Last Updated: January 14, 2021
If you’ve ever owned a reptile, then you’ll know that choosing the right terrarium is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make. Because depending on the reptile, it could mean the difference between life and death.
Many reptiles require special equipment such as heat lamps, UV lights, or even a water pond to be properly cared for. And your terrarium should be able to handle every requirement your reptile needs. Among other things, it should be rugged, waterproof, and easily accessible for ingress and egress of the reptile.
Failing to find a terrarium that can handle this will make your life much more difficult when dealing with your pet, and that can lead to stress for you both. Some reptiles, such as chameleons, are extremely susceptible to stress-related illnesses.
That’s why we found it so important to create this list of reviews for the best reptile terrariums. Hopefully, after reading these, you’ll have a better understanding of what is needed in order to establish a suitable habitat for your reptilian friend.
Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2021
|Best Overall||Zilla Tropical Vertical Starter Kit||
|Best Value||Zilla Desert Reptile Terrarium||
|Premium Choice||Tetrafauna Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Aquarium||
|MarineLand Portrait Glass LED Aquarium||
|Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium||
The 8 Best Reptile Terrariums
1. Zilla Tropical Vertical Starter Kit – Best Overall
Whether you’re just getting started raising reptiles or you’re looking for a new terrarium for smaller creatures, this is by far one of the best you’re going to find. The Zilla Tropical Vertical Starter Kit provides just about everything you need to get started — minus the animal.
The kit comes equipped with many key essentials specific to raising reptiles and amphibians such as a humidity and temperature gauge, a mini halogen dome and bulb, and more.
We really love that the terrarium can be safely filled with up to 5 inches of water, creating a pond for those that require it. Another great feature is the coconut husk bedding that comes with it. As you may already know, reptiles need their habitat to be humid, it helps to fight dehydration. And this bedding helps to maintain a higher humidity and temperature within the terrarium.
It also comes with a hinged screen top and front door with a locking latch to make the tank very accessible. And the humidity and temperature gauge is super handy — especially as it has both readings on a single instrument. Plus, the tank comes with its own halogen lamp to help your reptiles bask in the heat.
All-in-all, this is an amazing setup for any first-time reptile owner or anyone with the need for a smaller tank.
2. Zilla Desert Reptile Terrarium – Best Value
Not all reptiles need an abundance of water to live. Many reptiles actually live in desert environments. And these desert-dwellers have special requirements when it comes to their terrarium. That’s what makes Zilla Desert Reptile Terrarium so great. It’s got everything you need to get started raising a smaller desert-dwelling reptile.
Not to mention it’s probably the best reptile terrarium for the money — desert or otherwise.
The kit comes with two separate dome light fixtures, each equipped with a different type of specialty bulb. One has a white daytime bulb best used for basking. The other bulb is a black nighttime warming bulb so your reptile can stay nice and toasty even after dark. Now, the bulbs aren’t super strong. So if you live in a colder place, you may need to upgrade the bulbs to something a little more powerful.
Like our top choice, this terrarium comes with a temperature and humidity gauge to help you regulate your reptile’s environment. The tank also comes with an odor-absorbing liner that’s really easy to clean and is non-abrasive.
This setup really has just about everything you need to get started. If only the bulbs were a little better, this could have earned our top spot.
3. Tetrafauna Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Aquarium – Premium Choice
If you’re looking to raise aquatic and box turtles, you’re going to need a tank that can handle a good deal of water. But it’s also going to need a place for your turtles to bask and stay warm.
Fortunately, the Tetrafauna Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Aquarium can handle that.
It’s a 20-gallon tank complete with everything you need to help a young turtle thrive. The tank has a screen top that provides plenty of ventilation with two heat lamps to keep your turtles toasty. It also comes with a faux-rock three-stage filtration pump to keep your tank water circulating while providing a sweet eye-catching waterfall.
There are just a few concerns we have with this tank. First, it’s not going to be big enough for larger turtles. If you’re raising a hatchling, these are absolutely perfect! But once that turtle starts getting bigger, you’re going to need to upgrade to a larger tank — unless you’re raising a single musk turtle.
The second concern we have is the bulbs. Like other pre-made terrarium kits, the bulbs just aren’t as strong as we’d like. But those can be easily replaced. However, we do appreciate the extra freebies that come along with the tank such as the food sticks and water conditioner.
4. MarineLand Portrait Glass LED Aquarium
If you’re tight on space and are looking for a small place to keep a single small reptile, you could use the MarineLand Portrait Glass LED Aquarium. It’s got a sleek curved glass tank that will fit comfortably on any nightstand or small table. This makes it perfect for studio apartments or dorms that allow tank pets.
The tank also comes with a water pump that can be used if converting it into housing for fish. It does come with a single LED light that hangs overhead. And the tank has a glass top that allows you to view your pet from every angle.
We don’t recommend you put any medium-sized or bigger reptile in here. A small anole or gecko would do fine in here, but anything larger, you’ll need a bigger tank. However, this is a viable option for those who just don’t have the room for a full-sized setup.
5. Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium
What if you want to build your own habitat without using a kit? You’re going to need a pretty basic terrarium. And that’s exactly what the Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium is. It’s a bare-bones glass terrarium that lends you a blank canvas to the terrarium you’ve envisioned for your reptile.
This is the tall version of Exo Terra’s terrarium line. That makes it perfect for sticky-fingered climbers or tree-dwelling reptiles. But remember, you’re going to have to supply your own tree.
There are some really neat features about this tank. The bottom is raised in case you need to install a substrate heater for your reptile. And it’s waterproof. The tank also has dual front swinging doors that lock and make your terrarium escape-proof. Plus, it’s got a sweet mesh cover that your reptile will love both for its ventilation and climbing capacity.
6. Hagen Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium
This is Exo Terra’s bare-bones equivalent for ground or desert-dwelling reptiles. Instead of being so tall, it’s got a much wider base, allowing for plenty of ground room for your reptiles to navigate around. Well, that’s if you have a smaller reptile that is.
This tank is perfect for reptiles such as leopard geckos or smaller snakes. However, don’t expect to use this for a ball python forever. You’ll definitely need to upgrade to something much larger.
It also comes with grooves for tubing and cabling built into the tank. Normally these are covered via some kind of wallpaper. But in this design, they‘re tastefully hidden behind foam padding. And like the other Exo Terra on this list, it has dual front locking doors and a raised bottom. Not too shabby.
7. REPTI ZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium
Having a one-piece tank or terrarium can be very disadvantageous at times. If you ever need to move your habitat, you’re going to be in a tight spot. However, the REPTI ZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium doesn’t have that issue.
That’s because it’s a knockdown terrarium. You can take it apart and put it back together piece by piece. And with this particular terrarium, it’s pretty simple to do. Yet, even though you can take it apart, it still holds its integrity. It’s got two locking glass front doors, a waterproof bottom, and a well-ventilated mesh top.
But perhaps one of the coolest features of this tank is that it’s stackable. You can get multiple tanks and build them into a stackable tower of reptiles.
Now, this all sounds great. However, there are some concerns we have. The way the terrarium is actually packed during shipping. Although the company prides itself on flat packing it to prevent broken pieces, that’s exactly what it’s not doing. The flat packing put undue pressure on the glass panes and cracked them before arrival.
Also, it’s not as sturdy as you would think. That gives us reservations when it comes to stacking these. We think that REPTI ZOO has some really great concepts and ideas here, but could much better on the execution.
8. Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium
Carolina Custom Cages terrarium is another knockdown-style terrarium. And they come in so many different size options! And on top of that, there’s super easy to put together. But its design takes simplicity too far in some regards.
For instance, the door design isn’t the greatest. There are two front swinging doors that are opened and locked via a key. However, there are no door handles, which means you’ll have to keep pressing-to-pop them open. That’s bound to break at some point. And once the doors are locked, there’s no other way to open them other than with the key. Lose that, and you’ve got trouble.
We also think that the substrate wall is just a bit too low. It’s currently at four inches, but we’d love to see that doubled. Honestly, this terrarium can go from mediocre to great with just a few changes. Here’s hoping!
Selecting your pet’s new home is an important choice that requires deliberation. However, it doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. In fact, it can be relatively pain-free if you know what you’re looking for. Here are some factors you need to keep in mind when deciding which terrarium is best for your reptile pet.
Size of Your Tank
Your ball phyton may only be a few inches long now, but after six months of proper care, they’ll be much longer than you can imagine. So unless you plan on buying new terrariums every six months, you might want to consider going bigger the first time around.
Capacity for Heat and UVB
Many reptiles require the use of heat lamps or even UVB light lamps in order to stay healthy. But does your terrarium have the capability to support this equipment? Terrariums like the Zilla Tropical Vertical Starter Kit — our top pick — have a halogen lamp built right in. But with most others, you’ll have to connect your own lamps.
Vertical and Horizontal Tanks
What’s the natural habitat like for you reptile? Do they typically live in trees climbing branch to branch? Or do they crawl along the desert floor and in between rocks, nooks, and crannies? Your job as a reptile pet owner is to recreate a suitable habitat for your pet. And it’s hard to create a tree-climbing atmosphere if your tank’s structure is short and wide. And the same goes for ground dwellers. Having a narrow, but vertically structured tank just isn’t going to cut it.
Water Holding and Pump Considerations for Aquatic Reptiles
If you’re looking to raise aquatic or box turtles, you’re going to need to pay close attention to the water-based elements of the tank. Your terrarium should be able to support a water pump to help circulate fresh, clean water within the tank. And you don’t want a tank that can’t hold the appropriate amount of water either. The terrarium should not only be waterproof, but have other means of ventilation as well as a way to prevent stale water.
Non-Collapsible or Knock-Down Style
Once you’ve established your tank’s location, you’ll want to move it around as little as possible. But sometimes we don’t have any other choice, and transporting your tank and reptile will need to be done. But can you move a single-piece terrarium without difficulty? With knock-down style terrariums, you can easily take apart and put back together your reptile’s habitat.
As you can see, there is a whole lot more to choosing a reptile terrarium than what your pet can fit into. Often, you’ll need to take into consideration the future needs of the reptile, heating or UVB lamp considerations, and even door access. Of course, different reptiles have different needs too.
That’s why our best overall pick, the Zilla Tropical Vertical Starter Kit, is absolutely perfect for some tree-dwellers; while the Zilla Desert Reptile terrarium is the best for the money when it comes to choosing the right enclosure for your ground-dwellers.
Hopefully, these reviews have helped to give you a basic understanding as to what you should look for when purchasing your next reptile terrarium. Because after all, your pet deserves the best you can get.
Check out these posts for more reptile gear:
- Best Reptile Egg Incubator 2020
- Best Reptile Thermostats 2020
- Best Reptile Thermometers 2020
- Best Reptile Fogger & Humidifiers 2020
Featured Image: Pxhere
An avid animal lover, Roland started this blog to help all varieties of pets and their owners on their journey to living their best lives.
- Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2021
- The 8 Best Reptile Terrariums
- 1. Zilla Tropical Vertical Starter Kit – Best Overall
- 2. Zilla Desert Reptile Terrarium – Best Value
- 3. Tetrafauna Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Aquarium – Premium Choice
- 4. MarineLand Portrait Glass LED Aquarium
- 5. Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium
- 6. Hagen Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium
- 7. REPTI ZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium
- 8. Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium
- Buyer’s Guide