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Setting Up a Reptile Terrarium

If you’re interested in owning a reptile (or even a tarantula, as they require similar habitats but without the water area as they are no aquatic tarantulas), you’re going to need a terrarium to keep it in.

A terrarium is simply a container designed to hold small plants or animals in a controlled environment. It’s like having a small piece of an alien landscape in your home, one in which you can watch that landscape from your side and view something in its natural habitat.

All Things Not Being Equal in Terrarium Space

Choose the terrarium before purchasing the pet. Different reptiles have different environmental needs, so make sure the terrarium will accommodate the type of reptile you seek. Some reptiles kept as common pets can grow quite large, and others like to have a lot of space in which to move around, as well as have different areas for sunning and areas to hide, cool off in, and even swim. Choosing a terrarium that’s the right size and shape is vital. There are two common terrarium orientations – vertical for animals that like to climb and horizontal for animals using more gradients of temperature and environment. Land-dwelling reptiles typically feel most at home in longer terrariums because they provide more surface area to roam, whereas reptiles that are arboreal and live in trees in the wild and like to climb need taller vertical enclosures. Aquatic reptiles like turtles require some pool areas in the terrarium for the occasional swim. You must also remember that reptiles grow quickly, therefore, do your research first and buy a habitat with their adult size in mind. Little lizards grow up to be big ones and having to re-kit many terrariums over their lifetimes instead of some smaller redecorating and interior habitat design projects are more cost-effective and saves time.

Escape Proof

Reptiles love to escape. They will find a way out and get out and about when you least expect it and cause chaos and capers, especially to protect a reptile from the clutches of any other larger animals you may have like a cat or dog or even small children who may be terrified of the baby bearded dragon. To prevent your own Houdini Great Escapes, experts suggest aquariums or glass or acrylic boxes with wooden frames. Whichever material you choose, whether a budget-friendly fish aquarium or a custom-made lizard or snake palace, just always make sure the top is secure. Security latches save pets from making The Great Escape For more security, cover the enclosure with wire mesh or a fly screen. Some even recommend a little petroleum jelly spread around the top rim of the enclosure to aid in stopping erstwhile escapees but it can be unhealthy for their permeable skin so it is not recommended by your author.

Light and Warmth

Some reptiles have very particular needs when it comes to heating and lighting. Therefore, purchasing the right heat lamp and lighting for your new pet is vital, and depending on the reptile in question, some are able to get their heat and light from the same source. Most reptile habitats will require two different light bulbs: a bulb specifically designed to produce heat (often referred to as a heat bulb or basking bulb) and a bulb to provide visual/ultraviolet light. Let’s start with the visual/ultraviolet light. Not all ultra-violet (UV) light is the same. UV light is broken down into types based on the wavelength of the light emitted. For reptiles, we concentrate on UVA (visual) and UVB light (vitamin production). Diurnal reptiles which are active during the day in the wild require a UVB light to produce vitamin D and absorb calcium. Nocturnal reptiles likely do not require as much UV light provided they are supplied with a dietary source of vitamin D. Most reptiles should be on an approximately 12-hour light/dark cycle, which means they will need visible light for 12 hours per day to simulate daytime. You can also get a heating pad for the habitat or use heat tape, which is usually constructed of foil strips sealed plastic film. If you decide to use heat tape, a thermostat or a rheostat must regulate the temperature. This will extend the product’s life and prevent any accidental burns for your reptile. Make sure you do not bake your reptile but instead keep them cozy.

The Humidity

Some reptiles require a humid environment. Many owners choose an enclosure with a closed-top lid with some perforations. A mesh top cannot maintain a proper level of humidity. If using a solid lidded habitat, ensure proper ventilation and perforations but none that the pet that is in residence inside can possibly escape from, nor could prey feeder insects escape from. You can cut a hole the size of the heat lamp out of the enclosure’s top and carefully place the lamp in it. Some people choose to install a covered computer fan as well, but generally, that is only needed for more humidity needing species that may not get misted as they should. A Hygrometer and foggers and misters help maintain proper humidity in tropical terrariums for both animal health and hydration. Reptiles drink via their skin.

Beneath the Feet

Your pet’s terrain must be familiar to what it would find in its natural habitat. This could be anything that is non-toxic and mimics spongy and damp materials to a sandy substrate with digging areas to an environment that offers the reptile an area for swimming and dry land. The latter can be done by sloping downwards in an aquatic tank and placing rocks and trees limbs so that you can offer both a swimming pool and a place to dry off and catch some sunlamp. Commercially produced, sanitary and convenient tropical terrarium substrates include reptile bark, reptile soil, coconut husk, and moss. Desert terrarium substrates include specially formulated sands and reptile carpets. Never use soil from the garden shop or landscapers. Only get substrate materials designed for terrarium use.

Interior Decorating

You can put the plastic picture of a forest or lakeside in the habitat but it doesn’t really this offer your pet a feel of being home in nature. To make them feel safe and feel like they are in nature, fill the tank with whatever plants, rocks, branches, and other things that are appropriate for the reptile of your choice. There are aquarium plants and artificial that can create a convincing relaxing habitat for your reptile.  Make sure if won’t mold or get ruined my foggers or misters if a humid terrarium. Remember, a healthy pet is happy and to keep many reptiles happiest, many snakes and lizards, need hiding place or hollowed out log or nook to go escape to and relax and sleep in. They do not always want to be out in the open and in nature would certainly find a great hiding place.

This is just the bare bones of setting up a terrarium. There are many species of reptiles.  Each species has its own specific needs and preferences. Creating a place that is healthy and suited for your pet’s best welfare will make sure your reptile or even tarantula has a happy long life in its new pet apartment.

If you’re interested in owning a reptile (or even a tarantula, as they require similar habitats but without the water area as they are no aquatic tarantulas), you’re going to need a terrarium to keep it in.

A terrarium is simply a container designed to hold small plants or animals in a controlled environment. It’s like having a small piece of an alien landscape in your home, one in which you can watch that landscape from your side and view something in its natural habitat.

Melissa English was published for the first time at the age of 9. Since then she has published 17 books in her name and also writes under a pen name. Melissa loves working with clients and helping them to create the project, and the work of their dreams.

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