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Reptile Gardens: Attracting Terrestrial and Aquatic Invertebrates – Part 3

Please see Parts I and II of this article for information on growing terrestrial and aquatic food plants for reptiles and amphibians.

Aquatic Invertebrates

A startling variety of aquatic invertebrates will likely establish themselves in almost any body of standing water, be it a backyard pond or a container of water on a fire escape in the heart of a busy city (the adults of most aquatic insects are winged, and quickly locate new breeding sites).  Ranging in size from tiny Daphnia to quite large dragonfly nymphs, all are fine food items for insectivorous herps, and make wonderful aquarium subjects as well.

You can also use an outdoor pond to breed snails, guppies, crayfish and other useful food animals.

Terrestrial Invertebrates

Your reptile garden will, in addition, attract numerous terrestrial insects.  All are interesting to observe and many can be collected to feed to your collection (a Bug Napper Insect Trap situated near a garden will provide a great nightly haul).

Flowering gardens are also important as feeding sites for pollinating insects, many of which are in serious decline.  Over 80% of the world’s plants and 90% of US food crops rely upon insect pollinators.

A Bonus…Observing Garden Visitors

You are sure to come across some interesting finds, as invertebrate diversity, even in temperate areas, is astounding.

An acre of Pennsylvania soil, for example, can host 425 million individual invertebrates (including 2 million tasty earthworms!) and New York State is home to 4,125 species of beetles.  Over 11,000 different types of moths may be found in the USA, and new species are constantly being uncovered in the most unlikely of places…be sure to check those captured in your Bug Napper carefully before popping them into a terrarium!

Further Reading

The leaf fall that gathers below your plants and trees will quickly become populated by an unbelievable assortment of millipedes, springtails, sow bugs, beetles and other creatures.  Many of these, especially the smaller invertebrates, are vital foods for tiny poison frogs and other small herps.  For information on collecting and using this free food source, please see my article on Leaf Litter Invertebrates.

Image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Alvesgaspar

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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