I’m pretty sure that anyone who has ever wanted to get into breeding leopard geckos has gone to websites like Animal Plastics, Boaphile Plastics, or C Serpents and drooled over the beautiful rack systems they offer. Then when you see the price, your mouth instantly dries up and you’re left bummed out or making the world’s most expensive Christmas wish-list.
[Editor’s Note: Check out our Breeder Basics: Reptile Rack Systems Review article.]
Build Your Own?
I was in the same boat; watching SaSobek’s videos on YouTube and dreaming of, well, Dream Land, and thinking to myself, “You know, I bet I could build a rack for even half the cost.” So I drew up a small blue-print of an idea and figured prices. Spend maybe $30 on melamine, $30 on Flexwatt, $100 on a thermostat and $20 on tubs. $180 isn’t bad compared to the $250-$400 racks that are commercially offered. Plus, I would be avoiding the shipping costs and the 2-3 week waiting period.
Being a perfectionist, if something isn’t right the first time, I get extremely discouraged and want to start all over. If I were to fail at making the rack exactly how I wanted it, I would be dropping another $30 on melamine, which isn’t something I quite had at my disposal at the time. I found myself upset and bummed out again as I couldn’t afford to mess up, which I have done plenty of times in the past when it comes to construction; either shelves aren’t flush, one side is longer than the other, or the holes aren’t drilled right. One way or another, I would screw it up.
My girlfriend had to go to the local shopping center to pick up some furniture and paint at Walmart so I tagged along. To entertain my mind and wishes, I went to the plastic storage aisle and started looking at all the different styles and sizes of tubs thinking, “Ohh, this would be perfect for hatchlings” or, “I bet I could house 4 females in this one!” I noticed, though, that the footprints were never really quite what I wanted, and the sides tapered too much, leaving minimal space for the geckos. Again with the perfectionist in me, it wasn’t quite right.
The Perfect Solution
Then I saw them; Sterilite Modular Storage System. They were BEAUTIFUL. I slid a few of them open and thought, “These are the most perfect footprints I have ever seen! And they aren’t tapered!” (something I didn’t ever expect to come out of my mouth.) I pulled a few different sizes out and stacked them on top of each other. They were sturdy and came with a fastener clip to ensure they don’t fall off of one another; both safe and secure. I checked to make sure they were snug enough so I wouldn’t have any escapees and when closed, they were perfect. My girlfriend dragged me away from them as it was time to leave. I had hope for my rack once again.
I got home and did my research on them from the Sterilite website. I compared the dimensions to other commonly used tubs and they were all about the same. I found that the medium-size (17 1/8″ D x 12″ W x 7″ H) would be perfect for a single adult gecko. The large-size (17 1/8″ D x 24″ W x 7″ H) would be ideal to house multiple females, or one adult if you prefer to offer more space for your gecko. The narrow-size, being about the same dimensions as a 6qt, will be great for single-housing hatchlings. I was almost positive I stumbled across a lost treasure as I haven’t heard of anyone else using this system before (not to say no one has though.)
I got my budget and went to the store and purchased some varied sizes. It included one tall large, two tall mediums, two mediums, and three narrows. This came out to about $72 including Michigan tax of 6%. Note that this includes the tubs and the shelving that they come in, eliminating the need to buy and piece together melamine. Next step was to heat it. I ordered four 2ft strips of 4in Flexwatt in a parallel circuit (Reptile Basics) and spliced in a rotary dimmer. Each strip lies between each layer, with air circulation “naturally” provided. This will prevent over-heating and fire hazards.
I’m very pleased with my discovery. I am always seeing people looking for ways to house geckos and have a simple rack system without spending a load of money on it; this is the way to do it. You can order them either ship-to-store for free or ship-to-home on the Walmart website in multipacks for around $50-$55 and I have also found them with black trim. They have worked wonders for me and I’m going to be ordering more without a doubt. I highly recommend these to anyone, especially people that don’t have the time, skill, or resources to build their own racks and want to save some money.
Proving It Out
Now that I have hatched some eggs and have a few more geckos than I originally had, I have full use of the system. I have 6 sub-adult geckos in them and two hatchlings. They all grow at a great rate and have wonderful colors, a sign of proper heating. Each male gets his own tub and two females are housed in a Large sized unit. Each gecko gets two hides, a moist/lay box and a cool hide, water dish, food dish (all depending on how the gecko prefers to eat) and a calcium cap. This goes for the females also, and it all fits well with plenty of space in the Large size. The hatchlings are housed separately in a Narrow size unit. They each get a moist hide, food/water dish, calcium cap, and a toilet paper tube.
With next season approaching in a few months, I have been debating as to how I am going to deal with all the hatchlings. I did some shopping around and found good prices and sizes but each had their con, whether it was ‘too’ expensive, didn’t come with tubs, or whatever other reason. Then I added it all up and determined pricing on using my Modular idea for hatchling set-up.
I wanted at least 25 tubs for hatchlings. On Wal-mart’s website, you can order 6 packs of the Narrow size (which I use for hatchlings) so I made it an even 30: five orders of tubs. I estimated I’d spend $200 alone on the 30 tubs, plus shipping. Then I determined that I’d need two 5-shelf Flexwatt connections, so I went on Reptile Basics and determined that pricing and it came out to be $82. So I would get heating, structure and tubs for $282 plus whatever shipping would be. Also, I can structure it anyway I want: whether it’s 10 shelves high, 5 shelves high, or 3 shelves high. Plus, to add to that, I can add more tubs and sizes in the case of needing more room or bigger tubs for hold backs.
Purchasing a ‘professional’ rack is nice, don’t get me wrong, but they’re expensive and usually have to wait a production period for it to be made unless you purchase at a reptile expo. With these Modular systems, you can get all the supplies within a week of order. Just some food for thought.
10 CommentsLeave a Reply
Jared, great article!! I am definitely going to check out these modular systems from Sterilite. I have a great idea for your next article. Can you do a detail discussion with lots of pictures on how you place the Flexwatt in these systems? I know it would benefit myself, and others. Thanks!!
Can you post some pics of how you attached the heat tape?
Hi: Very good article on Modular Storage. A perfect less expensive solution. Thank you.
I would agree with the above comments. Great option to the big pro setups and the work to build your own. I would like to see additional photos of your racks but with some detail on how you set up heating and thermostats.
I would love to see how you attached the heat tape as well. I purchased 4 of the medium modular units and the heat tape doesn’t touch the tubs and the heat doesn’t reach appropriate temps. Pics would be great!
Would really dig seeing some pic’s of the heat tape.
I just use plastic shoeboxes that are $1.00 USC, easily available at any convenience store. They provide the perfect humidity, warmth, and space for a juvenile-to-subadult leopard gecko. These are great ideas, though!
Awesome find! I was just hemming and hawing about ordering a set of these for my upcoming breeding project, and your pics and tips convinced me! So awesome that they are super-clear too, I like to show off my babies not have them in opaque ugly boxes.
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