Adventures in Biopod

 

Here at The Reptile Zoo we love our animals and are always looking for better ways to care for these amazing creatures. So when Biopod, which was born on Kickstarter then designed and developed over the past 3 years, invited us out to their headquarters we were immediately onboard. On arrival, we met not only the awesome Biopod team, but also fellow keepers and enthusiasts from both the US and Canada including (L-R) Dayyan Saylany of Reptaliatus, Keith Benjamin of ReptilesRuS, and Paulie Dema of Vivariums in the Mist.


 

Entering the Calgary headquarters, I was immediately inspired by the variety of beautifully scaped Biopods. These incredible works of art looked so perfect I didn’t think there was any way I could build something close, but the team assured me this was one of th e great benefits of the Biopod design. I quickly learned the Biopod team has carefully considered every aspect of the design and maintenance of their micro-habitats to make it as user friendly as possible. One area of the facility is dedicated to the original Kickstarter Biopods which have been functioning with little to no maintenance for over 2 years and are still thriving and as beautiful as ever.

 

Still I wasn’t fully convinced with my minimal background in full vivarium design would be enough. Co-Founder Tom Lam and engineer Dr. Apple walked us through the mechanical design of the current iteration of the Biopod literally piece by piece showing where improvements have been during the last few years of development. The beauty of the Biopod is it’s all in one capability. The system brings together state of the art misting, filtration, heating, lighting, aeration, irrigation, and ventilation everything needed to mimic the most naturalistic habitat possible. Not only do these aspects work in unison, but Biopod has taken precise control to the cloud allowing you to monitor and alter your environment from anywhere.


 

 

Armed with this knowledge, and a more than capable partner Keith, I was ready to take the plunge and start designing my first Biopod. Keith and I decided we would take an animal centric design approach starting first by selecting species, then designing the ideal Biopod to meet their needs. Immediately our thoughts went to our shared love of geckos, then inspired by the desert scape created by Biopod co-founder Jared Wolfe we settled in on the idea of designing our Terra, which is about equal in size to a 20gl tank, for a gecko in the Nephrurus species.

Now that we had a species and it’s unique care requirements in mind we headed out to gather the substrate, accessories, and décor that would make up our final design. This had to be the most difficult aspect, because there were just so many directions we could go. We ended up completely filling a cart with Zoo Med Excavator Sand, loose sand, several sizes and colors of pebbles, a few beautiful pieces of wood, cork bark, leaf litter, and hides we would later use to build up and add dimension.


Once back at headquarters we had the opportunity to shop in the Biopod nursery full of unique plants from around the globe and various climates. Again, faced with what seemed like limitless possibilities we grabbed a few of our favorites and started getting our hands dirty. Part of Biopod’s incredible design is the ability to completely control every aspect of the cage environment which Keith and I took advantage of by coiling the modular heating element and assorted cables in our desired areas which would later be built up with basking and hiding spots. Next, we started on the irrigated living wall by tightly stuffing with sphagnum moss and laying our first level of gravel to allow for a water table at the base. It was at this moment I knew we were on track for something cool, because these simple elements when combined with the sleek design of the Biopod was already developing into a beautiful display.


Encouraged and excited we started to bring the Biopod to life carefully placing and pinning a variety of climbing plants that will continue to fill and grow as time passes. Once complete we moved onto our most exciting layer of substrate the Zoo Med excavator sand, first placing a layer of mesh to protect the water table level, then developing high and low spots as well as areas for our soon to be added plants. We had to work quickly and precisely building from the outsides to center which we would later layer with a smooth sand where the geckos could enjoy their natural burrowing. We built on and around wooden elements creating a layered look which doubled as hiding areas throughout the temperature gradients within the habitat. From the base, we then added mainly succulent varieties in our carefully tucked away pockets placed in areas that could easily enjoy the regularly scheduling misting. Just a few finishing pebbles for texture and visual variety and like that Team Terra had done it! It was such a rewarding experience to see our final piece complete and ready for a little critter to call it home.


The most amazing part of this experience was that while Keith and I were enjoying scaping what we coined “The Red Planet” for a desert species Paulie and Dayyan were building one of the most beautiful paludariums I’ve ever seen in the Aqua Biopod. Our designs couldn’t have been more different, but that’s the beauty of the Biopod it’s completely customizable for desert, tropical, aquatic, even for growing your own groceries with sizes available from the Eden to Grand.


After such a fun experience, it was hard to leave our Terra behind, but even when I’m back in the sates it’s never that far away. At any moment, I can check in on how our little scape is doing by logging into the Biopod app to check temperature, humidity, and even watch a live webcam!

 

 

With the US launch of Biopod slated for later this fall here at The Reptile Zoo our minds are spinning at the variety of habitats we can add on display for our guests. What species would you like to see in our Biopod? New amphibians, geckos, aquatics, an amazing arachnid exhibit? What would be your dream Biopod? In the not so distant future we’ll have a chance to make these dreams a reality and we’re positively excited for the possibilities!

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