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How to Transform Your Basement Into a Reptile Terrarium

If you’re like most people, your basement is just a dark place where you store stuff you don’t use often. But what if I tell you that your basement could be so much more? What if I tell you that your basement could be turned into a reptile terrarium? Interested? Well, keep reading! I’m going to show you how to turn your boring basement into a fun and exciting reptile habitat!

Photo by Alexander Kuzmin on Unsplash

Transforming Your Basement Into a Terrarium

With a little woodworking skill, and the necessary equipment and tools, you can forgo buying a terrarium and make a customized cage for your reptile. You can even make this part of your renovation project and hire a contractor to help you build an exceptional reptile terrarium. Plus, if you have a huge reptile, then it needs more room, and the basement is the best place for your pet. To transform your basement, you should do the following:

1)   Clean and Sanitize Your Basement

Just because they are known to spread bacteria and germs, it doesn’t mean that they have to sleep in a dirty basement that has not been sanitized. Pets are living things, and when exposed to dirt and germs when in captivity, they can become ill.

Therefore, if you keep its environment clean, you won’t have to worry about your pet spreading illnesses to everyone in the house. The first thing you should do is remove all the things stored in the basement and put them in the garage.

Clean the basement, making sure that it is dust-free and spotless before sanitizing it and killing all the germs. But make sure you use the right disinfectant that won’t harm your reptile pet.

2)   Pick the Reptile Pet You Want to Adopt

Every reptile has its own unique requirements; therefore, the pet that you pick will determine how you’ll design the terrarium and the amount of space needed in the basement. This will also determine the kind of modifications you will have to do to make the basement comfortable for your pet.

For example, if you’re a first-time reptile pet owner, you can go for a crested gecko, which is quite easy to keep. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t have some work to do every day. Gecko life expectancy can be affected by their environment when in captivity. They may be able to live for over 15 years, but mistreatment, malnourishment, and illnesses can shorten their lifespan.

Therefore, the size of your space, finances and amount of time you have to take care of it can play a key role in the pet you pick. But most importantly, you need a huge space for your new cage since you wouldn’t want to let your reptile walk freely in the basement.

3)   Construct the Cage

If you own a huge pet, you should start by picking a simple design and building one. Very few options exist for huge captive reptiles. So you can either repurpose a closet or build its structure from scratch using glass, plastic, wood, or screen.

The type of material you pick will also be determined by the pet you plan to adopt. Some creatures like Jackson’s chameleons require abundant airflow, so they won’t thrive in a solid-walled cage. If you’re planning on getting a huge reptile pet, your terrarium should have a frame and a hinged or sliding door. Now with your structure ready, you have to solve the following concerns:


Most basements don’t have windows, while others have very small windows that can’t let too much light into the room. You may have to leave the light on all day long and at night, which can be quite costly, so you may have to find an efficient solution like solar power to keep the lights on and your electricity bill low.


Since the basement is below ground level, it can get really cold down there, especially in winter. So you will have to protect your pet from the cold—even in summer when it gets cold. Luckily, a heater can help you keep your pet warm during the cold months.

You can install an AC with a reliable thermostat to help you control the basement’s temperature. However, you should note that if you leave the cage heater on for an extended period, the cage may dry out.


If your basement gets damp at times, you may need to find a solution for it, which means using warm air to keep the room dry.

4)   Build a Terrarium’s Habitat

As aforementioned, each reptile has its own habitat; therefore, your main goal should be to make it as natural as possible as a pet owner.

Once the cage is ready, you will need to get the best substrate for your reptile. This is a way to replicate the natural habitat of your pet, and it won’t be good for your pet to crawl or walk on the floor. To add, you need something to help absorb the moisture while improving the room’s aeration. The best substrate for amphibians and reptiles should be a natural dirt substrate.

If your pet loves sunning, you will have to add some stones when it can bask while trying to warm its body. If you get a chameleon or a reptile that loves climbing, you may need to add some plants in the cage. Don’t forget to create some hiding spots for your pet as reptiles do get scared when they meet something new.

Photo by Hexandcube on Unsplash

5)   Close All Escape Routes

Reptiles are very cunning creatures that love exploring their environment, so they will use it if they find an escape route. And considering how costly these pets are, it can be really disappointing for your pet to escape. Therefore, you should look for all the possible escape routes and close them.

Final Verdict

So, whether you’re a first-time herpetoculturist or an experienced keeper looking for a new project, transforming your basement into a reptile terrarium is definitely the way to go. Just be sure to do your research and plan ahead so that everything goes as smoothly as possible. With ample planning, you can enjoy years of watching your scaly friends thrive in their new home. Good luck with your project!


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About the Author

Kaya Wittenburg

Blog Author and CEO

Kaya Wittenburg is the Founder and CEO of Sky Five Properties. Since the age of 10, real estate has been deeply ingrained into his thoughts. With world-class negotiation and deal-making skills, he brings a highly impactful presence into every transaction that he touches.

He is here to help you use real estate as a vehicle to develop your own personal empire and feel deeply satisfied along the way. If you have an interest in buying, selling or renting property in South Florida, contact Kaya today.

Feel free to call me at: (305) 357-0635
or contact via email: [email protected]