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Terrarium Set-Up

Choose a Terrerium

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Select a terrarium that's the right size and shape for your reptile. Make sure to choose one that's big enough for your pet to be able to move around, explore and play.

  • Desert terrariums are wider and longer to allow more floor space for non-climbing reptiles like tortoises and bearded dragons.
  • Tropical terrariums are taller to allow reptiles like anoles and tree frogs to climb branches and vines.

Select Heating & Lighting

Reptiles depend on proper humidity, heating and lighting, needing both warm and cool areas to self-regulate body temperature.

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  • Basking bulbs provide necessary daytime basking light (most reptiles need 12 hours), and serve as an important heat source.
  • Infrared bulbs provide heat with very little visible light, so your reptile's night time behavior won't be disturbed.
  • Daytime bulbs provide some heat and light for nonbasking reptiles such as frogs and leopard geckos, while nighttime bulbs supply heat and also help you view your reptile's nocturnal behavior.
  • Make sure to use a thermometer so your reptile's terrarium stays at a temperature that will keep him healthy and active.
  • Foggers and misters help maintain proper humidity in tropical terrariums.

Pick Substrate & Decor

Using the right substrate is important to your reptile's health. Substrates mimic a reptile's natural environment and help to regulate humidity in the terrarium.

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  • Tropical terrarium substrates include reptile bark, reptile soil, coconut husk and moss.
  • Desert terrarium substrates include specially formulated sands and reptile carpet.

Decor gives a terrarium personality, but it's also functional.

  • Many reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, need hiding places to escape and release stress.
  • Some decor can be sprayed with water to help humidify the terrarium
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Consult a PetSmart® associate or check out our Reptile Guides (at right) to find out more about your pet's specific needs.