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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - May 14, 2012

From: Walkerton, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Poisonous Plants
Title: Plants for exotic pets
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need to know what are some good native non-toxic plants for these species: Porcelain roach (Gyna lurida) from Kenya, Africa. Giant cave roach (Blaberus giganteus) from Central and South America. Death's Head Cockroach (Blaberus craniifer) found in S.Florida,U.S., Mexico, and Central America. Madagascan hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa) from Madagascar. European Green Toad from central, southern and Eastern Europe, North Africa and into Arabia. Malaysian (erroneous) Golden Gecko from Vietnam. Also I'll need to know what kind of substrate to use for the plants.

ANSWER:

First of all, you don't say whether you want the plants for food for these animals or for habitat in a terrarium or other container.   Either way, we don't know what the native food plants are for these animals nor what sort of vegetation one would find in their native habitat. If you are looking for plants only for habitat for these animals, you need to research their native habitat and determine if it's moist, dry, sand, clay, loam, etc.  You can then do a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database for plants native to Indiana by choosing "Indiana" from Select State or Province option and then entering other choices that would reflect the size and habitat characteristics for appropriate plants.  If you are looking for food for these animals, you need to do your research to find out what they eat in their native location.  If they do eat plants and you find the botanical names of the plants, you can search in our Native Plant Database for plants in the same botanical family and perhaps you can even find ones in the same genus. 

Determining if any of these plants would be toxic for your animals is going to be more difficult. There are many databases that list plants toxic for humans, agricultural animals and pets; but there are few, if any, sites that discuss plants that are possibly toxic for insects—especially with the view to keeping the insects safe.  Here is one that talks about ways that plants defend themselves against insect pests:

Plant-Insect Interactions from Cornell University, Department of Entomology

There is more information about toxic plants for reptiles and amphibians.  Here are several that list toxic and non-toxic plants for reptiles and amphibians: 

Reptiles - Toxic Plants from ReptileChannel.com

Herp Safety:  Poisonous Plants for Reptiles and Amphibians from Drs. Foster & Smith PetEducation.com

Edible and Harmful Plants from Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection

Non-Toxic Plants for Lizards from The Lizard Lounge

 

 

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