Build versus buy

Should you build your own crested gecko cage, or buy one?

One of the great things about crested geckos is the fact that they are not very demanding when it comes to their habitats. Therefore, many books and websites explain how you can quite easily build your own crested gecko cage by converting a plastic box into a home for your cresties. So what is the best solution to house your geckos? Well, I personally believe that it depends on your own preferences, abilities and finances.

What to consider when building your own crested gecko cage

Clearly, the first advantage that springs to mind is the cost factor. A suitable commercially built crested gecko cage costs a little over $100, if you have a plastic box or a cabinet or so at home that you can quite easily convert into a crestie habitat, you will clearly save some money.

Depending on your handy-man skills, you may be able to build a crested gecko cage that fits a dedicated area perfectly and provides better ventilation, more space, better lighting and heating than a commercial tank. Whatever you use to build your cage, you should give thought to a number of things before you start building your crested gecko habitat. One of the most important elements of a good tank is ventilation. You should include at least two ventilation slots, ideally one toward the bottom of the tank and one at the top to enable proper circulation of air. Just punching some holes in to the top of a plastic box will not be good enough!

Secondly, you will have to consider how your cage will be heated. If you use a heating mat, you will have to make sure that the bottom of your crested gecko cage will withstand the heat emitted by the mat. If you plan to install your mat underneath the tank, consider the thickness and material of the floor of your cage as you may lose a lot of heat if the floor is thick or made of a low conducting material such as wood.

Hygiene is another factor to consider when building your own cage. Wood, for example is much less hygienic than glass and more difficult to clean. In addition, untreated wood will start to rot if you maintain the humidity levels required. Treated wood may emit toxins that could damage your crested geckos. Plastic is good to clean, but will scratch easily.

Access to your terrarium is very important but easily overlooked as well. You want to be able to easily remove soiled branches, used food bowls and even your geckos easily, so you will need a large enough opening, ideally on the front of the cage.

Your home-built crested gecko cage should also offer a secure environment for your geckos. I have mentioned toxins that may seep out of wood, particularly when exposed to heat and humidity, but you should also consider the doors of your cage for example. Glass sliding doors are in my view the most secure system, but may be a bit more challenging to install. If you use hinged doors, you will have to make sure that they lock securely so that you geckos cannot escape. If you use a converted plastic container, which may be very light, you should ensure that it cannot be accidentally knocked over.

What do your geckos think?

Almost all keepers of crested geckos (and other reptiles) will agree that the animals themselves don’t really care whether they live in a converted home or one purchased on Amazon, as long as the above criteria are fulfilled. If I personally had the time and tools and wasn’t such as lousy handyman, I would probably always build my own cages regardless of the reptiles or amphibians that I want to house in them. The reason is that I would be able to fit the cages exactly into place and could devise my own systems for heating, lighting ventilation and access.

However, since I am not very good at craftsmanship, and like my reptile cages to look good as well (so no plastic boxes for me), I personally prefer to buy them. Since crested geckos don’t require much space, their habitats are not that expensive. You may also be able to get a good used one for a bargain price, if you are also equipped with two left hands as I am.

Whatever you do though, you should always keep your pet’s needs in mind when considering your crested gecko cage options.

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