What Reptiles Can Live In A 30-Gallon Tank?

What Reptiles Can Live In A 30-Gallon Tank?

If you’re a reptile lover, like me, you’ve probably wondered exactly which animals can be kept in which enclosures!  Do you have a 30-gallon tank you’re looking to fill?  Or, maybe you’re just curious about what reptiles can live in a 30-gallon tank!

Well, we’ve got some ideas for you!  Here are the 6 best reptiles for a 30-gallon tank:

  • Box Turtle
  • Veiled Chameleon
  • African Fat-Tailed Gecko
  • Garter Snake
  • Rubber Boa
  • African House Snake

While this list isn’t extensive, these are the reptiles that can thrive in a medium-sized tank.  Keep reading if you’d like to learn about the benefits of a 30-gallon tank, factors that decide tank size, and the 7 best reptiles!

What Are The Benefits of a 30-Gallon Tank?

If you are the lucky owner of a 30-gallon tank, you probably know how versatile they are!  They can house plenty of different kinds of animals.  Not only are they great for some reptiles but they can also house fish, amphibians, and small mammals!

But, what is special about 30-gallon tanks?

They Are Sold In A Variety of Dimensions.

There are multiple different dimensions available for 30-gallon tanks.  With smaller size tanks, you can find vertical setups, but they are much harder to come by!

Different dimensions mean that you are able to pick the right reptile for your tank, or the right tank for your reptile!  A long snake might get the tank with the most length while a climbing reptile might want the tallest tank available.  Here are some examples of dimensions in inches available for 30-gallon tanks:

  • 36.25 x 12.625 x 16.75
  • 36.25 x 18.25 x 13
  • 24.25 x 12.5 x 24.75

And there are many more!  But, you can imagine this gives you more possibilities for where you could put your tank in your living area.  It also expands the options for what you could do with the inside of the tank!

Now that you know why a 30-gallon tank might be the right choice for you, let’s talk about how to decide which tank is best for your pet.

3 Factors That Determine Tank Size For A Reptile

There are three things to think about when considering housing for your pet!  Tanks are definitely not one size fits all!  Tank size varies between different species, and even among the individuals of a species!  Even though two reptiles might be the same exact weight, they could have vastly different housing needs!

Here is how we decide which enclosures are appropriate for which reptiles.

1. Animal’s Length

A reptile’s length is by far the easiest factor for you to measure at home!  Many general guidelines for housing are based on species and body length.  While length is probably the most important factor in deciding tank size, there still isn’t one rule to follow for all reptiles.

Here is a housing guideline chart we’ve created to help you decide what tank would best suit a reptile.  You can either measure the reptile you already own or base your measurements on the average lengths for the species you would like to have.

You can see how length factors in differently among species!  While a snake generally only needs an enclosure equal to its length, a box turtle would need a minimum tank length of 5x its own length!  This is because each reptile species has different activity levels.

2. Activity Level

Natural activity level is one of the reasons our chart above varies by species!

Activities levels can be extremely different among reptiles, and even between individuals of a specific species!  Just imagine how the energy of a kitten compares to that of an old dog!  A kitten spends a lot of the day playing, and needs room to climb and jump in their area!  An older dog, on the other hand, might not need so much space, in fact, they might be happy to lie in one spot all day!

Some reptiles spend most of their day basking, or lying coiled up, while others might swim or dig all day.  The activity level of these animals affects which type of enclosure they need, and especially how much space they need to do it!

3. Environmental Needs

Because pet reptiles come from all over the world, they also come from all different sorts of climates!

Some of the pets on our list are found in a desert in the wild while others might live in a tropical rainforest. Others, like aquatic turtles might even need a fully water based set up!

These different environmental factors play into what sort of enclosure you will eventually choose for your scaly friend.  A 30-gallon tank is a more exciting option than a smaller tank because a 30-gallon tank offers more room for environmental gradients! In a 30-gallon tank, you could create a hot side and a cold side and your pet could move freely between them.  You would also have room to create humid areas, or haul-out spots of aquatic reptiles.

For arboreal (climbing) reptiles, you could choose a tall tank and provide your pet with lots of fun branches and swings.  For terrestrial (ground-dwelling) species, you can make sure that there is a long horizontal space where your pet can walk, slithers, or swim to their heart’s desire.

As we discuss each of our favorite reptiles for a 30-gallon tank below, we will also discuss the activity levels and environmental needs that make them such a good fit!

7 Best Reptiles For A 30-Gallon Tank

There are so many reptiles you can house happily in a 30-gallon tank!

In previous articles, we mentioned reptiles that could live happily in 10-gallon tanks and 20-gallon tanks.  All of the reptiles in our 20-gallon tank list would thrive in a 30-gallon tank!  Additionally, the reptiles in our 10-gallon tank list would also do great in a larger enclosure.

One thing we will mention, if you do house something super small, like a pygmy chameleon or an anole in a 30-gallon tank, make sure to keep your enclosure escape proof!  These reptiles are tiny and can easily be lost in your house if they do escape!

Now, here are some reviews of the 6 best reptiles for 30-gallon enclosures.

1. Box Turtle

Length: 5 – 6 inches / Lifespan 25 – 35 years (possibly up to 100 years)

Box turtles are terrestrial turtles that are long lived and very popular as pets!

Don’t let them fool you, even though they move very slow, and seem really tough, these guys can be tricky to care for!

Box turtles make good candidates for a long, horizontal tank indoors.  Box turtles can also be housed outdoors, but the enclosure requirements are different, and also need to be predator proof.

If kept indoors, in a tank, box turtles absolutely need UVB lighting (unlike some other reptiles)!  Without it, they can become malformed and nutrient deficient.  Their enclosure also needs to be kept warm, so a long tank is great for them because one side can be heated and the other can stay cooler.

Box turtles are shy and anxious by nature, so you always need to make sure they have a good hiding spot that they can climb under and escape the world!  If you do plan on keeping your turtle indoors year round, you can always take them outside for supervised play time in your yard!  This way, they can get some sun while nibbling on plants, and you can see your pet happy.

2. Veiled Chameleon


Length: 12 – 24 inches  / Lifespan: 4 – 8 years

Veiled chameleons are beautiful, smart, and notoriously hard to care for!

If you’re a first time reptile owner, this probably won’t be the best pet for you!  Veiled chameleons have very specific environmental needs.  If veiled chameleons are housed in a tank, parts of the tank need to be meshed to allow for proper ventilation.  These reptiles need their environments to stay very warm and humid.  Keeping these factors balanced is not easy, and a chameleon can suffer if these needs aren’t met.

That being said, because they are arboreal, chameleons are a great choice for a tall, modified 30-gallon tank with a mesh top or back.  These animals don’t love the stress of handling, but will tolerate it and get acclimated to their owners.

The females of this species are always smaller and shorter lived than the males!  This might mean that a female is a better option for a 30-gallon tank, while the largest of all the males might end up needing more room to climb!

One interesting care fact about chameleons is that they mostly drink dripping water.  If there are leaves in your chameleon enclosure, make sure they are moist so your pet can stay hydrated this way.  You might also think about installing some sort of fresh water drip system for your chameleon, so they always have fresh water coming their way!

3. African Fat Tailed Gecko

Length: 7 – 9 inches / Lifespan: 15 – 20 years

If you’ve never heard of an African fat-tailed gecko before, we’re not being mean!  That’s really their name and a nod to their special tails!

These reptiles are able to store extra fat in their tails.  This mechanism originally helped them to survive long days without food in the desert, but now just makes them look cuter!  They are able to drop these fat tails in a pinch, and will do so if they experience great amounts of stress.

Still, despite their detachable tails, they’re one of the most handlable reptiles around.

African fat-tailed geckos will thrive in a 30-gallon tank.  These geckos are terrestrial, sand walkers, and don’t need much climbing in their enclosures.  Despite the dryness of the desert, these guys still need a moderately humid living environment, as well as plenty of places to hide.

One of the African fat-tailed gecko’s favorite activities is basking in the sun.  So a tank setup for them should have a nice heat gradient with a very warm area for basking on one end.

4. Garter Snake

Length: 2 – 3 feet / Lifespan: 6-10 years

A Garter snake is a great option for a beginner reptile owner.  These snakes don’t need a super specific environment to thrive.

Garter snakes are terrestrial and would do great in a 30-gallon tank set up horizontally.  These snakes could often be kept in a smaller tank (like a 20-gallon), but the largest members of the species do better with more space!

Garter snakes require ambient light and temperatures.  They should be provided with. place to hide as well as some small climbing structures.  Even though they are terrestrial, these snakes have been known to climb a branch or two.

Garter snakes are relatively small, and disinclined to bite.  While these snakes do have teeth, they are hidden beneath their gums.  They’re not likely to bite you, and if they do, their teeth aren’t long at all!  However these snakes are venomous, and bites do have the possibility to become slightly irritated.

5. Rubber Boa

Length: 21 – 26 inches / Lifespan: 40 – 50 years

If our mention of a venomous snake made you nervous, Rubber boas should be able to calm you right down!

Rubber boas are some of the most calm, docile, slow moving pet snakes.  These snakes don’t get super large, and a 30-gallon tank is big enough to house the largest adults!  Rubber boas love to hide, even more than most snakes, and will spend almost the entire day curled away.

As opposed to many of our other snake species, rubber boas are not heat tolerant.  They will often choose to spend time in colder areas of their enclosure and aren’t prone to basking.  This terrestrial species does like to burrow, and should be provided with a substrate to encourage that!

Rubber boas are one of the most handleable snakes.  They are the kind of snake that might find a cozy spot on your shoulder, or lap and just hang out there!  They are great beginner snakes because they are fairly easy to house and incredibly good for learning how to handle snakes!

6. African House Snakes

Length: 2 – 3 feet (sometimes up to 4 feet) / Lifespan: 12 + years

African house snakes are beautiful snakes that come in a large variety of colors.  These snakes will usually fit perfectly into a 30-gallon tank, but the largest females might end up needing a slightly larger enclosure!

African house snakes are terrestrial, nocturnal snakes, who enjoy a long horizontal area to stretch out.  These snakes do require a temperature gradient, and one end of their tank should be set up as a basking area for them to enjoy.

These snakes are fairly easy to care for, and can make a great starter pet for your 30-gallon tank!

7. Bonus Amphibian: Poison Dart Frog

Length: 1 – 2 inches / Lifespan: 10 – 15 years

Although poison dart frogs aren’t reptiles, they are an important mention for a 30-gallon tank.  Dart frogs are brightly colored, super active, and a very entertaining pet to have around!

These frogs are one of the most popular frog species in captivity.  And don’t worry, their poison generally comes from things they eat in the wild, so in captivity, they won’t be poisonous.  But, this doesn’t mean you should go handling them!  Because they’re a frog, you can actually make them sick by handling them, or dry out their skin.  Make sure if you do handle your frog to read up on safety measures for the both of you first!

These frogs are of course arboreal!  They like to climb and jump and should have live plants in their enclosures whenever possible.  Their tanks should be kept very humid and they should be misted regularly.

One thing about these frogs is that they require very small flies as food!  Usually, fruit flies are ideal.  If you don’t have a reliable source, this might mean you will need to learn how to cultivate and store these bugs yourself!

Final Thoughts

I hope you’re as excited as I am at the thought of getting a new pet!

All of the reptiles we talked about have their pros and cons but will all do well in a 30-gallon tank.  Additionally, there are many smaller reptiles that can also be housed in a large 30-gallon tank.  Make sure to use your best judgment so you can provide your scaly friend with the best life possible!