February 2013

February 2013

All the information listed here is based on my own experience, please carry out your own research before attempting to replicate anything on this site.


"On the fence about backgrounds"

Progress is being made in my slice of Central America. After lining my Honduran Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima incisa) enclosure with polycarbonate sheeting a couple of weeks ago, the plastic appearance has really grated on me, and I had to do something to try and make it look natural and rainforest-like again.

I've looked into most types of background for this enclosure. Expanding foam, polystyrene, grout, gorilla glue, silicone; all are commonly used to make fake rock walls for other reptiles, but involve a lot of fumes and drying times, not to mention the outcomes aren't always natural looking. Alternatively, I looked at the clay/soil mixes smeared on the polycarbonate, as used by some dart-frog keepers, however both the shear weight and requirement for this to be kept wet at all times posed a bit of a problem.

Ideally, I'd have liked to go with treefern panels, cork, or even cocofibre matting at a push, but all are very costly materials, and not economically viable for such a large tank. In the end, I came across bark screening sold as garden fencing. It was relatively easy to cut and install, and improves the rainforest look of the enclosure. I'd be lying if I said I was completely happy with it; there are a few issues such as the unnatural look of the binding wire, poor water retention for plants, and general dark colour, but I think these problems will become less evident as the plants begin to grow once more.

vivarium terrarium background, bark, wooden panelling, garden fencing, enclosure, tropical vivarium cork bark planted background, wooden, cocofibre, fencing, tropical sternotherus odoratus, common musk turtle, stinkpot, escaping, climbing

Speaking of plants, I've had a complete sell-out of kangaroo vines (Cissus antarctica). It's been a slight panic, as I had several orders just as I was due to give a presentation and attend a scientific gathering for a few days, but I managed to get everything posted off successfully. Sadly, it seems the supplier whom I originally purchased the vine seeds from is no longer trading, however I've managed to source a few to grow again. Vines such as Cissus antarctica and Maurandella antirrhiniflora have been a focus for me when it comes to growing vivarium plants, as they provide such interesting growth and literally merge with the habitat. I've got a few other species in the pipeline, but they're strictly under wraps for now!

Lastly, you might notice the picture of one of my adult female Musk turtles trying to make a break for freedom. Turtles are surprisingly good climbers, as I've found before with this particular turtle! I've had to increase the wooden walls around her tub, and fit some glass in place to stop her wandering.

There should be a couple of new articles coming out soon to look out for. If you would like any more information on anything, do send me an email at the address below!

Paul Edmondson

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