Decorating the enclosure

Jon B

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
23
Hi, so I'm thinking of decorating my tarantula's enclosure to look like Shelob's lair from Lord of The Rings. And I was thinking I could sculpt and paint styrofoam to look like this, (and maybe even add a little plastic figure of Frodo):

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipe...285.jpg/520px-Il_Signore_degli_Anelli_285.jpg
(Picture of how the rock walls would look).

But I have a concern, will it be safe for my tarantula? Could the painted styrofoam be harmful to her, and what about the plastic figure? If there's even a slight chance it could be harmful to her I'm going to drop the idéa.
And then if this is a bad idéa, then I will just go pick up some decorations from the pet store instead. But while we're on the topic of materials that could be harmful to a tarantula, is there anything I should avoid putting in the enclosure? Like steel, rubber, glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, plutonium, etc.
 

Venom1080

Arachnoemperor
Joined
Sep 24, 2015
Messages
4,583
i cant imagine it being safe. paint and other chemicals are a immediate turn off for me.
green plastic plants and cork look much better IMO.
 

Ungoliant

Malleus Aranearum
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Messages
3,825
But while we're on the topic of materials that could be harmful to a tarantula, is there anything I should avoid putting in the enclosure? Like steel, rubber, glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, plutonium, etc.
Plutonium setups are for experienced keepers only.

 
Last edited:

viper69

ArachnoGod
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Joined
Dec 8, 2006
Messages
11,539
Hi, so I'm thinking of decorating my tarantula's enclosure to look like Shelob's lair from Lord of The Rings. And I was thinking I could sculpt and paint styrofoam to look like this, (and maybe even add a little plastic figure of Frodo):

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipe...285.jpg/520px-Il_Signore_degli_Anelli_285.jpg
(Picture of how the rock walls would look).

But I have a concern, will it be safe for my tarantula? Could the painted styrofoam be harmful to her, and what about the plastic figure? If there's even a slight chance it could be harmful to her I'm going to drop the idéa.
And then if this is a bad idéa, then I will just go pick up some decorations from the pet store instead. But while we're on the topic of materials that could be harmful to a tarantula, is there anything I should avoid putting in the enclosure? Like steel, rubber, glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, plutonium, etc.

Paint is not a wise idea at all.
 

iwlim

Arachnopeon
Joined
Aug 28, 2015
Messages
5
You could try using real rocks. Although that might not be a good idea depending on the species.
 

Jon B

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
23
Paint is not a wise idea at all.
Alright, scratching the idéa then. Gonna go pick up some fake plants and maybe pick up something from the pet store instead. But hey I just remembered, they're selling like skulls and hollow rocks and all sorts of different overpriced decorations. And they're all painted, should I avoid those as well?
 

Jon B

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
23
Plutonium setups are for experienced keepers only.

Hahah alright buddy, I'll just go put the plutonium back up on the shelf. God forbid I make a 20 foot tall bulletproof and TNT proof tarantula and let it loose in the city. Then again what's the worst that could happen, it would just lie down and do a whole lot of nothing.
 

Jon B

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
23
i cant imagine it being safe. paint and other chemicals are a immediate turn off for me.
green plastic plants and cork look much better IMO.
No chems then, I'm going au naturel. Well, as natural as u can get with plastic plants anyway lol.
 

Jon B

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
23
You could try using real rocks. Although that might not be a good idea depending on the species.
Yeah I'm just gonna go for fake plants n stuff after all. I can't say I'm too stoked about going out in to the woods to pick rocks, I might not find my way home again and wander til I find a candy house, I don't want that.
 

Olan

Arachnodemon
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Dec 23, 2002
Messages
764
You could print out that picture and stick it on the back panel of the enclosure. That would look pretty sweet.
 

Paiige

Arachnobaron
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Oct 2, 2016
Messages
331
As awesome as that would be, you have to think about what they're going to be doing in there all day - i.e. weird tarantula things. Climbing, digging, contorting themselves in awkward positions to make you nervous, chasing prey, etc. Anything sharp is out, anything painted that they could accidentally ingest or any sort of chemical is out, and anything that can obstruct their digging/cause them to not be able to locate prey is also out. I know that doesn't seem to leave you with too many options but that's not the case - you just have to be creative with how you go about it. There are some very cool enclosures out there.

And putting an image up against the back of the tank does have a very cool effect!
 

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
Messages
631
To be honest, once the paint has dried, I don't think it would be harmful at all. It's not much different than the silicone they use to seal the inside of aquariums. I've also used epoxy on the insides of enclosures, I've rubberized the insides to make them waterproof and I've used expanding foam. Not only that but my walls in my home are covered with paint and I find spiders crawling on them all the time.I would try making the background, let it air out for a while and try it out. I don't think it will hurt anything at all. Besides, there are tons of videos online showing people making exactly the sort of thing you are talking about and they are sticking them in aquariums and terrariums with absolutely no ill effects at all and bear in mind that fish are infinitely easier to kill than most pet animals. I say go for it and post pictures.
 

inserirnome

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 5, 2015
Messages
16
Python is right. Check fake rocks on youtube, you'll find a bunch of amazing backgrounds and tutorials. And although your project is something you could do it wouldn't be 100% safe, but it's your pet, your call.
I've done my first enclosure entirely out of painted foam structures because, like you, I wanted a themed terrarium. I guess it's the equivalent of a dog's silly shirt or something. That T survived through over a year, and it's currently healthy. It's no longer on the same enclosure because I look at my Ts differently now, I want them to thrive and live like they're supposed to.
But honestly I think you should build it however you like it, no harm in expressing yourself, as long as the T is okay with it.
If you do go for it, keep in mind Ts will pinch the decoration with claws and fangs, the eventual wear and tear will make some kind of damage depending on the coating you use. Paint alone over the foam decoration piece would be a serious threat to the T if the resultant litter gets in the food or something. I would look for some kind of cement or something sturdy and fish safe for the coating. Also, remember to fix every piece as good as you can, Ts might dig around and end up making the decoration fall.
Post pictures if you end up doing it.
 

Python

Arachnolord
Old Timer
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Messages
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One other thing to note, I've seen many reptiles kept with these type structures and when you think about it, their claws can do quite a bit of damage. I would do as recommended and coat the entire thing with some sort of cement mixture or something. That would make it more durable and less prone to damage. It will add weight, however, a thin coating on top of styrofoam shouldn't add too much. Still, it's something to be mindful of.
 

Jon B

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
23
As awesome as that would be, you have to think about what they're going to be doing in there all day - i.e. weird tarantula things. Climbing, digging, contorting themselves in awkward positions to make you nervous, chasing prey, etc. Anything sharp is out, anything painted that they could accidentally ingest or any sort of chemical is out, and anything that can obstruct their digging/cause them to not be able to locate prey is also out. I know that doesn't seem to leave you with too many options but that's not the case - you just have to be creative with how you go about it. There are some very cool enclosures out there.

And putting an image up against the back of the tank does have a very cool effect!
Yeah no that's true, it wouldn't make for a very good habitat. But I just now thought of another idéa, I'm could go out and buy a nice large glass enclosure and decorate that with the painted styrofoam mountains and all that good stuff, but I'm not gonna put anything living in there. Instead I'm gonna buy a plastic Shelob figure to put in there, and it'll be like a 3D picture.
 

Jon B

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
23
To be honest, once the paint has dried, I don't think it would be harmful at all. It's not much different than the silicone they use to seal the inside of aquariums. I've also used epoxy on the insides of enclosures, I've rubberized the insides to make them waterproof and I've used expanding foam. Not only that but my walls in my home are covered with paint and I find spiders crawling on them all the time.I would try making the background, let it air out for a while and try it out. I don't think it will hurt anything at all. Besides, there are tons of videos online showing people making exactly the sort of thing you are talking about and they are sticking them in aquariums and terrariums with absolutely no ill effects at all and bear in mind that fish are infinitely easier to kill than most pet animals. I say go for it and post pictures.
Thanks, yeah there might be something to this. But as another comment mentioned, it could interfere with the tarantula's ... well, tarantula stuff. So even if it won't be harmful to her, I wouldn't do it because I want her to be nice and snug like a bug in the rug. Plus, cleaning an enclosure like that would be a pain.
I'm gonna buy another terrarium though and set that one up to look like Shelob's lair, and I'm gonna put a plastic figure of Shelob in there looming over the hobbits. Sure, you won't have the awesome effect of seeing a spider come creeping out of a dark cave high up in the mountains of Mordor, but there will be infinitely less poop in there. And I could rest easy knowing my T is doing fine.
 

Jon B

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
23
Python is right. Check fake rocks on youtube, you'll find a bunch of amazing backgrounds and tutorials. And although your project is something you could do it wouldn't be 100% safe, but it's your pet, your call.
I've done my first enclosure entirely out of painted foam structures because, like you, I wanted a themed terrarium. I guess it's the equivalent of a dog's silly shirt or something. That T survived through over a year, and it's currently healthy. It's no longer on the same enclosure because I look at my Ts differently now, I want them to thrive and live like they're supposed to.
But honestly I think you should build it however you like it, no harm in expressing yourself, as long as the T is okay with it.
If you do go for it, keep in mind Ts will pinch the decoration with claws and fangs, the eventual wear and tear will make some kind of damage depending on the coating you use. Paint alone over the foam decoration piece would be a serious threat to the T if the resultant litter gets in the food or something. I would look for some kind of cement or something sturdy and fish safe for the coating. Also, remember to fix every piece as good as you can, Ts might dig around and end up making the decoration fall.
Post pictures if you end up doing it.
Thank you, yep I will go check out fake rock tutorials on youtube and I'll see what I can cook up, and hey if I get real good at sculpting then maybe I could even add the tower of Cirith Ungol, that'd be neat.
But I've decided to go buy another terrarium, and I'm just gonna buy a plastic figure of Shelob and the hobbits so that I can go through with my project without any risk to the T. Like you said, "it wouldn't be 100% safe, but it's your pet, your call." I'm not gonna play roulette with her safety.
 

Red Eunice

Arachnodemon
Joined
Mar 2, 2014
Messages
667
Just be sure its a landscape rendering. I hear tell that seascapes makes them ill. Seasick tarantula anyone? :nurse:
 

Jpeg

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
32
Looks like the project got settled, but I want to clear this up for future visitors. There is nothing wrong with paint. Straight up nothing. The only thing to worry about if you're not going to specialty systems is whether it'll scratch off.

Oils/enamels should be cured for at least a week, so skip them if you want anything fast. Use solvent-based lacquer or water-based acrylic. Both are easily available in hobby craft stores. Let dry completely, then seal with clear epoxy resin. This will set to a waterproof plastic surface. Block in mountains with great stuff or some other foam and sculpt straight over them in epoxy clay. You can color it with pottery pigments, or paint after cured and seal. A pretty neat option is lightweight epoxy clay. It's like cork - floats in water.

Just make sure to check the SDS for both parts and avoid clays with nonylphenol. It can be an endocrine disruptor and you never know.

Can recommend Apoxie Sculpt, Free Form Habitat, Free Form AIR, and Exhibit Cast. I've also heard stuff from Polygem is good. But check Polygem SDSs, a couple have nonylphenol.
 
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