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Bioactive for Invertebrates: Is it Really Necessary?


So you’ve probably heard about bioactive setups for reptiles and amphibians, and you know that having a naturalistic environment can provide enrichment and health benefits to herps. What about invertebrates like tarantulas and scorpions, though? Is it worthwhile to go to the trouble of creating a bioactive enclosure for these animals?

Let’s look at the benefits so you can decide for yourself…

Plants help scorpions, tarantulas, and isopods breathe

Tarantulas and scorpions breathe through a set of organs called book lungs. Book lungs are similar to gills and tend to cause water loss for the animal. Having real plants in the enclosure generates more humidity. That humidity helps to counteract the moisture lost through respiration.


Isopods also need a moist environment to breathe. They do not have book lungs like the tarantulas. Instead, they actually do breathe through a set of gills. The gills must be kept moist because isopods can perish quickly if their gills dry out.

Plants indicate humidity levels

When plants get dry, they start to droop. If the plants in your enclosure are dry, that means the air is too dry for invertebrates, too. By keeping an eye on the state of the plants, you’ll know when it’s time to add more hydration to the habitat.

Wet leaves

In fact, you can even create a bit of a humidity gradient by putting plants only on one side of the setup. This allows the animal to select which area of the tank feels more comfortable. Note that for isopods, they will be happier with moisture throughout the tank.

Plants provide shelter and enrichment

It’s no secret that exotic pets like places to hide away inside their enclosure. Plant leaves can provide extra places for the animal to hide. You may also see your tarantulas incorporating plants into their webs, digging up plants, or chewing on them. Basically, living plants give your pet something else to do in their environment.

Spider web on a leaf

Planting TARANTULA enclosures with LIVE PLANTS (HEALTHY!) by Reptiliatus

For isopods, fallen and decaying leaves provide nourishment and hiding places.

It looks nice

Okay, so this benefit doesn’t necessarily help your pet in any way, but many invertebrate keepers enjoy having enclosures that look nice in their home. Plus, having a nice looking setup can be an incentive to pay more attention to your animal and its habitat, which is a good thing.

So basically, it's not necessary to go bioactive, but all of the benefits that other exotic pets get from bioactive enclosures are good for your invertebrates, as well. Do you have a naturalistic setup for your invertebrate? Show us a picture of the setup on The Tye-Dyed Iguana Facebook Page.