Terrarium Animals: A Guide to Keeping and Caring for Reptiles and Amphibians

Welcome to the world of terrarium animals! If you’re interested in keeping and caring for unique and fascinating creatures, reptiles and amphibians make perfect pets. From scorpions and millipedes to tarantulas and beetles, there are a wide variety of terrarium animals to choose from.

One of the most popular choices for terrarium enthusiasts is the snake. With their sleek bodies and mesmerizing movements, snakes are captivating creatures to observe. Whether you prefer a small species like the corn snake or a larger species like the boa constrictor, snakes are relatively low maintenance and can thrive in a well-equipped terrarium.

Remember, owning a terrarium animal is a responsibility that requires commitment and dedication. By providing a suitable living environment and proper care, you can enjoy the companionship and beauty that these incredible creatures bring into your life.

Choosing the Right Species





Lizards are a diverse group of reptiles that make fascinating terrarium pets. From geckos to bearded dragons, there are numerous lizard species to choose from. Each species has its own specific care requirements, including temperature, humidity, and diet. Lizards generally require a mix of live insects and vegetables in their diet, and they thrive in terrariums that provide them with hiding spots and climbing opportunities.


Snakes are another popular choice for terrarium pets. They come in various shapes and sizes, with different species requiring different care. Temperature and humidity control is crucial for snakes, as well as providing appropriate hiding spots and climbing branches. Snakes primarily feed on rodents and require a consistent feeding schedule.


Beetles are often overlooked as potential terrarium pets, but they can be fascinating to observe. From brightly colored jewel beetles to stag beetles with impressive horns, there are many beetle species that can be kept in terrariums. Beetles require a substrate that supports their burrowing habits and a diet consisting of rotting wood and other organic matter.



Setting Up the Terrarium

Terrarium Size

The size of your terrarium will depend on the specific needs of the species you choose to keep. Some animals, like scorpions and tarantulas, require smaller enclosures, while others, such as tortoises or lizards, need larger habitats to thrive. Research the specific requirements for your chosen species to ensure you provide adequate space.


The substrate, or flooring material, in your terrarium should mimic the natural habitat of your pet. Different animals prefer different substrate types, such as sand, soil, mulch, or moss. Research the natural habitat of your chosen species and provide a suitable substrate to promote their natural behaviors and maintain proper moisture levels.

Temperature and Lighting

Decorations and Hiding Places

Creating a natural and stimulating environment is crucial for the well-being of your animals. Add various decorations, such as rocks, branches, and plants, to create hiding spots and climbing opportunities. This will help reduce stress and encourage natural behaviors.

Humidity Control

Some species, such as frogs or tarantulas, require specific humidity levels in their terrarium. Use a hygrometer to monitor and maintain the appropriate humidity. This can be achieved by misting the enclosure regularly, using a humidity feature in the terrarium, or adding a water source such as a shallow bowl or misting system.

By carefully setting up and maintaining your terrarium, you can provide a suitable and comfortable home for your scorpion, tortoise, tarantula, beetle, frog, snake, millipede, or lizard. Remember to regularly clean and monitor the terrarium to ensure the health and happiness of your beloved pet.

Temperature and Humidity Control

Proper temperature and humidity control are essential for the health and well-being of terrarium animals, such as geckos, lizards, frogs, millipedes, tarantulas, tortoises, scorpions, and beetles. These reptiles and amphibians have specific temperature and humidity requirements that need to be met in order to ensure their survival.

In addition to temperature, humidity is also important for the health of terrarium animals. The humidity level should be maintained at an appropriate level, which also varies depending on the species. For example, tropical species, such as frogs and geckos, generally require higher humidity levels, around 60-80%. Desert species, like tortoises and scorpions, require lower humidity levels, around 30-50%. It is crucial to monitor and adjust the humidity level within the terrarium using a hygrometer or humidity gauge.

There are several methods to control humidity levels in a terrarium. One common method is to mist the tank with water using a spray bottle. This can help to increase the humidity temporarily, but it may not be sufficient for certain species that require a higher humidity level. Another method is to use a humidity substrate, such as coconut fiber or sphagnum moss, which can help to retain moisture in the terrarium. A water dish or a small pool can also be provided to increase humidity, especially for species that require regular access to water.

Overall, maintaining the proper temperature and humidity within the terrarium is a crucial aspect of reptile and amphibian care. By providing the right conditions, such as a temperature gradient and appropriate humidity levels, you can help ensure the health and well-being of your terrarium animals, whether they are geckos, lizards, frogs, millipedes, tarantulas, tortoises, scorpions, or beetles. Always research the specific requirements of the species you are keeping and monitor the temperature and humidity levels regularly to provide the best care possible.

Nutrition and Feeding for Terrarium Animals

One common mistake that many terrarium owners make is assuming that all reptiles and amphibians eat the same things. This is not the case. For example, a scorpion and a lizard have vastly different dietary needs. While a scorpion primarily feeds on insects, a lizard might require a diet that consists of both insects and plants.

Some popular food choices for terrarium animals include crickets, mealworms, worms, and flies. These insects provide a good source of protein and other essential nutrients. Additionally, some reptiles, such as tarantulas, may eat smaller vertebrates like mice or small birds.

Feeding schedules can also vary depending on the animal. While some species, like geckos or snakes, may require regular feedings, others such as tortoises or millipedes may only need to be fed a few times a week. It is crucial to follow the recommended feeding guidelines for each species to ensure their health and well-being.

In addition to providing the right food, it is also important to ensure that your terrarium animals have access to clean water. Some species, like the beetle, may obtain sufficient moisture from the food they eat, while others, like snakes or geckos, may require a separate water source. Make sure to regularly clean and refill water dishes to prevent the growth of bacteria or other contaminants.

Overall, nutrition and feeding play a vital role in the care of terrarium animals. It is essential to do thorough research and consult with experts to ensure that you are providing the proper diet and meeting the specific needs of your scorpion, lizard, tarantula, gecko, snake, tortoise, millipede, beetle, or other terrarium pets.

Handling and Socialization

Before attempting to handle your terrarium animals, it’s essential to learn about their natural behaviors, preferred environments, and stress triggers. For example, geckos and lizards are generally more skittish and prefer to observe humans from a distance, while some snakes may enjoy being handled regularly as part of their socialization process.

Tortoises, for instance, are typically slow-moving and may retreat into their shells when startled or stressed. It’s important not to frighten them or handle them too frequently, as excessive stress can negatively impact their health.

On the other hand, snakes are generally more comfortable with handling, but it’s crucial to support their bodies correctly and avoid sudden movements that may startle or stress them. Always approach snakes from the front and support their body with both hands to ensure their safety and minimize stress.

Proper Technique

When handling your terrarium animals, wash your hands thoroughly and avoid using any lotion or hand sanitizers that may leave a residue or scent. This will help prevent any potential harm to your pets and keep their sensitive skin protected.

Benefits of Socialization

While not all terrarium animals crave social interaction, proper socialization can have several benefits for certain species. For frogs, socialization can help reduce stress and prevent potential aggression between multiple specimens in a terrarium setup.

For some species, like geckos and certain lizards, regular handling can help desensitize them to human presence and promote bonding between pet and owner. This can lead to a more enjoyable and interactive experience for both you and your reptilian companion.

Common Health Issues in Terrarium Animals

Tortoise Shell Pyramiding

Tortoises are prone to a condition called shell pyramiding, which is the abnormal growth of the shell. This can be caused by improper diet, incorrect temperatures, or improper humidity levels. To prevent shell pyramiding, provide a balanced diet, maintain proper temperatures, and ensure the terrarium’s humidity is within the appropriate range.

Tarantula Molting Issues

Tarantulas go through a molting process where they shed their old exoskeleton to grow. However, molting issues can occur, such as incomplete molts or getting trapped during the process. To help your tarantula properly molt, provide a suitable hiding spot, ensure the terrarium is at the correct temperature and humidity, and avoid disturbing the spider during the molting process.

Beetle and Millipede Parasites

Beetles and millipedes can be affected by parasites, such as mites or nematodes. These parasites can cause itching, skin irritation, and overall poor health. Regularly inspect your terrarium animals for any signs of parasites and consult a veterinarian if treatment is necessary.

Gecko Metabolic Bone Disease

Geckos are susceptible to metabolic bone disease, which is caused by a calcium and vitamin D deficiency. This disease can lead to weakened bones and deformities. To prevent metabolic bone disease in geckos, provide a balanced diet with proper calcium supplementation and ensure they have access to UVB lighting for natural vitamin D synthesis.

Scorpion Venom Toxicity

Scorpions have venomous stingers, and their bites can cause varying levels of toxicity. It is essential to handle scorpions with caution and avoid getting stung. If you or your pet is stung by a scorpion, seek medical attention immediately.

Snake Respiratory Infections

Snakes can develop respiratory infections if their terrarium’s temperature and humidity are not properly maintained. Symptoms of respiratory infections in snakes include wheezing, open-mouth breathing, and abnormal nasal discharge. If you suspect your snake has a respiratory infection, consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Frog Bacterial and Fungal Infections

Frogs can be prone to bacterial and fungal infections, especially if their terrarium’s water quality is not optimal. Signs of infections in frogs include skin discoloration, ulcers, and lethargy. Regularly clean and maintain the terrarium’s water source to prevent infections, and consult a veterinarian if your frog shows any signs of illness.


Being aware of these common health issues in terrarium animals will help you identify and address any potential problems promptly. Regular veterinary check-ups, proper diet, appropriate temperature and humidity control, and maintaining a clean and well-maintained terrarium are essential for the overall health and well-being of your reptiles and amphibians. By taking these proactive measures, you can provide a safe and thriving environment for your terrarium animals.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Proper cleaning and maintenance are essential for the health and well-being of terrarium animals. Regular cleaning helps to prevent the build-up of waste and bacteria, ensuring a clean and safe environment for your reptiles and amphibians.

Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your terrarium:

  • Remove any uneaten food or waste from the terrarium daily to prevent odors and bacterial growth.
  • Spot clean the terrarium regularly, removing any feces or soiled substrate.
  • Change the substrate regularly to maintain a clean and odor-free environment.
  • Clean the terrarium walls and decorations with a reptile-safe disinfectant to remove any bacteria or germs.
  • Check and clean the water dishes and humidifiers regularly to prevent the growth of algae or bacteria.
  • Inspect the terrarium for any signs of mold, mildew, or pests and take appropriate action to address any issues.
  • Regularly inspect and replace any damaged or worn-out equipment, such as heating pads or lighting fixtures.
  • Keep a record of your cleaning and maintenance schedule to ensure all tasks are completed regularly.

Remember to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your terrarium animals to prevent the spread of any potential pathogens.

By following a regular cleaning and maintenance routine, you can create a clean and healthy environment for your terrarium animals, promoting their overall well-being and longevity.

Creating a Natural Habitat

One crucial aspect of creating a natural habitat is providing the appropriate substrate. Different species have different preferences for the type of substrate they need, whether it be sand, soil, or a combination of both. The substrate should mimic the natural environment of the animal as closely as possible, providing them with a comfortable and familiar surface to walk and burrow on.

In addition to the substrate, adding various decorations such as rocks, branches, and plants can help replicate the natural hiding spots and climbing opportunities that these animals would have in the wild. This not only provides them with mental stimulation but also helps create an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Feeding the animals a diet that closely resembles their natural prey items is another crucial factor in creating a natural habitat. Researching the dietary needs of the specific species and providing them with a variety of appropriate food items will help promote their overall health and well-being.

Overall, creating a natural habitat for terrarium animals ensures that they are provided with an environment that closely resembles their natural habitats, allowing them to exhibit their natural behaviors and promoting their overall well-being. By considering factors such as substrate, decorations, temperature, humidity, and diet, you can create a beautiful and enriching environment for your terrarium animals.

Why is lighting important?

Heat and UVB radiation

Reptiles, such as tortoises, lizards, and snakes, require specific temperatures to regulate their metabolism, digestion, and overall health. Lighting fixtures, such as heat lamps, provide the necessary heat to create a basking spot where the animals can thermoregulate. UVB radiation is also crucial for reptiles as it helps them metabolize calcium, which is essential for healthy bone growth.

Visible light

Visible light is necessary for the well-being of most terrarium animals. It helps regulate their daily activity patterns, sleep-wake cycles, and overall behavior. By providing a natural day-night cycle using proper lighting, you can create a more natural environment for your terrarium animals, promoting their physical and mental health.

Choosing the right lighting setup

Additionally, make sure to provide a gradient in your terrarium, with a cooler side and a warmer side, to allow your animals to regulate their body temperature as needed. This can be achieved by positioning heating and lighting fixtures appropriately within the terrarium.


Choosing the right lighting setup for your terrarium animals is essential for their overall health and well-being. By providing the necessary heat, UVB radiation, and visible light, you can create a more natural and stimulating environment for your reptiles and amphibians. Remember to research the specific lighting requirements of your animals and regularly replace UVB bulbs to ensure the best care for your terrarium inhabitants.

Water and Drinking Habits

Proper hydration is essential for the well-being of terrarium animals. Each species has its own specific water and drinking habits, which must be taken into consideration when setting up their terrarium.

  • Tarantula: Tarantulas get most of their hydration from the food they eat and rarely drink from a water dish. However, it’s still recommended to provide a small dish of water in the terrarium.
  • Snake: Snakes usually obtain their water from the prey they consume. However, they may occasionally drink from a water dish if provided. Ensure the dish is large enough for them to soak in if desired.
  • Tortoise: Tortoises require a shallow water dish in their terrarium that they can easily climb into and soak in. They should have access to fresh water at all times.
  • Scorpion: Scorpions obtain most of their hydration from the food they eat. However, providing a small dish of water is still beneficial to them.

Reproduction and Breeding of Terrarium Animals

Temperature and humidity play significant roles in the reproductive success of terrarium animals. Most species require specific temperature ranges and humidity levels to initiate breeding behaviors and ensure proper egg development or gestation. Providing the optimal environmental conditions, including appropriate lighting and heating, is crucial for stimulating reproductive behaviors and promoting breeding success.

Feeding is another important aspect of successful reproduction. Providing a balanced and nutritious diet to the animals is crucial for their overall health and reproductive success. Some species, like frogs and snakes, may have specific dietary requirements during the breeding season, such as an increased intake of calcium, vitamins, or specific prey items.

Creating a natural habitat within the terrarium is essential for stimulating the natural reproductive behaviors of the animals. This includes providing suitable hiding places, vegetation, and substrate, as well as mimicking the natural day-night cycles and seasonal changes. The presence of appropriate environmental cues can trigger the animals to engage in courtship rituals, mating behaviors, and nest building, ultimately leading to successful reproduction.

Observing and monitoring the animals’ behavior and reproductive cycles is crucial for identifying successful breedings and pregnancies. Regular check-ups and documenting any changes in behavior, appearance, or feeding patterns can help ensure the well-being of the animals and detect any potential issues or complications during the breeding process.

Importance of Environmental Enrichment for Terrarium Animals

Creating a stimulating and enriching environment is essential for the health and well-being of terrarium animals. This applies to a wide range of species, including geckos, frogs, millipedes, tarantulas, snakes, tortoises, lizards, and scorpions.

Enhancing Natural Behaviors

One of the main goals of environmental enrichment is to allow the animals to engage in their natural behaviors. For example, providing hiding spots and climbing structures for arboreal species like geckos and tree frogs allows them to exhibit their natural instinct to climb and hide. For burrowing species like millipedes and tarantulas, adding a substrate that allows them to dig and create tunnels is important for their overall well-being.

Promoting Physical and Mental Stimulation

Environmental enrichment also helps provide physical and mental stimulation for terrarium animals. This can involve the use of puzzle feeders or foraging activities to encourage natural hunting and foraging behaviors. Providing different textures and materials, such as branches, rocks, and foliage, gives animals opportunities to explore and interact with their surroundings.

Preventing Boredom and Stress

Without proper environmental enrichment, terrarium animals can become bored, stressed, and even exhibit signs of captivity-related health issues. For example, snakes and lizards may develop stereotypical behaviors like pacing or excessive hiding if their environment lacks stimulation. Tortoises and scorpions can also benefit from the inclusion of objects to interact with, promoting natural behaviors and reducing stress.

Rotating and Refreshing Enrichment

Supervision and Safety

Terrarium Safety and Security

Selecting the Right Enclosure

  • Choose an enclosure that is appropriate for the specific species you are housing. Different animals have different habitat requirements, so make sure to do thorough research and select the right size and type of terrarium.
  • Ensure that the enclosure has secure lids or doors to prevent escape. Some reptiles and amphibians can be excellent escape artists, so it’s crucial to have a terrarium with a tight-fitting lid or latch system.

Proper Ventilation

Good ventilation is essential to maintain a healthy terrarium environment. It helps to remove excess humidity, prevent the buildup of odors, and provide fresh air circulation for your animals. Ensure that your enclosure has enough vents or airflow to create a suitable oxygen exchange.

Eliminating Hazards

  • Remove any sharp objects, toxic plants, or potential hazards from the terrarium. These can cause injuries to your animals or lead to health problems.
  • Avoid using substrates that can pose a risk of impaction, especially for reptiles and amphibians that may ingest their bedding. Choose safe and appropriate substrates such as coconut fiber, reptile carpet, or natural soil.
  • Keep electrical cords and heat sources away from the terrarium to prevent accidents or burns.

Regular Maintenance

Maintaining a clean and well-maintained terrarium is crucial for the health and safety of your pets. Here are some important tasks to include in your regular maintenance routine:

  • Clean and disinfect the enclosure regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria or parasites. Follow appropriate cleaning protocols and use reptile-safe disinfectants.
  • Check the fastenings of the enclosure regularly to ensure they are secure and in good condition.
  • Monitor the temperature and humidity levels inside the terrarium using appropriate gauges or sensors. Make adjustments as necessary to provide an optimal environment for your animals.

By following these guidelines for terrarium safety and security, you can provide a safe and comfortable habitat for your tortoise, millipede, snake, frog, gecko, tarantula, scorpion, beetle, or other terrarium animals. Prioritizing their well-being will contribute to their overall health and happiness in captivity.