    Did the bars that came with it for the suspension of the ballasts and etc.. come with in a way that you can suspend/customize them where ever you want or did they come “preloaded” so to speak that you can only install them in certain designated areas? I ask because when you flip the grow tent on the side everything gets thrown out of whack in regards to how the manufacturer placed the pockets, vents and things like that. Also I’d love any details on the bioactive setup? How much do you have to water the plants in there? Are they in pots in the substrate or are they “loose” in the substrate? Do any of the little critters escape the enclosure? Or stuck on your tegu when you take him/her out
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  15. Ivyna J Spyder

    Ivyna J Spyder Member 5 Year Member

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    Okay I got a photo. As you can see it's a bit juryrigged... I'm eventually going to redo it, lol.

    [​IMG]

    The bars are customizable! You can slide them around if you need. And the tents tend to have vents on all the sides, so that hasn't been an issue. Some of the round vents are handy for running wires through.

    The plants are loose in the substrate. I will warn you, the only reason they're there at all is because my tegu has decided to brumate in the summer, and she isn't around to stomp on them, lol. If you add anything I recommend sturdy grasses and the like. I don't have to water often at all... Typically I pour a gallon or two of water into the substrate every week or so? So it keeps that nice moist bottom layer. I mist as well, as needed. (Get one of those pressurized ones) And plenty of leaf litter for the critters to hide under.

    I have no issue with bugs getting out. The tent is pretty well sealed for that. And none of the usual cleanup crew is anything that would infest your house anyway.
  16. Merlot

    Merlot Member

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    Thank you so much for your reply on all answers! I was gonna, heck, I don’t know how your plants are all standing. My little guy is never happy with the furniture and rearrangeS EVERYTHING lol. I couldn’t see your image, as far as leaf littler and stuff did you just go to your backyard and grab a bunch or buy some? What sort of grassy plant/material would you recommend for the live plants? And did you just get some dirt from the yard for the bugs?
  17. Ivyna J Spyder

    Ivyna J Spyder Member 5 Year Member

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    I bought some bags of leaves and other biodegradables from different sites, but if you don't use any sort of pesticides in your yard you can collect there, yeah. Stuff like oak leaves, maple, magnolia... There are guides around for what sorts of leaves are safe and how to treat them. (Some people boil or bake them first in case of harmful bugs or fungus)

    I brought in some potted grasses that were full of little isopods and stuff and they colonized the viv, and I already had worms I raise for feeding other pets. Springtails are also good for dealing with potential mold.

    and yeah as soon as she wakes up again I know she'll wreck everything, lol. But they do like to use leaves and grasses to line their burrows, so it's a good idea to keep some in there anyway!
  18. Merlot

    Merlot Member

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    Could you possibly post some close up pics of how much you sewed the Vinyl on the window, ie. like the how much they materials over lap and tight the stiching is and so forth. Thank you!

    I think I’m about to finally order a vivosun 80x48x48 grow tent. But Soemthing keeps making me feel bad about because it’s crunch time my baby girl (actual human lol) is about to here and I really wanna build one, but I suppose I can always do that later. Do you guys thinks that 4ft tall is too tall for tegu? Or go down to 3 feet

    Male red aregentine btw. Doing really well on growth. He brumated, is a year old and is still 31”

    he had a head only shed like a week later after a nice full body shed and I swear his jowls just grew a little overnight
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  19. Ivyna J Spyder

    Ivyna J Spyder Member 5 Year Member

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    stitching.jpg

    This would be a view from inside. Basically the vinyl completely overlaps the entire door to the outside edges. I sewed once around the outside edge, and again around the inside edge.

    The stitching isn't super tight, maybe an inch between stitches, but I use the heaviest duty thread I can find, and then covered the stitching with gorilla clear repair tape designed for vinyl. (Be very careful when using tape in an animal enclosure! Never use something that could be pulled off and entrap your animal!)


    And 4ft is a good height, since you will need to be getting inside the cage for cleaning and such. If it's too low it's going to be even more difficult, lol
    Merlot and AlphaAlpha like this.
  20. NorCalAl

    NorCalAl Member 5 Year Member

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    Any issues with that much weight on a second story? I have a 180g tank that, filled, weighs less than that and we added supports to the joists. Just wondering...