5 Small Reptile Pets That Live Happily in a 20-gallon Tank

Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes

Reptiles come in all shapes and sizes and can be outstanding low-maintenance pets.

However, reptiles like some dragons and snakes can grow very large, and not everyone can dedicate an entire living room wall to their reptile.

Fortunately, many species stay small for life and can live comfortably in a 20-gallon enclosure or less!

What is Considered a “Small Enclosure”?

stacked large and small empty reptile enclosures

Here at Vision Products, our most compact enclosure is a 20-gallon reptile enclosure.

However, many consider a 10-gallon tank the smallest option for a reptile pet.

Anything smaller than a 10-gallon tank would make it difficult to include decor like a substrate, water and food bowl, plants, etc., while leaving space for your pet.

That being said, here are 5 of our favorite reptiles who live happily in smaller enclosures.

5 Pets for 20-gallon Reptile Tanks

1) Leopard Gecko

leopard gecko looking outside of its vision cage

Adult Length:

  • Females: Up to 8″
  • Males: Up to 11″

Behavior: Terrestrial

When people look to adopt a small reptile pet, leopard geckos are often the first that come to mind.

These geckos are very docile creatures, live primarily on the ground, and their space requirements are very reasonable.

A 20-gallon reptile tank will provide plenty of room for a leopard gecko. This small reptile also finds comfort in a smaller 10-gallon enclosure, even after including decor and other equipment. Just keep in mind that because they’re terrestrial, the length of the enclosure will be more important than the height.

2) Green Anole

small green anole walking around the enclosure

Adult Length:

  • Females: Up to 5″
  • Males: Up to 8″

Behavior: Terrestrial

Even smaller than leopard geckos, green anoles make fine pets for small reptile tanks.

Not only are they small and fun to interact with, but they’re also intelligent, easy to care for, and very friendly.

In fact, my old kindergarten teacher had two green anoles in a 20-gallon tank in our classroom. Once a month she would sit us down and let the anoles walk around and say hi to us…

Fearless little lizards, they were.

You may be reluctant to bring your anole around a group of kindergarteners, but make no mistake, they are excellent pets for all ages – and they’ll live very happily in a 10 or 20-gallon enclosure!

3) Crested Gecko

small reptile pet crested gecko on a leaf

Adult Length (With a tail*):

  • Males: 10″ – 16″
  • Females: 10″ – 16″

Behavior: Arboreal

Another popular reptile that comes to mind is the crested gecko.

These pets are docile, generally easy to care for, and have very active personalities.

They’re a little larger than the previous lizards, so 20 gallons is the minimum size tank for an adult crested gecko (A 10-gallon tank will work for younger/smaller geckos).

Also, crested geckos are arboreal and love to climb so you need to prioritize height over length for their enclosure. And don’t forget to include some elevated surfaces, branches, and foliage for the optimal habitat.

*Some lizards can intentionally detach their tails from their bodies to distract predators. After a lizard “drops its tail”, a new one typically grows in its place.

A crested gecko, however, can drop its tail but it never grows back. This isn’t harmful to them, but many adults are shorter in length because of it (tails are usually 4 to 6 inches long).

4) Rosy Boas

rosy boa resting on a rock

Adult Length:

  • Females: Up to 36″
  • Males: Up to 24″

Behavior: Terrestrial

Rosy boas are relatively small snakes, typically reaching a max length of 3 feet (males are typically smaller, around 2 feet).

They’re also docile, easy to care for, and spend a lot of time burrowing, making them great snakes for beginners and relatively small enclosures.

For a hatchling, a 10-gallon tank will work just fine. Then, as a male rosy boa grows into adulthood, he will find comfort in a 20-gallon enclosure. Females, on the other hand, have longer bodies and may need a little more space, like a 30 – 40 gallon tank.

Regardless of the enclosure size, prioritize the length over the height. The rosy boa is a terrestrial, slow-moving snake that is often burrowing or relaxing.

5) Kenyan Sand Boa

small reptile pet kenyan sand boa on a large rock

Adult Length:

  • Females: Up to 32″
  • Males: Up to 15″

Behavior: Terrestiral

The size of your Kenyan Sand Boa’s enclosure is determined by several factors, including the snake’s age, size, and activity level.

Kenyan Sand Boas are relatively small compared to other boas, ranging from around 15 inches as a male to just under 3 feet as a female.

They’re also terrestrial and pretty lazy, so an elaborate setup isn’t necessary, but you should include a deep, soft substrate for comfortable burrowing.

As a general rule of thumb, aim for an enclosure that’s at least 20 gallons in volume for an adult Kenyan Sand Boa. For a hatchling, a 10-gallon enclosure will be an excellent temporary home.

And if you feel your adult snake should have more room to roam, a 30-40 gallon tank is always a great choice!

Wrapping Up

Many amazing reptiles live comfortably in 20-gallon reptile enclosures, like geckos, anoles, and smaller snakes.

That being said, you should always research your specific pet. An enclosure that’s too large an issue, but one that’s too

Is your new reptile arboreal and frequently active? Is your snake growing larger than you expected? Do you want your pet to have more space, regardless of its size?

Take as many factors into account as you can. That way you can offer the optimal enclosure size, whether it fits 10 gallons, 100 gallons, or anything in between.

Find the enclosure that you and your reptile will love.