For both children and adults, terrariums are a great way to further human curiosity for our natural world. The controlled environment of terrariums and the possibility to elaborate on their presentation makes them a great hobby and a unique addition to any home. Terrariums that can accommodate live animals (also known as vivariums) can be particularly beautiful and extremely rewarding as a hobby.
In this article, we took it upon ourselves to help you discover the wonders of terrariums for reptiles and amphibians (which are jointly known as herptiles). Finding the right home for your new herptile friend can be overwhelming, so we’ve gathered the essential information you will need to know to get you started.
After more than 65 hours of research, we believe that the brand Exo Terra will provide you with the best terrarium in the market in the Exo Terra All-glass Terrarium. We looked all over the market, and Exo Terra proves itself to be the leader in home terrariums. They have the absolute best combination of functionality, design, features and price. Exo Terra simplifies the shopping process with their habitat kits – perfect for those looking to buy their first herptile, as it comes with all the essentials for your new terrarium. Their terrariums are also sold in a variety of sizes and capable of accommodating a wide range of herptiles. So let us walk you through our top terrarium picks to our specialized ones.
This glass terrarium for reptile or amphibians is not only top of its kind, but also comes with all the key features that will guarantee the well-being of your new herptile. Its patented front window ensures ventilation. It is waterproof, escape-proof, and all its nooks and crannies are strategically placed to accommodate the addition of inlets, wires and heaters. The Exo Terra All-glass Terrarium is the quality choice for new and experienced herptoculturists.
Having all the same great features as our top pick, these terrarium kits are our step-up choices because they include all the essentials to get you started on your new herptile home: the terrarium itself, all the necessary decorative items, the substrate, the water dish and most importantly the lighting system. All inclusive, the slightly higher price for these terrarium kits are a no-brainer deal once you take into account all the extras included.
Affordable without compromising the quality of the product, the KollerCraft Repitat Flat-Backed Reptile Habitat terrarium is a great choice if you would like to begin with a basic encasement for your herptile before investing on a higher grade terrarium. The acrylic container paired with a heavy duty metal screen door makes for a fuss-free set-up. This terrarium is as simple as they come and once decorated, it should provide a comfortable beginning habitat for your herptile pet.
A Brief History of Reptile and Amphibian Terrariums
The keeping of terrariums dates back to the Victorian Era, a time when explorers and well traveled men would bring back exotic plants to their western homeland. The terrarium was accidentally invented when Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, a natural history hobbyist from London, buried a cocoon from one of his travels in damp soil in a glass jar covered with a metal lid. Dr. Ward wanted to witness the hatch of the cocoon, but he soon lost interest in the cocoon when grass and fern sprouted from the soil and thrived in the jar without additional maintenance.
Soon after, other men within Dr. Ward’s social circle came to know about his enclosed habitat, which gave birth to the newfound concept of the terrarium. Since the climate in the western homelands of explorers tended to be too harsh to accommodate newly found plants and animals, special transport cases made of glass began to be popularized. These glass enclosures could now safely transport and foster the livelihood of living treasures. It did not take long for terrariums to become elaborate presentations in the homes of upper Victorian society.
After somewhat of a hibernation, terrariums were revived during the 60s and 70s in the United States, but with a peculiar interest in reptiles and amphibians. The pioneering herpetoculturist Philippe De Vosjoli took it upon himself to organize and promote the keeping of reptiles and amphibians in terrariums during this time. Writing many books on the husbandry and breeding of herptiles, De Vosjoli successfully commercialized the captivity of herptiles that many of us seek as a hobby today.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Terrarium
Now that you have a brief idea of how terrariums came to be created and commercialized, it is time to focus on the equipment that is essential for the well-being of your future herptile pet.
It is important to emphasize that reptiles and amphibians are highly sensitive to change in their environments. The trip from the pet store to your home can be enough to stress your new herptile friend, so it is essential that you setup the terrarium ahead of time. This brief PetSmart video on terrarium setup will give you a good idea on what you will need to buy.
As the video suggests: first, carefully consider the type of terrarium you will need buy; second, select the appropriate heating and lighting to keep your herptile in good health; and third, pick the substrate and decor that will give your new herptile the most comfortable environment in its new home.
Taking the second and third points into consideration, we took it upon ourselves to make a comprehensive list of the best terrariums available for sale on Amazon. We want to get you off to a good start on your new terrarium setup, so keep on reading for tips on how to properly choose the best terrarium based on your needs.
What You Should Consider While Buying a Terrarium
Carefully consider the size of your new terrarium to promote an ideal environment for your reptile. A terrarium that is to small or too large can stress your herptile and negatively impact its sleeping, eating and behavioral patterns. Check out this detailed guide that will help you choose the appropriate terrarium size for your new pet.
Take also into consideration the shape of the terrarium you choose. Some herptiles will thrive better on encasements that are longer in height, while others will benefit more from encasements that are larger in width. Also, be aware that while box-shaped terrariums are the most common, they come in other shapes! We have included some of these alternative concept terrariums under our
to give you an idea.
Lastly, carefully consider the material of your new terrarium. Encasements can be made out of glass, acrylic and metal screen. The material of your terrarium will play a key role on the living environment of your chosen herptile. For example, glass and acrylic encasements will hold in moisture and heat better, while metal screen encasements will have a more continuous air flow and provide a drier environment.
How We Picked
During our research stage for herptile terrariums, we first consulted with a comprehensive guide on ideal reptile enclosures, as suggested by Reptiles Magazine. After we gather a solid idea of what experts recommend for herptile terrariums, we decided to further educate ourselves on herptile care by carefully considering this guide provided by Animal World. It was important for us to become knowledgeable in the area of herptiles and their environments in order to gather a trustworthy list of terrarium recommendations.
This intensive stage of research helped us narrow down our terrarium selections based on quality and aesthetics. Although pricing was important, it played a lower factor on our selection because we often found cheaper terrariums to be inadequate for the responsible care of herptiles. However, we do highlight one very affordable terrarium that has high marks, but is not necessarily meant to be a permanent home.
After taking into account all the above criteria, we came up with the following selective list of terrariums that will guarantee the well being of your herptile and help nourish the herptoculturist in you!
Our Top Pick: The Exo Terra All-glass Terrarium
A clear leader in terrariums, Exo Terra is our favorite. Its high quality products and its excellent features are sure to make you one of the hundreds of satisfied reviewers.With its wide range in encasement sizes, Exo Terra terrariums are sure to please you!
All Exo Terra terrariums are made of durable glass and are adequate for both reptiles and amphibians. The front windows come with patented ventilation and their dual door system is both practical and escape-proof. Even the inlets for the wire and tubing within the encasement are closable, a precaution measure to guarantee a escape-proof environment. Finally, the bottom frame of all terrariums is not only raised to conveniently fit a substrate heater, but it is also waterproof.
This Exo Terra has dual doors. If easy maintenance is a priority on your list, you are going to love the dual front opening doors of this terrarium. The pivoting doors can be opened one at a time or at the same time, reducing the risk of escape and allowing you to easily mist and feed your herptile.
The terrarium comes with a specially designed lock that will prevent the unwanted opening of the terrarium when you are not around. This reliable security measure will keep away curious children and animals from the terrarium, guaranteeing your herptile does not get out.
The full stainless steel screen cover is conveniently removable for easy access while decorating or cleaning. The top has durable locks at the sides and has built-in closable inlets through which wires and tubing run, but ensure that small herptiles and feeder insects stay inside the terrarium. Most importantly, the top allows UVB and infrared penetration, essential components to keep your herptile healthy and happy.
It comes with a waterproof base. The fixed front panel of all Exo Terra terrariums allow for deep layers of substrate for reptiles while also allowing you to create a water environment for amphibians. All terrariums are checked for leaks and guaranteed.
To facilitate the access of a substrate heater or heat cable, the bottom glass panel of the terrarium is a raised frame. This detail in its construction allows the entire bottom of the terrarium to be well heated and ventilated. Also, unlike many “aquarium-style” terrariums, Exo Terra terrariums are deeper and therefore provide a larger ground surface for your herptiles to thrive in.
The included natural-looking rock background blends nicely with the aesthetic of the terrarium and other Exo-Terra products you can purchase. It makes for a natural looking habitat for your herptile, giving the encasement a climbing surface with endless decorative opportunities. A plus, the background also provides channels in the back for running chords and tubing from the inside to the outside without exposing them and tampering with your terrarium aesthetic.
The Exo Terra terrarium is no doubt the best option for both new and experienced herptile owners! It will not only provide an environment for your herptile to thrive in, but it will also have you raving about it. Its thoughtful features and pleasing design will make your herptile shine as a centerpiece topic in your home among family and friends.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
We love its features. We love the mindful design. We think this terrarium has a wholesome appeal and will help you nourish a healthy herptile.
However, we would like to make a note on the rock background that is included. Many owners have encountered a slight dilemma with the background when feeing live insects to their herptiles. The live feed will tend to climb and hide behind the background, making it difficult to impossible for the herptile to feed on the insects. A simple solution many owners have adopted for this dilemma is to opt-out from using the background inside the terrarium.
Eco Terra provides a range of quality decoration products that can liven up any terrarium without the need to include the rock background.
Our Step-up Pick: The Exo Terra Desert Habitat Kit or The Exo Terra Rainforest Habitat Kit
With the same great features as our Top Pick, these next two terrariums stand out as our Step-Up picks because of they come with all the necessary components necessary for your new terrarium hobby to start on a good note. New herpetoculturists will love these kits!
Like all other Exo Terra terrariums, these ones are made of glass. For an escape free access, they also come with dual front doors and a pivoting system. The kits provide you with all the necessary decoration items to replicate a desert or a rainforest habitat. These kits will give your chosen herptile an authentic environment that will be well ventilated with their unique window ventilation system.
Both habitat kits include a natural looking rock terrarium background, a bag of substrate, a water dish and care guides for your herptiles. For decoration, the desert kit includes a rock outcrop, a desert plat, and a hiding natural-looking cave. The rainforest kit includes a few jungle vines and some jungle plants, special decorations to perfectly create a rainforest environment for your herptile pet.
The full metal top screen included will not only allow for proper ventilation, but will also properly accommodate the included light and heating systems in the respective kits. The included compact top lighting systems for UVB and infrared lights will keep your reptile healthy and happy.
Instruction manuals to care for your respective desert and rainforest herptile are included in these kits. The manuals will also guide you through the installation process, the decoration and the future upkeep of your new Exo Terra Desert or Rainforest Habitat Kit.
Our Budget Pick: KollerCraft Habitat
This 5-gallon habitat is ideal for beginning herptoculturists that might not want to invest on a permanent terrarium quite yet. Although it is advertised as a habitat for reptiles only, many customers have used it successfully to set-up an environment for amphibians as well.
This basic terrarium is constructed with impact resistant acrylic. It is as safe as those made our of glass, but with the advantage of being much lighter. Its seamless fabrication will prevent the risk of leaks associated with habitats that require more of a rainforest environment. Its lack of glued seams, like other competitor habitats, makes KollerCraft superior.
The optimum viewing space that this budget-friendly terrarium offers will not only make for an attractive habitat, but its spacious interior will also allow your future cold blooded friend to enjoy plenty of room. When it comes to the well being of your herptile, safety is always key. That is why this terrarium includes a heavy duty metal top screen, which will keep your pet secure. This is the favorite feature for many people that decided to go with this particular terrarium.
This particular terrarium is best suited for small herptiles, so be mindful of how large your herptile will grow to be before deciding to buy it. Once again, we love this budget-friendly terrarium because of its seamless fabrication, but pay close attention to the development of your herptile in this terrarium should you decide to buy it. Herptiles cannot develop their own heat and their environments require good ventilation, so after some time, consider buying either more equipment or a step-up terrarium to ensure the healthy development of your herptile.
Terrariums Built With Aesthetics in Mind
– For those of you that might be looking for a herptile terrarium that is a bit more unique is aesthetic, our following picks are sure to please you.
The BioBubble Reptile Terrarium
– Ideally designed for desert reptile species.
The BioBubble Reptile Terrarium
The BioBubble Reptile Bundle
– Ideally designed for arboreal species of reptiles and amphibians.
The BioBubble Reptile Bundle
The ground groundbreaking design of both products is ideal for creating some of the most imaginative environments for your herptile. The innovative design introduces modular and expandable terrariums that will allow you to customize the terrarium’s environment to your heart’s content. This advanced ability to make these terrariums your own along with their modern design are sure to make the habitat of your herptile an elegant centerpiece, be it at home or at the office.
Both BioBubble terrariums come with a crystal clear dome for a 360 degree view of your reptile. Their plastic construction is reliable, lighter in weight and safer when compared with other glass terrariums. The integrated vented caps of these models can also serve as an entry for lighting, to ensure your herptile gets the necessary amount of UVB and infrared light.
These habitats also come with a screen that can be used for mounting lighting systems. Both designs come with sturdy clips that secure the dome and their respective risers together. Another great feature of these models are their removable bedding tray that will allow you to easily upkeep with the maintenance of your herptile.
Warm water and mild detergent are enough to to keep these terrariums clean. Should your herptile overgrow its home or should you decide to provide a tiered environment, these beautifully designed terrariums can be customized with additional risers. Let your creativity unleash with BioBubble!
The Exo Terra Habisphere Desktop Terrarium
We could not resist to share yet another Exo Terra terrarium. Part of their newest products, the Habisphere Desktop terrarium is a stylish and compact design that will seamlessly integrate in any home or office. Its unique bent from window will provide you and bystanders with optimal viewing of your herptile. This terrarium is very energy efficient and comes with a sleek day/night LED lighting system. All these great features are fuss-free with the simple installation process and its easy daily maintenance. We absolutely love this terrarium!
This aesthetically pleasing glass terrarium is the perfect accent to any desk or countertop. The innovative bent in the from mirror will give you a unique view into the terrarium and your herptile pet. With the simple touch of a button, this terrarium has an integrated day and night light in the top lid that is energy efficient. This terrarium is easy to install and maintain thanks to its top lid access and its removable back panel. It will not only make for a beautiful encasement to show your herptile, but it will also make taking care of it very simple.
A natural photographic background is included with the Habisphere, but its unique double background panel also gives you the freedom to customize the visual theme and appeal of the terrarium. You will also have access to download other themed images from Exo Terra’s website. Should you consider to opt for this beautiful terrarium, keep in mind that the delicate aesthetic of the Habisphere will be most ideal for small ground dwelling herptiles.
An Alternative Terrarium
– For owners that might be looking for a herptile encasement that is not necessarily made out of glass or acrylic, the following terrarium could be for you.
Exo Terra Metal Screen Terrarium
Built to last, you will love the simple appeal of the Exo Terra Metal Screen Terrarium. If you’re looking for a terrarium that is very simple to assemble and easy to maintain, this is the perfect choice for you.
The whole encasement is made out of fine metal screen, making it a very well ventilated habitat for many reptiles and amphibians. The screen design makes it easy to open and lock. The design also allows for maximum air circulation, which helps minimize bad odors and fungus problems associated with poor habitat ventilation.
Should you need to raise air humidity for your herptile inside the terrarium, be mindful of misting regularly. Also, you can purchase moistened substrate or a waterfall with a fogger to build the ideal humidity level inside the encasement. The addition of live plants inside the terrarium is another great way to maintain a higher humidity level.
The metal screen of this particular Exo Terra terrarium is conducive to the optimal viewing of your herptile pet. Another great advantage is that the screen is UV light permeable, an important factor to keeping a healthy herptile.
Its durable and lightweight construction make it easy to carry and the sliding door function make feeding and maintenance simple. This terrarium is built for both indoor and outside use, so if you’re looking for a terrarium that gives you more flexibility than a glass or acrylic terrarium, the Exo Terra Metal Screen terrarium is definitely for you!
In today’s market, you will find a plethora of terrariums to choose from, which can become quite overwhelming if you’re a first time buyer. From our preferred brand, to aesthetically pleasing ones, to terrariums built with alternative materials, they all stand true to our reviews. By performing over 65 hours of research, our intention was to take out the burden of research from your hands and make the beginning of this great hobby both informative and enjoyable.
During our research period, we focused on tried and true terrariums with high reviews on Amazon, which have been highlighted on our top picks. However, we also loved the more creative designs of terrariums, so we thought it necessary to present a few based on their aesthetic merit. Lastly, we took into consideration alternative materials used in the making of terrariums, informing you the buyer of the range and options available in the market.
We covered three terrarium brands above: Exo Terra as the trusted leader in herptile terrariums, BioBubble as an innovative herptile terrarium manufacturer, and KollerCraft as an affordable brand for herptile terrariums.
Although the terrarium market is still somewhat specialized, we would like to mention in this market competitor section another two terrarium brands that have some worth looking into.
Zoo Med Laboratories Naturalistic Terrarium
This particular naturalistic terrarium made by Zoo Med Laboratories a rising competitor against the terrariums made by Exo Terra. The terrarium comes with a full front glass opening door and a snap closure. The screen top allows for ventilation and can accommodate a light fixture. The overall design is very similar our top pick, but the details on the product are sparse even when we visit Zoo Med’s website.
Zoo Med sells terrariums that are slightly lower in price and based on some very detailed reviews, appear to highly qualify in comparison to the terrariums manufactured by Exo Terra. However, the lack of transparency and overall mixed reviews prevent us from giving you a thorough review of this Zoo Med’s products, which is why we bring it up very briefly to give you an idea of a rising terrarium brand on Amazon.
Happy Pet Acrylic Terrariums for Reptiles or Amphibians
Happy Pet terrariums are made of acrylic, their design is decent and their pricing is fairly low. The entire encasement is made of a high polymer acrylic material, making it 100% transparent so you can enjoy a 360 degree view of your herptile. Towards the top, the terrarium has large ventilation holes on either side, which will provide a continuous airflow within the terrarium.
While the simplicity and easy maintenance of the Happy Terrarium are great, we didn’t think it worth it to note as one of our top or specialized picks due to their inconsistent reviews and lack of buyer traffic. However, we aim to give yon informative review of the terrariums that are available for sale on Amazon, so we thought Happy Pet was worth to note under the market competition.
Wrapping It Up
From the moment we finalized our recommendations, we knew we had gathered a list of quality products that you were going to enjoy looking over. Our chosen terrariums are well researched and have verified reviews from herptile lovers just like you.
From market leaders, to creative and affordable brands, to competitor brands, we have presented you with a range of choices that will please you and not overwhelm you. Our selective choices will ensure that your new cold-blooded friend will get a quality home no matter which terrarium you decide to opt for.
Responsible owners should be well prepared before welcoming a new herptile into their home. As terrariums have been growing in popularity during the past few decades, it is important that new enthusiasts educate themselves on the wonders, but also the responsibilities, that come with owning a herptile.
However, this doesn’t mean your search for a terrarium should be complicated! That is why we gathered this informative yet easy to digest article on terrariums to save you confusion and leave you more time to enjoy your hobby. We absolutely love the Exo Terra terrariums and stand behind their products, but no matter which terrarium you end up choosing from our list, we are confident they will all inspire wonder in your discovery of your new herptile.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.