Archive for the ‘Vivarium’ Category
We discovered snail eggs a couple of weeks ago. As you might expect, we’ve now discovered baby snails! At last count we had at least fifteen babies–and they are teeny tiny. In fact, they’re difficult to photograph. But, I tried. This is one of them crawling up a rock (see?)
And below, there is a photograph of one of them crawling up the side of the tank. Look at those little antennae!
Today, while adding soil to our vivarium we discovered more snail eggs. Hmmm, I wonder how many garden snails a person can maintain? Will I be able to feed them all? Will they just keep on making babies? Maybe I should release them in the Fall. Hmmm?
When we visited Shenk Park a few weeks ago we found a terrestrial salamander–a Redback Salamander in its leadback color phase. Excitedly we placed him in our portable terrarium along with one measly brown leaf. By the time we arrived home, he was dead.
I felt terrible.
On Friday we went to Shenk Park again. This time I was more prepared. I filled the portable terrarium with soil and added an ice cube. As we hiked the ice cube melted resulting in cool, moist soil. When we discovered another salamander–a Redback Salamander in its most common color phase. She was brilliant! Red-copper! Upon returning home we placed our salamander in our vivarium and she immediately scurried off and hid amongst the rocks. When night fell, she emerged.
Scurrying around the perimeter of the vivarium she looked happy as can be…slipping in and out of rocks, under and around obstacles. “Goodnight Smyrtle,” we called. We named her Smyrtle–Smyrtle Salamander.
This morning I found Smyrtle on the carpet. Dead. She had escaped the screen on top of the vivarium…
I imagine she died almost immediately. As a lungless amphibian, the Redback Salamander is unable to survive in dry conditions. The moment she hit the pile of the carpet I am sure she was tangled–in fact, she had carpet fibers stuck to her little body. As a result, I am swearing off salamanders. No more salamanders will be taken from their natural habitat only to die in our company.
Please consider choosing appropriate animals when building a vivarium–and definitely make sure your enclosure is secure. We considered Smyrtle’s size and neither Michael nor I believed she could fit through the screen. Well, she did.
A few weeks ago we created what we termed a “roly poly terrarium.” Soon after, we discovered another species of roly poly, so we created a second “roly poly terrarium.” A week or so after that, we found a snail and decided that we needed perhaps to combine the three habitats into one vivarium.
We purchased an inexpensive 10-gallon aquarium (including a screen lid) at PetSmart. I began by forming a hill in one corner of the aquarium…so I could plant a weed–part of the roly polies shelter and diet. I poked a hole in the center of the 5″ tall hill and carefully replanted the roots of the plantain that had been in our first roly poly terrarium.
Next, I sifted soil taken from our backyard compost over the hill and the bottom of the aquarium (2″ deep). Why sift the soil into the aquarium? If you own a compost you know what resides there…if you do not, think: various kinds of earthworms, millipedes, centipedes, earwigs, etc.
I added smoothed rocks (purchased at Dollar Tree) that I had washed and dried. The smaller rocks I placed around the base of the hill and in one corner and a few larger rocks, I placed randomly. I added a piece of bark that we had found in the woods–to serve as shelter for Snaily. And, a miniature terra cotta pot (’cause it looked cute!). I added a chunk of limestone to the aquarium–as it is good for snails’ shell development and strength! And finally…misted it thoroughly. Why? Snails and pill bugs require a moist environment. Once everything was set up…we added our roly polies and Snaily!
As you can see, a vivarium is not particularly difficult to set up, nor is it difficult to maintain. In fact, the only maintenance involved includes misting the soil and rocks and…changing the lettuce. We added a sea shell filled with corn meal recently.
Since starting our vivarium we’ve learned quite a bit about its inhabitants. We’ve learned that Snaily is primarily nocturnal–choosing to come out of his log or from beneath the rocks in the evening…so he may dine on lettuce. He does not like tomatoes, strawberries or cantaloupe (but, the baby roly polies like it). He prefers to “poop” inside his log (oftentimes on the interior roof of it) and one more thing…
Snaily is going to be a mommy/daddy! Snails are hermaphrodites; we generally call Snaily he, though. As you can see, apparently when we found Snaily he was ready to deposit some eggs–because yesterday, he did! This neat little pile of eggs was discovered by me this morning…and according to our research, the eggs will hatch in 2-4 weeks. Stay tuned…