We associate heat and severe drought with the desert habitat. What catches our attention when we look closer at the reptiles’ habitats are the extreme temperature fluctuations. Especially at night there are enormous drops in temperature. Many reptiles change location during the day to actively influence their ambient temperature. They go in and out of the sun. But when it’s very hot, plenty of animals stay in the cool shade all day.
To observe typical behaviour patterns, we need to simulate the conditions of the habitat in the terrarium. This is the only way the animals can relax. Animals need a certain temperature for their territorial struggles, their mating rituals and their metabolic processes. That’s why it’s vital to always provide both sunny areas and cooler, shady zones to retreat into. Do not use any substrate heating in the shady zones. Humidity and wind, which fluctuate within a day and within a month, are also influencing factors.
In the desert temperatures of 50-60 “C can be reached temporarily in places. In spring, with cool air temperatures and strong winds, the animals often need to sunbathe extensively to reach their preferred temperatures. In high summer, on the other hand, they avoid the sun’s rays – we are talking about air temperatures of 38 °C and no wind – so as not to overheat past their optimum temperature (which for many desert species is between 32-42 °C).
How to set up different temperature zones and temperature drops in your terrarium?
All kinds of sand are suitable as a substrate (i.e. JBL TerraSand rosso natura , JBL TerraSand giallo natura o JBL TerraSand bianco natura ) You can model a landscape with the red JBL TerraSand, which has a moist consistency. During the drying process it partially hardens. This way you can build caves and crevices which are ideal as areas to retreat and as shaded areas. According to the animal’s needs the terrarium can be equipped with stones, woods or caves. To protect the animals and the glass the stone constructions need to be stuck together ( JBL Haru ). Suitable plants, such as succulents or the likes, round off the picture.
In the 2nd part of the series we will be reporting on the topic of light, and in the 3rd part about heating a desert terrarium.
You will find more information about the subject „My Terrarium“ under: Terrario