Sources of Humidity for Your Reptile
The level of humidity in an environment simply refers to the amount of moisture in the air. Tropical reptile species require a high humidity level in their terrarium. The ease at which the proper level is achieved will depend greatly on the season and the part of the country in which the animal is kept.
For example, it will be much easier to maintain a proper humidity level during the summer in the humid Midwest and Southeast than the arid desert Southwest. Humidity gauges are available that can be placed inside the terrarium to indicate if adjustments are necessary.
Here are a few ways to add humidity to a terrarium:
- Place a shallow bowl of water in the terrarium. For extra humidity, place the bowl over an undertank heater.
- Mist the reptile and inside of the terrarium with water several times each day. Certain types of floor coverings and substrates will readily absorb water and will help in maintaining the humidity level. The last misting of the day should occur several hours before the lights are turned off so all water droplets can evaporate. Do not use a spray bottle that previously contained a household cleaning product; chemical residue can poison a reptile.
- For tropical animals, consider placing a sheet of acrylic over part of the screen terrarium lid. This will trap humidity on one side of the enclosure, while allowing proper air circulation on the other.
- For arid reptiles (desert dwellers), it is important to remember that most still require humidity in their environment. Many desert reptiles are nocturnal; to beat the heat, they are active mainly at night. They stay hidden in burrows during the day, and come out at dusk to collect dew and forage for food.
To mimic this adaptation within a terrarium, it is recommended that you create a moist retreat. By soaking green moss and placing it within the reptile's shelter, you will raise the local humidity level. This is the best way to mimic the humidity level the animal would be accustomed to in its native environment. Additionally, proper humidity levels help to ensure thorough shedding.
- You can also put an airstone (connected to an air pump) in a reptile water dish to increase the humidity