How To Build A Reptile Rack

Do you own and care for several reptiles?

Are your various reptile tanks and enclosures starting to take over your space?

Do you want to add more reptiles, but not sure you have space for it?

Many reptiles need their own space, and because of this, you may find you have more tanks than you do space.

If you’re feeling like your reptile tanks are taking over, you may want to consider a different alternative to keeping all of your reptiles in large aquarium tanks.

A reptile rack is a great space-saving solution for you.

how to build a reptile rack

What You’ll Need

While there are pre-made reptile racks available, they tend to be much more expensive.

You’ll also find as your reptile menagerie grows, you may want to customize your racks more than pre-made racks allow.

A homemade reptile rack gives you the option for customization while also keeping costs low.

There are several ways to build a reptile rack.

If you’d like to build your shelves from scratch, check out the videos at the end of this section.

However, in this article, we’re focused on the easiest and cheapest method.

You will not need a lot of tools, and no sawing is required for the version of a reptile rack.

So let’s walk through the steps to build a reptile rack using a wire shelving system.

Here’s what you need to make this DIY reptile rack:

18—28-Quart Bins

Smaller snakes and reptiles live comfortably in a 6-quart bin.

Larger reptiles may need up to a 41-quart bin.

This tutorial uses 28-quart bins, but the same process works no matter what sized bins you are using.

Keep in mind, the larger the reptile, the fewer bins you will be able to get on a shelf.

If you are building a rack for larger reptiles, you may need to make more than one reptile rack.

If you are using a different sized bin, make sure you acquire enough to fill the rack.

2—Wire Rack Shelving Units

These are usually found at a department store or a home improvement store.

Also, check this one out from Amazon.

The main thing you want to look for when purchasing a wire shelving unit is a system with five adjustable shelves.

Heat Cable

You’ll need some way to regulate the heat for your reptiles.

Consider this heat cable from Amazon.

Make sure you get a cable long enough to heat the entire rack.


While the tools for this project are limited, you will still need a few basic ones:

  • Hammer
  • Zip Ties
  • Pliers
  • Electric Drill

You’ll also want a drill bit to drill air holes into your bins.

Steps to Build Your Reptile Rack

Step #1: Unpack Your Shelves

Unpack your shelving units and group like items together.

To create a complete reptile rack with enough shelves, you will need two sets of shelving.

This will give you a total of 10 shelves and two sets of poles.

You will use all of the shelves, but only one set of poles.

Set the second set aside.

Step #2: Set up your First Shelf

Follow the instructions for the shelving unit to set up the first shelf.

This will be the base for the rest of your reptile rack.

Step #3: Measure the Shelf Height for Your Bins

Once the first shelf is set up, place two empty bins on the shelf.

Set your connectors for the next shelf at the desired height.

Ideally, the next shelf will fit snug on top of the bins.

Slide your next shelf onto the poles and test out the height.

You should be able to pull each bin in and out smoothly.

Adjust the shelf height if needed.

Pro tip: Once your shelf is at the desired height, use a hammer to tap the shelf securely into place.

This will keep it from shifting should it ever get bumped or nudged.

Step #4: Finish Building Your Shelves

Using the same process you did in step three, set up the remaining shelves.

Move the bins to the top of the next shelf, attach the shelf connectors, and slide the shelves into place.

Repeat until all shelves are secure and bins slide out easily.

If you’re using 28-quart bins, you should be able to get eighteen bins on your reptile rack, two bins per shelf.

Step #5: Attach the Heat Cable

Using a heat cable like this one from Amazon, you’ll want to run the cable through the shelves to make sure your reptiles have enough heat.

One side of the heat cord will have a plug.

At this end of the cord, it will not get warm until you reach the part of the cord with the heating element.

Allow the plug and a length of the cord to hang off the bottom shelf so that it will reach the outlet or wall timer to be plugged in.

With the plug side of the cord-free, start by threading the heat cord through the wire of the bottom shelf.

Stretch the cord across the shelf to the other side and thread it through the opposite side of the shelf and back to the side you started on.

Make sure the cord is taught but not tight.

Pro tip: Use a few zip ties to hold the heat cord in place.

Do not pull the zip ties too tight. You just want them to be snug.

Trim the tails of the zip ties for a clean finish.

Lead the cord up to the next shelf and repeat the process for the remaining shelves.

You will not need to thread the heat cord through the top shelf if you do not plan to use it for bins.

Once the heat cord is attached to your rack, plug it in and slide your rack into place.

Step #6: Set Up Your Bins

Some rack systems use open-air bins to allow airflow, but this system uses bins with lids.

This means you will have to make some air holes in your pin’s sides, so your reptiles do not suffocate.

To make those holes, use an electric drill to drill a few holes around the bins’ upper edges.

Once the airflow is taken care of, prepare your bins for their reptile occupants.

Cover the bottom of the bin with a substrate of your choice.

Make sure to include a water dish then transfer your scaly pets into their new homes.

Snap-on the lid and slide the bin into your new reptile rack.

Now you’ve got a new space-efficient and flexible home for all of your reptiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size reptiles fit in these racks? – Because of this wire rack system’s flexibility, just about any size of reptile fits in this rack.

The shelves will hold anything from 6-quart to 41-quart bins.

Just figure out what size bin is best for your reptile.

What if I need to readjust the shelves? – This wire rack system is fully adjustable.

When you reach the point where your reptiles need to size up to a new bin size, remove the bins from the shelves and then readjust the shelf heights to fit the new bin size.

How much does this DIY reptile rack cost? – This will depend on the shelf unit and bins you purchase, but you’re looking at around $200-$250 average to build this minimal DIY reptile rack.

What other materials should I use to build a reptile rack? – There are a few other materials to build a reptile rack.

If you want to avoid building something from scratch, but don’t want wire shelving, use a plastic garage shelving unit.

To completely customize your rack, melamine particle board or PVC are common materials used for reptile racks.

Are reptile racks cruel? – While it may seem harsh sticking your reptiles in bins and stacking them on top of each other, snake racks are more effective and efficient than aquariums.

They are easier to keep temperatures regulated and do not have as much unused space.

As long as you make sure the bin you’re using is big enough for the sized reptile you have; they utilize the space better than an aquarium.

Just make sure your reptiles have enough water, and the bin has holes to let in enough oxygen.


If you find your reptile enclosures are taking over your space or running out of room to add more, consider building a reptile rack.

The process is simple.

You don’t need a lot of materials, and because you are making it yourself, you get to customize it to fit your needs.

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