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Beyond Plastic Plants

Tom Mazorlig//August 3, 2015//

Beyond Plastic Plants

Tom Mazorlig //August 3, 2015//

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Without décor, a reptile terrarium is a sterile box holding just a water bowl, hide box, substarte and an animal that is most likely under-stimulated and not engaging in natural behaviors. Few hobbyists want that. They want their terrariums to look good while providing for the needs of the  creatures inside. Reptile product manufacturers have risen to the challenge of meeting hobbyist desire for beautiful and interesting terrarium decorations that do more than just look pretty.

Form with Function

One trend in reptile habitat décor is “items that are multifunctional,” said Ryan McVeigh, brand manager at Central Garden and Pet. “While one rock hide may be really unique, another with a built in water bowl will win out, as it provides two functionalities at once and helps to condense the items in a tank into a smaller area.”

A product that blurs the line between function and decoration is the new Cavern Kit with Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate. This kit provides the reptile owner with everything he or she will need to make caverns and tunnels. It provides an attractive display, substrate and hiding area all in one kit.

“We have included step-by-step instructions and a YouTube video to help with inspiration, but one of the greatest things about this product is that keepers can get creative building their pet’s habitat,” said Ashley Rademacher, animal care and education coordinator at Zoo Med Labs, Inc.

The Zilla Basking Platform Filter from Central Garden and Pet is the company’s newest reptile décor item. It has a natural slate look that complements the habitat while providing necessary filtration.

“Often in turtle tanks, the filter is either bulky and takes up room, or doesn’t provide enough filtration,” said McVeigh. “With this product, you get a functional basking platform along with an internal filter all in one. It can be placed anywhere in the aquarium without needing to be against a wall and produces a unique waterfall feature in the front.”

Another filter that doubles as decor is the TetraFauna Decorative Reptofilters, from United Pet Group. They are available in Woodland and Sandstone designs. The filter part of the Reptofilter is hidden by a decorative outer housing that blends into the habitat. It maintains clean, clear water while providing an attractive decorative element to the enclosure. Hobbyists can create attractive waterfalls with this product as well.

The Exo Terra Elevated Outcrop from Rolf C. Hagen, Inc., is another functional décor item. It provides an attractive decoration while increasing the area inside the enclosure the animal can use. It enables pets to get closer to heat and UV-emitting bulbs to enable better thermoregulation and UV exposure.

Exo Terra also offers unique decorative hiding areas, including the Dinosaur Egg Fossil Hide-Out, which has multiple entrances and a prehistoric look, and several skull-shaped hides, including Primate, Crocodile, Buffalo and the new T-Rex.

Getting Wet

Water features for herp habitats seem to be growing in popularity. They not only beautify the enclosure, they also provide benefits to the inhabitants.

“Moving water features can be very beneficial by stimulating natural drinking behaviors in many species and increasing and maintaining humidity for tropical terrariums,” said Rademacher.

In this vein, Zoo Med offers the naturalistic ReptiRapids LED Waterfalls. They light up terrariums with the special waterproof LEDs while providing the benefits of moving water and raising humidity. The lights and water pump have separate power cords for independent control. The waterfalls are available in five size and style combinations: Small Rock, Small Wood, Medium Rock, Medium Wood and Large Rock.

Another water feature is the TetraFauna Viquarium Kit, which creates a river ecosystem right out of the box. It transforms most 20- to 55-gallon aquariums into a land and water habitat suitable for small turtles, newts, frogs and other semiaquatic reptiles and amphibians. It comes with a waterfall driven by the included power filter.

Two Points to Consider

To generate better décor sales, consider two things: displays and education.

Setting up display enclosures that incorporate some of the décor items for sale in the stores will help attract customer interest.

“A beautiful terrarium with brilliant LED lights, live plants and a Repti Rapids Waterfall may inspire someone who has never considered reptiles to build a terrarium and try keeping their first pet reptile,” said Rademacher. “For those customers who already have pet reptiles, an inspirational habitat in the store may motivate them to enhance their existing terrariums or even upgrade to a new, larger stunning exhibit.”

Zoo Med supports retailer displays with online videos.

“We also have YouTube videos available for several of our products that feature ‘inspirational’ habitats and show how to use the items,” said Rademacher. “For stores with internet technology or for online retailers, these videos may be used by anyone.”

Hobbyists, especially beginners, may not understand the benefits of providing décor to their pets. It’s up to the retail sales staff to educate them, which will benefit the animals as well as the store’s sales.

“The best thing any retailer can do to help sell décor is understand its function in a reptile habitat and convey that to the customer,” said McVeigh. “All décor items, while they help to make the terrarium look unique, are more important in helping the animal hide and feel secure. Depending on the size of the enclosure, and the species of animal in it, a retail employee can help the consumer to find what pieces of décor will work best for their new pet.”