What is a screen terrarium?

greenhouse-not-screenhouseGreenhouses and screenhouses (the screen terrarium) are alternatives to the traditional terrarium when it comes to housing your exotic pets. A greenhouse can be the ideal environment to recreate the humidity of the tropics. You can either house your pets in individual terrariums within the greenhouse, or let them have the run of the place. If you go for the second option then you will find that it can be very difficult to stop the animals escaping as you open the doors. Taking the time to build double-entry doors can prevent this.

Make sure that your greenhouse is either on raised concrete blocks, of is built one foot or more into the ground. Ideally it should have a floor of poured concrete. These precautions will ensure that your predators, including those that burrow, are kept at bay.


When you set up a greenhouse, just as you would with a terrarium, you can create a specific theme.  There are a number of different types of terrarium (rainforest, desert, aquatic, semi-aquatic, woodlands and savanna), and with a greenhouse you can select a range of different species to live together as they would in the wild. Of course, you need to check that they are not predators of one another!

As well as selecting the right animals you will need to select the right range of plants. For example, for a tropical greenhouse begonias, anthuriums, and philodendrans will provide a good backdrop to basilisks (Basiliscus) and red-eyed tree frogs. Unfortunately there aren’t many snakes you can safely add to the tropical mix without having your frogs eaten.

Any animals that do well in humid conditions are suited for the greenhouse, such as the great green iguana (Iguana iguana) and the tiger rat snake (Spilotes pullates). This snake can give out some nasty bites though, so it is only recommended for experienced snake handlers. If you do have one you will notice that they are very adept climbers.

Screenhouses are just like greenhouses, but instead of glass walls they have wire mesh. They are suitable for hot climates, and for pets that do not like humidity. Some examples for reptile terrariums are the red-headed basilisk (Basiliscus galeritus) and the frilled lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii).

A feature of the screen terrarium is the long term plant planning that can be done, with ferns, orchids and bromeliads all thriving in the environment. Even if you have to move your pets during winter months, the plants can continue to be maintained and thrive.

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