Habitat Construction: Woodland/Rainforest Terrarium

Half the fun of reptile and amphibian keeping is building their environments to be as natural as possible*—so let’s get building!

Materials you’ll need:

  • Terrarium (tank) and stands
  • Substrates (material to construct floor of terrarium, such as river pebbles or gravel)
  • Filter material, such as air conditioning filter or screen
  • Topsoil (no fertilizers added)
  • Real plants (seasonal) – gathered from a woodland area
  • Cage “furniture” – rocks and logs
  • Lighting and top screen
  • Basking heater, depending on species
  • Plastic bowl or container that can be recessed into the soil and act as a pond for swimming
  • Water bottle plant-mister to keep plants moist and healthy
Building, step by step:
  • Place the unit on a stand.
  • Line the bottom of the tank with river rock or gravel.
  • Place filter material or double thickness of plastic screening on top of the river rock.
  • Arrange the “furniture” by placing heavier rocks and logs over the substrate. NOTE: If there’s a chance your herps will get trapped by moving the rocks, affix rocks and logs in place using an aquarium sealant.
  • Add one to four inches of topsoil as desired.
  • Add the recessed swimming area.
  • Add plants and moss as desired.
  • Put a screen cover (sized for the tank) on top. Depending on how much humidity is in the air where you live and how much your pets require, you may choose a closed top or a screen top.
  • Add lighting. Again, depending on the needs of your particular pet, be sure to provide one or more appropriate areas with hot spots for basking.
  • NOTE: If you’re housing only amphibians, fluorescent full-spectrum lighting may be all you need.

In addition to Woodland/Rainforest habitats, the most common types of environments for reptiles and amphibians include Desert, Aquatic, and Semi-Aquatic. To learn more, or to see step-by-step instructions, just click on the links.

*As always, we encourage you to do as much research as you can before you purchase your reptile or amphibian. Especially regarding temperature, feeding, and lighting requirements––each living creature has its own specific needs.

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