How to set up the perfect Home for your Pet Reptile

Everything you need to set up your pet reptile cage or terrarium!

For many first time reptile owners, the hardest step is to figure out just how to set up a home for their new pet. Don’t worry, it is not that complicated if you know what you need.

Most beginners just go out to their local pet store and get everything the staff recommends, which is quite unnecessary. Usually, you need a lot less than what you think you need!

Setting up enclosures like this can be challenging but also fun! ( setup by Roger Aeberhard)

So, here we will discuss what you definitely need to set up a home for your reptile and how you can tell what is unnecessary!

First, lets start with the things you have to know before you even chose the equipment you will need. Here is what you should know about your future pet before you decide what you buy for its cage:

  • Where is the animal from?
  • What habitat does your future pet reptile live in?
  • What is the local temperature/humidity throughout the year in the wild?
  • What does it eat?
  • How old is it and how long will it live?
  • How large will it get?

Of course, you should know a lot more about your future pet, but these things matter the most when it comes to choosing your cage setup!

Morelia Viridis - Green Tree Python
Green Tree Pythons need a very specific climate – awalys do your research!

Now, lets get started on how to set up your pet reptile habitat!

Step 1: Choosing a cage

The first thing you are going to have to get is a cage or terrarium for your reptile! I always advise beginners to set up naturalistic enclosures that have a lot of space for the animal to explore. Many people keep snakes in tubs or rack systems where the animals are cramped into small spaces all the time.

Yes, ball pythons may not move a lot, but they occasionally will explore and roam around if given the space. So, make sure your pet has a reasonably sized cage compared to its body length. For snakes, 1 * 0.5 * 0.75 (length * depth * height) times the length of an adult animal is enough.

Natural setups are much more attractive and beneficial for your pet reptile

In the end it is of course entirely up to you what size you choose. However, keep in mind that we always want to give our pet a habitat that is as close to the wild as possible.

I am aware that under some circumstances, keeping reptiles in rack systems and tubs is necessary but it should be avoided whenever possible. Also, check if there are any laws that restrict the size of your terrarium. In Switzerland for example, each snake cage mus be at least 1 * 0.5 * 0.5 (length * depth * height) times the length of an adult animal.

Keeping snakes in naturalistic enclosures brings many more pleasures to the hobby that just the animal itself. A beautifully designed terrarium can be a very nice addition to your living space!

Step 2: The appropriate environment

Now, the most important step is to figure out what environment your reptile requires. This means that you will have to do research on your pets natural habitat. Find out:

  • where it comes from.
  • what the temperature is like throughout the year in its natural habitat.
  • how high the humidity is. (are there rainy seasons)
  • what type of lifestyle it lives. (arboreal, in burrows or on the ground?
  • when it is active. (diurnal or nocturnal?)

All these things will matter when you choose the heating methods and technical aspects of your cage. Some devices are better suited for each species than others. It is always good to get an opinion from someone who has already kept the species you want to get. They can tell you what has worked out for them and what you should avoid.

Some animals may need specific beddings. This gaboon viper likes to hide in the leaves.

Keep in mind that pet store owners do also not know everything about you species and may not even have any experience with it. Do not just buy a standard cage setup in any case, but choose what your reptile needs the most.

When it comes to technical additions like heat lamps, heat pads or other devices to control humidity, there are a lot of options around. You need to do your research and figure out which one is best for your species.

Heat lamps are very effective and easy-to-install heat sources for your terrarium!

If you are uncertain what your options are, click HERE to find out more about methods to heat your terrarium. If you are more concerned about humidity, click HERE.

Step 3: Find space and set up the cage

Now the last and most obvious step is the final setup of your cage. After you have done all the research on your new pet, it is time to create a home for them.

The best solutions is always a terrarium that is as close as possible to the natural habitat of your animal! With a naturalistic enclosure, it is very unlikely that you run into problems like stress or sickness along your journey. So, just go out into the woods, find some nice logs and rocks or buy artificial plants or decoration online.

Now, if you are interested, HERE you will find a collection of terrarium plants for decoration!

Artificial plants and flowers can set a beautiful tone!

All that’s left your you to do is set up the cage and decorate its inside. Make sure that you set it up in a space that is easily accessible. In case of a technical problem, everything should be easy to reach and fix.

So, don’t worry and go ahead and have fun setting up your first pet reptile cage. If you have done all your research and follow the instructions, it is not that big of a deal! Good luck!

I hope that you enjoyed this post!

I know how hard it can be to find the right equipment and setup for a reptile home. They key is to do your research! I hope that this post was helpful and has encouraged you to go out and do it yourself!

As always, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly with you questions.

If you are interested in my sources, click HERE!


2 Replies to “How to set up the perfect Home for your Pet Reptile”

  1. Hi, this is a useful reminder to make the habitat as close to the natural environment as possible, so lots of research about the snake before hand is a very good point. Also you make a good point about it working better as a feature in your home. How far could you go to make a mini ecosystem do you think?

    1. Yes, a nicely set-up cage can be a very beautiful decoration. 

      It is absolutely possible to create a mini ecosystem that supports and cleans itself. I have also tried that before but it is not easy and takes a lot of time…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *