The story starts with my wife wanting a new kitchen. I thought our kitchen was perfectly functional, but no, she wanted a kitchen redo. She had wanted to do this for years, and recently had become more fervent in her quest. She obtained the cost estimate and it was going to be expensive. She felt a little guilty about this. After some "strong conversations" I finally conceded for her to get the kitchen redo. "Thank you honey!!! Maybe you can get something nice for yourself too?" she exclaimed in a burst of slightly guilt ridden joy. "A black dragon", I said in steely cold response, "I want a black dragon". I saw her take a deep breath, not unlike one taken by a person with ultra sensitive skin about to jump into a vat of alcohol based hand cleaner, and with hesitation she asked, "What is a black dragon?"
To be honest, I had admired black dragons for years, but had dismissed owning one due to the unreasonable cost and space demands that come with such a beast. But hey, as they say, opportunity knocks and I wasn't sure I would ever again have such an advantaged position, maritally speaking (was that kitchen really worth it Mary Kay?).
After a lot of planning, a lot of spending (but not as much as a kitchen redo), and three months of labor the monitor habitat was completed. I obtained the assistance of Ron Wynne, friend and engineer, in doing this project. Ron is a truly amazing craftsman and I would not have the extraordinary zoo quality exhibit that now sits in my basement without his keen intellect and building skills.
I posted the video of the habitat on Facebook, and have had many requests for details by those wanting to make one of their own. I guess there are other wives out there wanting new kitchens. So for those folks, I have put together a slide show of the build at each step of the way.
The habitat was designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The enclosure must contain high temperatures (80- 125 degrees F) and high humidity. There must be room to move around and have access to all areas. All lumber was treated and we used only triple coasted decking screws.
Update March 29, 2020: More rock walls currently under construction