Friday, December 2, 2011

Winter Terrarium

This year I set up a last minute winter terrarium and stocked it with things I found in the yard and woodpile while I was stacking wood. So it is random with no clear road of investigation. I found red back salamander while stacking the wood but decided not to include it because of the food issue. I captured a small snail, a couple millipedes, a large worm and some bristletails to add to the mix.

I created a habitat of top soil, leaves, moss and stuff found in the leaf litter. The snail was what caught my attention first. I had recently read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey and snails were on my mind.  I had raised some in previous years. Like the author I used a sea shell to create a pool of water for my critters. I also have been adding fresh mushrooms as a food source. You can see in this photo the snail really liked the mushroom and sunk its head deep to feed. I guess it was tastier at the bottom, who knows.

One day I noticed that I had two crane flies! The eggs must have been in the soil because I didn’t knowingly add them to the mix. After a few days I realized that I had to let them go or they would get loose in the house when I added more water. Fortunately the weather was still warm so I trust they survived.

I never see the worm on the surface but occasionally I can see it along the side of the tank just below the leaves.  I took this photo by looing under the terrarium and to my surprise I found 2 worms. One is in the upper right corner and the other is spread out on the bottom. It looks strange because the view is from the bottom and not the top like we normally see worms.

Check back later to see the other critters I have been observing is this small environment.


Carolyn H said...

What a cool idea! I've never tried make a native terrarium before. I should add that to the list of things for this weekend!

squirrel said...

It is fun Carolyn especially when you get snowed in. You can probably still find critters in the leaf litter and an old wood pile. Have fun!

suep said...

that's a neat idea ... it would be worth it just to be able to watch that snail nomming away on the mushroom !

Woodswalker said...

What a fascinating creation! Love those critters. I could imagine creating one with a whole variety of mosses and liverworts. I wonder how long they would live.

squirrel said...

Woodswalker, the first year I did a terrarium with snails they lived all winter long and I set them free in my yard in the spring. Actually they are probably safer in the terrarium than in the wild. I needed a good calcium source so I used one of those cuttle bones from the pet store that parrots need and the snails loved it.

Robin Armstrong Seeber said...

oh man, what an idea to do and then be able to continue to photograph all winter long.. geeze.. well classes start in Jan for Master N program, can't wait to learn enough to go ahead and do this for next year! thanks for terrarium sits empty right now, just a couple of struggling plants