Ideas for terrarium designs

If you’ve never been to a desert you’ll probably only know them from films and documentaries. But they rarely focus on what we are interested in: What does the soil look like? How are the stones layered? What do the caves where the animals take refuge look like?

Engaging with the habitat of the animals you plan to keep is really one of the most rewarding parts of terraristics. It may even incite you to take a trip to the home territories of the animals. However this can prove tricky. A trip to the home territories of the popular leopard gecko would land you pretty much in the centre of all the world’s crises spots: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, etc. Maybe the internet search will suffice after all.

Once you have selected a species and know that you are able to set up a terrarium with a suitable size, the fascinating research can begin:

  • Where exactly do the animals live?
  • Are they active in the day or during the night?
  • What are the local soil characteristics?
  • Which plants can be found in the habitat?
  • What are the abiotic factors, such as humidity, temperature and light?
  • What type of rock is there: granite, slate or red sandstone?

Habitats in the biotope

The term biotope refers to the habitat, comparable to a house. The habitat itself is like one room, say a kitchen. The indication "rainforests of Costa Rica" about the habitat is thus not very helpful. Does the frog hop on the ground or does it climb trees? Or both? The more information you can get, the sooner you’ll have a picture in your mind's eye about the decoration in the terrarium. If you then enter "Costa Rica rainforest" on google images, you will receive beautiful pictures of nature (and a lot of strangers grinning into the camera). These will help you to create a breath of Costa Rica in your terrarium. And a holiday in Costa Rica is healthier than one near the Afghan-Pakistani border, where no one would believe, that you were there for the leopard geckos.

A look at the picture galleries of JBL Expeditions can also help you. Since our focus is on the animals and their habitats, our pictures are often more helpful than those of "normal" tourists.

JBL expeditions

Pictures and reports of the JBL expeditions


All the biotopes encountered on the JBL expeditions are analysed. In aquatic biotopes we carry out water measurements, UV measurements, lux measurements at different depths under water and we also measure the current. You will find detailed reports with nature shots and measurement data about the respective research expedition here.

Find out more

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