Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
  Issue 5 Vol 5 April 2010
Mixing Species in a Terrarium? Bad Idea! - Part 2 In this Issue

Olive python eating another snake in the same cagePredation and Aggression Issues

Predation is another sticky issue when it comes to combining different species in a terrarium. Carnivorous reptiles often are not picky about what they eat. This includes their neighbors and terrarium mates of any species. It’s quite surprising how much a reptile can fit into its mouth! Often, if you think one pet reptile is far too big to be eaten by another reptile in the same terrarium, you’ll be surprised to find that it was dinner. And even if the reptiles are not carnivorous, they will hunt other smaller reptiles, even of the same species, if they’re confined together in the same rectangular glass box.

Aggression can also be a tricky matter when combining species in one living space. This is especially true when reptiles of varying size are put together. Because they are not used to sharing their environment, and such close quarters, with other species, turf wars could result. In this case reptiles will fight for space and can often feel threatened when other animals are living in such close proximity. In the wild these creatures have enormous amounts of space to spread out and remove themselves from one another, but in a closed environment, particularly one as small as a single terrarium, this is not the case. Even reptiles that are used to living in similar environments may become hostile when kept in a closed one such as an aquarium.

Toxicity and Disease Concerns

The most obvious issue with toxicity is when housing poisonous species with other animals. Whether the poison is transmitted through their skin onto the skin of the other animals or the poisonous animals are consumed by another terrarium dweller, it’s a toxic situation. Other reptiles can secrete toxins through their skin that can be absorbed by animals in the same terrarium. Even if these secretions are not dangerous to humans, they can build up in the container and cause harm to the other reptiles.

Disease is another concern in a terrarium that is shared by multiple reptile species. Different species carry different types of organisms that include bacteria, viruses and parasites. The host has built up immunity to them but they can be harmful to others who have not, especially if they are susceptible to them. When reptiles come from various climates, environments and locations from around the world, they can carry a multitude of organisms. When different species carrying different bacteria share the same habitat, the risk of spreading the illnesses is great. This is especially true if a wild-caught reptile is introduced to a population of captive bred reptiles.


Reptile Relief - 16 fl. oz. Natural Chemistry's Reptile Relief - 16 fl. oz.

De Flea Pet Shampoo - Kills Mites on Contact! Safe and Easy to Use.
The only EPA registered mite product that requires no warnings on the label. Can be applied directly on the reptile. Contains no pyrethrins or similar chemicals.


Our philosophy since 1989 has been:
"It's not enough to be safe and non-toxic... each product must outperform its synthetic and non-friendly counterpart."

  1. Mixing Species in a Terrarium? Bad Idea! - Part 2
  2. The Green Iguana: Be Prepared for Proper Care! - Part 2
  3. Feature Video
  4. In the News
  5. Get Paid to write an article
  6. Tell Us What You Think
  7. Feedback and Updating

Other Issues

Other Articles & Resources

The Green Iguana: Be Prepared for Proper Care! - Part 2


Green Iguana The habitat is one of the crucial elements to successful iguana care and maintenance. First of all, iguanas need plenty of room to move and climb. And like other reptiles, iguanas are cold blooded, meaning they do not produce their own body heat. They rely on their environment to provide the heat they need to survive. They also need light to aid their metabolism and body functions. Because the natural habitat of the iguana is generally very different from a captive environment provided by a pet owner, it’s imperative to create, or recreate, an environment that closely resembles where they would naturally live and thrive.

Because they grow to lengths averaging 6 feet, you must have ample space to provide a habitat for your growing pet. If possible, a room of their own is really ideal. If that’s not possible, a cage that will accommodate their growth and eventual size is the next best bet. The cage should be a minimum of 6 feet tall as iguanas like to climb and feel most comfortable when situated up high. The enclosure should also be at least half as wide as your iguana is long, which generally means at least three feet wide. Cages that are too small will limit their movement and can sometimes cause injury as they try to maneuver in the too small space. Generally speaking, the bigger the cage, the better for your iguana and the happier they will be.

Temperature is as important to the health and well being of your iguana as enclosure size. The ambient temperature in their enclosure should be at least 80°F during the day. They also need a basking spot that is 90-95°F. By having both the proper ambient temperature and a place for them to bask in a warmer spot allows them to regulate their body temperature by moving between the warm spot and the cooler air. While regular incandescent light bulbs work great to provide the general heat they need, be sure to use something protective for their basking spot, such as a hooded clamp fixture.

Because iguanas need darkness at night to sleep, but still need warm temperatures of at least 75°F, other methods besides light must be used to provide heat at night. There are several options including Ceramic Heat Emitters (CHE), blue or red nighttime bulbs, heat panels, heat tape and heating blankets. Check you local reptile and amphibian supply store to find the best product for your enclosure and your pet.

UVA and UVB light are essential for iguanas. UV light allows their bodies to manufacture vitamin D as well as metabolize calcium properly. Iguanas that don’t get proper UV light are prone to a disease called Metabolic Bone Disease that weakens their bones and leads to early death.

Basking - an Important Opportunity

Of course the best source of UV light is the sun. If possible, allowing your iguana to bask in direct sunlight is ideal for both their light needs and their happiness. But remember their temperature needs! Don’t give them access to exterior temperatures below 80°F, even if it is sunny, and bring them in if the temperature exceeds 100°F. And because they need to be able to regulate their body temperature, you must provide shade at the same time you provide sun.

A basking cage that is half sun and half shade is a great way to give them both. When figuring out ways to give them sun, keep in mind that glass filters UV rays so unfortunately they can’t be set in a sunny window and meet their light requirements.

In addition to whatever direct sunlight exposure is possible, it’s also recommended that their enclosure also provides UV light. This can be done with UV bulbs available at most pet stores. This ensures the proper exposure even if they are able to regularly bask happily in the sun!


Healthy Habitat - 1 gallonHealthy Habitat - 1 gallon

Natural Chemistry's Healthy Habitat is specifically formulated to effectively eliminate odors and soiling caused by organic animal and food waste.

For use in any pet habitat, glass and other surfaces within habitat ie: heat rocks, gravel, artificial plants etc.  Safe for use on all strong animal/reptile odor sources and stains, can even be used when pet is in it's habitat!

  • Safe, yet powerful
  • All natural
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Easy to use
  • Unconditionally guaranteed 

Enzyme Technology
Natural Chemistry’s products are inspired by processes that occur in the natural world. Our patented technology uses trillions of natural enzymes and co-enzymes to break down undesirable organic materials safely and effectively...resulting in a healthier pet environment.

Feature Video

Watch very closely - pretty big snake

If you have a favourite video, let us know and we'll feature it.

In the News

Snake and Battery

Snake healing

Snake revenge

Snake going out

Snakes staying in

Toilet snake

buy supplies
Get Paid to write an article

Keeping Reptiles will pay you to write and article. Ideally it will be 500-1500 words. These can be care sheets, funny stories, herp hunting trips, hints and tips or anything herp related.

Payment will be based on the number of words and published at editors discretion.

Tell Us What You Think!!

We would love to hear what you think of this (or any other) issue of Keeping Reptiles.

And of course, if you have any suggestions, photos, links, care sheets or whatever for upcoming issues that you'd like to share with us, please send those, too!

These could also include:

  • Great herp web-sites
  • Why you pet reptile is fantastic
  • Funny things that happened
  • Dumb**s things that happened
  • Images you'd like to share.

Remember - there are lots of people who would love to hear your stories. Just e-mail me at: Reptile-Cage-Plans

buy supplies