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Building a Screen Cage

Screen cages allow more ventilation than aquariums and traditional glass and wooden reptile cages. They are often used to keep reptiles and amphibians that don't tolerate stagnant air. In December of 2002 I built a screen cage for a veiled chameleon. Below are photographs of the enclosure along with step by step instructions. The materials cost around $100 (US) and constructing the cage took only a few hours. To reduce costs more, consider building the window screens yourself rather than buying them already assembled. All measurements are in inches.

Materials Needed
- 1 Piece of particle board 21x21x1 or larger
- 4 Pieces of oak or other hardwood that measure 1x1x42
- 2 Pieces of oak or other hardwood that measure 1x1x21
- 2 Pieces of oak or other hardwood that measure 1x1x19
- 1 Roll of 1/8 inch aluminum screen
- 4 Aluminum window screens that measure 22x1/2x44
- 8 2-inch long screws
- 48 5/8=inch long screws
- 2 Hinges
- 1 Small screw-on handle or knob
- 4 Self-adhesive linoleum floor tiles that measure 12x12
- 4 Right-angle brackets
- 2 Safety clips that are made for keeping screen covers on aquariums

Tools Needed
- Electric saw
- Drill and drill bits
- Screw driver
- Mat knife or carpet cutter
- Staple gun and staples
- Ruler
- Measuring tape
- Pencil

Step One: Cut the particle board into a square that measures 21" by 21". This will be the bottom of the cage and will support the wooden frame.
Step Two: Create the top frame that holds the cage together. Use the right angle brackets to attach the 21" and 19" pieces of hardwood together to make a square frame. The final frame should measure 21" by 21".
Step Three: Drill holes through the sides of the aluminum windows. A regular drill bit will work. Drill 5 holes down the 42" side and 3 holes along the 22" side. These holes will be used to screw the aluminum windows onto the wooden posts.

Step Four: Screw three of the aluminum windows to the four 42" long upright pieces of wood. You may need someone to help you hold the window and wood together while you attach them. Make sure to leave room for the top wooden frame to sit on top of the uprights and leave room for particle board on the bottom. If you do it correctly an inch of the window will overhang both the top and bottom of the upright.

Step Five: Screw the top frame onto the four uprights. Then screw the top of the windows to the sides of the frame.

Step Six: Attach the linoleum sheets to the top of the particle board. Trim the excess linoleum with the mat knife so that it is aligned with the particle board on all sides.
Step Seven: Screw the particle board/linoleum base onto the four uprights. You now should have a cage with three sides and an open top.

Step Eight: Attach the fourth window to the frame. This last window will become the door. Use the small hinges to secure it to the rest of the cage.
Step Nine: Put the knob or handle onto the door. I found a cool frog knob at my local hardware store. I wish they had a chameleon one.
Step Ten: Cut the roll of aluminum screening into a piece that measures 22x22. Staple this piece of screening to the top frame of the cage. Make sure that you don't leave any gaps or loose areas so that crickets don't escape.
Step Eleven: Decorate the cage. Make sure to include perches, climbing areas and basking sites if the animal in the cage needs them.