In this article, we are going to discuss what aspects one should consider while searching the terrarium market as well as several specific models all under $50. I know finding the right terrarium for a pet snake can be costly but trust me when I say it doesn’t have to be that way!

After weighing the various options, I found what I believe to be the top options of terrariums while keeping to a budget of $50. My purpose is not to sell you on any specific terrarium, all of these options could be the perfect fit, given the type of snake you plan on housing inside.

Exo Terra Faunarium, Flat Home- $25

This flat Exo Terra faunarium is the perfect cage to transport snakes or live food, i.e. mice, rats. It can also be great as a temporary house or quarantine for those with multiple snakes.

This cage is probably not the best option for a permanent home for medium to large snakes. They would get restless and possibly break out. While it does well with a medium/low heat mat, this will melt under a heat lamp.

I did like the transparent plastic door placed on top that provides easy access. Other faunariums usually have just a single lid that can get annoying and cumbersome to open every time you wish to get inside the cage.

If you click the link at the end, you’ll clearly see that this cage is well ventilated. What may not be so easy to spot is how easy to clean and disinfect this faunarium is. With a simple shape and lightweight design, this cage is a breeze when cleaning.

From what I’ve gathered from those who own this product, it works great for baby snakes and for moving snakes, say from residence to new residence.

Measures 18 inches long x 12 inches wide x 6.5 inches high.

This faunarium has a 4.5/5 star rating, 159 reviews, and can be found here.

Exo Terra Allglass Terrarium  Mini/Wide- $48

Exo Terra is a respected brand that makes terrariums in varying sizes. The mini wide glass terrarium is a great option for many small snakes, especially those that enjoy escaping their homes. Using high-quality parts and a recognized brand for consistency, this terrarium is competitively priced.

This terrarium has glass paneled walls and a patented front window ventilation. The back has a background made of foam that can pose a hazard to smaller snakes that might get stuck on the sides or behind it. This doesn’t have to be an issue, the background can be easily removed.

The terrarium features a nice raised bottom frame in order to fit a substrate heater. Unlike other raised bottom frames, this product touts a waterproof bottom.

Other features:

  • Escape-proof dual doors lock to prevent escape
  • Closable inlets for wires and/or tubing management
  • Cube shaped, 12 x 12 x 12 inches

You can purchase this terrarium here. It holds a 4/5 star rating and a whopping 483 customer reviews.

Exo Terra Glass Natural Terrarium Nano/Tall- $43

This is, in essence, the same terrarium as the micro wide but comes in different dimensions and slightly adjusted pricing. Still made by the same company, these two options are more about what shape and size you prefer for your snake.

One downside for the nano/tall, and unlike the micro wide, this option doesn’t include the double doors.

The nano/tall is made mostly of glass which is great for different heating options as it won’t melt or overheat as quickly as other materials. Most glass cages will sell above the $100 line so options like this can be rare.

Here are more details for the nano/tall vivarium.

  • Patented front window ventilation
  • Raised bottom frame in order to fit a substrate heater; Waterproof bottom
  • Escape-proof door locks to prevent escape
  • Closable inlets for wires and/or tubing management
  • Tall rectangle shape, 8 x 8 x 12 inches

Both this and the micro wide come assembled in the box. This product has 4.5 out of 5 stars and 114 customer reviews.

If you are interested in this option, you can purchase one today right here.

REPTIZOO Glass Terrarium- $36

From a business perspective, the REPTIZOO glass terrarium is the direct competition to the Exo Terra nano tall. With the same dimensions (8 x 8 x 12 inches), this terrarium is several dollars cheaper probably to undercut the Exo Terra and attract those without brand loyalty. Ruthless.

I’d definitely compare this and the Exo Terra side by side as I don’t see a clear winner of the two. REPTIZOO has been making reptile products for a little over a decade now so they can be reliable. However, it’s not clear as to why they aren’t more recognized than the Exo Terra brand.

It features a nice feeding opening at the top. In addition, the entire mesh top slides off instead of popping off. This makes it difficult for snakes to escape their habitats. Besides that the specs are about the same as the previously mentioned cages.

This product has significantly less buzz than the Exo Terra products- 5 reviews but still has 4 out of 5 stars.

You can check this product out here.

Herpcult Reptile Terrarium- $39

This is a brand new terrarium to break into the market and I’m excited to see how it fares. I like this sleek and simple design, it looks like they were made to stack on top of each other.

What I love is the mechanics of the lid and feeding door. The lid slides off the top instead of popping off upwards. Since it is a screen design, it has great ventilation. This can be a pro and a con. With a screen top, heat will escape faster than if it carried smaller vents.

The issue with this terrarium is the lack of reviews and stars since it is brand new. If you try it out, we’d love to hear about your experience! Did you like it or should others pass on this newcomer?

Check out the Herpcult Terrarium for yourself here.

An Alternative to Purchasing a Terrarium

For those wondering if they can forego these aforementioned products and build their own, this is possible. I have linked our article detailing this process for those more crafty snake owners out there.

For those trying to keep to a tight budget, the costs of materials may add up to over $50. Be sure to check out the other article so you do it right the first time!

What to Look for in a Terrarium

While I chose what I believe to be the best options for the price, know that there is no ‘best terrarium’. Each terrarium has its strengths and weaknesses. There might be the best terrarium for your specific snake though. This can be found by knowing the type of snake you will or already have bought.

There are several things to consider when looking for a terrarium. It’s crucial that you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the terrarium durable?
  • Can the opening lock?
  • How does the terrarium handle heating?
  • Is this terrarium going to be big and last long enough for my pet snake?

Depending on the pet snake, some options may not be reasonable options.

For example, corn snakes are famously known for being little escape artists. If the vivarium isn’t locked down, they could wiggle right out. Having a snake on the loose is the last thing you want.

It’s good to be thrifty, but you don’t want to get a terrarium that’s cheap. If it easily falls apart, you may end up spending more fixing it than spending more up front on a durable option. You may find that the options I linked to will not be adequate for you snake. If this is the case, you will want to go to the next level up and purchase a vivarium in the $50+ range.

While its true that some snakes can survive in climates with lower humidity than others, all snakes are cold-blooded and need a fairly consistent heat to remain healthy and happy. How the vivarium opens and vents for air flow should be taken into consideration.

You should have the type of snake you want in the back of your mind when shopping for a vivarium. Some snake species stay consistently small like the popular ball python (adult males are two to three feet) while others can get to five feet and thick rather quickly. Don’t stuff a big snake into a tiny home.

A rule of thumb is to make sure the length of the vivarium is at least as long as the snake if not longer.

Environmental Controls

Answering these questions above will help your search. These questions overlap with the environmental controls- there happen to be four- that are vital in a snake’s habitat. The four elements are:

Lighting

Sometimes overlooked, lighting plays an important role in the snake’s habitat. Some snakes need the UV rays in addition to a warm surface to survive whereas others feel most comfortable when tanning on a rock. Divas, I know.

In all seriousness, since many snakes are awake during the day, finding a light that can automatically dim or turn off with the change of daylight is a serious plus.

Another note, many if not all snakes like to have variance in their habitat. It is recommended to heat one side of the terrarium a few degrees warmer than another, allowing the snake to cool off or heat up as desired. This can be achieved by focusing a heat lamp or light in certain ways.

Don’t forget, find the right type of lighting that will be both cost efficient for you and as well as adapted to the requirements of your new pet.

Temperature

Snakes are such that most cannot adapt to conditions that don’t reflect those of their origin. Because this is the case, no matter where you may live, the temperature needs to be accurate of their old homes. 

Heating up a cage can be done in several ways or even a combination of the following:

  • Heating/Infrared lamps
  • Heat mats
  • Hot plates
  • Heating cords
  • Other, more complex, heating methods

These methods can be used in several ways. Depending on the type of vivarium you decide to go with, it may be most logical to use a heat mat under the substrate of the cage along with a small heating lamp to simulate the sun for your little noodle friend.

Humidity

It may seem redundant to have both temperature and humidity as controls needed in a snake vivarium but after doing some research, carelessly combining the two categories can prove unhealthy for the snake. Both the temperature and humidity levels need to be monitored to keep the snake happy.

Ways to accomplish these appropriate levels of humidity is:

  • use evaporation from a water basin or other water source directly inside the vivarium.
  • Regular water pulverization
  • Automatic water pulverization/ humidifiers

Think about this- two types of snakes may need the same temperature- lets say 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, one snake may be inclined to live in a dry desert environment while the other thrives in a muggy swamp-like ecosystem. It would be inappropriate to disregard this added piece of information and leave the humidity levels to fluctuate and fall at will.

What would be healthy for the dry desert snake will make the swampy snake have problems with molting. What would be pleasant for the swampy snake may cause skin conditions in the drier snake.

Ventilation and Openings.

Ventilation is obviously important, not only for fresh air in the cage but also to prevent the growth and spread of mold and harmful bacteria within the cage. 

It’s obvious that there needs to be an opening to get the snake in and out of the cage but sometimes overlooked is how well the owner will get into the cage in order to feed the snake, clean, and adjust items in the cage as needed.

If an owner cannot even fit their hand or arm into a cage to properly clean it, it may be best to purchase a larger terrarium.

Differences Between Terrarium, Vivarium, Faunarium, Flexarium

While searching between different snake habitat options, I found several words used interchangeably- terrarium, vivarium, faunarium, and flexarium. You may also wonder, are these all the same thing or is there more to it? It is crucial to understand what exactly each is so the wrong type of habitat isn’t purchased.

There are slight differences between these four habitats. The most common are terrarium and vivarium. A terrarium is an enclosure, typically glass with natural or artificial plants whereas

A vivarium is a terrarium normally decorated with artificial plants and housing a live creature inside.

Terrariums are increasingly being used for decorative plant displays in all sizes. Seen as a classy fashion trend, one may find inspiration on their plant terrarium on sites such as Pinterest.

You may ask, shouldn’t this article reference only vivariums instead of terrariums if a vivarium is meant for animals? I asked myself this same question. What I learned will help explain this.

Since vivariums and terrariums overlap in meaning and purpose, one could reference their vivarium as a terrarium and still be correct (aquariums can as well but we won’t dive into that rabbit hole). Because of this, it is popular to reference a reptile habitat as a terrarium.

Fun Fact: The term vivarium became popular thanks to Phillipe De Vosjoli, the “Father of Herpetoculture” and creator of the reptile magazine, “Vivarium”.

Phillipe De Vosjoli

In addition, until you add your snake to a habitat, it technically could still be just a terrarium. Potato, patato right?

Now, the next two are important to keep separate. The faunarium is a plastic or acrylic enclosure instead of glass like the vivarium. Usually faunariums are marketed to temporary pet housing and transportation.

The last habitat, the flexarium should be avoided for pet snakes. Like the faunarium, this is a less permanent housing and uses a mesh for the walls to allow high ventilation. The flexarium is designed for other animals that don’t need high heat like the chameleon.

If someone tries to sell you a flexarium to house your pet snake, do not buy it. Make sure the necessary research as been done for your specific snake to protect against anyone taking advantage of you.

Related Questions

Now that I have a terrarium, what do I need to put in it? Here’s the short list- substrate, several hideouts, water bowl, and a heat source. We have an excellent in-depth article on this question that you can check out here.

What plants should I put in my terrarium? The plants you put in your terrarium should correlate with your snake’s natural environment for the most part and be small plants, not full-size potted plants. But other than that you can get whichever plants you decide as long as they are safe for your snake as well. Do some research before purchasing plants.

Can I make my own terrarium? With the right tools, parts, and a willingness to do a good job, anyone can successfully build their own terrarium for a pet snake. We actually have an article that discusses the ins and outs here.