Not so miniature worlds for miniature creatures
Published: Oct 21, 2019The exciting, new invertebrate exhibit at Paignton Zoo takes invertebrate homes to the next level.
Keepers have created micro environments for the species on display including dry forest, coastal forest, coast, arid and swamp forest environments.
The large tanks allow for micro climates in each environment and also provide a variety of stimulus for the inhabitants including heat, dry, cool and humid areas for them to explore. Created through the use of heat and lighting, which filters through the miniature habitats from the top down, just as the sun does naturally.
A combination of artificial and live plants have been incorporated into the exhibit. Live plants are not often used as the invertebrates eat and destroy them quickly, but these plants will be replaced and rotated to replicate an ever changing environment. Plenty of levels for climbing have been included to encourage natural behaviours as well as deep substrate. This not only helps with drainage but as time goes by, we hope the bugs will lay and pupate allowing guests to see every stage of their lives. Soft deciduous and rotting wood is good for their diets and will keep the substrate nourished and the insects can dig behind the levels and features to hide when they want. Bodies of water are often avoided for fear that insects may drown, but in their natural habitats they also come across these features so we have included them to give them a more authentic home. In some tanks, browse has been used to create a canopy to provide enrichment and to give insects the options they would have in the wild. As a result, we’re already seeing behaviours you wouldn’t normally see in an insect exhibit and regularly see the millipedes and hermit crabs climbing.
Invertebrate keeper Lauren Lane “While the species in each tank may not encounter each other in the wild, they do all live in similar habitats so we have created a miniature world similar to what they would find in the wild. We’re really excited to see how the species interact with each other and learn more about their natural behaviours”.
Invertebrates often encounter other invertebrates in the wild and the behaviours help each other’s survival. Beetles will knock things down that the millipedes will eat and it’s good to have them interact with other species as they would naturally. Our team of keepers will be constantly monitoring the different habitats and how the species are co-habiting to constantly improve conditions for their welfare.
There’s always something new to see here, and the more time you spend, the more you will discover in these miniature worlds.