An Introduction to the Habitat of Your Reptile

Sunday, 8 March 2015  |  Sally

An Introduction to the Habitat of Your Reptile


Over the past 2 decades, the popularity of reptile keeping has grown hugely. This is partly due to the better availability of good-quality knowledge of these most unusual of animals. Keeping reptiles is rewarding and enjoyable. The ability to customize your chosen reptiles habitat can make reptile keeping an art. This short 'Introduction to the Habitat of Your Reptile, aims to provide the complete beginner with the most essential information concerning the different habitats required by different species.

Habitat Requirements

Because of the extensive range of habitats from which reptiles originate from, choosing the right cage or enclosure for your reptile, is essential. 

  • Desert

Desert reptiles such as the Bearded Dragon (a popular beginners reptile, and our favourite) require a sand substrate(specifically designed for the use with reptiles) with rock decoration. Desert reptiles have the highest temperature requirements of all reptiles. A basking area (an area with a temperature above that of the rest of the enclosure which the reptile uses to for thermoregulation) is a must with these reptiles. In some cases the basking area should be over 20°f higher than the surrounding area. A high intensity UV lamp (10%) is also required, and we recommend the Exo Terra Repti-Glo range for this purpose. It is recommended that desert animals be kept in a wooden vivarium, as this is the easiest enclosure for maintaining the high temperatures which are required.


Reptiles originating from Savannah (bush) areas such as the 
Spiny-Tailed Monitor Lizard or Bosc Monitor, require a similar habitat to the desert, however some shaded areas are required which are best created using wood based decorations such as Zoo Med Habba Hut caves, cork branches and bamboo root. A basking area is still required but usually at a lesser temperature than those in inland desert microclimates. Again, a high intensity UV lamp (10%) is required and a wooden vivarium is still recommended.



River Edge
This habitat is much greener than the previous two. Such animals as the 
Chinese or Green Water Dragons & Green Iguanas come from these regions. A bark or peat based substrate is normally required for these types of reptiles, and we normally recommend Orchid Bark. Decorate these enclosures with many hiding places, branches and vines. Often reptiles which originate from the river's edge, like to climb and so ample opportunities should be provided by creating a multi-level habitat giving the reptile the chance to climb if they wish. The temperature of such habitats range from 84-88°f in the vivarium, with a basking spot area up to 100°f. Humidity is also vital for these animals which can be maintained through regular misting with bottled water, and through the use of large water bowls, waterfalls and sphagnum moss. A 5% UV lamp is required for these animals and a wooden vivarium is still our recommended enclosure type, because the temperatures are still high.



Tropical Forest
Reptiles such as 
Emperor Scorpions and Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, should be kept in this habitat. Once again, a bark or peat based substrate is normally used for these habitats, and should be kept quite moist, which can be maintained by regular spraying of the enclosure. Like the river edge habitat, provide lots of hiding places, such as caves and branches for the reptile. A more densely planted enclosure is also required; however there is less emphasis on water requirements, so usually a small water dish will suffice. There are no strict rules on UV lighting for this habitat as the different species originating from here have requirements ranging from no lighting through to a 2% or 5% lamp.