Do terrarium observations count as "captive"?

Since bugs in a terrarium are in an (almost) natural environment, do observations made whithin a terrarium still count?

If you put them there or after you found them you provide habitat and food specifically for them, they’re not wild, if they just hang around without your intervention, they’re wild.


It’s not about their environment, it’s about where and when you found them. They have to have gotten to that place on their own. Whether you found it on a dumpster in the city, or a tree in the forest, it went there on its own, or hitched a ride on its own. So it doesn’t count.

But if somehow the bug willingly came into your house and into an enclose all on its own, that would count as wild, as long as the time and date matches when you found it.


I would say they’re captive.

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It depends. If you are using the terrarium as a temporary captive situation to photo specimens you recently collected from a wild situation, they can count as a wild observation if you use the location from where you collected them. If this is a long-term captive situation where the captives are – or might be – breeding and thus no longer in a wild state, then it’s less likely you could call it a wild observation.


I’ve had this problem too, but with seeding from a wild specimen. I think the trick is to link the wild and captive observations together in notes. For example, here I’ve done it for Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota).

Doing so makes the choice easier, first observation is wild, subsequent are captive. It also avoids the problem of moving and observation showing up somewhere it wouldn’t be found naturally.

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The way I treat it is if I intend for the guy to be there? Bought or collected the animal to keep? not wild. Random hitchhiker in one of my vivs or tanks, especially if I know it likely came from elsewhere? Fine by me (Have submitted an Ischnura adult that came from a random nymph that hitchhiked into one of my tanks, Chelifer pseudoscorpion I have NO clue how it got into one of my isopod bins, Sminthurides springtails living on the surface of one of my aquariums)
On this terrarium bugs note, really want to survey all the unintentional guys living in some sort of tropical plant greenhouse one of these days, those are always full of weird tropical mosses/liverworts and soil bugs


Agreed. I do this all the time, as sometimes it’s hard to take photos on the spot.

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I would say that terrarium observations are captive unless you found the bug/animal outside in the wild and decided to put it in a terrarium. An example being the time I found an Ensatina salamander in my backyard that I kept in a terrarium for a few days before releasing it. The salamander was native to my area and I found it in the wild so even though it was photographed in a terrarium I didn’t mark it as captive/cultivated.

Remember that observations on iNat record encounters with organisms, and that wild/not wild on iNat is about whether the organism “chooses” to be where it is when you encounter it.

If the organism is back at your place but it was found in the wild, the observation’s date, time and location should reflect when and where you encountered it in the wild. Then it would be a “wild” organism.

If the observation records your encounter with the organism when it is in a terrarium in your house, and you’re keeping it captive, it would not wild.

If you’re using a small container to temporarily hold the organism while you study and photograph it in the area where you found it, it’s not really considered “captive”.


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