First terrarium: the 5 essential elements

The current trend to host a reptile in your home like a snake, gecko or other is becoming stronger and it is advisable to be well equipped. Reptiles live in a terrarium, a sort of miniature reconstituted biotope, a bit like an aquarium where the water is replaced by a substrate a few centimeters thick. But setting up a terrarium cannot be improvised with a snap of the fingers, it is important to pay serious attention to it, there are rules to follow and a minimum of preparation to grant.

1/ The terrarium

In glass or Plexiglas, it will welcome the lizard, the snake or the gecko. It is the inevitable and essential equipment. As a general rule, we tend to opt for a terrarium that is too big for our animal, whereas a 30x30x30 terrarium is the perfect size to start with. As far as the volume of the terrarium is concerned, care must be taken to ensure that the equipment inside is not too confined and remains in conformity with the terrarium (risk of overheating, failure of the regulation system, etc.).
Sliding doors are recommended to gain maximum space and also for their practicality. Do not forget to ensure that there is ventilation/ventilation for air renewal.

2/ The thermostat

The thermostat is a crucial element of the terrarium because it is on it that the survival of the reptile will depend by regulating the temperature of the enclosure. There are several models, some can even control the temperature as much day and night, while others, even more modern, have a digital display for accuracy to within a tenth of a degree.

3/ Heating

Three main types of heating are available:

  • The heating cable which is perfect to delimit a warm zone and a cooler zone in the home (the heat comes from the ground and it is very easy to install).
  • The heating mat which is designed to be outside the terrarium.
  • The heating lamp, infrared lamp (adding light in addition to heating) or ceramic lamp.

4/ The lighting

Daylight plays a big role in a terrarium because it will allow the reptile to distinguish between day and night.
Whether you choose a spotlight, a neon, a light bulb, the important thing is to choose the one that suits you and that fits well with all the equipment of the terrarium. Some recommend lights with UVB to synthesize calcium from the animals.

5/ The substrate

It is very important to choose your substrate according to the animal: a snake and a gecko do not necessarily evolve on the same type of ground and their needs are not identical.
One finds thus :

  • Sand: not recommended because it can obstruct the intestinal and digestive tracts of the animal.
  • Calci-sand: it is a variety of sand made entirely of calcium. The risk is that the animal may ingest it.
  • Beech wood shavings: this is probably the most commonly used substrate because it does not present any danger to the animal, whatever it is. Moreover, it is aesthetic, economical and helps the reptile during its moult.

Other accessories can be added such as decoration, hiding places which are important, a humidity box (humidifier) to have a fresh point in the terrarium, a water point also to hydrate the animal.