The boundary of the pet world is shifting. Unlike in the past, when pet lovers would mostly opt for adopting dogs, cats, birds, tortoises, rabbits and other adorable animals, many are now taking care of serpents, lizards and ant colonies. Watching the unique activities of ants close-up can be a really fun. Forming a formicarium, or ant nest, is challenging yet extremely exciting. The effort is worth the zeal for an insect lover.

How to Set up a Simple Ant House

As winter approaches, you should build a house to keep your ants warm and safe. You can keep the ants in a simple glass test tube until they increase in number. There are mainly two parts of a simple ant house: an inner compartment and an outer enclosure. The first compartment is  filled with sugar water and capped with a cotton ball. Keep the queen ant and her offspring outside this inner compartment, and cap the test tube with a second cotton ball. Such housing is not pleasing to the eyes but is very effective in keeping a colony of 25 workers.

Steps to Build a Formicarium

A formicarium is where your ants will feel safe and you will be able to watch them in their natural habitat. The architecture of the formicarium bears a certain similarity with a simple ant house. This also consists of two chambers: the nest and the “outside area.” A gypsum or concrete inside chamber has tunnels in it, and a glass slate covers the area. To give it a higher resemblance to the natural habitat of the ants, the glass slate is kept covered to keep the nest dark. However, you can lift it and see what they are doing as and when you want.

The outside area is a zone where you can place food and water, and this is where the ants will leave their garbage. The outside edges of the enclosure are covered with Teflon so that the ants cannot escape.

How to Maintain the Right Amount of Moisture inside the Formicarium

As said by wise men, leave matters to the experts— or, in this case, leave matters of moisture with the ants themselves. They know what is best for them. The level of comfort varies with the ant species. You must provide them with different zones of moisture inside the nest. The ants will carry their offspring to the most habitable zone.

To provide different moisture zones, water ditches should be inside the nest. You must fill them up on a weekly basis so that the walls of the gypsum soak in the moisture and offer different cooling zones. Based on their comfort level, they choose their resting place.

What Is the Ideal Temperature Range inside the Formicarium?

If anything should be taken care of with the highest level of vigilance, it is maintaining the correct range of temperature inside the formicarium. The ideal range is between 20 and 28 degrees Celsius. A drop to 15 degrees is allowed at night. To stop any further temperature drop inside the nest, you can provide heat from outside with the help of a heating mat or lamp. Some people use black plastic or paper for covering the formicarium to keep the inside dark. If you do this, you must take extra precautionary measures against fire hazards. Keep in mind that over-heating might annihilate the entire ant colony within a few hours.

The tips offered above give you an overview of caring for ants. However, it is advised that before beginning your new hobby, you do further research on ant care.