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    Default Nephrurus amyae - Biotope Vivarium


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    I have begun to slowly put into action my plans for a N. amyae biotope vivarium. This will be a lengthy process, but I didn't want to exclude any of the early stages. Please keep posted for future updates!

    To start, here are pictures of my new amyae. These geckos are ~2 months old and unsexed.

    DSC_0647.jpg
    This first gecko is from Trace Hardin, at Hardin Herpetologica.

    DSC_0611.jpg
    This gecko is from Steve Sykes, at Geckos Etc.

    The first step in constructing a biotope vivarium is one that I find to be particularly challenging: choosing the plants. Identifying plants native to the same region as N. amyae took a bit of research, but harder yet was finding a place that sells them! I was lucky to find an Australian seller on ebay that sells native seeds. The pricing was excellent as well! I settled on three species:

    Soft Spinifex Grass - Triodia pungens
    Carpet of Snow - Macgregoria racemigera
    Kangaroo Grass - Themeda triandra

    All three species have overlapping range with N. amyae. Since I was unable to find any information on growing these species in a vivarium, I figured I would try multiple species and see what happens. Hopefully at least one will tolerate my vivarium conditions.

    Two seed packets arrived yesterday, and I immediately began germinating them. Because of Australia's unique fire ecology, many species of plants have a much higher germination rate after they are exposed to a wildfire. More specifically, certain chemicals given off in the smoke of wildfires are used by plants as a signal to germinate because resources are high and competition is low following a fire. To ensure a good germination rate of my own seed, I exposed them to these same "signal" chemicals. Thankfully, there is a very easy way of "smoke treating" seeds that does not involve setting fire to your vivarium, or even smoke, for that matter. Believe it or not, "Liquid Smoke", as sold in your local supermarket's BBQ section is perfect for the job. A bottle costs just a few dollars. A mix of 9 parts water to 1 part liquid smoke is what I found to be recommended online. I soaked the seeds in this overnight:

    DSC_0653.jpg

    I will post an update once things begin to sprout! To be continued....
    Attached Images Attached Images
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    Quick update:

    Seeds were planted in a 50/50 mixture of organic peat moss and Jurassic sand, which was first moistened and microwaved for 5 minutes to kill off any unwanted pests:
    DSC_0657.jpg

    And the main reason for this update... After doing a bit more research on the plants, I discovered that there was an Australian native "weed" growing in my own backyard! Portulaca oleracea, commonly know as purslane or pigweed is an Australian native that now has a nearly global distribution. It is native to much of Australia, including the range of N. amyae. Pretty cool! I do not use any pesticides or herbicides on my lawn, so I know the plant is vivarium safe. I did rinse off all of the topsoil and re-planted it in the same mix I used for the seeds, mainly to avoid any unwanted hitchhikers.

    DSC_0659.jpg
    Portulaca oleracea

    To be continued...
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    Thanks for sharing, jakemyster44!

    Have you ever tried Wonder Worm Earth Worm Castings (pure form of humus) as part of your soil mix?

    I'm looking forward to your updates.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

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    Hello Elizabeth!
    I have not tried worm castings, but I am looking into vivarium safe methods of fertilizing the plants. Have you had luck with them? How much do you use in your mix? I suspect that this will involve a lot of trial and error, as no information is available on growing these plants indoors...
    -Jake

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    Nice project, looking forward to seeing this completed.
    E. macularius
    H. imbricatus
    C. pubisulcus
    C. ciliatus
    M. chahoua
    R. auriculatus
    B. cyclura
    S. ciliaris
    S. wellingtonae
    S. taenicauda
    S. spinigerus
    S. krisalys
    P. grandis
    P. abbotti chekei
    E. inunguis
    P. masobe
    p. picta
    U. henkeli
    U. lineatus
    U. sikorae
    U. sikorae
    Mt. d'Ambre
    U. phantasticus

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    Quote Originally Posted by jakemyster44 View Post
    Hello Elizabeth!
    I have not tried worm castings, but I am looking into vivarium safe methods of fertilizing the plants. Have you had luck with them? How much do you use in your mix? I suspect that this will involve a lot of trial and error, as no information is available on growing these plants indoors...
    -Jake
    Hi Jake ~

    I have only used my mix for sansevieria. No fertilizing is necessary at all. And there's no perlite! I usually plant the sansevieria in terra cotta pots to help with humidity. Just let the sansevieria dry out between watering.

    Sansevieria grow well in this custom mix:
    2/3 Wonder Worm Earth Worm Castings (pure form of humus)
    1/3 Eco Earth coco fiber

    Initially I experiemented with:
    1/3 Wonder Worm Earth Worm Castings
    2/3 Eco Earth coco fiber
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 07-16-2016 at 08:02 PM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
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    One week after their smoke water soak, and the Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass) is beginning to sprout!
    DSC_0670.jpg

    I went to a few local landscape stores with very nice selections of stone in search of something that closely resembles the red sandstone typical of N. amyae habitat, but came up empty handed. I suppose I am not in the best location in the country for red rocks... I will try again in a month or two and hope that they get some new stone in. If not, I may be forced to make some fake rocks with grout and foam. I have done this before, but greatly prefer real rock, as I just cannot match the fine details. I also like the ability of real rock to hold heat. Hopefully something suitable will turn up... Meanwhile I plan to start searching for driftwood soon. I am looking for a very weathered stump and roots. I have played with the idea of charring part of the wood in a fire, such as seen with the wildfires that regularly occur in N. amyae habitat. There are some nice pieces on ebay, but I am usually able to find nice pieces along the river near my house.

    To be contiued...
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    After speaking with all of my local stone companies, I realized that there was no chance of suitable rock being offered for sale anytime soon. I began the process of constructing the foam/grout background today. I found some good images of amyae habitat and did my best to replicate the rocky areas where they are found:

    foam-vivarium.jpg

    It is still a work in progress, but I am happy with it thus far! Thats all for tonight, but expect much more in the next day or two!

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    The foam has been coated with two layers of grout so far. The third and final coat will be much more finely detailed, as well as a slightly lighter color to create a two toned effect. So far so good...
    1grout-vivarium.jpg
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    Finally, the enclosure is finished!

    DSC_0821_01.jpg

    I used Jurassic Sand as a substrate. The slope on the right side of the enclosure is made from terra cotta clay (I bought a 50 lb box of moist clay from a local art supply store - I could not find redart clay unfortunately, but this worked well). I covered the clay in sand while it was still wet and let it dry into the clay. The slope was necessary to hide the laying chamber:

    DSC_0835_01.jpg

    I built a foam/grout rock to fit over the lay chamber to hide it while still permitting complete access for egg removal/cleaning etc. There is an entrance in the back corner.

    DSC_0833.jpg

    There is an additional hide behind the lay chamber (warm end of enclosure) and a cave on the cool side as well. It was challenging to build a hide that was fixed in the enclosure and provided both security for the animal while still allowing total access if necessary to clean/remove the animal.

    DSC_0839_01.jpg

    The shrubs are manzantina from NEHERP (highly recommend!). I currently only have the purslane planted in the enclosure, as I have been having trouble growing the other species. They seem to dry up quickly after germinating. I need to find more information on their propagation...

    Heating is supplied by a ceramic heat emitter and a heat pad. The head pad is directly below the lay chamber and kept at 85 F (incubation temp), the ceramic heat emitter heats the remainder of the warm end and is set to 90 F. Both heating elements are controlled by a Herpstat 2 (also highly recommended!) with probes in the appropriate locations within the enclosure.

    I am still waiting to actually put an animal in the enclosure, as I prefer to grow them out a bit more in my rack. The largest of the geckos, from Geckos etc., turned out to be a female, which is excellent. I am still waiting on the other two geckos. Time will tell!
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