Last updated: 16/10/2022

When you first heard about terrariums, you may have thought they were quite a strange invention. You may change your mind if we tell you that a terrarium is a protected space in which you can imitate the natural environmental characteristics of your pet (rodent, reptile or amphibian).

There are few experiences more emotional than those in which you purchase or bring home a new pet. Choosing a new pet such as a rodent, reptile or amphibian for your house is useless if you don’t have a safe place to keep it. This is no problem because in this guide we’re going to explain point by point which terrarium is best for your pet and what you should take into account when buying one.

Key Facts

  • Any pet you have should rest in a suitable, familiar place. If your pet doesn’t have a place of its own, it may become stressed because it doesn’t feel safe.
  • When you have to buy a new terrarium, you must take into account things like the characteristics of your pet (type, breed and lifestyle), the spot the terrarium is placed at home and other animals that are in the house.
  • As a general rule, reptiles are animals that don’t get along very well with sharing space, so you should pay attention to this if you have more than one reptile in the house. This happens because reptiles are very territorial and like their own space.

Our selection: The best terrariums

Both reptiles and amphibians have their own charm. It is obvious that not everyone understands the charming nature of reptiles because the vast majority of people believe that they are cold living beings. This statement is not true because they can change their colour and the way they behave, according to the environment. Therefore, it is better to stop comparing them to mammals, such as dogs or cats and seeing them for what they are in their own right. Below we have created a list of the top terrariums on the market to give you some options to choose from.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about a terrarium

Having a reptile or amphibian is not easy. There are people who still believe that it is the same as having a dog or a cat. However the simple fact is they are radically different animals, especially in care, food, way of communicating and habitat. In the following section we will give you all the information to be a professional in this field and choose the right terrarium.

Brave young boy getting Royal or Ball python out of terrarium and playing with it

Choosing between one terrarium or another will depend on the type of pet you have.
(Source: Sergey Novikov: 60365960/

What is a terrarium?

A terrarium is nothing more than a container, often made of glass, where the optimal conditions are reconstructed to keep certain animals or even plants inside. A terrarium usually remains closed, whilst maintaining the proper ventilation and humidity needs of the animal at all times.

It is important to understand that if some environmental characteristics are not met, such as humidity, temperature, size or light, your pet could become stressed, which may seriously affect its health. You should also know in advance the critical needs and lifestyle of your pet, such as if it needs the companionship of a partner.

What terrarium materials are there and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

It is very important that your pet, whether an amphibian, reptile or arachnid, has a place to shelter and live in peace. In other words, a home within your home. There is nothing like learning how to create a terrarium the right way, by knowing exactly the types of terrariums that exist in the market and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Material Ideal for Advantages Disadvantages
Glass Pets that you want to keep in the same place within the house. Allows you to see the inside easily.

Glass adds an atmosphere of solidity.

Resistant to blows and falls.

Easy to clean

Static, because they are usually very difficult to move.

Weighs a lot, because the glass is usually thick and reinforced.

Wood Becoming a new piece of furniture in your home. Conserves heat effectively

Better terrarium insulation

Easy to clean

Suitable for large animals

Not suitable for aquatic species or environments where moisture exists.

Mesh Less common, but suitable for turtles and reptiles in dry environments. Unbeatable ventilation

Minimises bad smells

Resistant and light

Easy to assemble

The cheapest option

Interior and exterior use

Efficiently lets in sunlight

Often an ugly design

The use is limited, since it only serves to put earth in the base.

Plastic Usually used as quarantine or travel containers. Also very common for beginners starting in the world of reptiles. Easy to transport

Easy to clean and ideal for storing insects.

Not designed to keep your pet inside for a long time.

Scratches easily

What accessories can I put inside a terrarium?

There are many elements that can be added to your terrarium but doing this depends on many factors: the natural habitat of your pet, your pet’s needs, tastes and/or if it is sharing the terrarium, among others. However, we can establish six main groups of objects and complements that can be introduced into a terrarium: ground surface, drinkers, elements that imitate the natural conditions, plants, pictures and light.

  • Ground surface: Good soil (for spiders, iguanas, snakes or turtles) is an important element in any terrarium.
  • Drinkers: your pet should always have fresh water available.
  • Accessories that imitate their habitat: stone caves, branches or waterfalls, among others.
  • Plants: try to make them artificial because natural plants are more difficult to maintain (due to the terrarium’s heat).
  • Pictures with landscapes: this feature gives a more natural look. You can, for example, search for photos or wallpaper with landscapes of rocks or forests.
  • Light: depending on your pet, there will be some that require UV rays and others that require red light bulbs (for nocturnal animals). Above all, always make sure that the bulb is covered with a protective grille so that it doesn’t burn you or your pet if accidentally touched.

What types of ground material can I place in the terrarium?

Instead of leaving the base with the cold glass, it is better to place a substrate or floor that is suitable for the type of pet you have. This allows the animal to dig and tunnel as it would do in its natural environment. Another advantage of a substrate is that it provides a more natural environment, keeping your pet calmer and helping them feel at home.

Below we can classify the most common ground materials into three types:

  • Calcium sand: for more desert animals, which require minimal humidity.
  • Coconut fibre or pine bark: for tropical pets.
  • Mosses or leaves: ideal for terrariums with warm climates.

What habitats and types of terrariums exist?

In general, we can distinguish three main environments in which reptiles and amphibians can live: desert, forest and tropical. Each of them will require certain characteristics of a terrarium, such as adequate humidity, size, temperature, light or ventilation, among others aspects. In the following table we elaborate further on each type of environment.

Habitat Basic characteristics
Desert The easiest to maintain.

A layer of sand and stones, including some decoration and a small amount of vegetation.

Take care of the temperature (raise it a lot during the day and lower it at night).

Good ventilation is required.

Forest May include aquatic elements such as a pond.

Abundant vegetation, basically composed of ferns and branches.

Temperatures milder than in the desert environment, taking into account the difference between winter and summer.

Possibility of including small waterfalls, to create a suitable humid environment.

Jungle These are the most difficult to create and achieve.

High humidity and temperature.

Tall elements and objects, so that the animals can climb and hang themselves.

How to setup a terrarium for an iguana or a chameleon?

It is incorrect to think that any terrarium is suitable for all animals, regardless of the species. If you are thinking about bringing an iguana or a chameleon into your home, we can explain exactly what these two pets need in order for their habitat to be optimal. You must carefully take into account light, humidity, substrate (ground material), heating and decoration.

  • Substratum: A good product is forest bark, which you can spread with a thickness of 3 mm at the base of the terrarium.
  • Lighting: Low consumption fluorescent lamps with UV radiation.
  • Heating: For iguanas, ceramic heating lamps of 100 watts (W). Chameleons require a 50 W heating cable.
  • Accessories: Suitable feeders and drinkers are required. Chameleons enjoy drinking from a small cascading fountain, although they will often hydrate with the dew that accumulates on the terrarium glass.
  • Decoration: Both iguanas and chameleons require spaces to feel safe, such as a hiding place.
  • Temperature and humidity: The ideal environment is a temperature between 24ºC and 26ºC and a humidity of 70%.

What about terrariums for amphibians?

The idea of a terrarium is to recreate your pet’s natural habitat as close as possible. However this can be complicated and slightly more difficult in the case of amphibians (such as frogs, newts and salamanders, among other amphibians). The terrarium must have the right conditions and the objects that you are going to introduce must be completely clean.

We must insist on cleanliness because bacteria grows rapidly in humid environments, which must also be taken into account given the diet of an amphibian (in many cases, they like fresh products). In addition, it is also important to note that amphibians should always have access to a body of water that does not receive direct light to be able to cool down.

Bearded Dragon climbing a tree taken in a shallow depth of field.

With terrariums you have to take into account light, humidity, substrate, heating and decoration.
(Source: Suttiwat Phokaiyajima: 70394209/

Is it better to have a terrarium or an aqua-terrarium?

When talking about amphibians there can be some doubt, since not only terrariums exist, but aqua-terrariums are increasing in popularity. The main and obvious difference between a terrarium and an aqua-terrarium is that the latter are always inhabited by aquatic animals or amphibians, which need a lot of humidity to survive.

Another aspect to emphasise is the necessity of many species to have a filter to purify the water and to keep it clean. It is important to have easy access to an aqua-terrarium to be able to be able to change the water source regularly. Although it seems contractive, it is actually easier to maintain the humidity conditions in a large terrarium than in a small one.

Did you know that insects can also be kept in a terrarium? They have other needs, but today a multitude of products are sold specifically for insects.

Where should I place the terrarium?

Professionals and experts in the terrarium field often recommend placing terrariums on solid, stable surfaces, such as purpose-built supports or sturdy tables. The weight must be taken into account, as many terrariums are very heavy, so not just any place will do. It is also recommended to keep it away from regular visitors, so a private room is better suited.

The best room in your home for a terrarium is the coldest room you have (no direct sunshine, away from drafts and heating), as this will make it easier to control the temperature of the terrarium. It is also vitally important that you have easy access to a a power outlet. If you follow these simple steps to start, you are on the right track to creating a well functioning terrarium.

How do I clean a terrarium?

Needless to say, there are many reasons why you need to have a clean environment for your pet. Reasons like the hygiene of your reptile or the smell in your home are more than enough for you to clean your terrarium on a regular basis. Below we will show you step by step how to clean your terrarium well.

Before proceeding with the cleaning instructions, a couple of important details must be made clear first. It is ideal to put on gloves when cleaning your terrarium, especially to pick up the pet (depending on the type of animal). You must also make sure that the process takes place in a safe environment, away from noises and air currents as this may frighten the pet.

  • Remove the animal with care, as well as all its accessories and complements, leaving the terrarium empty.
  • Throw the dirty substrate into the rubbish bin.
  • Mix water and soap in a clean bucket, gently sponging the surface of the terrarium, both on the outside and inside, making sure to clean every corner.
  • Rinse with a clean cloth soaked in warm water, applying a disinfectant. In this step, you must leave the disinfectant for approximately 20 minutes before continuing.
  • Rinse with sponge and water to remove all the disinfectant.
  • Finally, dry the terrarium with paper towel or a clean cloth. Let it ventilate for a few minutes before returning the terrarium to the way it was before the cleaning process.

I’m a beginner, where do I start in the world of terrariums?

Starting in the world of terrariums is relatively simple, as it won’t cost you many resources to begin with. You only have to focus on choosing a specific terrarium for your pet, choosing the accessories it will need and the food that is suitable for the type of animal. With these three main pillars you will be starting well.

As we told you before, there is no point in buying the pet and the terrarium at different times, as your pet needs its accessories, containers, food and entertainment in order to survive. You must be clear that a reptile is not a toy and requires just as much care as any other animal, such as a dog or cat.

tropical rain forest terrarium. Pet tank vivarium for exotic frogs, lizards or gecko

Desert, forest and tropical are some of the terrariums that exist. (Source: Dirk Ercken: 117544954/

Shopping Criteria

What you should take into account when buying a terrarium? We imagine that at this point you still have a lot of questions about buying a terrarium, so here we provide you some small buying tips, detailing them one by one. By doing this, we will be able to dispel your doubts, ensuring a successful new purchase.

  • Dimensions
  • Type of pet
  • Materials
  • Security
  • Maintenance
  • Ventilation


It is one of the first aspects to observe, as animal stress due to small spaces is often a common cause of illness or even death. There are two main types available: long and wide, for reptiles and amphibians that crawl or stay on the ground; or tall, designed for species that need to climb.

Another key aspect is to think about the future of your pet, as many species grow rapidly. If you have an iguana or some types of snakes, you’ll want to keep this in mind and stay ahead of their growth. Obviously, the bigger the terrarium, the more money you have to invest.

Did you know that reptiles don’t really have cold blood? They are ectothermal animals, receiving only the heat from the sun.

Type of pet

As you’ve seen, there are very different types of terrariums available, depending on the animal’s habitat characteristics, size and race of the reptile or amphibian. The type of pet is not a trivial matter, and is arguably the key factor for deciding the type of terrarium. If you don’t want to buy the wrong terrarium, regardless of whether you have a turtle, salamander, gecko, snake or scorpion, do your research and make sure you get the right environment for the type of pet you have.

The fact is that the type of pet is linked to the style of habitat. You will have to identify the breed of your animal and classify it within a certain type of environment. A reptile or amphibian accustomed to living in a jungle environment (even if bred in captivity) will not require the same living conditions as a forest or desert reptile.

image of leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) lizard and hive on sand.

Cleanliness is critical for your pet’s health. (Source: Narongrit Dantragoon: 82109781/


Terrarium materials is another important criterion to consider when choosing your terrarium. In the shopping guide section above, we have shown you the types of materials with which terrariums can be built: glass, plastic, mesh or wood. In addition, we made a brief description of each one, detailing a series of advantages and disadvantages.

With the information we have provided you have no excuse but to buy the most suitable terrarium for your reptile or amphibian. For example, if you have a gecko, you know that they love to hydrate themselves with the dew from the inner surface of their terrarium, so it makes sense to buy one made of resistant glass. An example like this shows how important it is to adapt the terrarium to the pet.


Having a reptile or amphibian requires a certain level of security, as well as providing a conducive home environment. Maintaining safety, both inside and outside the terrarium, will guarantee the health and happiness of your pet. High levels of stress over a long period of time are among the most frequent reasons of health problems in these types of animals.

To meet this requirement, there’s nothing better than buying a home for your pet that has the following features: a reliable seal and optimal entry panels (so you can feed your animal without it escaping). You can also consider buying an additional padlock, for extra security.

It is also necessary to choose a resistant material that can withstand possible blows or impacts, both from your animal and from the outside. With this in mind, that is why you need to place the terrarium in a place that is not a busy area of the house.


The terrarium has to be cleaned sooner rather than later. Earlier in the guide we described the cleaning process step by step so that you know exactly how to proceed when cleaning your terrarium. However, this task is easier if you buy a product that is not complicated to clean. What to take into account in this regard? The dimensions and the way to the terrarium panels open.

The dimensions of the terrarium are important because if you think about it, it is absurd to buy a terrarium far bigger than your pet if it is not going to grow much over time. In terms of how to open the panels, maintenance can require more work if they do not open completely and offer easy access.

Did you know that snakes, many years ago, had legs?

Ventilation and light

Your pet needs an environment where they can enjoy an adequate level of oxygen. Since they are locked up without being able to leave, a comfortable and well oxygenated space is critical. You should choose a terrarium with optimal ventilation to renew the air inside easily. A well designed grill is usually sufficient to allow air to enter a terrarium.

Although your pet should not be located in a place in your home where the sun directly hits it for a long time, it is beneficial that through the cracks in the ventilation, UV rays from the sun enter. This is necessary because reptiles, as we wrote above, are not cold-blooded animals, but receive their heat from external sources such as the sun. This need can also be supplemented with appropriate light bulbs.

Beautiful jar with live forest with self ecosystem

Terrariums should be in cool, ventilated areas. (Source: Jacek Nowak: 65174602/

On the market today there are a multitude of terrariums equipped with everything you need to get started, especially if you are a beginner: lights, heating, accessories and additional complements, such as landscape photos. If the natural light is poor, you will need to buy a light bulb on your own. Luckily, these items are not expensive but very useful to maintain the health of your pet.


The world of reptiles and alternative pets has its charm. As said earlier, there are a lot of people who don’t like these types of pets, but this is mainly because they don’t understand them well enough. However, if you are lucky enough to welcome one of these animals into your home, you will know beautiful they are. In this guide we have written about how to find out how to proceed with the purchase of a good terrarium.

You should know that no matter how good your intentions are, if you don’t provide your animal with a safe place, as well as good food for reptiles or amphibians, there is a high chance that your animal won’t last long. Also, never forget to get regular advice from a vet, who will help and assist you throughout all the natural process that your animal will go through, such as breeding.

This was the information and shopping guide you needed on terrariums. If you liked it, don’t forget to share on your social networks, as well as leave a comment below. See you soon!

(Source of featured image: Zhanna Tretiakova: 46920610/