Naturalistic vivariums at Parque Reptilandia
Sometimes in our exhibits, it can be hard to spot our beloved reptiles and amphibians to show them to our visitors. At Parque Reptilandia, we pride ourselves on the well-being of our animals. As a reptile curator, having visited many world-class zoos globally, I was always fascinated by how modern zoos try to mimic the animals’ natural environments, from building pieces of rainforests to deserts.
Modern zoos these days spend more money on their exhibits, showing maybe fewer animals, more involved in a lot of breeding programs for species threatened by extinction. Formerly, the first zoos were to show people a high diversity of exotic animals from all over the world mostly kept in poor conditions.
This is why enclosures at Parque Reptilandia are designed in a way that the animals feel comfortable with their life in captivity, so hiding places are available. They were made in a way that people can still take a glimpse at the hidden scaly creatures. The enclosures are copies of the ecosystem of the presented species, in which I spend a lot of research into the design of the exhibits.
Sometimes I look into literature, online or books, or check photographs I took when visiting the home range and biotope of the species
After this, the creations of rocks and trees are shaped by our handyman Fredy Arias Sequeira and this using tools, iron, mesh wire, and cement. This ‘rock art’ is also provided with hiding places, looking like small or big cavities depending on the needs of the species, which also serve as nesting boxes for the reptiles that lay eggs.
More teamwork was enhanced, adding the knowledge of our gardener, Adonay Picado, by comparing plants from the habitats, and whenever available these were used to make the whole scene even more naturalistic. Also, natural logs, like driftwood, fallen branches, appropriate soil, dried leaves, mosses, and even an empty bottle of tequila completed the rest of the decorations.
Some exhibits are in the open with only walls or screens separating our reptilian friends from the visitors, others have retractable roofs providing the necessary sunlight entering the enclosures or when rainfall is too high these same roofs keep our animals dry. As UV light is important for all life, so it for the plants and animals in our naturalistic vivariums, please come and check them out!
Since wild Caiman lizards are known to deposit their eggs in these, we provided one for our captive animals. Our goal at Reptilandia is to copy, as close as possible, the natural habitat of our beloved reptiles. By doing this, we stimulate the natural behavior of the specific animals. Hiding places are very important for reducing stress.
The trick is to place them in a way that the public still can spot the animal. The health of the animals is a top priority. Plants and hollow logs serve as hideouts but also provide shade. Reptiles are ectothermic animals, meaning that they get their body temperature from the surrounding environment. So being able to warm up in the sun, is as important as cooling off in the shade. Come for a visit and watch our reptiles flourish and grow.