How to Create a Tropical Community Terrarium

A community vivarium is one that houses more than one species of reptile or amphibian. These enclosures are only recommended for experienced keepers, as sometimes the elements are hard to control.


  1. Image titled T.c.t. Step 1
    Research the herbs that you would like to keep very well.
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    Gather all materials, and organize them well. A good way to organize are groups of different materials (wood, rock, plants, etc.).
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    Pour a 12 inch (1.3 cm) of gravel on the bottom of the terrarium. This is needed for drainage, which protects the plants from 'drowning'.
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    Pour about 1 12 inch (1.3 cm) of soil or mulch over the gravel.
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    Place a few pieces of cork bark on the substrate. These will provide multiple locations for any animals to hide, and will reduce stress.
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    Place down the forest branches, coming up from the soil to the corners of the top of the terrarium. Be sure to place them in one general side of the tank. These will provide adequate basking sights for your critters.
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    Plant many tropical plants. These provide more shelter to your reptiles an amphibians and reduce stress greatly. Some good choices are philodendron, pothos, ficus or other ivies and small shrubs.
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    Add driftwood or stones to furnish the rest of the terrarium. Small waterfalls are also good decoration and will add humidity to the terrarium.
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    Add leaf litter to any uncovered area on the substrate.
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    Introduce the herbs one by one to the terrarium to avoid any sudden stress.


  • Provide a basking light over multiple branches and a fluorescent light strip. UVA and UVB should be used if housing diurnal lizard species.
  • Temperatures should stay between 70-80 degrees. This can be acquired through a heat pad, ceramic heat emitter, heat rock or light.
  • Research is very important. Be sure to follow this guideline to narrow down which critters you would like to buy for your terrarium: ** Non-Aggressive
    • Cannot fit any other wanted herbs into mouth
    • Follow the gallon algorithm (see Make-an-Island-Terrarium#Tips)
    • Must live in 70-80 degree temp.
    • Must live in 70-80% humidity
    • Must not be highly poisonous (e.g., fire belly toad).
  • Spray enclosure every day to maintain a humidity of 70-80%. If humidity is not high enough, add a water bowl to the tank.


  • If using heat rocks or heat pads, be careful as these can reach burning temperatures.
  • Watch for any aggressiveness or cannibalism.

Things You'll Need

  • Minimum 40 Gallon (150 l.) Terrarium
  • Gravel
  • Soil or Mulch (Non-Toxic)
  • Cork Slabs
  • 2-5 Exo-Terra Forest Branches
  • Tropical Plants (Philodendron, Pothos, etc.)
  • Driftwood or Stones
  • Leaf Litter
  • Spray Bottle
  • Fluorescent Light (UVA)
  • Basking Light (UVB)

Article Info

Categories: Amphibian