Gecko Enclosure

Designed with the Australian Spiny Tailed Geckos (Strophurus ciliaris) in mind. The Strophurus geckos have specific requirements for heat and UV light. The enclosure also had to be sufficiently insect proof to stop any of their prey getting out. The enclosure was designed to go sit on a desk top.

Note: Click on the thumb nail to see the full sized image

The timber for the enclosure is "Tasmanian Oak", from the Eucalyptus regnis or Mountain Ash. The panels were actually assembled from floor boards. Natural timber not only looks good but has good insulation properties.

Note that there are actually two, almost identical, enclosures featured in these photographs.

The floor of the enclosure is tiled. The tiles are over heat tape, the temperature of which is controlled with a probe thermostat. The probe rests in a groove routed into the floor of the enclosure. A substrate of sand will cover the tiles once the finish has fully cured. Cage furnishings will also be added.

For details of how I install the heat tape under the tiles have a look at my "Tiled Enclosure" page.

The end view shows a close fit of the door to make it insect proof. You can also see the holes drilled for ventilation. There are two groups of holes on each end. The other (out flowing) ventilation holes are are above the fly screen ceiling and hidden from view from most angles.

The finish is an oil based marine grade varnish. It takes a number of weeks to "go off" but it is an extremely serviceable finish and UV resistant.

With the door open it easier to see the tiles and the fly wire that covers the inside of the side ventilation holes. The fly wire covers are expoxy'd into a recess chiseled into the wall such that they are flush with the wall surface. This was done after the first layer of varnish was applied to ensure that all the wood was sealed.

Piano hinge is used on the door and brass catches secure it closed.

With the lid removed you can see the fitting for the florescent tube and the dichroic 35mm halogen basking light. The black light for UV is 20 watts and the halogen also 20 watts. The halogen light sits directly on the fly wire that make the ceiling for the enclosure.
This is a geckos eye view of the same from the inside. Note that the UV glass filter has been removed from the lamp as useful amounts of UV light are then emitted from these lamps. (The glass filter can usually be removed by running a fine blade around the seal where the filter is attached.)
The design concept was to illuminate the inside of enclosure but not shine light at anybody trying to look in.
Unless you are looking from below the lights cannot be seen from the front.
All the other electricals are hidden below. The space is just wide enough for the probe thermostat controller, a power point and small timer. Again none of the cords visible when being viewed from the front. There is sufficient space to reach in to adjust the thermostat and timer without having to move or tilt the enclosure.
A few weeks later the varnish has cured and the geckos moved in. The substrate is washed sand and the sticks are glued into strip of wood below the sand. The theory was to provide something similar to spinifex clumps which might be found in their natural habitat. A thermometer/hygrometer allows us to monitor living conditions. The tiny water bowl is a cup designed to go under castors on furniture. The have no crevasses for their prey to disappear into and they are easy to clean.
Our pair of spiny tailed geckos are called Mars (the male on the left) and Sunshine (the female on the right).
They seem to get on very well together. When they were first introduced they checked each other out at close quarters but since then they have maintained their personal space.

I also made a tiny rake to try and maintain their substrate with a little style. It actually works out pretty well as you can see where they have been overnight by the tiny paw prints in the freshly raked sand.

Mars seems pretty happy about his new digs!

Fine print
(Dimensions are in millimeters)

Florescent Tube
NEC Blacklight 20Watt(available from The Herp Shop)
Halogen Basking spot
Nelson, 12Volt, 20 Watt, 35º Dichroic Halogen Lamp


For information about this project please contact Daavid Turnbull

Last Update - July 19, 2010 7:03 PM