As the world turns its attention to all things Green, it has become an interest of mine to explore how I can turn my hobby Green. That means reducing heating, electricity, and pollution that are byproducts of reptile ownership.

Pet ownership is a luxury that can have a significant impact on the environment. But that is not to say you should abandon man’s best friend. That’s not to say a heated tank can not be made more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. It may take some careful consideration when you are at the petstore, but you will be rewarded for it by healthy animals, reduced bills, and a reduced impact on the environment!

Think about everything that goes into various aspects of reptile care:

  • Wood, glass, metal, or plastic cages
  • Ceramic heat emitters
  • Mercury Vapor Bulbs
  • Flourescent Tubes

Think about how much your electricity bill has risen, and consider the effects on the environment.
Think about all the waste produced by your animals. How often do you throw away sand, dirt, paper towels, dead bugs, spoiled fruit, vegetables, and rotten meat. How many materials do you use that are toxic, that can not be recycled, or that are just plain energy inefficient?

So what am I doing to reduce the impact of my hobby on the environment?
Switching the energy efficient, environmentally friendly heat sources

Heat tape, heat rope, and under tank heaters are substantially more energy efficient than any overhead light producing heat source. For overhead heating, Radiant Heat Panels are wonderful, as are certain heat projectors.

For animals that require overhead heat and/or UVB it is crucial to look at the environmental impact of the products you choose to use.

Flourescent tubes and Mercury Vapor Bulbs are made with toxic chemicals. However Mercury Vapor Bulbs are significantly less toxic – you can produce anywhere from 40 to 100 Mercury Vapor Bulbs and have the same environmental impact as 1 four foot T12 flourescent tube.

Mercury Vapor Bulbs provide a better source of UVB than any other source currently on the market. All self ballasted Mercury Vapor Bulbs are 100 watts or more, however it is possible to purchase a 60 watt Mercury Vapor Bulb from

Metal Halide bulbs are currently in development by and close to being released. They should be groundbreaking.

Ceramic heat emitters are an excellent source of heat, however ceramic is for all intents impossible to recycle. I do not encourage their use for this reason. There are also more energy efficient options available. Once again I turn to which offers a 60watt heat projector that is capable of producing more heat than a 100watt ceramic heat emitter. This is a much better option.

Adding reptiles to my collection that thrive in temperatures closer to that of the area I live in, which may not require much of any additional heat beyond room temperature.

Pink Tongue Skinks thrive in day time temperatures just above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and can tolerate a significant drop in night time temperature. They will safely brumate in the winter months. They still benefit from a temperature gradient, with a basking spot of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, though.

Recycling waste products using a modification of traditional Vermicomposting. Vermicompost is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by some species of earthworm. Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. The process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting .

The earthworm species most often used are Red Wigglers (Eisenia foetida) or Red Earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus). These species are commonly found in organic rich soils throughout Europe and north America and especially prefer the special conditions in rotting vegetation, compost and manure piles. Composting worms are available from nursery mail-order suppliers or angling shops where they are sold as bait. Small-scale vermicomposting is well suited to turn kitchen waste into high-quality soil, where space is limited.

I have begun breeding Red Wigglers to feed to my Pink Tongue Skinks. They will help reduce the amount of waste produced in my household by vermicomposting kitchen waste and discarded substrate from the reptile tanks! I can actually reduce the amount of waste I send to the landfills, feed my animals healthier food, and produce fertilizer for my plants!

Red Wigglers thrive at room temperature (55-70 degrees Fahrenheit) and will eat just about any organic material. They need a high carbon to nitrogen ratio, and will thrive if you provide them with bedding of peat moss or coconut husk – isn’t that convenient? They can not digest bones and do not like high protein or high fat, but this is why I said I am using a modification of the Vermicomposting idea – Roaches, Superworms, and many other feeder inspects can and will thrive on a high protein diet. Although roaches and feeder insects do not produce vermicompost, you can certainly dispose of dead insects and insect droppings by feeding them to the Red Wigglers.

By breeding your own feeders and using your feeders to dispose of the majority of your garbage, you have greatly reduced your impact on the environment.