Any terrarium owner can experience mites and mould. It isn’t always a problem, but can become one when some factors are overlooked out of carelessness, or the owner does not know about a few necessary precautions, and they are therefore not taken. That’s why we’re using this post to provide both information on preventive measures and solutions for any problems encountered.
Before we start it’s important to understand that mould spores in the air will always find a way into the terrarium and therefore can never be totally avoided. Even mites or lice will find their way into the terrarium. It doesn’t have to be a problem. By using natural materials and plants, you are inevitably creating the ideal settlement area for them. It is important to know that not every infestation is dangerous for your animals. Nevertheless, you need to limit their prevalence and you need to take action when you notice them.
What causes the problem?
Since the reasons may be complex and go beyond the scope of this post, we would like to highlight the 4 most common factors that cause them.
Waterlogging: A lot of terrarium inhabitants need a high humidity, damp substrate or even swimming space. As a result waterlogging in the soil can quickly occur and this not only harms the plants, but also offers mould spores an ideal settlement area. Please check regularly whether the soil is not just moist, but has water at the bottom. Through a drainage layer, e.g, with JBL Manado , you can prevent the moisture from remaining in the damp soil and causing mould.
Maintenance: Our professional and private commitments can sometimes cause us to neglect our terrariums. As a result there may be traces of excrement here and there, the water bowl is not cleaned or the monitoring is not as careful as usual. Please remember that this is detrimental to your animals and should really not become the rule. The lack of hygiene in your terrarium can quickly lead to its infestation with mould or mites.
Natural decoration: Natural plants, such as bromeliads or woods with bark from the forest, are particularly popular. You need to be aware that they are already infested with "inhabitants". That’s why it can be advisable to purchase dedicated terrarium accessories which offer a lot of advantages. If you cannot find the materials you want and source them elsewhere, check the plants you use for unwanted dwellers, rinse them with water before introduction and possibly leave them in isolation for a few days. Wood and other decorative elements need to be thoroughly cleaned and, if necessary, treated with heat. Whether you use hot water or dry them in the oven at 80 ° C is up to you.
Ventilation: This point is often related to waterlogging, but it still needs to be considered separately. The air circulation in the terrarium will never be even. Thus you will quickly have corners that are more humid than others. In the worst case, this creates real "rotting areas". Make sure you maintain good permanent or daily ventilation in the terrarium to make sure that the necessary moisture does not escape, but still creates a healthy climate. Many terrariums on the market have devices integrated into them to do this job for you. Only those with "DIY solutions" need to worry about this. Round kitchenware grids will help to ensure ventilation. Ventilation grids can be positioned as needed at the top, the front and at the side panels.
Have you found mould in your terrarium? Then it is time to act. Smaller patches/corners of mould can be dealt with by either removing an extensive area of substrate or just the affected area. When the infestation is more widespread we recommend a complete replacement with a subsequent disinfection. You can use JBL Desinfekt (Use biocides carefully. Always read label and product information before use. Registered at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health under BAUA number N-55811) for this. Mould connects to the material through "threads", so scratching is not enough and would even accentuate its distribution. Woods and stones can be “boiled”. Artificial materials allow disinfection with JBL Desinfekt (Use biocides carefully. Always read label and product information before use. Registered at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health under BAUA number N-55811) .
If waterlogging has caused too much water in the bottom area, you can replace the complete substrate or try to siphon off the excess water, remove the animals and carry out a "quick drying" with a fan. In all cases the mould needs to be removed over a large area.
The moment you see mites, you can assume that the infestation is already widespread. The best places to check are the water bowl (here are usually black dots to be seen), the wood and your animals themselves. If the whole ground is already teeming, there is an acute need for action.
Take your animals out of the terrarium, give them, if possible, a "bath" or free them from the mites and empty the terrarium. The terrarium can be washed out with hot water and disinfected with JBL Desinfekt (Use biocides carefully. Always read label and product information before use. Registered at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health under BAUA number N-55811) . Plants can be roughly cleaned in a water bath, wood and stones washed off with hot water and brushed. The use of so-called mite sprays that are used on rodents can kill other animals (e.g. snakes), as they can cause lung problems. A further cleaning and disinfection needs to be repeated after 7-10 days to remove any eggs you missed the first time.
If you have additional information for our readers, please use the comment function at the bottom and share your experiences or tips in dealing with mould or mites, telling us which precautions you took to avoid them.