An outdoor terrarium is a nice way to keep your animals outside in the summer – be it only during the day or for a longer period of time: The animals enjoy this time outside and visibly bloom. Here you can find out what you should pay attention to and consider when keeping outdoors.
General information on keeping outdoors
Basically, there are some animal species that you can keep well outside in warm temperatures. Reptiles such as turtles or bearded dragons visibly bloom outside and clearly reflect the positive effect on their health, for example with increased activity. Many chameleon owners also report that their animals show much stronger and more beautiful colors after they have been outside than they did before they were kept outside. The “accommodation time” can vary from pure day trips to longer-term resettlements that last the whole summer: Here, of course, the type of animal, the type of accommodation, and the weather conditions are decisive.
To ensure that the summer excursion is positive for the animal and its owner and that there are no complications such as weight loss or colds, it is, of course, important to find out before moving the animals whether outdoor housing is even an option for the animal in question: Breeders are good contacts here, appropriate specialist literature and, more and more, special terraristic communities on the Internet, in which terrarium keepers exchange information about keeping their animals, among other things.
It is easy to explain why one should even consider the outdoor position: In a normal terrarium one tries to create the most natural conditions possible with suitable interior fittings and, above all, technology – so why not move the whole thing directly outside, where no technology is needed, for example, to imitate the vital sunlight?
The outside terrarium itself
Of course, the outdoor terrarium must also meet certain conditions in order to be able to offer the animal a pleasant and, above all, safe outdoor stay. Basically, the size is a decisive factor here. The rule is the bigger, the better. Of course, the size also depends on which animals and how many of these species are to be accommodated in the outdoor enclosure. It is best to orientate yourself here on the dimensions that also apply to indoor enclosures. Net terrariums (for example from Exo Terra), but also self-made outdoor terrariums come into question.
Another important point is the mesh size. This should be so narrow that any food animals cannot escape and insects cannot enter from outside. In the case of chameleons, you also have to make sure that the meshes are so small that they cannot “shoot” at insects with their tongue outside the terrarium: otherwise, they could injure themselves when the tongue is withdrawn.
The positioning of the outdoor terrarium is also an important point: Here you first have to decide on the general location (e.g. balcony or garden) and then on the different installation options (e.g. standing or swinging freely on a branch). You should also consider the species and home of the animal when it comes to solar radiation at the installation site: Desert animals have no problem with all-day sun, all other animals prefer partially shaded places. Either way, shady places should be created so that the animal can freely choose between sun and shade.
When making these decisions, you should note that there are fewer dangers lurking on the balcony at home than in the garden, where not only the neighbors’ cats but also people could mess with the enclosure and the animals. A related point here is safety: To rule out any risk, you should set up the net terrarium raised on a table, for example, or even better hang it up. In addition, a lock should ensure that the terrarium is opened – neither by unauthorized persons nor by other animals.
Finally, it should be noted that terrarium animals have a higher need for liquid when they are outdoors than indoors: therefore always make sure that there is enough drinkable in the terrarium and always be generous with the spraying.
At this point, we come to the subject of furnishing, which is less complicated in the outdoor terrarium than in the “normal” terrarium: You can confidently do without substrate and decoration, you should probably use plants. Real plants are always preferable to artificial ones because they contribute better to the natural climate in the outdoor enclosure. It is ideal to use the plants from the indoor terrarium. You simply take the plants planted in removable boxes on which the animal is sitting and place them together with their residents in the outdoor enclosure. The animals not only have less stress, but they also have to get used to it less. In addition, the care and technology of the terrarium do not have to be carried out when the animal is outside, which in turn saves work, electricity, and costs.
Now a few words about the technology in the outdoor terrarium. Many terrarium keepers completely forego the use of technology outside, but it can be an advantage if the temperature drops below what was actually thought or predicted. In such a case, switching on additional lighting or heating units is less stressful than quickly moving the animal from the outside to the inside. With or without technology: In the outdoor terrarium, it is worthwhile (depending on the environment, installation location, and weather) to use parts of the lid or roof to provide protection from the sun and rain.
In general, rain and wind are not necessarily harmful or even reasons to bring the animal in – after all, the animals in nature are also exposed to such weather conditions. In stronger winds, however, you should make sure that the net terrarium is secure: Hanging terrariums should be fixed from above and below, and standing variants can be weighted down with a few heavier planters. Rain can even turn out to be positive, namely as a welcome cooling.
A very hot topic is of course the temperatures: At the beginning, you should use the night temperatures as a guide: If these are tepid enough, the temperatures during the day should not be a problem either. In addition, most terrarium owners state that they put their animals outside at a temperature of around 15 ° C – of course, there are deviations here, some start earlier, some later with the release of the animals. As already mentioned, the individual characteristics of the animals are also very important: desert dwellers tolerate temperature fluctuations better than pure rainforest dwellers since the former are also exposed to such temperature differences in nature.
However, one should always bear in mind that the natural fluctuations in the temperature outside are less damaging to the animals than the extreme temperature differences that occur when, for example, they are brought in at an outside temperature of 10 ° C and placed in a 28 ° C terrarium within minutes: That is pure stress! In general: A little cold is not bad as long as the animals have dry shelter available.