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Plans for future setup involving Reptarium

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Posted by E Cohen on September 02, 2002 at 22:59:25:

In the past, because of my parents' negligence or lack of understanding or just plain cheapness, my pets suffered. Nowadays - me being older and wiser - I make sure my pets have exellent housings because I'm allowed to spend my own money.

In the future I want to get a 260 gallon (30" x 30" x 71")Reptarium (I like large enclosures). I want to get this because I like the fact that it can be used as a standup good for a rainforest arboreal environment or as a laydown for a desert (or other terrestrial) environment. Reptarium Softrays can be used in different configurations to close off certain sides if needed too. This all allows me to have a highly versatile large enclosure that is pretty inexpensive.

The first configuration I was planning was a desert type. I was thinking that would put either a bunch of leopard geckos (1 male + females) in it, or a couple armadillo lizards, or a smaller (less than 2') desert-type monitor in it. The monitor to me seems the coolest, but perhaps hard to obtain and maybe too expensive if more than $200. I don't have any good experience with reptiles because all I've had in the past were snakes that only really required a single heat pad (except *shudder* those two poor iguanas...).

My problem arises from the fact that I don't have experience with heating and lighting. It would be easy to have something figured out for a tiny enclosure, but 260 gallons in mesh is more of a challenge. Here's my planned configuration: cage laid flat. opens sideways. big pile of light brownish (desert-style) flattish rocks (perhaps from a landscaping place) in the center of one half of the enclosure, filled in with sand but with a few burrow-like spaces between, apexes in the center of the pile. top of pile with a 17" X 7" Zoo Med Heat Rock (I understand these are safe now, as opposed to heat rocks of the past that often developed hot spots) - this will be the primary basking spot and it will be perhaps 1' from the top mesh. outside the cage on a lamp holder arm will be a 160 watt Mercury Vapor Bulb designed for reptile UV needs - this will be held 3" from the mesh directly over the hot rock (and hence over the center of one half of the enclosure. sand will cover the remaining tank bottom, perhaps 3" deep (the Reptarium Softray is about 5" high I believe). I will use some of the same rocks to create a large (read approx. 1' X 1'6") shelter burrow at the opposite end opening inward and will hollow out 2" of sand so there will only be 1" inside rock shelter. In the back corner will be a small water rock-type bowl (desert dwellers don't get much water, you know?). I might place a large branch near the shelter and bowl as well. Maybe a few small desert grasses or succulents too (if there's enough light?). I like to build naturalistic environments, not jail-like cells (thinking back to those two iguanas my parents let salespeople talk them into getting for me and shuddering and feeling guilty).

My main question is, is this setup good? And if I had to heat/light any other spots, where would I do so? I was thinking maybe an incandescent light over the branch (which would most likely be used either seldomly or at least in conjunction with the brighter/hotter/UV'd heat rock spot. Would all this be enough heat and does it meet the requirements of desert dwellers? Is it okay to turn off the heat at night since deserts cool down a lot at night or no (room temp would probably be 75-80 degrees F)? What do people (you) think? I just don't have any concept of how much heat is produced by what (or how to place those things properly to save electricity - it'll be my own money this time paying for those bills)...

Thank you for reading my long message and I appreciate any help/suggestions you could offer.

- E

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