And no, it wasn't a glass tank-- it was this. An Ikea, um, cabinet. I guess a normal person would keep plates, wine glasses, or collectible paperweights in it. The first thing that I thought was, "This would be a perfect house for Jomo!!" You can blame the members of HerpCenter.com for that. They were the ones who planted the reptile-obsession seed in my brain. They appealed to my inner bargain shopper by mentioning that old entertainment centers, glass cabinets, and similar furniture make awesome reptile enclosures and are usually 1/4 the price of a glass tank. Knowing this, I bought this sucker for $40. A tank for a reptile of this size would usually run somebody about $250-$300. Yikes! (The cords at the bottom belonged to the crappy little light installed in the top. We sawed that part off to make room for mesh, anyway. )
Welcome to the garage, which now eternally smells like paint and Kilz. This is the first stage of the operation. The top is sawed off and the inside is cured with Kilz (basically, "cover your bathroom with this if you don't want no nasty mold on yo' walls"). We (my boyfriend and I) weren't too worried about being tidy at all: there's smears everywhere and little lines on the inside of the glass. It's a good thing lizards aren't known for being particularly snobbish when it comes to the aesthetic paint job of their enclosure. At least this is what we're hoping. Sorry, Jomo, your new mansion isn't a work of art.
And hey, look, paint! We chose a nice shade of DeviantArt-Green. Sort of grey, sort of green, the perfect color to imitate a misty tropical rain forest. It's also left over paint from my parents' kitchen remodel, and it was either this or a pale cream. (Like I said: I'm a bargain shopper. "Free" is the ultimate bargain.) At any rate, the paint job is pretty much done here. We globbed* paint into the cracks and seams to seal it up. Since Jomo is a tropical kind of guy, he likes it really damp. We had to make it water tight to keep the humidity high. I'm sure my mother also appreciates our efforts as well. ("What, that small fungi garden growing in the corner of my room by Jomo's tank? It's for... um... Biology. Yeah. It's an experiment. Not because his house leaks. No sir.")
*Technical painting term.
But first: A Gruesome Tale.
I had just finished cutting up the mesh cover and was taking the remnants out to show dad. I was just going to ask him if it was recyclable or not. As I was gesturing to the mesh-- freshly cut and very sharp-- and not half a second after dad said, "don't hurt yourself", I found that I had a piece of wire stuck in my finger. Literally, stuck. It wouldn't budge. I stumbled into the garage, dumped the mesh into the recycle can, and felt woozy. I guess it was then I decided to tell everyone I got a piece of wire lodged in my finger. I'm turning this into such a hyperbole, really, but believe me when I say that I yanked that sucker right out of my finger. It was deep in there, too, and it hurt. But now I can say that I spilled blood for this project. That is dedicated pet ownership right there.
It holds humidity quite well. I am so pleased. Before this, Jomo was stuck in a 20 gallon tank, wider than it was tall. For a tropical arboreal lizard, this was like living in a bathroom. A really crappy bathroom. To give him climbing room, I nailed sticks and vines to the wall next to his tank, but that let all of the humidity leak out. I'm really happy that Jomo now has a humidity-rich, nice and tall, custom built enclosure to live in. His skin will be healthier, his appetite will increase, and he'll probably live a lot longer. Hooray!