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D.I.Y. Snake Racks
Select Captive-bred Reptiles  Conservation through Education

If you have built a rack using my basic design,
please share pics with me at: northeastsnakes@comcast.net

PHOTOS (from left to right) 1: courtesy of Mary of www.Pyxisreptiles.com; 2 & 3: My reptile room.
I 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.

FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

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?
Aside from the driving time it takes to obtain materials, anywhere from 2 - 4 hours per rack to build.  Add another few hours to make holes in all the Sterilite containers.  Additional time is necessary for the wood portion of the rack to settle and adjust to varying temperatures.  This can take a few days. There is always a learning curve and typically your worst rack will be your first one built. 

Can it be modified for other tub sizes?
YES! 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 currently 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. Rubbermaid), 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