Sunday, 28 March 2010

Building Underground Hibernacula

Today i decided to re-furbish one of my outdoor vivaria for when the weather warms......when ever that will be.This particular viv has dimensions of 2m long x 2m high x 1m deep and is of an aluminium frame fixed to a gravel board base.
The viv is glazed with acrylic on sides and roof, but the front is 50/50 acrylic and mesh, which gives the reptiles good access to natural sunlight and allows good airflow.

These greenhouse type structures can get very hot in Summer and cold in Winter, so underground chambers need to be built in to give the reps refuges/hibernacula.

One chamber is made from bricks with a paving slab on top which should keep cool in the Summer months. The other is a poly box which will keep at a fairly constant temperature throughout the year.

A tunnel is then attached to the polybox, which the lizards can access from the surface.

The poly box is then covered with wood or a slab to protect it from damage and the whole area is covered with a 75-100mm of a sand/soil mix.
Then various logs and stones can be placed on top for effect and basking/climbing spots for the reptiles.
I then added some large upright logs for access to the upper reaches of the vivarium, climbing plants will be grown up these. Other plants will be added over the coming weeks and maybe a few more logs/rocks.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Lizards Emerge From Long Hibernation

After a particularly cold winter in Worcestershire, it was a relief to see my lizards emerge from their five months of hibernation. The P. muralis were very active today searching for food after basking in the warm spring sunlight.

When they first emerge the colour of the male L. viridis is very dull, being a pale green with a greyish head. How different he will look in a few weeks time, being bright green with black stippling and a beautiful blue throat.

The outdoor vivarium is two metres square with 4mm glass walls on a breeze block base. When it was first constructed underground chambers were built in to act as frost free hibernaculi, the lizards tend to use these both for hibernating and for chilling out in very hot weather.
At the back there is a log pile on one side and a stack of boulders on the other, it then slopes down to the front where there is a sandy area with more logs and a small, shallow pool. The vivarium is planted up with various plants to attract flying insects and is home to woodlice and ants, on which the lizards feed.

The back metre of the viv is covered with glass to provide a permanent dry area over the hibernaculi which are under the log/rock piles.
Today the garden pools were awash with over fifty mating frogs which croaked loudly all day!