Choosing the Right Terrarium for You and Your Pet

With all the habitat options, it can get confusing when it comes to which option is best for your pet and your family.  Many different factors are important to think about when making that decision.  The size of your pet, how old it is, and what type of animal all play important roles in choosing the right home.  You will also want to consider what the best option is for your family.  Ease of access, initial costs, and what you are able to fit in your home all play an important role in this decision as well.  Let’s dive into the different types of habitats to chose from and which will work best for you and your pet.

Standard Aquariums with Screen Tops

Zilla Metal Mesh Fresh Air Screen Cover 12" x 6"

Due to the incredible popularity of tropical fish keeping, glass aquariums come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and many times are a more cost conscious option.  Aquariums also give you the added benefit of being completely watertight for housing aquatic turtles or for anyone looking to do a paludarium or vivarium with a false bottom.  Zilla has a variety of screen covers and clips that fit all sizes of aquarium from 2.5 gallons up to 90 gallons.  Any aquarium larger than that will likely require a custom lid to be built.  This type of terrarium makes a great homes for nearly any lizard or amphibian, but be careful when using them for snakes, as they can push off the screen lid and escape.  One consideration with this type of terrarium for your family is that the lighting and screen top need to be removed to access the animal.  Families with younger children need to be careful to make sure the kids don’t touch a hot lamp.

Zilla Critter Cages

Zilla Deluxe Critter Cage

Zilla’s unique Critter Cages have a sliding, locking screen top that creates an escape proof habitat.  Thinner glass allows for the terrariums to be lighter than their aquarium counterparts but does make it so you can’t fill them up with water. This is important to note as these will not work for aquatic turtles, newts, and frogs. These terrariums are mid-range in cost, but the escape proof top makes them invaluable. Ranging from 5.5 gallons up to 40 gallons, Critter Cages can house species nearly any species of reptile or amphibian including Corn Snakes, Ball Pythons, Bearded Dragons, and Leopard Geckos with plenty of space for them to explore.  The open screen top allows for plenty of airflow for your pet but can make it difficult to retain humidity for tropical species. This style habitat, like an aquarium with a screen top, needs to be accessed from the top so you’ll need to move the light fixtures to access your pet. To make access a little easier for day to day feedings, Zilla added a feeding door to the lid of the Deluxe Critter Cages.

Front Opening Terrariums

12x12x15 front opening terrarium decorated and with lizard

Zilla’s line of Front Opening Terrariums are a premium habitat style for your pet and your family. The bottom beneath the door is water tight allowing for a unique aquatic environment or drainage layer for planted vivariums. The front door with latch and locking pins allows for easy access while being very secure to prevent escapes. The lid is hinged as well, allowing for another point of access incase you want to adjust something without opening the entire front of the terrarium. One major benefit of the Front Opening Terrariums is the front door access.  This allows you to access your pet without having to move hot heat lamps. For more shy or skittish animals, this also allows you to reach for them from the side or move your hand below them, which is less stressful than a hand reaching down from above which can resemble a predator. Another important benefit to this style terrarium is the plastic inserts for the lid that help retain humidity while still allowing cross ventilation to keep the habitat air fresh.

Zilla Fresh Air Screen Habitat

Zilla Reptile Fresh Air Screen Habitat Small

If you’re looking to get a chameleon or small lizard, such as a spiny tailed iguana, then Zilla’s Fresh Air Screen Habitats are a great option for you. They are made from an anodized aluminum frame with a tough black screen that can handle the wear and tear of your lizard's sharp claws.  The open screen also allows for maximum airflow which is important for many species of chameleon.  With front door access and door latches for added security, this is another terrarium type where you can access your pet without moving the hot lamps.  There is also a cord port which can allow you to use a Zilla Waterfall or Spring Cave which will entice your pet to drink and stay hydrated.  This style of habitat also makes a great temporary outdoor enclosure for many other reptile species.  It’s light weight and easy to move outside during warmer months so your pet can have access to beneficial sunlight, but make sure you bring them back inside at night to avoid any predators from accessing their cage.  Note that because of the completely open screen, maintaining humidity for tropical reptiles can be difficult.

Zilla Micro Habitats

Zilla Micro Habitats

As the name suggests, Zilla’s new Micro Habitats are an amazing temporary or long term home for your small reptiles, amphibians, and especially invertebrates. Crystal clear acrylic panels help you see your pet from all angles, while the modular design allows for easy breakdown and storage when not in use. The locking mechanism also helps to keep your pet secure. These stackable and unique habitats are great for spiders, tarantulas, scorpions, isopods, and many other invertebrates and also work as a temporary enclosure for many reptile species. Whether it’s a baby crested gecko that needs a secure home to start growing in or a container to keep your young bearded dragon in while you clean his enclosure, the possibilities are endless. Make sure you’re using these habitats for species that won’t get too large for them, don’t need access to extra heat, and don’t need UVB lighting.

There are many styles and types of enclosures that you can start with to help create your new pet reptile or amphibian’s new home. The species, husbandry needs, and ease of use for your family will all play an important part in decided which style to use. Make sure when choosing a size to keep the size of your pet and how large it will grow in mind.  Baby animals will become stressed and scared in a large open environment without plenty of things to hide under, so for most species a 10 gallon or 20L will be perfect.  As they grow, you’ll need to go to a larger enclosure size. For snakes and lizards, make sure they are not longer than the length of the shortest side of the terrarium. For questions and for more information, visit our Facebook page or our other educational resources on the website!


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