Termite Mound Shell

Enrichment Termite Mound for Meerkats

A project I am currently working on is a termite mound for installation in an indoor meerkat (Suricata suricatta) enclosure. Currently the enclosure is a mix of pebbles, sand, dirt, and rocks to simulate a natural substrate for the meerkats.
This zoo features multiple other termite mounds made of concrete, but they are heavy and cumbersome. The initial need for this mound was to find a way to create one that was small enough to get through the doors to the building, while being light enough to lift over a glass wall without the use of machines.
Termite Mound ShellTo start, I built the initial mass out of recycled newspaper and garbage bags. This is a great talking point for the zoo docents and helps bring sustainability into the conversation. In order to create a more realistic shell, expanding foam was used to create more detail. At this point it is starting to resemble a mound, probably more like a volcano at this point, but that is specifically for a reason.  Something I will get back to later.

The brown spots throughout the mid section of the shell are enrichment areas. The mound represents one that is actively being raided by meerkats, so there are broken steeples, and cavities throughout.  As a note, we had some fire block foam which is orange, so that is what the initial lower layer is.

I will add to this blog post as I progress.  Please feel free to add a comment/ask a question below.


Golden Gecko Build

Jungle Tank for Gecko

Distribution of Golden Gecko

Screenshot of map found on: http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Gekko&species=badenii


Recently I had the chance to do a very quick jungle tank build for a client and their golden gecko (Gekko badenii).  These geckos are used to a humid, tropical forest environment like found in Vietnam and surrounding areas. Like a lot of other geckos, the Golden Gecko has toe-pads which help it cling to vertical climbing surfaces. Because of this, I wanted to leave as many glass surfaces in tact as possible to encourage natural climbing behavior.

I only had one day to plan, get supplies, and build two tanks, so I was a bit limited in the materials I could collect.  Because of this, I built out of Great stuff, silicone, and some natural materials.  Using recycled materials from their prior tanks was also a priority.

 Golden Gecko Build

The completed 29 Gallon tank with a sensitive plant in front, and various ferns, a parlor palm, and some mosses.

After foaming in the plant mounts and various ledges, a quick coat of 100% silicone, and a coating of bark, coconut husk, moss, mulch and other natural materials makes a sealed soil layer.  from here I made a mix for the plants, and a mix for the rest of the land mass.

Once the silicone is cured, the land mass is set, and the plants are planted, a final cleanup is made.  From here, the animal can be reintroduced.  I also made a removable hide that is on the front right side of the tank.  This was made so the gecko has a traditional hide, but also for future use of the tank if the client wants to use it for a different jungle animal.




Tropical Tarantula Build

Tropical Tarantula Vivarium

This tropical tarantula vivarium was built for a Trinidad Chevron (Psalmopoeus cambridgei) is a tropical arboreal tarantula from the island of Trinidad.  While most people keep tarantulas in small enclosures, I think they are the perfect exhibit animal for larger naturalistic vivariums.  Nothing like a tarantula for a conversation starter!  Anyways, for this I used the very first epoxy tree in this 37 gallon hex originally, but as my abilities progressed, I disliked the tree more and more. 
I switched from epoxy to a natural hardscape as well.  I used our exclusive American Chestnut stump vivarium wood.  I used a variety of medium, small, and extra small pieces of wood along with live soil as well as select tropical plants and mosses.  I still have to plant this a little more.  The gallery will be updated when I do that.
A small gallery of the build is below.

Psalmopoeus cambridgei

What to do on a rainy day in Western NY? Build a vivarium

Psalmopoeus cambridgei

The Trinidad Chevron Tarantula (Psalmopoeus cambridgei)

Since today is a rainy day here in WNY, I will be working on a few smaller vivariums for some of my personal animals.  I only have a small collection right now, but I have some pretty interesting animals, including a number of tarantulas, leaf tail geckos, and some frogs.

I am moving some animals around while I remake their vivariums, so a variety of animals will be switching around.  One of the animals that is moving up to a larger vivarium is the Trinidad Chevron Tarantula (Psalmopoeus cambridgei).

The Trinidad Chevron is a tropical species that is endemic to the island of Trinidad.  A very fast and generally moody tarantula, the Trinidad Chevron constructs tube webs, and feeds and breeds easily in captivity.

My tarantula is going in a 37 gallon hexagon tank.  I will be using pieces of American Chestnut Vivarium Wood as the main hardscape feature. Currently in the 37 hex is a Brazilian Salmon that isn’t quite the exhibit animal my neighbor wanted.  I will be trading out the salmon for the chevron because the chevron will be a much more active tarantula in the proper conditions.

To see the vivarium I put together with one of our chestnut packs, click here!