5 Best Terrarium Animals - List of Top Terrarium Animals

MARCH 21, 2021

  Terrarium Making

In our previous article, we mentioned that a terrarium is an enclosed earth with its own bioactive ecosystem. And to keep the TerraPlantae tradition, we will give you another list, this time it would be the fauna for the terrariums.

With that, here is a list of the animals we highly recommend for terrariums:

  1. Myriapods (Centipedes, Millipedes, and Pill bug Millipedes)

The Myriapods (Subphylum Myriapoda under Phylum Arthropoda) derived their name from myria- which means “ten thousand” and pous – which means “foot”. Although the name suggests that they may have myriad (10,000) legs, myriapod legs ranges from 750 to having fewer than 10 legs.

The Myriapods include the Centipedes (Class Chilopoda), Millipedes (Class Diplopoda), and Pill bug Millipedes (Superorder Oniscomorpha of Sub-Class Chilognatha under Class Diplopoda). The terms, families, and classes may be confusing however, it is just a nice-to-know information (but a must-know for our hardcore biology enthusiasts) in case you need to explain these to your friends too.

  • Centipedes (Class Diplopoda)

Centipede species from Philippines

Centipedes are one of the favorites of the terrarium enthusiasts because their predatory behavior can be observed outside of the enclosure as they hunt for their prey and feed on them. Though it is seemingly unsightly to some, but as they say, nature must take its course. Centipedes are predominantly carnivorous and is one of the best options for terrariums because these can help control the population of your other animals inside the enclosure. And to differentiate the centipedes from millepedes, the centipedes have a flatter body while millepedes are more rounded. Also, centipedes are carnivores, while millipedes are detrivores.

Centipedes grow from a few millimeters to about 12 inches long so it would be highly recommended that you must prepare a medium to large enclosure to give centipedes a bigger area to roam around and hunt. Centipedes protect themselves through their venom and their capability to bite their predators and prey.

To check for local Centipede species, you can check it out on: Sasuke’s Exotic on Facebook.

  • Millepedes (Class Diplopoda)

Local Centipede from Antique, Philippines

Millipedes are also one of the favorites of the terrarium hobbyists as they are the slightly “cuter” and “kinder” version of centipedes. But still, both look hideous and monstrous to both, but to the enthusiasts; these are nature’s masterpieces. As centipedes are carnivores, these kind of pedes of the other hand are detritivores. Detritivores or detrivores consume and obtain nutrients from decomposing plant and animal parts as well as feces. Millipedes are characteristically slow and harmless to human than centipedes. Millipedes protect themselves by excreting a variety of chemical secretion and curl themselves into a ball.

If you are into enjoying yourself seeing slow-moving creatures, then the millipede is highly recommended as an added inhabitant of your terrarium.

  • Pill bug Millipedes (Superorder Oniscomorpha)

Local Pill bug Millipede from Antique, Philippines

The Pill bug Millipedes, or Pillbu Milli, or Roly-Polies, are also becoming also a crow favorite due to their relatively huge size and cute appearance, as well as the easiness to be pictured as these animals are also slow-moving, as a characteristic of the species on their family.

Same with the millipedes, the Pill bugs are also detritivores and are good addition to your terrariums as they won’t harm other inhabitants in your enclosure.

  1. Ants (Order Hymenoptera under Class Diplopoda)

Photo from: AntsCanada.com (https://www.antscanada.com/ant-biology/)

Ants can be a great choice also for terrariums or a specialized formicarium/vivarium set-up. A formicarium is a specially designed type of an enclosure where the set-up is two-dimensional and designed primarily for the study of ant colonies and their behavior.

Ants are becoming a popular alternative pet of hobbyists now since it is already gaining popularity, thanks to the likes of AntsCanada (AntsCanada.com) that people are starting to discover the beauty of ants and the joy they bring as a hobby.

For terrariums, it is however recommended that you check which species are best for terrariums. Normally, ants can cohabit with the rest of the inhabitants such as springtails, worm, fungus, etc. but it is still best to do your own research or ask an expert about this.

  1. Worms (Phylum Annelida)

Photo from: Discovery.com (https://www.discovery.com/nature/Earthworms)

Earthworms are also one of easiest choice for enclosures (or maybe not sometimes as they mostly hitchhike on the substrates used). Worms probably are the easiest from the list as these do not need to be hunted or gathered mostly, since as mentioned, they mostly hide in the substrate, unless the substrate had been sterilized or baked.

Earthworms are detritivores, same with the rest of the its subterranean relatives thus making it an easy addition to your terrarium since they not to compete in the population growth of the rest of the animal inhabitants, only with the decaying matter which compose most of their diet.

  1. Isopods (Class Malacostraca under Phylum Arthropoda)

Cubaris sp. “Bumblepods” from Cebu, Philippines

The isopods, as many of you would agree, I believe is the second most favorite of terrarium artists and hobbyists, if not the most favorite (although at this point, you might already guess what that is).

Isopods or pill bugs or woodlice are actually crustaceans with species living in the sea, freshwater bodies of water, and on land. There is a multitude of isopods species to the point that it already became an independent hobby with most of its hobbyists house their isopods in boxed enclosures. The unique thing about isopods is their diet. Terrestrial isopods are detritivores, carnivores, herbivores, scavengers, browsers, and omnivores (hopefully you didn’t get dizzy with that lots of “vores”).

 

Isopoda sp. “Dirt Duckies” from Panay Islands, Philippines

Isopods are best for terrariums since their dietary regimen include almost everything, they are good in control of molds, parasites, potential invasion of springtails colony, and all other species that may dominate the enclosure. With one exception of P. laevis or the Dairy cows, almost all isopod species are recommended for terrariums

 

  1. Springtails (Class Entognatha, Order Collembola)

Pink Collembola- Philippines

The last on the list, and probably the favorite of all terrarium hobbyists would be, of course, our favorite clean-up crew – the springtails! Yes, that is correct. Who wouldn’t know about them? As moss is synonymous to terrariums, so are the springtails. Springtails or collembola are considered detritivores, omnivores, and microbivores, feeding mainly on any form of plant or animal matter that come their way. Contrary to the common belief that springtails are responsible for decomposition, they primarily just aid in decomposition through fragmentation or breakdown of organic matters.

Springtails also are the crowd favorite because of the vibrant colors of red, pink, and other springtails colors. Also, this minute crew are so small that they are hardly noticeable so that the insect-fearing admirers can barely notice them do their jobs inside the terrarium.  Plus, the fact that they are the main consumers of the molds inside the enclosure, giving you the best view of your terrariums minus the molds.

So, there you have its folks, our highly recommended crew for your terrariums!

Please know however that the reason why these animals top our list, is because of their high tolerance to moisture, humidity, and space restrictions. They can also live harmoniously with the presence of the other animals in the list, part in parcel, to control also the population of one another.

To better take care of them, just ensure that the above-mentioned requirements are fulfilled:  Moisture, Humidity, Lighting, and of course some Hides for them to hide as most of these creatures are camera-shy (pun intended).

So, there you have it, we will you well and great luck for your terrariums and hope you may enjoy them like we do.

If you have comments, suggestions, recommendations, or ideas for our next article, please feel free to reach out to us through this website, or our Facebook Page: TerraPlantae and we are all ears for you.

Froilan Aloro