Your Reptiles Habitat Design – Minimalistic, Simplistic or Naturalistic? - Updated

Your Reptiles Habitat Design – Minimalistic, Simplistic Or Naturalistic

Before you get your pet reptile, it’s important to plan out where it will be living for the next 10 or more years and there are several ways you can setup your reptile’s habitat to care for the lifetime of your pet. Firstly, lets look into where most pet reptiles come from.

Minimalistic (Good?) 

Most pet reptiles in the USA and many other countries are initially hatched and raised up in minimalistic enclosures called tubs or racks. This setup is also popular with smaller breeders that sell online, at local reptile shows and to other collectors who are usually interested in breeding to create new genetic traits that often display new coloration or patterns that are commonly referred to as “morphs”.

Raising baby colubrid snakes in a commercial facilityDue to the hard work of breeders and hobbyists, the survival of many reptile species is ensured, not to mention the many exciting, new color variations that we see in today’s pet business. These breeders and hobbyists have also lowered and replaced much of the demand for wild caught reptiles as pets which is another positive benefit from the many years of captive reptile breeding. While this setup is where most pet reptiles begin their life, please don’t confuse this minimalistic setup as the standard for what your pet reptile needs throughout their life. Space and efficiency are calculated in order to make a profit in this business model and bare minimums are important in order to achieve this.

While it’s obviously adequate and provides the reptiles with food, water and shelter, what is commercially done behind the scenes to produce reptiles, should not be confused with how best to provide long term care for your pet reptile.

In reality, most young reptiles spend a very short period of their long lives in this minimalistic setup before moving off to the pet store and a much larger, decorated enclosure. Additionally, in commercial breeding the animals are usually retired early to ensure maximum breeding production and then are sold off to pet stores where they eventually become beloved pets.

While we understand and support the pet business, we have no interest in this level of care for a pet reptile. Personally, we find minimalistic setups to be extremely boring for us as reptile enthusiasts as well as for the pet and let’s face it, you didn’t come to looking for tubs and racks did you?

Unless you’re planning to become a reptile breeder or large collector, we encourage you to avoid this option for your pet reptile and provide them with a larger, more suitable habitat that both you and your pet will enjoy throughout their lifetime.

Simplistic (Better)

Simplistic setups are what you may find available in any pet store across the USA, basic setups with artificial plans and décor with some substrate. This is how the vast majority of pet reptiles get to live their lives in captivity. While this is a step-up from the minimalistic, breeder level of care, most commercially available enclosures are woefully inadequate space and design wise and many of the available reptile products are built down to a price, vs built up to a standard.

We took simplistic to a whole new level!  

One of our simplistic terrarium setups with artificial décorWe don’t believe in building temporary products that don’t last or worst still, don’t do what they were designed for. Instead, our simplistic setups feature the very best that the reptile world has to offer. Beginning with great enclosures, amazing backgrounds, artificial plants and décor, this approach is easy to build, clean and maintain while still looking great and most importantly, providing your pets with a much more suitable, long term home that will enable it to exercise its instincts and enrich its quality of life in the process.

The maintenance for a simplistic setup is easy too. Spot cleaning for your reptiles waste should be done regularly as needed and you should plan on a deep clean every 3 to 6 months. For this type of setup, a deep clean should include removing all the décor, washing or hosing it down, sterilizing the enclosure and replacing the substrate. 


Naturalistic (Best)

Mother Nature is the ultimate inspiration and just as zoos and exhibits around the world have mimicked natural habitats for many years, today you can easily replicate a naturalistic habitat, right there in your own home or office.

Bioactive terrarium setupAnd just like zoos, exhibits and museums, artificial backgrounds and rocks can be used to create a realistic looking enclosure without the weight issues and will still compliment the naturalistic setup. Once real plants, logs or branches and other biodegradables are added, your pets habitat will take on a different look that will provide countless benefits for your pets as well, as they hunt and explore within their mini environment. With the addition of bioactive soils, microbes and tiny organisms (AKA Clean-up crews) that maintain the habitat, you have a low maintenance option that will save you time and money while truly providing your pet with the very best mini habitat possible (To learn more about bioactive terrarium basics, ReptiFiles is a great resource for this topic as well as many other reptile care related issues).

While naturalistic may take a little more time and cost for the initial setup, its well worth the effort and we know your reptiles will greatly benefit and thrive from your commitment to providing them with the very best possible naturalistic habitat. Enjoy!

About the Author:

Paul Barclay is the founder and CEO of Custom Reptile Habitats and is a lifetime reptile and amphibian enthusiast. Originally from Perth, Western Australia, Barclay grew up catching and keeping amphibians and reptiles such as turtles, lizards, monitors and pythons before immigrating to the USA where he has kept a more extensive list of reptile species.

As a business executive, Barclay has launched several international businesses and brands in the fitness, weight loss and footwear industries and more recently in the pet industry where he for over 8 years consulted formally and informally for over a dozen companies. During this time, Barclay has worked extensively with every major pet store chain in the USA, Fortune 500 companies, manufacturers, large scale breeders breeders, importers, exporters, industry publications, reptile Zoos, YouTube personalities, trade show promoters and pet advocacy groups.

Now based in Dayton, Ohio, Barclay's latest creation has a mission: To advance the husbandry of pet reptiles by raising the bar on reptile products in order to provide customers with better habitat choices that enable their pet reptiles to really thrive.