This is a re-post of an original Bug Chicks post on Science Friday.

We recently moved into a new space and realized that we had no place to store our animals. Our office is in a basement, and it’s really chilly! Since most of the animals in our arthropod zoo are tropical, they need to be kept in an environment between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the office, we usually huddle around a fake fireplace heater while we write, script, and edit videos. Unfortunately, our animals can’t huddle with us, and we don’t want to leave a space heater running all the time. So, for the past few months our arthropods have been living in Jess’s bedroom in their large Tupperware traveling crates. It’s time we made them a proper home!


We decided that a closed cabinet would be best, preferably with glass doors. This way the heat from their heating mats would be retained and natural light would be allowed in. Most of our animals are nocturnal, and we wanted them exposed to light in order to have a natural circadian rhythm. Also, we wanted to be able to see our beautiful creatures! There are a bunch of great cabinets that fit this bill, but they were expensive, and we are entrepreneurs on a budget. Luckily, we live in a city with tons of thrifty vintage stores that are fun to poke around. While looking for something else (isn’t it always the way?), we ran into an old Ikea cabinet that was almost perfect…

Almost. After wrestling it into the truck and getting it back to the office, we realized it was A) really wobbly, and B) really tall, which meant C) once we put the cages into the wobbly tall cabinet, it would likely tip over in a tarantula-scorpion- roach-mealworm frenzy of broken glass and dreams. It was time for a little DIY and renovation. We measured the legs and sawed 16 inches off. This made the base more stable and the cabinet weight lower. No more wobbling!

Next we needed a way for the tank heating pad cords to extend out of the back of the cabinet. Drillin’ time! We placed the animal cages in the cabinet to check placement and bored two rather large holes in order to feed the cords through. As you can see from the photo below, we are amazing at drilling. Our precision is flawless and we obviously take great pride in our work. Not really—it doesn’t need to look pretty; it just needs to work! The animal cages will cover the holes.

And voila! All of our animals (except for two large cages) fit snugly inside. Over the next few days we’ll be checking the temperature inside to make sure it’s warm enough. If not, we’ll purchase a few more heating mats. Our tarantulas Esme (from the famed tarantula ICU post) and Samba will be kept on the dresser next to the cabinet. We’re trying out a seedling heat mat that fits under both of their cages.

Do you keep arthropod pets? Have you found a novel way to display them while keeping them warm in the winter? What’s that you say? Oh, central heating? Well, our way was more fun!