What Reptiles Can Live In A 10-Gallon Tank?

leopard gecko comfortable in a 10 gallon tank

Reptiles come in all different shapes and sizes!  If you’ve always wanted a pet reptile, but don’t have a lot of space for an enclosure, you still have options! There are many reptiles that can thrive in a small 10-gallon tank.  In our opinion, these are the 6 best reptiles for a 10-gallon tank.

  • Leopard Geckos
  • Anoles
  • House Geckos
  • Rosy Boas
  • Crested Geckos
  • Pygmy Chameleons

Keep reading to find out why each of these animals is suited for such a small tank!  It’s not always just about their sizes.

Why Would You Want a 10-gallon Tank?

So, a 10-gallon tank is about the smallest tank you can house a reptile in.  You might be wondering, is this okay?  Is it appropriate to house animals in a smaller tank? In certain circumstances, a 10-gallon tank might be the best choice!  This depends on your needs and your pet’s needs! What are some good reasons to pick a smaller tank?

It’s Easier To Regulate The Environment

For small reptiles, that need a controlled environment, a small space could be ideal.  Controlling temperature and humidity only becomes more difficult as space increases. Take an animal that needs a very humid environment for example.  It’s easier and less of a drain on resources to keep a small tank humid and warm all day and night long!  There is a lower chance of there being areas that your pet won’t want to spend time in.  Having a slightly smaller space to explore but a perfect environment is better than an animal living in suboptimal conditions!

You Might Have A Small Living Area

Another reason you would want to consider a smaller tank is if you have a smaller living area! A 10-gallon tank will usually have these dimensions: 20in (L) x 10in (W) x 12in (H).  As the smallest enclosure we recommend for reptiles, this still takes up a considerable amount of space! If you’re living in a small apartment or even just renting a room, a large tank probably isn’t an option for you!  Plus, if you move e every few years, a small setup is much easier to transport than a large one!  Imagine the difference between transporting a small gecko and its tank and a green iguana and its habitat!  A small tank is also probably a good idea for small kids, who have small shelves in their rooms anyway. Let’s quickly discuss how we figure out which reptiles are best for which tanks!

3 Factors That Determine The Appropriate Tank Size For A Reptile

Tank size actually varies a bit by species!   So even if you have two animals that are exactly the same size and weight, they might need different tank sizes depending on other factors!  This is because it’s not only size that matters here!  Your reptile’s length is a part of the equation but tank size is also determined by their activity level and their environmental needs.

If you plan on becoming the best reptile parent around, it’s important to get very familiar with the housing requirements for your species!

1. Animal’s Length

A reptile’s length can be used to determine the width and length of its tank!  This varies greatly based on the species of reptile! Here is a table we’ve created explaining how you would measure your pet’s length, and then how you would use that number to determine a tank size!

Hopefully, this can help you understand how length is used to decide tank size!  Essentially, the bigger your reptile is, the more space it will need.

2. Activity Level

Something else to consider when we are deciding on tank sizes is an animal’s activity level.

You can think about this by comparing a big, old, lazy cat, to a small, active, herding dog.  Even though these animals might not be so far off in size and weight, they have very different spacial needs because of their activity level.  An animal that is more active naturally will just need more space.

Most of our reptiles below are relatively lazy species, which is one of the things that makes them perfect for a smaller tank, like a 10-gallon!

3. Environmental Needs

If you’ve already owned a reptile, you probably know how important their environment is for them!

Our reptile friends come from all over the world, and from all sorts of different climates and habitats.  Different environmental needs mean different tanks!  Any species that are terrestrial (ground-dwelling) will generally need a longer tank, set up horizontally.  On the other hand, arboreal (climbing) reptile species need a tall vertical setup in their tanks.

Temperature needs are also something to consider!  If a reptile needs a spectrum of heat available to them, a small tank might not be best.  A basking light in a small tank would usually heat the entire thing up and result in your buddy being too warm overall!

Keeping these factors in mind, let’s see why each of these 6 reptiles make great choices for a 10-gallon tank!

6 Best Reptiles For a 10-gallon Tank

In our opinion, these are the reptiles best suited for a 10-gallon tank.  You’ll notice that not all of these reptiles are great for beginners, so if this is your first reptile, make sure you take notes!

1. Leopard Gecko

Length: 7-10 inches |  Lifespan: 10-20 years

Leopard geckos win our number one spot on this list!  These reptiles are small, terrestrial, and rather lazy!  They’re also one of the best choices for a beginner reptile owner on our list!

Because leopard geckos will only reach 10 in max in length, a 10-gallon tank is great for them!  Actually, you could even call it spacious!  These lizards are lazy and spend a lot of other time basking and laying in the sand.  Because this species is so relaxed, they won’t usually have a problem in a smaller tank.

Leopard geckos are terrestrial, which means they spend most of their time on the ground. In their natural habitat, leopard geckos spend a lot of their time on the rock   You’ll want to keep their tank arranged horizontally, to go them more space to walk.  If you want to add features, like rocks for them to climb on, that’s great!  Surprisingly, leopard geckos actually seem to be great climbers over rocky terrain.

2. Anole

Length: 5 – 8 inches | Life span: 3-5 years

Anoles are small, quick, and delicate reptiles that would fit well in a 10-gallon tank.

These reptiles are so small actually, that it is dangerous to handle them for fear of losing them, or hurting them!  Anoles are super smart, and require a stimulating environment to remain happy!  Luckily, since they’re so small, this is not usually hard to make for them!

Anoles are arboreal species, that spend most of their day climbing or up in a tree.   Even though their tank might be small, it still needs to be placed vertically, with plenty of room for climbing.  Providing elements like natural branches and live plants are great ways to keep your anole comfy in their small tank.

Green anoles require a moderately humid environment, so having them in a small tank makes it easier to maintain this!  Anoles can be a good reptile for a beginner, as long as you understand they shouldn’t be handled!

3. House Gecko

Length: 3-5 inches | Lifespan: 5+ years,

House gecko get their names from being known to reside in people’s homes!  They like to live in dark, moist corners and are generally nocturnal.

What’s great about these pets, is that since they like to live in homes, their environment in a tank will be very easy to maintain! Essentially it will be just like your own home!  A 10-gallon tank is adequate for these geckos as long as you provide places for them to climb and hide!

House geckos can make good starter pets.  But, be careful!  They can be difficult to handle and are known to drop their tails when stressed.

4. Rosy Boa

Length: 24-36 inches | Lifespan: 20 – 30 years

We know what you’re thinking!  If you compare this snake’s length to our chart above, they technically wouldn’t be a great fit for a 10-gallon tank.

However, Rosy Boas are special because they spend the majority of their time coiled up.  When they do more, they are incredibly slow-moving.  Actually, when we looked at how fast snakes are, we mentioned that they’re one of the slowest snakes in the world!  This is why these snakes make a good fit for a 10-gallon tank.

Rosy boas are arboreal and need a tank that is set up horizontally.  Be careful though!  Rosy boas are notorious escape artists, so however you set up your snake’s tank, make sure it’s always fastened securely.  Besides this, these snakes make good beginner reptiles and are also handleable for the most part!

5. Crested Gecko

Length: 6 – 10 inches  | Lifespan: 15 – 20 years

Crested geckos are small, uncommon, nocturnal reptiles.  These geckos would fit nicely in a 10-gallon tank.

Crested geckos are arboreal, and love climbing.  Their tank needs to be set up vertically to make sure they have plenty of places to climb.  These geckos also made our list of animals that don’t need a UVB light, which makes them fairly easy to care for!  Because of their hardiness, crested geckos are a good choice for a started reptile!  And while they’re not difficult to care for, they can be rare and exciting to come across in the reptile world!

6. Pygmy Chameleon

Length: 3-3.5 inches | Lifespan: 1-1.5 years

Pygmy chameleons are cute, there’s no getting around it!  They’re also super small and live happily in a quaint 10-gallon tank.

These reptiles require a vertical setup with tons of climbing!  They have very specific needs for their environment and require some knowledge to care for.  It’s also recommended to keep live plants in this animal’s enclosure.

Because of the environmental requirements of pygmy chameleons, they don’t make great beginner pets.  We suggest starting with something a little less sensitive to humidity and light!

Bonus: Best Amphibian For a 10-gallon Tank – African Dwarf Frogs

Lenth: 1 – 2 in | Lifespan: 3 – 5 years

Even though they aren’t reptiles, we had to mention the African dwarf frog as a bonus!

These frogs are fully aquatic and make great pets for a small tank.   As long as they are provided with a full 10 gallons of water, they will have plenty of room to swim!  These frogs spend their entire lives in the water.  They are active, and their water needs to be maintained.  If you feel comfortable with aquatic pets, these frogs can be a great pet choice for you!

Final Thoughts!

Many pet reptiles out there will fit inside a 10-gallon tank, but that doesn’t mean they will live their best lives in one!  When picking a tank for your pet, you should always consider the animal’s length and its natural history.  Are they active, do they like to climb, do they need a swimming area?

Any reptiles that are adopted at a young age can be housed in a 10-gallon tank but might need to be moved to a larger enclosure as they age.  Whatever your favorite pet on this list might be, we hope you found an option for a reptile that you can keep in a 10-gallon tank!