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View Full Version : DIY Snake Racks - Fire Safety?


snakechaarmer
11-01-2010, 12:02 PM
Hi all,

I'm looking into building this rack that was linked on Clay Davenport's site:

http://www.arbreptiles.com/cages/41qt/index.shtml

And

http://www.arbreptiles.com/cages/dcage01.shtml

It's a great idea, and I really like it! I had a few questions concerning safety of using this kind of material, though.

What experiences has anyone had using this type of wood with flexwatt, or melamine, or any of the other non ABS style racks? Safety is the primary concern here, and while they obviously must be used with a thermostat, has anyone had any experience or heard of anyone having safety/fire issues using the above model?

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

Clay Davenport
11-01-2010, 12:17 PM
Since they're my designs, my opinion of them might be considered to be biased, but I've had two of those racks in use for about 4 years with no problems whatsoever. They are by far my favorite of the various rack designs I've used.

The two level cage I used for 3 or 4 years then sold it. It was initially designed for bearded dragons and dwarf monitors and used the basking light heat sources, then was converted to adult boa caging using flexwatt.
If I built it today I'd use radiant heat panels from RBI instead of flexwatt, and I'd either use a biscuit joiner to join the panels or I'd use plywood to eliminate the cracks in the walls and make it easily converted to loose (sand or dirt) substrate. Otherwise I had no issues at all with that cage either.

snakechaarmer
11-01-2010, 12:21 PM
Thanks, Clay!

I was wondering if the tall one (41qt) could be modified slightly to just have a single long strip of heat tape for back heat instead of belly heat. It's a really great design I just was a little worried because of the door/wooden material that it might present some kind of fire hazard.

I like the display cage too, but it seems a little complicated for my abilities - LoL. I am looking for something relatively simple to house two large adult boas.

Clay Davenport
11-01-2010, 12:31 PM
Thanks, Clay!
I was wondering if the tall one (41qt) could be modified slightly to just have a single long strip of heat tape for back heat instead of belly heat. It's a really great design I just was a little worried because of the door/wooden material that it might present some kind of fire hazard.

It could be built that way but I wouldn't recommend it. Back heat works well for shoe box racks and other smaller tubs, but with the 41qt racks it really doesn't project the heat into the tub far enough to be adequate for the snakes.
Large tubs really need belly heat.


I like the display cage too, but it seems a little complicated for my abilities - LoL. I am looking for something relatively simple to house two large adult boas.

Replacing the wood panels with plywood of the same width would make it far easier to build that one.
That cage was one of the ones that I had in my mind and just needed to build to see how it turned out. There's no reason it has to be built that way though.

Take the overall dimensions of all the sides and cut them from plywood sheets and you'll get the same results, just not exactly the same look.
It'll work fine though for boas.

I do recommend the RBI heat panels though for the boas over the flexwatt.
My big boas are currently housed in the 4x2 cages also on my site, but I have removed the flexwatt and installed heat panels in their place.

I have a cage I call the "boa condo" I've been working on for about two years (I've been procrastinating). If I manage to get it finished it will be a neat experiment in the housing of three adult boas. Just got to get the doors worked out.

snakechaarmer
11-01-2010, 12:35 PM
Replacing the wood panels with plywood of the same width would make it far easier to build that one.

I do recommend the RBI heat panels though for the boas over the flexwatt.
My big boas are currently housed in the 4x2 cages also on my site, but I have removed the flexwatt and installed heat panels in their place.

I have a cage I call the "boa condo" I've been working on for about two years (I've been procrastinating). If I manage to get it finished it will be a neat experiment in the housing of three adult boas. Just got to get the doors worked out.

That's an easier idea for sure. Though, again, is it safe to use flexwatt on plywood? I wouldn't think that it would be...But if I used the radiant heat panels with the plywood cage I wouldn't have to worry about that but I was just curious if anyone actually does that and its alright to do.

That sounds really cool about the boa condo, would love to see it when it's finished!

Clay Davenport
11-01-2010, 12:42 PM
That's an easier idea for sure. Though, again, is it safe to use flexwatt on plywood? I wouldn't think that it would be...But if I used the radiant heat panels with the plywood cage I wouldn't have to worry about that but I was just curious if anyone actually does that and its alright to do.

It is safe to use flexwatt directly on plywood, and I did it that way for years, but now I cover the floor of the cage with linoleum to seal it then put the flexwatt on top of that.

That's another thing about that two level cage you linked to. I'd suggest you use one solid piece of linoleum rather than the self adhesive tiles as I did there. Roll flooring just works better for the long term.

Just like everyone else, my plans and designs evolve over time to accommodate issues as they are discovered. I first published the design of the two level rack about 9 years ago.

Melinda
11-01-2010, 02:36 PM
I have 4 DIY wooden racks heated with flexwatt and so far, I've not burnt down the house. They are all on thermostats. I have a fifth rack for my dum and boa that I sandwiched the flexwatt in between large ceramic floor tiles. I put a spacer in between the tiles so the flexwatt has ventilation. I finished off the edges with sheet plastic I found at Home depot and lots of sealant.