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The Ultimate Terrarium You Can Make for your plants and pets Step 1: make an underground den

Lets begin building the terrarium - The first thing we need to do is to build the Underground Den for our pet to hide in or take a nap in. This is of course optional and you could build your terrarium without this but it is a really nice added feature and it adds an extra level of enjoyment to both you and your pet. It will only take you about an hour to make this den and it is worth the effort. If you are not going to build the den you can skip this page and go on to the next page of this tutorial.


What you need to build the den:

  • Some thin wood similar to paneling. You can be creative in your choice of materials but remember that you want it to last and it is going to get dirty and moist so cardboard probably isn't a good choice.
  • some glue
  • a few thin nails
  • a small piece of cardboard (I used pizza box cardboard)
  • A Saw to cut the wood

Note: This is just a suggested way to build the underground den. You can think up your own way and there are many possibilities like using a large square tupperware plastic container and cutting holes in it. Or you can vary the shape and size of your wooden box.

terrarium underground den

This is my underground den. There are three sides and a ramp for the pet to climb up and down into it. The "L" shaped piece you see is the top cover and we are going to attach it with a hinge. You should make your undergrond den hinged so you can lift it up, get inside, and clean out any mess your pet has made. If you don't want to make it hinged I suggest you make the top opening large enough so you can fit your hand in there and clean up. I don't suggest you attempt to take the den out of the terrarium to clean it. This will make more of a mess.


Here are the sizes of the wood that I used:

  • each side piece is 5 inches by 4 inches
  • the back piece is 4 inches by 11 inches
  • the top cover piece is 5 inches by 11 inches
  • the pet ramp is 2 1/2 inches by 11 1/2 inches

I used very thin nails to assemble the three sides and the ramp together then I used a non-toxic glue to make it all very strong. It is always a good idea to use non toxic glue wihen creating projects for plants and animals. Also note: If you are going to be keeping some kind of chewing animal like a hamster, gerbil or mouse in your terrarium it is going to chew at this den.

puttng the hinge on the pet den

Put the hinge on the den - I used cardboard from a pizza box and folded a nice angle on it. Re-fold this angle many times so it hinges smoothly. Apply some glue to both sides and attach it to the pet den. I put my hinge on the outside of the den so it would hinge easily.


Put the top on and hold the hinge in place for a minute so the glue can grip a little.


hinge applied

Now put rubber bands around the hinge so it will stay in place until the glue dries. You can also just use tape to tape it in place. You can see I used a very large hinge so it would last a long time in my terrarium. We will paint it to make it look better.


Painting the Underground Pet Den: I recommend you paint the inside white because it will be dark in there and white will make it a little brighter. You will be able to see your pet easier. I also recommend you paint the top cover brown and green so it blends in better with the soil and plants of your terrarium.

Lets continue on with our terrarium project


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