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Home » How to Create a Bioactive Enclosure for Your Tegu: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Create a Bioactive Enclosure for Your Tegu: A Comprehensive Guide

Setting up a bioactive enclosure for your tegu can be an excellent way to create a naturalistic habitat that promotes health and well-being. Bioactive enclosures are designed to mimic the natural ecosystems in which your tegu would live in the wild, creating a more dynamic and engaging environment for your pet.

Tegu enclosure

A bioactive enclosure is a type of reptile habitat that is designed to mimic a natural ecosystem as closely as possible, including the addition of live plants and a variety of other living organisms.

The enclosure contains a soil-like substrate that is capable of supporting plant life and also contains beneficial organisms such as springtails, isopods, and worms. These organisms work together to create a self-sustaining, natural ecosystem that provides numerous benefits to the reptile and its owner.

One of the main benefits of a bioactive enclosure is that it can greatly improve the overall health and well-being of the reptile. The live plants help to create a more natural and stimulating environment, which can reduce stress and promote natural behaviors.

The beneficial organisms in the substrate help to keep the enclosure clean and free of waste, which can help to reduce the risk of bacterial and fungal infections. The presence of these organisms also helps to create a natural food source for your tegu, which can improve digestion and overall health, while also providing environmental and feeding enrichment.

Bioactive enclosures also provide benefits to reptile owners. Because the ecosystem is self-sustaining, a bioactive enclosure requires less maintenance and cleaning than traditional enclosures. This can save time and money in the long run, as well as reduce the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals and cleaning agents.

How to Setup a Bioactive Enclosure for a Tegu

Setting up a bioactive enclosure for tegus can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on various factors such as enclosure size, the number of plants and the type of substrate used.

Generally speaking, it’s best to plan ahead and give yourself around two months to properly setup a bioactive enclosure for your tegu. This will give enough time for your clean-up crew to establish a colony and for your plants to setup roots before the tegu is introduced to the enclosure.

Enclosure Requirements

Tegus are large, active lizards that require a spacious enclosure to thrive. A bioactive enclosure for tegus should be at least 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4 feet tall. The enclosure should be made of a sturdy material, such as wood or PVC, and should have a secure lid to prevent escape.

It is important to provide ample ventilation and heat, with a basking spot of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a cool area of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A UVB light is also essential for tegus to maintain their health, and humidity must be kept at high levels of at minimum 70% at all times.

Custom built wooden enclosures can be rather pricey, but for a cheaper alternative, you may decide to opt for a grow tent. These are relatively easy to setup as bioactive enclosures.

Bedding and Plants:

The substrate for a bioactive enclosure should mimic the natural environment of tegus. A mixture of coconut coir, sphagnum moss, and organic topsoil provides a soft and natural substrate. The EZB Mix Bioactive Ready Premium Substrate is a great choice for this.

Adding plants to the enclosure not only provides an aesthetically pleasing environment, but also helps with air quality and humidity levels.

Tegus enjoy digging and burrowing, so plants with strong roots like pothos and snake plants are ideal. Adult tegus are known to mess with plants so to increase their chance of survival, prefer plants which are already fully grown and established.

Clean-up Crew:

A bioactive enclosure includes a clean-up crew to keep the enclosure clean and healthy. Springtails and isopods are commonly used in bioactive enclosures and help to break down waste and organic matter. They will eat your tegu’s droppings which is one of the main benefits of setting up a bioactive enclosure.

Isopods are part of the clean-up crew for any bioactive enclosure.
Isopods are part of the clean-up crew for any bioactive enclosure.

They also help to prevent mold and bacteria growth, keeping the enclosure clean and healthy. It is important to introduce the clean-up crew before adding the tegu to allow time for them to establish a colony.

A bioactive tegu enclosure should host at minimum one colony of isopods – also known as “roly-polies” or “pill bugs,” these small crustaceans are excellent at breaking down organic matter and aerating the soil.

The clean-up crew will need a source of moisture (such as a water dish) and food such as vegetable scraps in order to survive and thrive. Technically if you have enough plants growing in the enclosure, they will serve as food, but it’s best to keep an eye on your colony and feed them yourself as necessary (and keep in mind that most plants don’t survive long around adult tegus).


When it comes to decorating a bioactive enclosure for your tegu, it’s important to prioritize their well-being and provide them with a variety of options for hiding, climbing, and enrichment.

To achieve this, you can consider adding a range of elements such as branches, logs, and rocks to provide opportunities for climbing and basking. These features can not only help your tegu to stay active and healthy, but also give them a sense of security and comfort.

In addition, you may want to include a large hide or multiple hides to provide your tegu with a private space to retreat to when they feel the need. This can be especially important for their mental well-being, as tegus can become stressed if they feel like they don’t have a safe place to go.

Lastly, adding a water feature like a shallow pool or fountain can provide an extra level of enrichment and help to maintain the humidity levels in the enclosure. This can be especially beneficial for tegus, as they require high levels of humidity to thrive. Overall, taking the time to carefully consider your tegu’s needs and providing them with a diverse and stimulating environment can greatly enhance their quality of life.

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