Enclosures for small Plethodontids

eMax

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Hi all,
How does everyone house their small Plethodontids? I have two B. attenuatus in a small, rather opaque tupperware. I would like to set them up in a tank with better clarity. I recently purchased a medium exo terra breeding box, but found that the ventilation gaps are big enough to allow fruit flies to get out, and the gaps around the feeding ports seem like they could be big enough to allow the salamanders to potentially escape. I have used no-see-um mesh on kritter keepers between the lid and the tank before, but didn't like that option very much, especially as it allowed these tanks to get quite dry between waterings. Is there a good commercial option that I'm overlooking? Something that is optically clear, airtight enough to prevent the escape of fruit flies, and that can be easily modified to provide a bit of ventilation? Thanks for the help!

-Eric
 

Otterwoman

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Maybe a pretty clear type of rubbermaid container that you yourself poke tiny holes in?
I have used a 5 gallon with a regular metal mesh top that I sewed cheesecloth on to.
 

eMax

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I haven't found any commercial rubbermaid-type container that is particularly optically clear. I have been using a translucent tupperware so far and it has been sufficient for seeing how moist the substrate is, but doesn't really allow viewing of the animals without opening the lid. Do you mean that you have used a typical 5-gallon glass tank with the screen lids? I suppose I could be overthinking it, and that is a simple solution. I just always thought that typical glass terrariums waste a lot of vertical space for salamanders, since they don't utilize a lot of vertical space. But 5-gallons aren't too tall and could be good for a small group of Batrachoseps or Eurycea.
 

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The only Plethodontids I currently have are P. cinereus.
I keep them in a 20 gallon long planted tank, with lots of plants and hiding places.
Making the enclosure escape proof was the biggest challenge. These little guys can climb well and squeeze through a very tiny opening.
For a lid, I used a thick piece of melamine. I chose this material for its weight. I cut a large rectangular opening in the center and covered it with aluminum window screen, for ventilation, as well as to allow light in for the plants, which is supplied by an LED light on top. I also attached 1/2"x1" strips of wood on the underside of the lid, so that they drop alongside, and hold it in place. Finally, I placed weatherstripping (the round hollow kind, with adhesive on one side) on the rim of the tank. The lid sits on the weatherstripping, forming a tight seal, so the salamanders can't escape.
Melanogaster can squeeze through the window screen, but usually don't. I also feed hydei and bean beetles, and the lid contains them quite well.
 

eMax

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Thanks for the reply, Herpin Man. That sounds like a pretty sturdy, foolproof setup. I was hoping that there might be a lightweight acrylic faunarium-type solution out there somewhere. I like that they can be stacked inside of one another when empty, and are lighter and less fragile than glass when moving them around. I might end up having to go with a glass tank anyway, but I'll probably try gluing plastic sheet to the screen lid of a kritter keeper or something first.
 

Herpin Man

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A Sterilite clear latch box might also work. I use them as grow out tanks for Mourning geckos, which are also escape artists. You would need to add ventilation, and you would definitely want to add weather stripping to the top, and weight down the lid.
 

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eMax

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Herpin Man - I use small food-grade latch boxes for some invertebrate species. They have a gasket in the lid, so they are airtight, but I also add some ventilation holes covered in no-see-um mesh to keep the bugs in. They're great for that purpose, but they are not as clear as a display-worthy kritter keeper or commercial terrarium. It's a good option, though, and I shouldn't discount it as a potential future option.

Kansamander - That's pretty similar to the container I described above, but yours is way more transparent. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for the tip!
 

taherman

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I use mostly 10g tanks, and have glass cut to fit inside the frames. If you have a nice ~1-2" wide strip cut to butt against a loose pane about half the size of the tank, you can silicone it in place, and then silicone screen over the rest of the tank. I use suction cups as handles on the loose piece as the lid.
 

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blufrgman25

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I have P. Cinereus myself. I had them in a 10 gal fish tank with the metal screen lid you can buy for lizzards at petco. the cover proved to be very easy to escape from and I quickly lost 2 of them. I have since used clear plastic sandwhich wrap on the top that I duck taped down to a tight seal and have covered the edges with tape. No one has escaped yet!!! have you had luck with them eating the bean beatles? I would think they are too big and crunchy for these little guys? I have spring tails red wigglers and fruit flies but looking to expand the selection.
 

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I feed my cinereus bean beetles- they eat them, no problem. I also feed them fruit flies and small crickets. Their tank has small isopods, which they also probably eat, and they will also eat small earthworms- avoid red wigglers.
They could also probably eat small dubia, but I have not offered any. My concern with dubia is that they could avoid predation, and grow to a large size, and be difficult to remove (it's a densely planted vivarium). I've had it happen before, in gecko enclosures.
 

eMax

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Thanks, Tim - that looks great! I expect I could easily do something like this on a 5.5. I never thought of gluing screen directly to the tank frame.

I use mostly 10g tanks, and have glass cut to fit inside the frames. If you have a nice ~1-2" wide strip cut to butt against a loose pane about half the size of the tank, you can silicone it in place, and then silicone screen over the rest of the tank. I use suction cups as handles on the loose piece as the lid.
 

kamil

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After some experiments I am now using Critter Cages from petco. These have a lid with mesh and can take cables (water pump for Desmognathus). I had too many escape from plastic containers before.
 
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