Tag Archives: sentec reptile cage

Update: Reptile Cage Options, Still Seeking Perfection


In May 2011, I wrote an post on reptile cage options and what I was looking for in cages: Reptile Cage Options Still Waiting for Perfection.  Over a year later, I thought it would be good to revisit that post and to add updates and make changes based on my experiences this year.  I will also add some more images.

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Have you ever sought the perfect enclosure for your reptiles, spending hours poring over available cage options and speaking with the companies/owners, and still felt unsatisfied? I have this feeling multiple times a year. There is no perfect enclosure out there yet to meet my needs for my various reptiles. I will consolidate my needs and research below in an act of goodwill to save you time.

My Needs:

To put things in perspective for new readers, I want to point out that I have 6 lizards and 4 snakes. For lizards I have 2 bearded dragons (pogona vitticeps), a cuban rock iguana (cyclura nubila), an argentine blue tegu (tupinambis merianae), a chuckwalla (sauromulus ater), and a weber’s sailfin (hydrosaurus weberi). As far as snakes go, I have a white-sided rat snake (elaphe obseleta), king rat snake (elaphe carinata), jungle carpet python (morelia spilota cheynei), and a california king snake (lampropeltis getula californiae). See “Meet the Family” for more information on our reptile family.

With these particular animals comes a great variety of caging requirements. We have the drier climate species: king snake, bearded dragons, and chuckwalla. Then, we have the more humid climate species: iguana, tegu, jungle carpet python, king rat snake. The white-sided rat snake is somewhere in between. Within each of those groups are different subgroups: large lizards, small lizards, escape-artist snakes, terrestrial v. arboreal ,etc…you get the idea!

What I Have:

Okay, so I have several different types of caging right now. None of these are perfect. All of these have flaws. I will tell you what they are and what I wish I could change about them (or what I might particularly like about them if there is something). Here we go:

  • Lucky, our Blue Tegu – 7’x3’x3′ BoaMaster cage with stick-on tile that we added
    • Cons: This thing is a behemoth! It must weigh 200 pounds! Once it’s installed, it is extremely awkward to move and therefore becomes a permanent fixture wherever you assembled it. I feel bad for the floors. Looks-wise, it is not the prettiest thing I have seen. I would not want it in my living room or any common area, but that is just my personal preference.
    • Pros: On a positive note, it is reasonably priced and can hold giant terrestrial lizards. It is even stackable if you buy the insert and another cage of the same size. I would not risk my floors trying that though. Also, it is sturdy and seems to hold in Lucky’s humidity requirements quite well.
  • Iggy, our Cuban Rock Iguana – temporary cage that we constructed (poorly, I might add)….this is the guy we are trying to find the perfect cage for. I think we have found something close, however. We met a guy at the White Plains Reptile Expo who showed some cages that he constructed with amazing craftsmanship. I actually wouldn’t mind them in my living room in a chocolate brown stain! He is reasonably priced and can fully customize your cage. His name is Ross Swieehowiez and he owns Beeger Boxes. They are working on getting a website up but it appears to be offline still as of today. (Update: We actually decided to let Iggy have our spare bedroom!  We decided it was the best solution to meet his needs. Today is the first day that he moved in there so we still have to take the curtains down.  His room will be a post for another day.)

    Iggy the Cuban Rock Iguana in His New Room

    Iggy the Cuban Rock Iguana in His New Room

  • Kwayze & Sloan, our Bearded Dragons – 4′ Showcase Cages in Black Granite
    • Cons: The fact that the sliding doors are tempered glass makes me nervous. I could see my iguana ramming them to get at one of the beardies and smashing it. Therefore, I have to watch him when he is running around the house. Additionally, I’m afraid they will just break from use. I do not think Showcase Cages would be appropriate for snakes either as there is a grommet hole in the back that they could feasibly get out of. The cages do not come in sizes large enough to accommodate bigger species of lizards. I think the maximum size that they have is 5′. Finally, the prices are a bit steep. (Update: I am also having issues with the fact that they are not very tall and therefore it doesn’t give the animal inside much climbing room.  Additionally, the fact that the UVB tube cutout and the heat source cutout is in different spots requires the animal to choose which spot he wants to be in.  An MVB would be very difficult to have with these cages because there is less than 10″ between the grate and the floor.)
    • Pros:Overall, I like these cages for bearded dragons and other species that would need the same requirements. They are a good size for these lizards and come with built in vents for both UVB and UVA. Furthermore, they are stackable, lightweight, and actually look nice.
    • Showcase Cage Bearded Dragon Enclosures

      Showcase Cage Bearded Dragon Enclosures

      Showcase Cage Bearded Dragon Enclosures

  • Chuck, our Chuckwalla: a 4’x 3′ x 2′ BoaMaster
    • Cons: Pretty much the same problems as with the larger BoaMaster mentioned above. It is STILL very heavy. I can’t even lift it with my fiance. I have to have someone else help him.  Also, it is a little dark and dreary with that black background.
    • Pros:It seems to be a good size for a chuckwalla to run around in. We do have it stacked on the other cage but are using 2x4s to support it on the lip of the other cage. You can usually buy these cages used on Craigslist, FaunaClassifieds, and other sources for dirt cheap.
      Chuck the Chuckwalla in His BoaMaster

      Chuck the Chuckwalla in His BoaMaster
      Chuck the Chuckwalla in His BoaMaster
      Chuck the Chuckwalla in His BoaMaster
      Chuck the Chuckwalla in His BoaMaster

  • King Rat Snake: 20L gallon Zilla Critter Cage with Premium Lid (escape-proof top)
    • Pros & Cons: This cage actually doesn’t have anything wrong with it for a baby terrestrial snake. I actually really like this cage. The problem is, the largest size they have is a 40 gallon breeder that might be too small for adult snakes, depending on the species. The reason why I like this cage so much is that it solves the escaping problem. The top is an ingenious design that locks in and provides no holes, not even tiny ones, to get out of. It’s also great for sticking a heat pad underneath and sitting a heat light on top. Again, really really like this for baby snakes like mine. These are a bit more expensive than the standard tanks with basic terrarium lids. The prices are fairly reasonable as well.  (Update: Now that Selma is bigger, she is in an Exo Terra Natural Terrarium with the rock background 40 breeder.  This is not her permanent cage so I will need to get something that can hold a gigantic snake in the future.  Here are the pros and cons of the Exo-Terra Natural Terrarium that I can see so far:
      • Pros: You can access the animal from both the front and top.  It is taller than a typical 40 breeder as well (or so it seems to be).  It comes with the rock background which is kinda nice but made out of styrofoam.  Also, it has curved edges on the bottom to provide for some natural airflow for undertake heaters.
      • Cons:The top is made of flimsy plastic and mesh wire.  If you put any pressure on the top, it will bend and break.  Since the doors push into the top, the entire cage is shot by any deformity in the top.  We actually bought two of these and had to return one because the top was bent when we removed the packaging.  Another issue is that the rock background is not affixed and has some openings to run wires behind it.  A snake could easily go through the holes and go behind the background.  We actually had to turn it upside down and put paper towels into the holes.  We also used these square sticky mounting squares.)

        Selma the King Rat Snake's Exo Terra Natural Terrarium

        Selma the King Rat Snake’s Exo Terra Natural Terrarium

  • White-Sided Rat Snake & Weaver, the King Snake: Tank with Basic Terrarium Lid
    • Cons: *Sigh*. These cages are a pain in the ass. They would be good, if they had the upgraded lid like the cage mentioned above. Weaver has gotten out of his cage on 3 separate occasions and I have been lucky enough to find him. The rat snake has gotten out once and met one of our cats who identified his location for us. This is after I go through the extremes of buying the cage clamps to hold down the lid and then taping the rim and any possible escape route. Not only is this not fool-proof, it also makes getting in and out of the cage a real chore. Needless to say, both of these guys will be upgraded to more secured enclosures at some point in the near future.
    • Pros: Fairly lightweight, good for heat pads and heat lamps.

    (Update: Buttons, the white-sided rat snake is now in a 40 breeder Zilla Critter Cage with the Premium Lid.  This was bought in place of the Exo Terra noted in the king rat snake section above.  It has all the same advantages as the 20L mentioned in that section as well.)

    Buttons' Zilla Critter Keeper with Premium Lid

    Buttons’ Zilla Critter Cage with Premium Lid

  • Surya, Weber’s Sailfin: Zoo Med Reptibreeze Iguanarium36″Lx48″H (Note: This whole section is new as we bought Surya in September 2011, after the original post date)
    • Cons: Despite the fact that the Reptibreeze is marketed as an “iguanarium,” no iguana or other animal that needs high humidity should be in this enclosure without significantly altering it.  It is an open air enclosure; how are you supposed to keep the humidity up?  What Chris and I did was a tedious task but it was worth it because now the enclosure is perfect for Surya until she gets to full adult size:
      1. We bought heavy duty plastic report covers from Staples, mini black zip ties, and a hole puncher.  We hole punched the corners of about 30 report covers and zip tied them to the mesh caging.  This helps to keep in the humidity.
      2. We set up an ultrasonic cold air humidifier and pipe it into her cage.  (Don’t forget that cold air humidifiers have been known to cause Legionnaire’s Disease and therefore should be used with bacteriostat.)
      3. We don’t have the report covers on the top of her cage so we can still just place her lighting components directly on top.
      4. We painted and sealed a sturdy poster board and affixed it to the outside on the back to provide a background.
    • Pros: I guess it is what you make it out to be.

      Surya the Sailfin's Enclosure

      Surya the Sailfin's EnclosureSurya the Sailfin's EnclosureSurya the Sailfin’s Enclosure

  • Bella, Jungle Carpet Python: New Reptile Cages enclosure 3’x3’x5′
    • Cons: Okay, so these guys made my cage custom. There are a few cons that have come up. First, there’s the obvious construction lag time as these are not pre-made cages. Second, the cage windows were taped over with a sticky clear tape so as to prevent breaking during shipping. However, I have not been able to get this tape off fully ever since I received it. Third, it was shipped to me with the wrong door locks the first time. Innocent mistake, I’m sure. Fourth, the wood inside is unfinished. When we spoke to the builders, they said that they believe this is in the best interest of the animal as it would not have to inhale the fumes. However, I have begun to notice over time that it is very difficult to keep anything wet from absorbing into the wood and possibly creating a bacterial nightmare. This includes urate, poop, and water that occasionally gets spilled from the water bowl and this is despite the substrate.
    • Pros: These cages actually look really good and they can stain it any color that you ask. I actually have mine in the dining room stained in a nice chocolate brown color. (Yes, chocolate brown mentioned again…I have an earthy feel in my design scheme!) The cage comes on casters and is not ridiculously heavy. Also, the prices were fair.   I have to take more pics but you can see part of the inside of the cage in this pic:

      Bella the Jungle Carpet Python Inside Her Enclosure

      Bella the Jungle Carpet Python Inside Her Enclosure

My Research on What is On the Market for Caging Options

While trying to find the perfect cage to upgrade my iguana to, I researched many cage options, including those already mentioned above (BoaMaster, New Reptile Cages, Showcase, etc). Cuban rock iguanas grow to be extremely large and unlike green iguanas, they are terrestrial lizards. Yet, they seem to like to do some climbing, so the cage has to be tall enough to allow him to sit on a rock or whatnot. Without further ado, here’s what I came across:

  • I have to admit that I almost pulled the trigger on a terrestrial version of the aluminum cage that Repti Racks sells. It would have been a completely custom size. I had trouble swallowing the price quoted to me in relation to the fact that I haven’t seen proof of a terrestrial version of this cage and had not read the experiences of others using it yet. I would be happy to hear if any readers have this cage.
  • As for the acrylic cages, I just wasn’t interested in them. They look the same as all of the other plastic cages on the market. Read the comments below.
  • They appear to sell melamine cages. However, their website is very difficult to navigate and was an immediate turnoff. Sorry, I’m picky. Hopefully you will have more endurance to get through it.
  • Melamine cages are generally heavy in my experience.
  • *Update as of 1/31/12 Was chatting with Chris Allen, the original bearded dragon breeder and reptile enthusiast who created the ubiquitous vibrant red morp of bearded dragon that everyone sought after before the morph actually bore his namesake. Chris Allen was so impressed with the different line of cages that Critter Condos / Critter Condos designs that he is distributing them at all the various shows. Check out Chris Allen’s facebook page for contact information as to how to order one. Chris said that he will have a website up soon but until then… https://www.facebook.com/ChrisAllenReds So the story is that the Company produces 3 high quality caging systems to appeal to all budget ranges and needs. However the Company prefers to deal wholesale. I guess this is where an expert hobbyist like Chris Allen can probably come in handy to answer any of your needs before ordering. If we had known that one series of the Critter Condos had a wood exterior but a humidity resistant laminate sheet on the inside of the cage, they may have been a front runner for our Jungle Carpet Python caging option!
  • Cages seem nice and are made of melamine. As I mentioned above, melamine is heavy and I just don’t prefer it.
  • Comes in a variety of sizes from small to absolutely huge. I’d like to hear from anyone who has one of these.
  • Color choices are limited. It is likely they could not go in my living room which is where the iguana needs to go.
  • Most of their cages are good looking and they have the convenience of an eBay store.
  • The cages didn’t appear big enough. The largest size I could find on their eBay store was 60″x18″x18″. I imagine they’d be able to customize the size further.
  • These cages seem nice and are very customizable. However, I honestly think they are downright overpriced for the materials that they use. That is just my opinion. Any extras are an extra cost….it adds up fast!
  • JWorld‘s (price = better have a serious bank roll)
  • These cages are gorgeous! What can I say, a girl can dream, right?
  • I actually know of someone who uses these for his snake collection and he is very happy with them.
  • One thing I like about these cages as opposed to other plastic cages is that it is made of HDPE Marine grade plastic that is FDA approved. Honestly, with the other plastic cages, I question how safe they are and that alone rules them out for me. Do they bow? Do they let off toxic fumes? etc…
  • Not a fan of the color options and therefore it couldn’t go in my livingroom!They have a stackable option – I like that.
  • Their sizes listed online aren’t quite what I am looking for for a large lizard but if I recall correctly, the owner may have told me that they are customizable. Sorry, I tried looking for the email and couldn’t find it to verify that fact.
  • See #2 under Constrictors NW.
  • See #2 under Constrictors NW.
  • These cages are very unique looking. They have 3′ stackable cages and also 12-48″ cage/rack systems. I know people that have the older version of NPI cages and they swear by them. Back in the day they used to make a 6′ version of the cages. Now, they are limited to 4′ maximum that is just not in-line with my needs.
  • Furthermore, you really need to buy the rack which is sold separately because the cages are a bit slanted and have a lip on the bottom.
  • Based on reviews by others, these cages are known for turning an orange hue when exposed to the reptile lights.
  • Additionally, I question whether a snake or tiny lizard can get out of the front. I also would like to know how you set up the heating in such an odd shaped cage. If you have experience with these cages, please comment below!
  • Sentec Reptile Cages ($685 and up)
  • I’m really interested in these cages but not for Iggy. The color choices aren’t really in-line with my living room, yet again!
  • These cages have some interesting features that seem promising. First, the 6′ and 8′ versions have removable dividers in the middle. That may save you money if you have two smaller snakes or lizards. Second, they have a slam latch with keylock that seems really interesting. It’s hard to explain so check out the website.
  • Furthermore, the cages just look professional. Take a look at the website for yourself. I really have nothing against these cages other than the color.
  • *Sigh* – I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out how to make a Vision cage work into my household. I like how they are lightweight and stackable. Additionally, the come in multiple sizes.
  • I am of the opinion after conducting my research that these cages have problems. I’ve heard stories of them melting and bowing. The maximum lighting that you can use is 75 watts. Additionally, you have to pay for the light cutouts as an accessory! The UVB tube light strip is positioned in a spot where if the animal is basking under the heat they would not be receiving UVB. -and, you can’t use your MVB to solve that problem because it’ll melt right through that.
  • Furthermore, I am not a fan of how short these cages are. They hardly give the animal room to stand up.
  • Lastly, I’ve heard stories of snakes getting out of the front sliding doors. The lip by the front would need to be filled with foam. All of this additional hassle just seems like too much work for what you are paying!
  • As for the Monster Reptile Cage, I think overall it is a very interesting prospect if you have a arboreal iguana. It is gigantic. However, it is open air and imagine it would be a challenge keeping the humidity on target.
  • The Colossal Corner Cage is very tall but not wide at all. Another good one for a arboreal iguana.

*Please note, these are only my opinions of caging options that I have researched for my animals and their various needs. I mean no harm to the owners of the stores represented above. Their cage options are viable for certain species that I do not have.

So, there you have it. This is what my research came down to. There is no perfect cage out there! Will someone just design one and make it reasonably priced, please, oh please!

Please feel free to post your comments and experiences with these cages or other brands. I would love to get your feedback.  Also, please check out our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.