Which species?

An important factor is of course their capability to get through the winter. Populations from mountainous areas in, for example, Eastern Europe withstand the winter much better than the same species from a distinct Mediterranean climate. Good hibernators already disappear in September or at the latest in early October. They won’t appear during a stretch of sunny days in the middle of the winter. Also remember, Dutch summers are much wetter than many terrarium animals are used to. A fellow keeper of lizards therefore had part of his garden fitted with a glass roof to create dry parts in which all kinds of cacti and succulents could grow successfully. Anyway, in a fenced-in garden the average temperature is soon a few degrees higher than the surrounding area.

Another solution is to catch a number of animals and have them hibernate in regulated circumstances. Tortoises, for instance, are perfect to keep in the garden for the summer and have them hibernate in a cool shed or refrigerator (see: ‘Hibernating’). Beware that the temperature in such hibernation places remains low enough! Several people have ample experience with tortoises such as the Testudo Hermanni, in their garden.

Because tortoises need a lot of heat you can also build a small “glasshouse” in the garden. When the sun shines into it in the morning, which will cause the temperature to rise quicker, the tortoises will soon know where to find it (also see: Lacerta 49: 87-90). On cool or cloudy days a heat lamp could be turned on under this roof or little glasshouse.

Several terrapins, such as red-eared sliders, also prove to be suitable garden pond dwellers. But they are carnivorous, so a combination with amphibians is a lot harder !