Choosing Terrarium Pets
Whether you are thinking about reptile terrariums or amphibian terrariums there are plenty of terrarium pets for you to choose from. First you need to decide the type of habitat that you want to recreate – desert, savanna, rainforest, aquatic, semi-aquatic, woodland – and then do some research to see which animals are suitable for the environment. Of course you could do it the other way around if there is a particular tropical pet that you have your eye on, and in this article we are going to give you a few ideas of animals for each habitat.
You can select the same animals for both the woodland and rain forest terrariums as these are similar in terms of plant life, heating, humidity and lighting requirements.
The ground skink (Scincella lateralis) is native to North America, and can be found in the eastern woodlands. They can survive on a diet of insects, and grows to a length of just under five inches. They like to hide under branches and leaves so make sure that your set up has some suitable areas of cover. With then dark brown stripes these are not the most colorful lizard, but they are very active and provide hours of entertainment when viewed.
If you would prefer an amphibian then woodland salamanders are a good option. There a number of different species, including:
- Caddo Mountain Salamander (Plethodon caddoensis)
- Valley And Ridge Salamander (P. hoffmani)
- Jordan’s Salamander (P. jordani)
- Ozark Zig Zag Salamander (P. d. angusticlavius)
- Eastern Zig Zag Salamander (P. d. dorsalis)
They thrive in a damp woodland terrarium, and unlike other salamanders they deposit their eggs on land, rather than in the water.
The tortoise is ideally suited to a savanna set-up, and even breeding is manageable as long as you mimic the changing of the seasons, and provide the correct substrate for the tortoise to be able to dig a nest. One thing to be mindful of is the size that your species will grow to. If you are planning to keep them in a terrarium all the time then a tortoise that does not grow beyond ten inches in length is suitable. A lot of tortoises grow bigger than that so do you research. One thing that appeals to a lot of owners is that tortoises are herbivorous.
Many geckos are native to the savanna such as the Moorish wall gecko and the ocelot gecko (Paroedura pictus). Ocelot geckos can be pretty vocal, and many owners enjoy the rodent-like squeaks that they make. They are small (five inches), nocturnal lizards that should be kept in a terrarium with temperatures of between 82 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most people think of lizards and snakes when it comes to the desert, but some amphibians also make it their home. The common green toad is just one of these, and there are both eastern and western species. They are not the easiest pet to get hold of those so if you are interested then your local exotic pet club is probably the best place to inquire.
When it comes to lizards you have an amazing array to choose from. One interesting species is the collared lizard which has amazing colors, with orange spots. They can move incredibly fast, and even run on two legs. Other reptiles that you can consider for the desert terrarium are great plains skinks, Schneider’s skinks, desert iguanas and spiny-tailed agamids.
Frogs and toads are the standard choices, but many owners go for more exotic options such as caecilians, snakes, spiders or beetles. Let’s take a look at some of these more unusual pets.
Fishing spiders, or dolomedes, is a genus of large spiders of the family Pisauridae. They are also known as raft spiders, dock spiders or wharf spiders. To keep them in a terrarium you will need to provide some dry area out of the water, from this vantage point they will feed on any other insects in the tank. Another aquatic spider (in name at least) is the water scorpion, which is in fact an insect and it is very similar in appearance to the Indian stick insect. If you are looking for something even more unusual then look no further than the tentacled snake, which is fully aquatic and will grow to an impressive three feet. The tentacled snake is relatively easy to keep in captivity.
Turtles are the obvious candidate for a semi-aquatic set up since they enjoy basking almost as much as they do swimming. You can choose from a range of mud turtles, Florida red-bellied turtles, Mississippi map turtles, musk turtles, and more. Salamanders, frogs and newts also thrive in this environment. American leopard frogs (Rana Pipiens Complex) are worth considering just because of the curious grunting noises they make!