A Simple, Inexpensive Incubator


There are many types of incubators on the market, but few of them hold enough boxes to make them effective for someone who hopes to have a bunch of boa eggs one of these days. Generally I mull over design in my head, then make a rough sketch for dimensions and go to it. That is what I did with this design. some people make similar boxes which open at the top, rather than the front. Some people use old refrigerators or freezers. This design suited my needs while fitting into available space.
Hey, folks, just joking on the boa eggs. I really mean python eggs. I have been planting boa eggs in the ground for several years without success. I think that I have been using the wrong fertilizer. One of these days they will grow.
This incubator was constructed for a cost of well under $100.00. It is 25.25 inches wide, 48 inches high and 20.25 inches deep.
It holds five shelves. The shelves are "egg cartons" made for florescent light fixtures. They rest on brackets cut from suspended ceiling "L"'s, made for holding the ceiling tiles along the walls. The brackets are along the sides and back. To support the front center, I have affixed small wooden blocks to the front wooden strip, using wood glue.
The outside of the incubator is cut from one sheet of quality plywood. The vertical rear corners are held together by gluing to 1X1" pine strips. The top and bottom were cut from scraps of 1/2" or 5/8" plywood. 1X1 pine strips were affixed with glue around the front edges. The vertical center strip is a 1.5"X.75" strip of pine, routed out .5" to recess the doors. The doors are made of the 1/4" panelling and have .5"X.75" strips along the top, bottom and outside edge; the inside edge, where they fit into the center strip, have neither wood strip or insulation. I also routed out the strips on the door so that they would recess a bit into the main box for better tightness and less heat loss.
For insulation I used 1/2" styrofoam insulation, plastic coating on one side, reflective aluminum coating on the other side.
The heat source is a piece of 4" flexwatt heat strip, going down one side, across the bottom and up the other side. It is plugged into an "ESU Reptile" thermostatic control. The probe is run through the center of the back of the incubator and fixed at mid-point to the bottom of the center shelf. I also have an indoor/outdoor thermostat for telling the actual temperature. There is also a low power computer fan in the back corner for air movement.
A box of water can be placed over the flexwatt tape on the floor to raise humidity. I raise it slightly on pieces of 1X2 furring strip. The incubator is raised off the floor on a frame made from 2X4 pine.
It is efficient and lightweight and inexpensive. If more room is needed, the same design can be used, but making the box taller or wider.
The sheet of Styrofoam cost about $5, the panelling about $15, the pine strips I cut myself from a 2X4 ($2.15.) It helps if you have power tools, such as a radial arm or table saw, router, etc. The thermostatic control cost $20-$25 (can't remember), and the thermometer (Radio Shack) was $9.95. Cheap enough. It will hold 3 rubbermade shoe boxes or 2 rubbermade sweater boxes on each shelf.