Help in choosing plants for a "tropical rain garden" needed

MoreliaJanuary 8, 2013

I'm looking for plants that would thrive in a tropical rain garden. I'm constructing a terrarium for a dessert lizard. The cage is very arid and most of their water they get through their food. I am constructing an oasis for him, though, in which he will get a bath anywhere from once every other week to two times a week depending on the time of year. I want this oasis to be planted, and would like some suggestions as to what to plant there. The plants will be under about 5 inches of water when he is getting his bath, but the water should subside beneath the soil level within a day or two, and the soil will most likely become almost completely dry before the process is done again. I was thinking a Hibiscus and some grasses or something. The lizard will nibble on plants, so as many options as possible are needed so I can investigate if they'd be potentially toxic to him. The cage will also be quite warm--between 80 and 105 degrees depending on the time of year/day, and be under a good full spectrum light with UVA and UVB rays.
Thank you all in advance for your help!

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paul_(z5 MI)

You doing a beardie or uro, I'm guessing?

In any event, though I had to burst your bubble, you are best off:

1) Make VERY sure that extra humidity and moisture will not be a hazard to your lizard. Many of the arid dwellers are prone to fungal infections if their home is not kept very dry -- and water draining into the soil will not dry out quickly.

2) Go with fake plants -- seriously. Attempting to keep live plants in with a herp is not an easy thing.
a) If you keep conditions sufficiently arid for the lizard, the plants will suffer/die because it will be far too dry for them unless you go with some of the cacti or succulents.
b) Cacti present obvious safety hazards (spines and some contain poisons) and many succulents contain compounds to make them unpalatable to animals.
c) Furthermore, giving plants the lighting they require for healthy growth is not easy (and in a vivarium is extremely problematic for cacti, many succulents and even other plants). Remember, just because the light seems bright enough for our eyes, that does not mean it is bright enough for the plants' needs.
d) In addition to all this, herps are notorious for digging plants up, knocking them over, or crushing/breaking the plants as they sit on them or run over them. (For the latter, think of how quickly grass in a lawn gets matted down and killed off when people or dogs repeatedly walk over it. It does not take long.)

Not trying to be a wet blanket, but while I understand your desire to design a neat, naturalistic set up, the reality is that it simply is not a practical idea.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 4:25PM
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