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First Terrarium: The 5 Essential Elements

First Terrarium The 5 Essential Elements (1)

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Christmas is the season of gifts, joy, and surprise. If you’re searching for a unique and memorable idea this year, why not consider a first terrarium as the perfect gift? Offering a miniature habitat to a reptile, snake, or gecko is more than just a present; it’s a gateway to a fascinating world of biodiversity at home.

Imagine the awe in the eyes of your loved ones as they discover their own scaled-down ecosystem, a corner of nature where an exotic reptile can roam freely. It’s not just a gift; it’s a captivating experience that will spark curiosity and love for wildlife.

In addition to being an unexpected surprise, a first terrarium provides a unique opportunity to learn and understand the responsibility of caring for a living being. It’s an educational gift that can ignite a passion for nature preservation and appreciation for creatures sharing our planet.

So, this year, step away from ordinary gifts and offer something truly extraordinary. A first terrarium is not just a box full of life; it’s a gesture that creates lasting memories and kindles a love for biodiversity, making Christmas an even more special celebration.

1. The Terrarium

Whether in glass or plexiglass, it will host the lizard, snake, or gecko. It’s the inevitable and essential equipment. Generally, there is a tendency to opt for a terrarium that’s too large for the animal. To start, a 30x30x30 terrarium is perfect. For the terrarium’s volume, ensure that the interior equipment is not too confined and remains in line with the terrarium (risk of overheating, regulation system failure, etc.). Sliding doors are recommended to maximize space and for their practicality. Don’t forget to ensure there is ventilation for air renewal.

2. The Thermostat

The thermostat is a crucial element of the terrarium as it will determine the reptile’s survival by regulating the enclosure’s temperature. There are various models, some able to control the temperature both day and night, while others, even more modern, have a digital display for precision to the tenth of a degree.

3. The Heating

Three main types of heating emerge from the variety offered:

  • The heating cable, perfect for delineating a hot zone and a cooler zone in the habitat (heat comes from the floor, and it’s straightforward to install).
  • The heating pad, designed to be outside the terrarium.
  • The heating lamp, infrared lamp (additional light along with heating) or ceramic lamp.

4. The Lighting

Light plays a significant role in a terrarium as it allows the reptile to distinguish day from night. Whether you choose a spotlight, a neon, or a bulb, the important thing is to choose one that suits you and integrates well with the overall terrarium equipment. Some recommend lights with UVB to synthesize the animals’ calcium.

5. The Substrate

It’s crucial to carefully choose your substrate based on the animal: a snake and a gecko don’t necessarily move on the same type of terrain, and their needs are not identical. We find:

  • Sand: not recommended as it can obstruct the animal’s intestinal and digestive pathways.
  • Calci-sand: a variety of sand entirely made up of calcium. The risk is that the animal might ingest it.
  • Beech shavings: the most used substrate as it poses no danger to the animal, whatever it may be. Moreover, it is aesthetic, economical, and helps the reptile during its molting.

Other accessories can be added, such as decoration, hiding places that are important, a humidity box (humidifier) to have a cool spot in the terrarium, and also a water point to hydrate the animal.


Investing in a first terrarium requires meticulous preparation to ensure the well-being of your reptile. By following these tips, you will create an environment conducive to its survival and flourishing.


  1. What size of terrarium is ideal for a beginner?
    • To start, a 30x30x30 terrarium is perfect.
  2. Why is the choice of substrate so important?
    • Different reptiles have different substrate needs to replicate their natural environment.
  3. Are UVB lamps really necessary?
    • Some recommendations suggest using UVB lamps to synthesize essential calcium for reptiles.
  4. How to maintain a constant temperature in the terrarium?
    • Use a quality thermostat to regulate the temperature day and night.
  5. What additional accessories are recommended for the terrarium?
    • Add hiding places, a humidity box, and a water point to create an enriching environment.
mahatma gandhi portrait

- Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

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