Biologically active substrates in the terrarium

Published on:

Before we decide what we want to breed in the terrarium, we must prepare ourselves. We read descriptions of the breeding conditions of a given species, talk on internet forums, and ask experienced exotic animals experts. We wonder what species we like and whether we will be able to provide captive conditions as close as possible to those in which a given animal lives in nature.

When we have the terrarium and the necessary equipment, it is time to choose the substrate. And here the stairs begin. We have a huge selection of commercial substrates, the producers of which ensure that only their products are natural and only thanks to them we will provide our pets with the best conditions. However, we are not always willing to buy them.

- Advertisement -

We are not able to accurately recreate the biotope, i.e. the entire ecosystem in which a given species lives. Those who do not want to keep their pet on paving stones, paper towels, corn litter, wood shavings or commercial substrate from the store choose another option. They prepare the substrate themselves, taking soil from the garden, forest or garden shop. They mix different types of soil, sand, peat and clay to get the composition and properties most suited to the natural environment of the animal.

The litter can be used to create a biologically active substrate for the terrarium
The litter can be used to create a biologically active substrate for the terrarium, image credit: Maciej Sowa/ Zwierzkawdomu

What is a biologically active medium? What are the benefits of having a substrate with a miniature ecosystem in the terrarium?

Some people are afraid that microorganisms and various creatures living in the ground will harm their pet. That the litter, especially in tropical terrariums, will rot. They burn and roast everything that they bring from the environment with the intention of placing it in the terrarium, getting rid of all biology. However, a large group of Polish exotic animals specialists, following the example of foreign breeders and scientists studying reptiles in their natural habitats, went a step further. They created biologically active substrates in their terrariums, i.e. those in which earthworms, springtails, centipedes, piglets, sometimes twists, beetles and crickets live. They did not sterilize, rinse, scald or roast anything they collected on the plot, garden or field. They placed a piece of the ecosystem from our climate in the terrarium, added oak leaves, bark, twigs, pieces of turf together with all creatures. In other words, they created a complete and closed cycle of matter in the terrarium.

Effects? These experts claim that their pets are more active on such a surface, they are more likely to dig, burrow and run. And they don’t get sick, they don’t even have parasites. In addition, the faeces do not necessarily have to be removed by us. They are quickly broken down by the microorganisms inhabiting the litter and transformed into substances used by plants planted in the substrate. In such a terrarium, with proper ventilation, there is neither mold nor bad smell. Bioactive substrates can be used in the terrarium for many years without the need to replace them. In addition, their own production is much cheaper than purchasing commercial bedding.

It should be remembered that collecting and destroying litter in state forests is subject to a fine of up to PLN 250 under Art. 163 of the Code of Petty Offenses

Terrarium reflecting the bottom of a tropical forest inhabited by Geosesarma hagen ‘Red Devil’ crabsphoto: Paweł Korzec
Terrarium reflecting the bottom of a tropical forest inhabited by Geosesarma hagen ‘Red Devil’ crabs
photo: Paweł Korzec
- Advertisement -

More in Animal At Home

About this category

Animal at home is a project derived from the Polish portal dedicated to domestic pets, which I run. This blog category features the best articles I have created with pet experts. Together, we help educate their current and future owners.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jakub Markiewicz
Jakub Markiewicz
Hi, I am the author of the blog and series of thematic portals since 2013. I have nearly 15 years of experience in working in the media, marketing, public relations and IT. If you are interested in cooperation, you would like me to write about something or test a product - let me know.