Building Terrarium for Terrestrial Planarian

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
Hello, all,

I’ve been a creeper here for a while but I’ve never posted until now.

I’ve been searching for a terrestrial planarian (TP) for a while now and finally found one right outside my back door. I’d like to make a little terrarium first the guy and was just looking for some general pointers. I’ve built aquaria (freshwater, marine, and everything in between) for a couple of decades but I’ve never tried a terrarium. I’d like to do something small for my desk, but I wanted to reach out to the experts on keeping these oddball animals to see if there are any tips or tricks y’all would care to share.

My plan so far:
  • Small glass terrarium with tight-fitting, fine mesh lid (or a glass lid). Shouldn’t be too hard to fab the lid if needed
  • For the substrate I was thinking a layer of gravel followed by activated charcoal then potting soil. I actually found him curled up in some potting soil, so I thought I would recreate that environment, but I am very open to suggestions.
  • I was going to select some missed or varied plants that can handle lower light levels and high humidity
  • Grow lights for the plants on a day/night cycle (night will be red light to view the critter if he’s out)
  • I was going to add an atomizer to periodically humidify the terrarium. Any pointers on best placement? I like to make my enclosures as self-sustaining as possible
  • And, lastly, temp. Do you recommend heaters if any kind or simply allow the enclosure to maintain the room temp of the house? The house is usually low 70s for temp range
  • I’ve identified the species as best I can as Bipalium, so earthworms will likely be on the menu

    Have I forgotten anything? Thank you in advance for your help!
 

Ajohnson5263

Arachnosquire
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
96
I have nothing to add, other than I'm following cause I've wanted a terrestrial planaira tank for a while now. What bipalium sp.? you can check inaturalist to see what's in your area, as not all eat earthworms.
 

Ponerinecat

Arachnoknight
Active Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2020
Messages
168
Beautiful group. I can't really help much, as the only planarians I have in captivity are some Kontikea ventrolineata that popped up in my tank. You may want to add a hide of some sort like a broken pot and they seem to like areas that conserve moisture, like patches of dead vegetation or cold stone surfaces.
 

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
I have nothing to add, other than I'm following cause I've wanted a terrestrial planaira tank for a while now. What bipalium sp.? you can check inaturalist to see what's in your area, as not all eat earthworms.
If I don’t get a reply I will probably just pull the trigger on the setup I described above and give it a shot. It’s not like it’s an enormous amount of expense or trouble.

We submitted it to iNaturalist and it came back textbook B.kewense. Shovel-headed garden worm. Known earthworm predators. Got any useful info on hand about them?
 

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
Beautiful group. I can't really help much, as the only planarians I have in captivity are some Kontikea ventrolineata that popped up in my tank. You may want to add a hide of some sort like a broken pot and they seem to like areas that conserve moisture, like patches of dead vegetation or cold stone surfaces.
Great suggestions, thank you. I’d planned on hides for them, but the dead vegetation or stone surfaces would be ideal for the setup I have planned in my head.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
Active Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Messages
1,925
I'd probably use mesh covered at least half with glass or plastic (even plastic wrap, and I wouldn't heat. These guys like it really moist, and the one time I found one it was active in fairly cool temperatures (~60s F). Not sure how important having plants is, and I might supply flat hides just so you can find it. Overall it sounds like a really cool setup, and I'd love to see pictures when you make it!
 

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
I'd probably use mesh covered at least half with glass or plastic (even plastic wrap, and I wouldn't heat. These guys like it really moist, and the one time I found one it was active in fairly cool temperatures (~60s F). Not sure how important having plants is, and I might supply flat hides just so you can find it. Overall it sounds like a really cool setup, and I'd love to see pictures when you make it!
Thank you for the suggestions. I’m considering what to do for the lid now. I’d like to add plants just to make the enclosure that much more appealing. Purely aesthetic, and it will give the animal more places to explore while being hidden.

I’m for sure going to add a flat hide. May go with a very fine sand substrate for much of the foreground with the potting soil beneath, and a few discrete pockets of dead vegetation with a flat hide over them so I can keep track of him. We will see. Drawing it all up now. When it gets done I’ll post pics. Doing it in the middle of a move because I’m out of my mind.
 

Ajohnson5263

Arachnosquire
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
96
If I don’t get a reply I will probably just pull the trigger on the setup I described above and give it a shot. It’s not like it’s an enormous amount of expense or trouble.

We submitted it to iNaturalist and it came back textbook B.kewense. Shovel-headed garden worm. Known earthworm predators. Got any useful info on hand about them?
unfortunately, I know just about as much as you do. I've seen some old threads where some people had tried to keep them, although not all were successful. I believe they leave quite a mess after feedings so springtails and spot cleaning may be needed.

besides that maybe @Umbra can help? he seems to know much about terrestrial worms and such and has posted a couple of threads.
 

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
unfortunately, I know just about as much as you do. I've seen some old threads where some people had tried to keep them, although not all were successful. I believe they leave quite a mess after feedings so springtails and spot cleaning may be needed.

besides that maybe @Umbra can help? he seems to know much about terrestrial worms and such and has posted a couple of threads.
I’ll reach out to him, thanks. Can you all the help I can get.
 

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
I’ve started assembling the materials to make the enclosure. I’ll post pics as it is put together.
 

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
Okay, so I’ve got a completed little worm home, minus the plants that are still coming. There will also be some isopods and springtails calling this place home, thanks to Ajhonson for that suggestion. Pics below.
 

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Wimpy

Arachnopeon
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Sep 21, 2020
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One thing I have noticed: these are not the voracious, insatiable predators I’ve heard about. They have co-habituated with at least three earthworms for the best part of a week with no casualties so far. They should be much happier in their new home, though, so they may feed some now. Will update as I try to figure these guys out.
 

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
The best pictures I’ve gotten to date along with the finished vivarium. There’s a really big one in there but I’ve yet to get a good picture of it. They have yet to eat a worm and, in fact, I’m fairly certain they’re eating each other instead. Interesting.
 

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Wimpy

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Sep 21, 2020
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Interestingly, I have yet to observe these guys eating. I have three in the vivarium and I catch them roaming about some at night, watched on roll right over an earthworm and just keep going. Not sure what their feeding habits are at all.
 

Ponerinecat

Arachnoknight
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may want to be careful with the isopods, flatworms are pretty unappetizing food but it never hurts to be cautious.
 

Wimpy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
12
may want to be careful with the isopods, flatworms are pretty unappetizing food but it never hurts to be cautious.
The isopods have stuff to eat and even smallest planarian is probably 100 times their mass. I’m not too worried about the isopods making a meal of the planarians, quite the opposite actually.
 
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