Reptile Enclosure Size | Selection Tips

Authored by Eric Roscoe of Madison Area Herpetological Society 

Reptile Enclosure Sizing

A common question often posted on Internet and social media, particularly by those new to reptile keeping, is

“which reptile(s) should I get/or are suitable for which sized enclosures?”

This will of course depend on many factors. How much space one has, each species’ potential adult size, and most importantly, what animal or species you’re most able, and/or interested in keeping (i.e. a snake, lizard or gecko, turtle/tortoise, etc.).

Each species has specific care requirements many of which can be found here on Reptile Apartment. Always remember to do your homework and research before purchasing or taking home any new animal. Do not make impulse purchases without forethought. With this said, here are some suggested species/animals (non comprehensive) who may be appropriately housed in the following mentioned enclosure sizes or equivalent sized accommodations (i.e. turtle/tortoise tables for chelonians, ExoTerra/ZooMed/Zilla enclosures, plastic or fiberglass enclosures for many snakes and lizards).

Reptile Enclosure Size | Recommended Animals

Less than 10 gallons or Similar/Equivalent

Not many reptiles or amphibian options can be housed in enclosures less than 10 gallons in dimensions. Perhaps African dwarf frogs, however.

10-15 gallons or Similar/Equivalent

Many hatchling/neonate to juvenile snakes (colubrids, smaller python and boa species), leopard, crested (tall), and many other gecko and smaller lizard species, Hatchling to juveniles of many other larger lizard species (agamids, chameleons, etc.), hatchling turtles and tortoises of many species. Also, many tarantulas, millipedes, and other commonly kept insects, arachnids, and invertebrates.

20-30 gallons or Similar/Equivalent

Adult colubrid snakes of many species (corn snakes, king snakes, milksnakes, hognose snakes, and others), adult smaller boa and python species (rosy and sand boas, some adult ball pythons, Children’s, Spotted, and other Antaresia pythons), Hatchling turtles and tortoises of many species, Pairs or multiples of many smaller gecko and other lizard species. Also some smaller adult turtle species (mud and musk turtles).

Zilla Premium Turtle Kit

30-50 gallons or Similar/Equivalent

Adult lizards of many species (such as bearded dragons, uromastyx, chameleons, blue tongued and other mid-sized skinks, Ackies and other dwarf monitors), Smaller adult turtle and tortoise species (Russian, Hermann’s, Greek tortoises, Diamondback terrapins, box turtles), many species of snakes (some adult ball pythons and other smaller to mid-sized pythons and boas, larger colubrids such as gopher/bull/pine snakes and rat snakes).

55 gallons and over (in general) or Similar/Equivalent

Larger lizards (iguanas, mid-sized to large monitors, tegus), mid-sized to larger and/or more active turtles and tortoises, dwarf caiman and all other adult crocodilians, Many adult mid-sized to large pythons and boas (Boa constrictors, carpet pythons, blood/short-tailed pythons, Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons, and other species).

*Editor’s Note: For some time I have tried more often than not to say enclosure instead of cage. There is an entire difference when it comes to keeping and ranching reptiles. Enclosures are those which are appropriately set-up to provide not only the bare necessities for survival but also elements for the enrichment of the reptile species we are keeping in the captive environment. For more on this topic another author has covered it rather well albeit they are speaking of birds Parrots specifically the same applies to reptile keeping. Here’s the link The Term Cage is Outdated

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