10 Best Reptiles For Small Tanks

Do you know that there are exotic pet reptiles that will not outgrow a ten-gallon tank – no matter how long they live?

Well, now you know.

If your house is not so spacious, you want to keep reptiles that will not take up much space. 

Geckos, for instance, can only grow as long as two feet (even when fully grown). This article contains a list of reptiles that require minimal space (a ten-gallon tank to a twenty-gallon tank) to house them. 

Do you need ideas on which pet reptiles to keep without worrying about having ample space to keep them? Then, it would be best if you read on. Below is a list to narrow down your choices and help you make the right choice.

Reptiles You Can Keep in a Small Tank (10 to 25-gallon tank)

House gecko

House gecko

‘Common house geckos’ are also known as moon lizards. House geckos thrive well in warm environments. Therefore, to keep a house gecko in a cold climate, you would need a warm and humid tank to house them. 

The length of an adult gecko (tail included) ranges from 3 inches to 6 inches. Thus, a relatively small tank (20-gallon tank) is enough for a pair of house geckos. 

Make sure you use a tall tank rather than a long tank because house geckos enjoy climbing. Also, it would be best if you furnished the tank with live plants or trees so they can climb. A house gecko’s average lifespan is around five years. 

Pygmy chameleon

Pygmy chameleon

A pygmy chameleon is one of the tiniest vertebrates on earth! Adult pygmy chameleons are usually less than 4 inches (in length). Therefore, you would not need more than a five-gallon tank to house them throughout their lives. 

Although their small size and friendliness make them popular as pets, pygmy chameleons are not the best for beginners. However, it is not best for beginners because beginners may have trouble regulating the temperature and humidity of their enclosures.

Since it is easy to harm pygmy chameleons (or, in a worst-case scenario – kill them), you should be careful whenever you handle your pigmy. Their feeding? They feed on insects, and their lifespan ranges from 1 – 3 years. 

Crested geckos

Crested gecko

A crested gecko (as some pet owners call them) is a reptile that will not have you seeking too much space. Fully grown crested geckos rarely grow longer than 9 inches – regardless of how often you feed them. 

Crested geckos do not enjoy handling. Therefore, avoid handling them – as much as you can. Because they are great climbers, you can get a tall 20-gallon tank for one crested gecko. 

Furthermore, cresties do not smell. So, you need not worry about odors. Crested geckos are nocturnal animals (meaning that they feed in the evening) and can live for around ten to twenty years in captivity.

Overall, crested geckos make good pets.


Green anole

While there are several species of anoles to choose from, the green anole stands out from other species for many reasons.

One of the many reasons why it stands out is its size. The longest a green anole can be is 18 inches – including its tail, although that size is rare.

Anoles are great climbers. Hence, a tall fish tank is preferable to long, low tanks. Sometimes, anoles change their color from brown to green. The life expectancy for green anoles (or red-throated anoles) is between 2 – 6 years.  

However, while green anoles are attractive and a beauty to behold, they do not enjoy handling. Their quick movements also make them hard to catch. 

Leopard geckos

Leopard gecko

Leopard geckos are not only child friendly but also pretty small (7 – 11 inches – including their tails). So compared to most reptiles, a leopard gecko does not require special care. 

A leopard geckos can be of different species (morphs). If you take care of them properly, leopard geckos can live for over twenty years. However, since it does not have sticky toe pads like other geckos, a leopard gecko does not climb. 

Hence, a low tank is okay for them. However, if you are keeping a group of leopard geckos, then beware of housing more than one male leopard gecko in the same tank. 

Additionally, do not keep a male and a female leopard gecko together if you do not want to deal with breeding.

Madagascar day gecko

Madagascar day gecko

As their name suggests, Madagascar day geckos are day animals (that is, they are active during the day). They are great climbers. Therefore, it is best to make climbing options (branches or live plants) available in their tanks.

The length of a fully grown Madagascar day gecko varies from 2 inches to 10 inches – tails included. You can be sure that your pet will be around for a while as day geckos can live for as long as 15 years.

Excessive handling stresses them out, and they can self–amputate their tails in defense if they feel threatened. Thus, avoid handling them as much as you can.

Children’s python

Children's python

In contrast to what the name suggests, children’s python is not a reptile that is more child-friendly than others. Instead, the snake gets its name from the person who discovered it in the 1800s – John George Children

Children’s pythons usually grow to be around 3 – 5 feet. Hence, you can house them in a 20-gallon tank. Unlike most snakes, children’s pythons are calm. However, it is advisable to learn how to handle them properly. 

They are also low-maintenance pets making them easy to handle for you – even as a beginner. It would help if you considered their lifespan (10 – 20 years) before picking them as pets, though. 

Gargoyle geckos

Gargoyle Gecko

Gargoyle geckos are gorgeous with their vibrant coloration. In addition, you would not need much space to house them as they will fit comfortably in a ten-gallon tank.

After all, an adult gargoyle gecko’s length is around 7-9 inches.

These geckos are omnivores, and they feed primarily on insects and fruits. Since gargoyle geckos – like other geckos – are phenomenal climbers, you should include climbing options in their habitats.

They live for a relatively long time (15 – 20 years). Also, you should research the temperature and humidity requirements of their enclosures. 

Rosy boas

Rosy boa

If you want a pet snake and you do not like children’s pythons, a rosy boa may be what you seek. “Why?” you may ask. The answer is that they are docile and non-venomous. 

Plus, they are smaller than other pet snakes. For example, a ten-gallon tank is the minimum tank size to house a rosy boa, as they can grow to lengths up to 3 feet.

So if you care for your rosy boa very well, it can live for over 30 years. So, you do not have to worry about parting with your pet too soon.

Although they are non-venomous, you should keep your children away from rosy boas until you are confident.

African fire skink

African Fire Skink

Fire skinks – with their bright red scales – are gorgeous creatures. Interestingly, you need just a 20-gallon tank to house an African fire skink because even a fully grown fire skink is usually 15 inches maximum.

You should also regulate the humidity and temperature of their enclosures so that these cold-blooded creatures can thrive well. You do not take much to feed them. Instead, these lizards feed on crickets, mealworms, and butterworts.

Another advantage of fire skinks is that they are child–friendly. You can have them around your children with zero risk. Occasionally, African fire skinks can change colors – signifying mood changes.

What specific dietary requirements do each of these reptiles have?

Each reptile species has unique dietary needs that can range from strictly carnivorous to omnivorous. For example, some reptiles may require a diet consisting primarily of live insects such as crickets or mealworms, supplemented with specific vitamins and minerals. Others might benefit from a mix of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. The exact dietary requirements can vary widely, necessitating research or consultation with a vet for each specific species to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients for their health and well-being.

How often should the tanks be cleaned and maintained for each reptile species?

The frequency of cleaning and maintaining a reptile’s tank depends on the species, the size of the tank, and the number of inhabitants. Generally, spot cleaning to remove waste should be done daily, with a more thorough cleaning, including substrate changes and tank disinfection, performed monthly. However, some species may require more frequent cleaning due to their specific habitat needs or messiness. It’s crucial to understand the habitat requirements of each species to create a cleaning schedule that ensures a healthy environment.

Are there any specific health concerns or common issues to be aware of for each reptile species?

Reptiles can suffer from a variety of health issues, many of which are specific to their species. Common concerns include metabolic bone disease, due to insufficient UV light or dietary calcium; respiratory infections, often from incorrect humidity levels; and parasitic infections. Stress indicators, such as changes in eating habits or activity levels, can also vary by species. Awareness and prompt attention to these issues, alongside regular veterinary check-ups, are key to preventing and treating health problems in pet reptiles.


In conclusion, do well to conduct thorough research on the reptile you will be choosing as pets before taking them. Then, prepare their habitats and install the required structure to allow your pet reptiles to thrive. 

Try as much as possible to recreate their natural environment for them. For example, you should consider UVB lighting for reptiles – especially lizards – that need them to avoid health issues due to insufficient UV rays.

Many reptiles carry viruses; ensure your pet does not have a virus before bringing them into your house.

Also, take care when handling your reptile pets so that you do not stress them.

Leave a Comment