started with the idea of making an affordable, yet simple reptile rack, that
houses reptiles efficiently & securely. These racks are simply an
alternative for hobbyists, like myself, who cannot afford expensive,
professionally manufactured rack systems. I was going to start
selling these racks, however, I have had several medical problems and am unable
to produce these racks on a regular basis. Furthermore, I could not find a way to ship them to
still keep it cost effective. Therefore, this page is an attempt to share my
design and ideas with you. If you have any questions, please
feel free to email me.
I'm frustrated with
my current set-up! What can I do?
I've tried just about every method possible to house my
reptiles. From glass aquariums to stacked containers, I've tried it
all. I'm 31 years old and I've had 4 major abdominal surgeries & am simply
unable to lift or move heavy enclosures. Plus, aquariums are not
ideal if you have more than a few animals. For a while, I kept my
reptiles in Sterilite containers, which I stacked on top of one another. This
can be frustrating when you need to move containers around to access one on the
bottom of the stack. Plus, removing lids is a pain. Furthermore, a stack
of containers simply looks bad when you want to show your collection to
friends & family. At one point, I dreaded having to clean & feed
my snakes due to the time required. Caring for my reptiles is much more
enjoyable now that I have an efficient rack system.
Heat Tape & Heating
Questions and Answers
I get this question a lot. I heat my entire room using digitally-controlled heating
system. The center of the room is slightly warmer than where the racks back up
to the wall. Therefore, my snakes can still thermo-regulate to a small degree between warm
and cool ends of their enclosures. I do not use heat tape simply because I
do not feel safe using it. This is simply a personal choice. Many people
use it safely & successfully. If you choose to use heat tape with
your racks, just be sure to use a thermostat or have an experienced person do
it for you.
What materials are used?
The design is simple. My racks are constructed using
Pine 1x2"s and 1x3"s. The shelves are 1/4" expanded PVC
(also called PVCX), which I obtain from a local manufacturer. It is a
similar material used for pipes in plumbing. However, expanded PVC is
simply in sheet form & is mainly used to make signs, such as real
estate/for-sale signs. There are several brand names for this material, such as
Sintra or Komatex. I originally purchased it from USPlastics.com, but it was
too costly having it shipped & it did not arrive in the best shape.
USPlastics.com has good information on the properties of this material if you'd
like to learn more about it. I get a lot of e-mails about where to look for
PVCX...my suggestion....start in the phone book under plastics. I purchase pvcx locally from a company called E&T Plastics.
Why not simply buy a
commercially made reptile rack?
Commercial reptile racks are expensive & start at
approximately $340.00 (and priced as high as $3000.00). For racks
starting at $340, add about $100 for ten containers plus another $60 for
shipping. This now brings the price of 1 rack up to about $500.00!!!
Plus, if you have to buy the tubs, you'll need to make holes in all of them,
which takes time. Once your reptile collection starts to grow, you'll
quickly need a decent rack system that is affordable and allows for easy access
& easy cleaning. I respect the professional caging manufacturers and
would highly recommend that you consider all of your options before making any
decisions. I personally could not afford to purchase a large number of
manufactured racks when I needed them, so I made the decision to custom-build
them myself. I hope to help those that can't afford a $500 rack.
How long does it take to
build the rack?
from the driving time it takes to obtain
materials, anywhere from 2 - 4 hours per rack to build. Add
hours to make holes in all the Sterilite containers. Additional
necessary for the wood portion of the rack to settle and adjust to
temperatures. This can take a few days. There is always a
learning curve and typically your worst rack will be your first one
Can it be modified for other
At this time, I only have rack plans for 32 quart Sterilite
containers. I feel
confident with the design of this rack, especially since it's what I
use for my own collection. I have designed similar racks for other size
tubs, including 16 qt (for yearling dwarf boas & ball pythons)
& 64 qt Sterilites for arboreal species. I am currently in the
process of building several 41 qt racks. I have even used PVCx to
design an incubator, which has successfully worked. PVCx is a great
material to work with. If you are interested
in a rack to accommodate different sizes or brands of tubs (i.e.
you can probably use the same basic design.
Does the rack sag?
To put it simply...NO! I have NOT had any problems
with sagging. However, I suppose it could potentially be a problem if you
do not have containers in every shelf. In other words, do not leave any
slots empty. I also add extra support to the bottom shelf, which helps
too. Also, there may be some give with the pine wood, especially if
temperatures shift, but I try my best to minimize or prevent this by allowing
the wood to settle