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My Wild Backyard and Vivariums

Critter Caresheets

My Critters
Feeder Insects
Terrarium, Vivarium
Critter Caresheets
Building Large Terrariums
Making a Keep Box
Making Outdoor Critter Houses
Backyard Pond Attraction
Wild Birds
Garden Insects
Butterflies and Moths
My Garden Plants
Wild Yard Plants
My Backyard Gallery
A Library of Links

Special notes on different types of animals and insects you can keep in a vivarium in their most ideal environment with the intentions of being able to fully rear to ripe old age and possibly breed them.

I'm just covering a few to example types of set-ups and critters who like them. The majority of these listed are also easy to keep for the beginner.

Just click on the name to go to the care sheet, some will include other types of critters that would enjoy the same type of tank care. I didn't include any animals you couldn't keep under any state law of fish and game without needing a wildlife license. I have a further note on that in Terrarium/Vivarium.

If you have children please do not own a potentially dangerous pet. While there is always the threat of contracting salmonella from a reptile or amphibian cleaning poop or not washing hands, there are even greater dangers for small children in those that are poisonous or constrictors.


Preferably a tall tank with hides on the sides like tree bark. You can also use a cut piece of plastic green roofing or unclear tubes like a Pvc pipe. Particularly color changing amphibians and reptiles like a variety of colors to move around and change backgrounds with. Set up should be tropical in most cases, using an aquarium gravel bottom or the semi-aquatic false bottom with plenty of leaf litter/sphagnum moss. Many tree frogs are social and you can house 5-6 Hyla's in a 10gal to 10 in a 20gal tank. Depending on the size of the social frogs. Cuban tree frogs would require more room, so less tree frogs. No more than 2 in a 10gal and no more than 4/5 in a 20gal. More females than males is always best.
Fire Belly Toads
Bombina orientalis
A 10gal to longer/wider tanks. No more than 1 male out of 3-4 toads in a 10gal or 2 males out of 5-7 in a 20gal with plenty of hides. Best set up is semi-aquatic with a water jet/pump or air pump. Plants are optional but they do like to lay on them in the water or shade in land foliage. Fluorescents prefered, no special heating required. Preferably the land portion is gravel with a layer of sphagnum moss over it that can remain wet but not easily fall into the water side as it tends to clog a pump but aquarium gravel works fine too. Make sure gravel has plenty of aquarium carbon mixed into it to help materials and waste breakdown. Bombina's have a very slim toxicity, not enough to cause harm but it can be a danger to themselves if it is allowed to build up through the water, and irritate human skin. Change the water out regularly, in a 10gal maybe once every two weeks. Larger tanks can wait at least a month depending upon how many toads are in it. Larger numbers will mean more often water changes. Remove all and rinse out the gravel at most, once a year. I've found allowing the water to dissipate from the land (about a week without adding water) and then filling the tank fresh with room temp water raises my male bombina's interests in breeding with singing and mounting. Daily feeding and 75-80 degrees in the tank may make the females more susceptible to lay eggs. These small toads live up to 10 years. If introducing new with old, make a whole new tank with the new in it and intro the old into it. If it doesn't work out, don't keep them together. They eat anything that moves, including small fish, like guppies, and ghost shrimp, though a regular diet of crickets is fine.

American Toad

Included with the American Toad are most other burrowing, 'dry' toads or Bufo. The size of the tank depends on the size of the frog. A 10gal is, in my opinion, not sufficient for 2, much less one Bufo who averages 4 inches. A 15gal for 2, 20gal for 2-4 Bufo. Semi-tropical - room temperatures with 70-80 humidity but the soil should be mostly dry with just a slight damp feel to it. Use a glass lid as they can escape and easily push up a screen cover. The soil substrate should be at least 4 inches deep for burrowing. Avoid perlite and vermiculite. I recommend hides like coconut shell or curved bark that can be partially buried. Plenty of leaf litter/sphagnum moss with more ground cover than plants. Shading/tall plants would be better to give them ample room to roam the flooring. The water bowl should be larger than usual like a pool for soaking and possible breeding. No deeper than the frog can sit without having to climb 'up' into it. Change regularly. They tend to not move around much until its time to eat and virtually eat anything that moves with only a little pickiness. Crickets are fine with types of worms as a treat.


The Musk Turtle is one of very few available in pet trade that doesn't get bigger at 6-7 inches. Red eared sliders among others commonly sold under the deception they won't get much bigger range up to being around one foot in size. The ideal habitat for them is a secure back yard with a pond or baby pool having regular water changes. The minimum is a 20gal tank for a single turtle, semi-aquatic with more water than land as areas for basking and feeding. Most turtles diet on crickets, worms, fish, snails and muscles (clam) and dried turtle foods. Cuttlebones can be used to provide calcium. Turtles are very long lived, some of the smaller ones as long as 20/40 years. Turtles shed which should look thin and clear peeling from the scutes or layer of shell.

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Tree Frogs
Fire Belly Toad
Salamanders and Newts
Poison Dart Frog
(and Tinc's)
American Toad
Leopard Frog
Pacman Frog


Green Anole
Mediterranean Gecko
Leopard Gecko
House Gecko
Garter and Corn Snakes
Blue-tongue Skink


Praying Mantis
Stick Bug
Isopod - Woodlouse
As Pets
Lady Bug
Roaches as Pets

Snails and Slugs
As Pets and Feeders




Hermit Crab
Fiddler Crab

Reptiles and Amphibians

Successfully Owning Herps

Insect Care Sheets