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Containers

This article brings together information scattered through all the other articles on looking after the animals. Containers are the most important pieces of equipment when caring for your beetles and larvae. 

What size

For adults they should be quite large. We use a lot of ExTerra vivariums. Adults like space, some dark areas, some rocks and twigs to climb and they like to move about.

For Larvae the size should mean that the substrate inside is quite tightly packed. Making the containers too big means that you will need more substrate. In general I recommend about 300ml L1 750ml L2, L3 1.5Lires (this is for largest species we sell 750ml might be appropiate for L3 in smaller species) per individual.

What material?

Plastic is easy to clean, hygenic and doesnt rot or rust. It is also generally smooth and won't harm the insects.

How to secure the container?

For the vivaria for adults they tend to have professional clamps to shut them, but we find that even these benefit from some gaffer tape to ensure the animals dont get out. 

For larva you buy snap shut containers but we prefer to use screw shut containers as we have found Larvae can sometimes find a weakspot if one of the clasps is not fully shut.

 

 

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Food for adult Rhinobeetles

in the wild adult Rhinobeetles are largely fruit eaters. They live in and around tropical jungles with easy access to ripe and even rotting fruit,sugar cane and tree sap.

It is quite normal to feed the animal pieces of fruit and they in particular like very ripe fruit like bananas. However the issue with these foodstuffs is that they go very quickly from ripe to rotten and attract pests.

In the far east a wide range of hygenic foods based on a pasteurised jelly and supplemented with vitamins and fruit extracts have proved just as edible and much easier to manage. 

You will find a range of different "beetle jelly" flavours in our shop

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Substrate information

In the wild Rhinobeetles live inside and on decaying hardwood. Rearing the animals in captivity needs this environment to be replicated.

When it comes to breeding adults and rearing larvae you are absolutely dependent on decayed vegetation called substrate ( also called "Mat"). Adults lay eggs only in it. Larve hatch only in it. Larvae eat only substrate. Larvae pupate in it. Understanding decayed vegetation is crucial if you are planning to breed rhinobeetles.

Adult beetles are not so fussy and can be kept in much simpler and cheaper materials (see separate article for details) but larvae can only eat the decayed wood substrate - soil, bark, coia etc are all inedible. Some species will have a nibble at rotted leaves but it is not their normal food and they will not grow well.

Decayed vegetation can be divided into three types

  • Material that comes from soft plants (non trees). This decays too quickly and offers no sustenance to beetles. 
  • Material that comes from  coniferous trees, e.g. pine, cedar or cypress trees. This type of wood is not suitable for rhino beetles as it contains plant oils which are harmful and not edible by the beetles.
  • Material from hardwood (deciduous) trees, e.g. oak, maple, ash, willow, birch etc. This type of vegetation is usable by rhino beetles and whenever we talk about decayed vegetation we actually mean decayed deciduous wood. 

When a tree dies its wood is unusable by beetles until it has been decayed by fungi.  There are 9 stages of decayed wood:

  1. Hard decayed wood
  2. Middle decayed wood
  3. Soft decayed wood
  4. Natural decayed wood flakes
  5. Hard decayed wood flakes
  6. Middle decayed wood flakes
  7. Soft decayed wood flakes
  8. Flake soil
  9. Dirt

soft decayed wood flakes

You can make your own substrate but it can take years to perfect and it takes around a year to produce high quality substrate. Alternativly you can get high quality different types of substrate for your beetles from this us.

When to change substrate

Both adults and larva produce faeces from their food. This looks like hard lumps of substrate but when you look closely you can see it is different. If you want to be efficient and keep the expensive substrate you can just sieve out the faeces and reuse the remaining substrate. We use a simple kitchen collander - the lumps that are left behind are faeces and the stuff that goes through the collander are ok to reuse. Note dont push the material through, let it feed by gravity - if you push the material through the filter you will break up the faeces and defeat the object of the sieving.

How to fill your containers

We recommend the following procedure for our normal breeding jars.

  • Half fill the container with substrate.
  • Gently compress the substrate down to about 1/4 of the container (use a tamper!)
  • Add more substrate up to about 1 cm from the top of the container, leaving enough room to place your larva.
  • When the larva burrows it will decompress the substrate, filling the whole container.

Remember to add aeration holes in any jars you supply yourself (ours come prepared) and cover the holes with suitable gauze to stop substrate exiting or pests getting in.

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