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.
The animals are of course the highlight of any enclosure. They take centre-stage, like great actors, but what is the point in showing off a great actor in a dull theatre? Great naturalistic vivariums can be created based on the animals native habitats, which with the addition of live plants not only look great, but actually grow and mature alongside the residents, almost having a character of their own.
So with that rather lengthy explanation, I'd like to propose some of the changes to my Rhinoclemmys enclosure. Having initially placed a Swisscheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) in the enclosure for some early greenery, I was delighted to discover not only that it had made itself quite at home, and put out a huge root network and begun cementing itself to the walls of the vivarium, but is also infact a native of Central and South America, where these turtles naturally inhabit.
With that in mind, I have added another Swiss Cheese Plant, and will soon add Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and young papaya plants (Carica papaya).
Before using any plants in a vivarium please research them for potential toxins or irritants. Please do not assume that the ones I use are safe, often I use plants with known toxins, as long as I can be sure the animal has no way of ingesting them (such as in enclosures of purely insectivorous species where the prey insects do not get a chance to feed on any of the plants.)
I made the mistake of purchasing a Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) this week for my slider enclosure, thinking that I had researched it and found it non-toxic. Only after the unfortunate purchase did I remember that I had researched Canna Lilies (Canna sp.), and deemed them suitable, and after a quick google of 'Calla Lily Toxic', found that my new purchase was highly unsuitable for any of my enclosures!
Other news aside from botanics! Another of my Congo Green Praying Mantids has moulted into its adult form, a very large female specimen, which I shall be attempting to pair up with the male that moulted shortly before the last update. Congos take about 4 weeks to become fully mature, so all going to plan I may have some more exciting news about nymphs by the end of October!
And while on the subject of counting eggs before they hatch, I recently aquired two small Convict Cichlids, which as with everything I buy in pairs (socks excluded) I hope will turn out to be a breeding pair. Still a long way off but here's hoping.
If you have any questions or would like further details, click on the letter icon to send me an email.
It's always nice to see a project come together. I've finally managed to get the new Columbian Rainbow Boa tank looking somewhat natural, with the new plywood "false walls" lined with cocofibre, and a selection of plants in place. I wouldn't say it's finished, but it's a dramatic change from the metal cage it was before (flick back to May's journal entries in the menu to see some photos of when I first got the tank in place!).
Another, somewhat surprising completetion this week, was the final moult of one of my Congo Green Praying Mantis nymphs. I now have a slim, winged male, which should be mature and ready for breeding in 5 or 6 weeks. This is the first of my 4 nymphs to mature, so I'm hoping to get atleast one female out of the other 3! All going well I may have a few nymphs of this species available for sale in the coming months. I have to say, they are very interesting creatures to watch, and it feels like a great achievement to get one of the tiny nymphs I bought in March up to their impressive adult size.
I wanted to elaborate on the Rainbow Boa tank for this update, before I publish a full guide to the enclosure in the next few months. As the picture shows, I have used an aquarium for the water bowl, which will be camoflaged by more plants and soil soon. Rainbow Boas often behave in a manner similar to anaconda species, sumberging themselves in with the head sticking out, which this aquarium allows me to view very clearly!
The tank's metal sides and floor make it strong and lightweight compared to glass, but ugly and cold, so they have been lined with exterior plywood, which I have siliconed coco-fibre matting to. I hope to grow creeping plants and mosses up this, but it could take a while!
The roof of the tank is barred like a large hamster cage, so I have placed plate glass on top to retain humidity. Above the tank, a 60W spotlight is used for heat and light. I have placed a large log close to the roof of the enclosure so that the snake can bask in the higher temperatures there if it wishes. Rainbow Boas are semi-aboreal and have no problem climbing about!
All the duckweed I placed with my turtle species hasn't done very well, due to the strong currents of most of my enclosures, and the turtles' appetites for it. I won't be placing large amounts directly into the aquariums to grow from now on because of the mess it made, but I've kept some in a spare tank to grow as a food source
And lastly, I thought I'd showcase one of my less photographed insectivores - my albino axolotl. This big guy is over a foot long, and has been in my care for nearly 3 years. They are very low maintenance exotics, with a lot of amazing biology behind their evolution, including the ability to regrow limbs! This old timer is one of the next to receive an upgrade, as his current digs aren't up to the standard of all my other exotics.
Well I hope you enjoyed the update, if there's anything you want to know that I haven't covered, don't hesitate to emal me,