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Desert Plants for a Lizard Aquarium

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Desert lizards including leopard geckos, swifts and crevice lizards require a warm and dry desert-like atmosphere. While deserts are skimpy on flora, there are several plants that work in lizard terrariums. Choose from natural or artificial plants to give your terrarium a homey feel.

Live Plants

Avoid live plants with spines, such as spiny cacti. The sharp spines may injure a lizard. Haworthia, aloe and so-called living stones complement the desert atmosphere and won't injure your pet. Steer clear of the euphorbia family of succulents, which emit a toxic sap. You may also select grasses and bushes native to the rocky desert landscape of these lizards.

Artificial Plants

Artificial plants are low maintenance: Your lizard won't eat them, they need a simple wipe when dirty and they're durable. Look for plastic plants at your local pet store. Since they're artificial, you can choose any plant you like; however, if you're interested in recreating a desert atmosphere, look for plastic versions of live plants suitable for desert terrariums.

Creating a Desert Terrarium

Plants alone aren't enough for the desert lizard. Choose gravel for a cage substrate. Add several large rocks and sticks so your lizard can climb, and include a natural or artificial cave enclosure so she can hide. Find these at your local pet supply store. A heat lamp set to 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit mimics the desert atmosphere and creates a warm space for your pet to nap.


Either place live potted plants into the terrarium just as they are or remove plants from the pot and pot them in the substrate. When a plant looks ragged, remove it and replace it. Dried plants, such as desert grass, may be stuck in styrofoam or floral foam and placed in the cage. The foam keeps the foliage secure, costs little and is widely available. If you choose live plants, ensure their light requirements match that of your caged environment. Aloe may be pretty, but will not fare well in low light situations. Either choose a different plant, opt for an artificial plant or add fluorescent plant lights.