I recently bought an Emerald Swift, and want to add some live plants to his vivarium. What live plants are safe for me to put in there with him? He's an obligate carnivore, so I can't imagine that he'd really nibble on any of the plants, but are there some plants that I shouldn't put in with him?

Here he is looking grumpy:

Emerald Swift

2 Answers 2


Swifts are primarily insectivores, so they wont be nibbling on your plants. But as a practical consideration, swifts are both avid climbers and burrowers, so it would be quite challenging to find a live plant (and a substrate to contain it) that will hold up to the constant climbing and uprooting that the plant will experience in that smaller space.

For climbing, I would provide some upturned slabs of rocks or bark, or pieces of driftwood or other branches that are wide enough to allow him to perch comfortably near the top. For a substrate, I would stick to things like sterilized soil and fine grain sand or something like coconut fiber or reptile bark (what you have looks fine).

Consider also that, for an enclosed space like that, plants need soil that will need to be watered regularly. That will attract and harbor insects as well as mold and fungus which can thrive in that enclosed environment.

  • Ah yeah, probably should have mentioned I use eco-earth bedding (Coconut fiber).
    – Spidercat
    Apr 11, 2014 at 16:45
  • 1
    @MattS. So you would need either a potted plant (that will be dug up by your critter and defeat the purpose of the "clean" bedding) or some type of tillandsia "air plant" that wont provide much structure for climbing. I'd go with the driftwood or other decorations that provide the same climbing structures without the challenges of planting a vivarium. Apr 11, 2014 at 18:13

Ficuses and Bromiliads make good live plants for them, I would avoid ivy plants because there are too many conflicting reports about which species are safe or not.

An alternative I've employed is a jungle vine with some fake ivy (to make it more realistic). The downside is that you lose the added humidty from live plants, so you might have to mist it more often (oh no), but the jungle vine is bendable so you can make it into any branch-like structure that you want. Your swift can then climb around on the vines, and the leaves give him cover to make him feel safe. Just be sure to add a reptile hammock, or piece of bark somewhere in the middle so that your swift can lay and bask all sprawled out if he wants to.

Here's how the vines and leaves look when used with a chameleon setup (how they're commonly used):

Chameleon on vines (Source)


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