Part of the fun in having a reptile for a pet is decorating their habitat, am I right? After all, many reptiles are better as display pets than interactive companions. For habitat décor, live plants look way better than the fake stuff, and as a bonus, they benefit from the UV lights you’re already using in the reptile’s tank. But you can’t just put any plant into a terrarium. Like dogs, cats, rabbits, or pretty much any pet, you have to keep certain plants away from exotic pets. So here’s a rundown of the plants you can safely put in with your snakes and lizards, and the ones you cannot.
We talked in a previous article about how Boston ferns are difficult to care for. But if you’re willing to put in the time, they are terrific at cleaning toxins from your terrarium.
If you have a desert reptile, like a collared lizard, then a cactus makes perfect sense as a terrarium plant. They’re famous for being easy to care for.
If you want something with a bit of color, African violets are safe flowers to place in a terrarium. They don’t require a lot of direct sunlight, so they’re good for growing in enclosed spaces. But you will need to keep lights on them to keep them healthy.
Fuchsias are another colorful flower. They hang upside down, so they’re great for taller enclosures for climbing pets, like chameleons. This plant thrives in shade, so you don’t need the UV lights right on it.
The spider plant is a specimen that was on our list of plants that are good for air quality. They’re sprawling leaves and spiderettes create plenty of coverage for reptiles to hide. And they stand up to less-than-ideal growing situations.
What better foliage to adorn the home of your snake than a snake plant. Snake plants have a characteristic that you want in terrarium plants--they don’t need daily care. That means you can check on your plants when you feed your snake.
Any of the live plants on this list are good options for safe habitat décor. Also check out this list of plants that can be toxic to your exotic pet.
Other reasons to keep terrarium plants
Having plants in the terrarium doesn’t just improve appearances. They can actually help your pets to be healthier. Keeping plants reduces air pollution and removes nitrate left by animal waste. Plants use that nitrate as a fertilizer. That means your plants and your exotic pets can form a mutually beneficial ecosystem.
Plants can also be a good way to measure the overall health of your terrarium. If you select plants that prefer the same kind of climate as your pet, then unhealthy plants can be a sign that your terrarium has problems that could also be affecting your animal. Live plants also provide oxygen and humidity to reptile enclosures. Additionally, they provide hiding spots for your pet, which eases stress.
If you have questions about whether a particular plant is safe for your reptile, send us a message.