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Desert Reptile Habitat Setup


Desert Reptile Habitat Setup



Use an appropriate size glass or screen/glass terrarium.



Calcium sand is an ideal substrate for adult desert reptiles. Line the home with up to a 3" (8cm) layer of sand; remove waste weekly and change bedding once a month. For juveniles less than 6" (15cm) long, use reptile carpet or a layer of newspaper.

Hiding Areas

All reptiles need hiding places like rock caves or hollow logs in the cool region of the habitat to help them feel safe and secure. If your pet doesn’t use his hiding place, try another one or move it within the habitat. Provide a hiding area lined with moist moss to help regulate humidity and aid your pet’s shedding cycle. Place in the cool region of the habitat and mist the moss as needed to maintain humidity.


Basking Areas

Use smooth, flat rocks, natural or artificial hollow logs, or branches to create basking areas. These should bring your reptile closer to the basking lamp for warmth.


Artificial or appropriate live plants provide shade, shelter and add a natural look to the home. Consult a reptile book for a list of non-toxic plants to use.


Artificial or natural branches provide climbing areas. Choose branches appropriate for your reptile’s safety and comfort. 

Requirements vary by species. Please see your pet’s custom Care Guide for specific details.



Desert reptiles such as leopard geckos and bearded dragons originally come from an environment with low humidity, high daytime temperatures and cool nighttime temperatures.

Body Heat

Reptiles can’t create their own body heat, so their homes must provide a source of heat for basking, with cooler areas available to help them regulate their body temperature (this is called thermoregulation).

Feels like Home

For your pet’s comfort and security, you’ll want to make his home as much like his natural habitat as possible.

Daytime Lighting

Use a daytime UVA/UVB light for up to 12 hours a day to help your pet process calcium.

Daytime Heating*

Create a basking area at one end of the home, for up to 12 hours each day. Use a basking spot lamp, and for some species, an under-tank heat mat with a thermostat control.

Nighttime Heating

If the temperature outside the habitat is less than 65° F (18° C), use a specially-designed nighttime heat lamp to provide heat without visible light.

* Requirements vary by species. Please see your pet’s custom care guide for specific details.

While requirements vary by species, general temperature guidelines for desert reptiles are:

Day – 75-85º F (24-29º C) measured by thermometer in cooler region

Night – 65-75º F (18-24º C)

Basking – 90-115º F (32-46º C) measured by thermometer in basking region



Maintain the humidity level inside your pet’s home at 20-35%. A hygrometer (humidity gauge) will help you keep track. For accurate readings, place the hygrometer midway between the basking area and the cool area of the habitat.


Provide a shallow dish with fresh water (change it daily), and mist the surfaces inside the habitat when needed to maintain humidity level.


Be sure the home is well-ventilated to help your pet with thermoregulation. Use a screen top lid on the home to encourage proper air exchange.


* Requirements vary by species. Please see your pet’s custom Care Guide for specific details