Fake Rock Instructional for a Reptile Enclosure
Making Fake Rock
Making a fake rock background for your reptile's enclosure can add not only aesthetic pleasure for your, but entertainment for your reptile. By added ledges and a second story, you have expanded the amount of room that your reptile has to roam greatly.
I've created this fairly simple instructional on how to create your own fake rock background below.
(most items can be purchased at a hardware store such as Lowes or Home Depot.)
* Polystyrene foam- comes in one large sheet or a pack of smaller sheets
* Foam in a can- there are 2 kinds, make sure to get the kind that hardens. The can should say.
* Liquid nails- use this as the glue to stick the polystyrene together.
* Grout- comes in many colors
* Grout sealer- make sure it's acrylic or water based. I used aqua-mix
Step By Step Guide to Fake Rock
Making Polystyrene Fake Rock
* Poster board- to create a 3-d model
* Box cutter- to cut the polystyrene foam into a basic shape
* Dremel tool- to cut the polystyrene foam into a more curved shape
* Sand paper- to even out the polystyrene foam when cut
* Paint brush- to apply the sealer
* Latex or dish gloves- to apply grout and work with foam in a can (can get messy and a pain to remove from your hands!)
* Sand- to add a more realistic feel
* Brown paper- to cover the floor (I would recommend something put on the floor because this project can get messy.)
1. Draw out your design on paper. (Optional)
2. Take your 'blueprint' and cut poster board to create a 3-D model to the size of the tank.
3. Trace the sides of the tank onto a sheet of polystyrene foam and cut them out.
4. Use the dremel tool to shape the sides. With each cut, make sure to check to make sure it would fit inside your tank.
5. Glue the sides together and checked to make sure it would fit inside your tank.
6. Use excess foam to creat ledges, if your plans call for them.
7. Cutting the sides of the hides. Make changes as you go along.
(If the pieces aren't perfect right now, that's fine. It can be fixed later with foam in a can and grout.)
8. Shake up the foam in a can, and proceed to use it on the ledges and steps, which serves a duel purpose, making them durable and adding visual appeal.
11. After letting the foam sit for at least an hour, you can create a more rounded look by using your finger to add just a little bit of foam. This also filled in any gaps between the polystyrene and the foam in a can.
12. Add foam in a can to the hides so that they wouldn't look quite as square.
13. Once the foam in a can had fully dried and hardened, glue the hides to the back piece. Although there were some gaps, the foam in a can can correct the imperfections.
14. Once all the foam in a can was hardened, it was time to grout. It takes about an hour for the foam to dry, but I waited much longer to make sure it was settled. Make sure that the first layer of grout you add is a watery layer, this serves as the base coat.
15. Let the grout sit for 24 hours before adding the second coat. Make the second layer of grout less watery than the first layer. I'd call it a medium consistency.
16. Wait 24 hours for the grout to fully cure before adding the third coat. Make the consistency of this layer very thick. If you choose to add sand to the fake rock, do so on this layer. I took handfuls and dropped on the wet grout.
17. Shake the excess sand off, I used a paint brush to apply the first coat of sealer.
18.The sealer dries in about thirty minutes. Add a second coat.
19. Just to make sure I added a third coat of sealer to the entire fake wall piece.
20. I let the piece sit outside for a day before bringing it into my room just to make sure all the fumes where gone.
Misc. Fake Rock
You can use this basic fake rock design however you wish. I've made humid hides, regular hides, calcium dish holders, and decrative rocks. You can come up with various projects for your reptiles. I even created a large ledge to put in my bearded dragon enclosure so that my beardies can get closer to the UV rays. It, also, ads more space to the enclosure by having more than one level.
Cleaning Fake Rock
When cleaning the fake rock, you want to use a mild soap to gently wash off the surfaces. Thoroughly rinse the entire background, or small pieces afterwards.
You may want to reseal the piece after cleaning, just to make sure that none of the grout will flake off.
You can choose from a variety of different grout colors for your polystyrene rock. The color in the above pictures is gray, as it was the only color available at the time. Many times grout will come in white, rust, brown, tan, amongst a few other other colors.
If you choose to paint the grout, you may want to choose a white, or light color. Choose any color you want of the acrylic paints. You want to stick with acrylic or water based products when building something for your reptiles.
Always, let the fumes air out before placing anything into your reptile's enclosure. You don't want to harm your pet.