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Best reptile habitat starter kit

Which reptile habitat starter kit is best?

Many people enjoy keeping reptiles as pets. From large snakes to bearded dragons and small turtles, these cold-blooded creatures are interesting to observe and care for.

However, because reptiles depend on the conditions of their environment to stay healthy, they have unique requirements with regard to heating and lighting. Reptile habitat starter kits offer a great way to keep your new pet happy and vibrant without having to make separate purchases or shopping trips.

The Exo Terra Rainforest Habitat Kit provides much of what you need to create the perfect home for a small reptile. It also makes for a beautiful display piece, thanks to its included decorations.

What to know before you buy a reptile habitat starter kit

Habitat layout

Be sure that you understand your reptile’s natural habitat so you can choose a starter kit made to mimic it. A terrarium designed for desert animals such as bearded dragons, for example, will be flat and wide to accommodate creatures that bask in the sand. A habitat built for chameleons will be taller, as these animals spend their lives climbing in trees. A turtle tank needs to have enough room for the animal to swim comfortably and also climb out of the water to a dry spot when it wishes to.

Temperature zones

Because reptiles are cold blooded, they need to move between warm and cool areas to keep their bodies regulated. To allow your pet to do this, you need to create at least two separate temperature zones within your habitat.

Habitat size

Most reptiles aren’t energetic, but they still need enough space to move around and stretch out. Habitats that are too small get dirty quickly, don’t provide your reptile with room to explore and are hard to create temperature zones in.

Where you will keep your reptile

You need to find a place in your home where your reptile's habitat can be kept without being disturbed. Avoid vents. Too much heat or air conditioning can make it hard to control the temperature in your pet’s enclosure. Don’t keep your habitat too close to a window where the risk of cold drafts or too much sunlight may result in discomfort for your reptile.

What to look for in a quality reptile habitat starter kit


Your reptile’s habitat should have a lid that keeps your pet from escaping but doesn’t seal tightly enough to prevent airflow. Many kits include screen lids for good ventilation. Clips are required to lock the lid in place.


Reptiles can become ill if they are kept in enclosures with poor air circulation. Select a habitat that includes vents to let air flow into and out of the terrarium. Chameleon habitats usually feature at least one side that is made of screen or mesh, as these animals are especially sensitive to stale air.


Maintaining the temperature of your pet’s home is critical. You need at least one thermometer in your reptile’s habitat, so a kit that includes one will save you some money and shopping time.


Reptiles require a specific spectrum of UV light for healthy bones and proper vitamin and mineral absorption. While this light occurs naturally outdoors, glass windows block it from entering interior spaces. Choose a reptile habitat that includes these lights to ensure that your pet won’t fall ill or develop a brittle skeleton.


Reptiles that bask in the sun need overhead warmth from a lamp or ceramic heat emitter. Nocturnal reptiles thrive with heat pads that provide warmth from below. Learn about what type of heat will best suit your pet and make sure that the habitat you choose can be properly set up for it.


From food dishes to hiding shelters and water filters, reptile habitats often include accessories to help you furnish your pet’s home. Choose one with items you will actually make use of to get the most bang for your buck.

How much you can expect to spend on a reptile habitat starter kit

Reptile habitats cost $80-$250, depending on size and included accessories.

Reptile habitat starter kit FAQ

Can I keep a turtle in a fish tank?

A. Yes. As long as you set the turtle’s tank up with the proper heating, lighting and filtration systems, a properly-sized aquarium can be turned into a satisfactory turtle habitat.

Will my reptile try to escape its habitat?

A. Yes. Reptiles, snakes in particular, will spend most of their active time exploring every corner of their enclosure. Your lid should be securely fastened with no spaces large enough for the animal to fit through.

How often do I have to clean my reptile’s habitat?

A. This depends on your animal, its habits and its environment. Generally, any uneaten food should be removed before it spoils. If your pet eats live prey such as crickets, remove any of them once your pet loses interest in eating to prevent them from pestering it. Aquatic turtles are messy and need constant filtration to keep their water clean.

What’s the best reptile habitat starter kit to buy?

Top reptile habitat starter kit

Exo Terra Rainforest Habitat Kit 

What you need to know: Great for climbing reptiles and amphibians, this kit includes natural-looking decorations and accessories.

What you’ll love: This habitat kit is available in small and medium sizes. It includes substrate, fake plants and a stone background to create a beautiful display. It features ventilation ports, a lid for installing bulbs, doors for easy access to your pet and a food dish.

What you should consider: This terrarium is designed for jungle animals only and does not include UV bulbs or a heater.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top reptile habitat starter kit for the money

Zilla 10-Gallon Desert Reptile Starter Kit 

What you need to know: This kit is great for small desert animals like geckos or a baby bearded dragon.

What you’ll love: This reptile habitat kit includes two light fixtures, two bulbs for heat and UV lighting and a thermometer. It also comes with a floor mat and a screen lid that locks into place.

What you should consider: This habitat is small and can only serve as a temporary home for most reptiles. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Worth checking out

Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit

What you need to know: This 20-gallon habitat includes a filter and is ideal for a small turtle.

What you’ll love: This enclosure comes with a heat lamp, a UV bulb and two fixtures to mount them in. It includes a screen lid, a hiding shelter and a basking platform that doubles as a filter.

What you should consider: The heating and UV bulbs that come with this habitat aren’t adequate for all turtle species, so research your pet’s health requirements before purchasing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy


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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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