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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Selecting A Habitat For Your Reptile

Selecting a Habitat for Your Reptile


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What is a Terrarium?

Terrariums are simply closed containers in which small animals, such as turtles or lizards, are safely kept. There is a wide variety of terrariums that are designed with the needs of small reptiles in mind.

Glass and acrylic aquariums with screen tops work well as a terrarium. However, because acrylic is easily scratched, we don't recommend it for use with reptiles and amphibians with sharp claws. Glass is a better material in these cases.

Materials used in reptile cages must be waterproof for easy disinfecting, and be built so that it is easy to get into and clean. For this reason, it is best to purchase either a terrarium or an aquarium for use as a cage.

If you plan to use a heat rock or similar heat source, you should consider a terrarium with a pre-drilled hole in the bottom to accommodate the power cord.

Make sure you understand how large your reptile will be when fully grown and buy your terrarium or cage to fit. Most reptiles available have lots of growing to do and it can be cost prohibitive to continually buy larger enclosures.

The Importance of Ventilation

A terrarium cover is also important. A terrarium cover not only keeps the reptile in, but also keeps the other animals out!

The choice of cover should be on that provides a good airflow. Lack of ventilation allows disease organisms to thrive and multiply and for harmful gases, such as ammonia, to build up. This in turn causes stress on the reptile, which leads to reduced resistance to disease. Do not cover the aquarium with a combination light/reflector hood or glass cover. This will significantly reduce ventilation.

A screen top makes a good cover for a reptile habitat. It can allow for good ventilation; provides good transfer of heat and lighting; and can keep your reptile safe and secure. If you choose a combination light/reflector hood, make sure it is designed to provide good ventilation. Glass covers do not make good tops as they do not allow for proper ventilation.

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