Furnishings Review - Enclosure Enrichment

Written for Reptiles Australia Magazine Vol. 4 Issue 2              by Shannon Benson {Plummer}

In most cases furnishings are for the benefit of the viewer rather than the reptile, the exception to this is the provision of a secure hide for each individual.

This is the most important furnishing in the enclosure and provides your reptile an area in which to retreat to when it feels threatened.  Some also like to sleep in a protected area so a hide is essential to minimizing the reptiles stress levels and maintaining its physical and psychological health.  Stress can be caused by a variety of tangible and intangible factors and can be present even in a reptile displaying no obvious external signs.  Something as simple as providing a secure retreat can be an important factor in maintaining a healthy captive.  Consider the reptile’s natural habitat and behaviour when selecting and implementing enclosure furniture.  Are your reptiles terrestrial or arboreal, do they prefer to burrow or seek shelter in the canopy?

When housing more than one reptile, each animal should be provided with a separate hide.  New additions will also adapt better to their new environment if they feel they have access to a safe haven.

Of importance is whether your furnishings are functional and safe.

Furnishing materials should be carefully selected.  Ceramic and plastic are often used to make realistic looking ‘rock’ and ‘wood’ replicas so they are hygienic and easy to clean. Natural woods make attractive additions to enclosures but keep in mind repeated soiling or an unfortunate infestation of mites means it would have to be discarded.

Hides can be bought as manufactured caves and logs or made out of layered rocks and branches.  Sections of PVC pipe from your local hardware store are also very effective since they replicate a tunnel like some reptiles, especially terrestrial lizards, would dig in the wild.  Provide an appropriate sized tunnel that is just wide enough for the animal to crawl through and covers them from snout to tail.  Place the pipes in a protected area as this provides a sense of security.  Position the pipes so the reptile can enter or exit from either end.

Since many reptiles love to dig, terrestrial furniture items should be positioned so they are steady and won’t tumble onto your animal if it digs under or around it.  As a general rule, try to place heavy items so their bases touch the bottom of the enclosure with substrate around them so the animal doesn’t dig under and get stuck and subsequently suffocate or injure itself.  For shallower items, such as water bowls, which can’t sit on the bottom when deep substrate is used, place a solid object such as a rock underneath for support and to fill any gap between enclosure base and the furnishing.  Make sure arboreal furnishings such as elevated hide boxes or climbing apparatus are secure and cannot dislodge or fall under the animal’s weight.

The addition of some plants will add the finishing touch to your enclosure and make it feel like home for your reptile.  Plants like spinifex or succulents for desert terrarium can be used as long as they don’t have spikes that can cause injury.  There are also plenty of  ‘tropical’ style plants and vines and even floating plants for turtle enclosures.  Fake styles range from plastic to silk and in some cases real non-toxic plants can be used if the environmental conditions within the enclosure allow.  The choice is completely personal.


Exo-Terra Snake Caves  -  Small | Medium | LargePriced from $14.95

Exo-Terra Reptile Caves -  Small | Medium | Large | X-LargePriced from $12.50

Exo-Terra Reptile Dens -  Small | Medium | LargePriced from $15.00

Universal Habitats Hide Rocks  -  Small | Medium | LargePriced from $14.00

Reptapets Hide Rocks  - Very Sml | Sml | Med | Lge | Very LgePriced from $10.95

URS Ultimate Hide Rock  -  Small | Medium | Large | GiantPriced from $15.50

Zoo-Med Repti Shelter -  Small | Medium | LargePriced from $35.00

PVC Pipe – Various diameters available from hardware storesPrice based on length


Exo-Terra Water Dishes  -  Small | Medium | Large | X-LargePriced from $7.50

URS Ultimate Water Bowls  -  Corner | Small | Medium | Large | Desert Priced from $14.00

URS Billabong Water Bowls*  -  Corner | Small | Medium | LargePriced from $5.50

                                          *Available in Brown | Granite | Sandstone finishes


Exo-Terra Feeding Dish  -  Small | Medium | LargePriced from $16.50

Exo-Terra Worm Dish  -  One SizePriced from $14.95

URS Billabong Feeding Bowl  -  One Size – Brown | Granite | SandstonePriced from $11.50

Zoo-Med Repti Rock Food Dish  -  Small | Medium | Large | X-LargePriced from $8.95


Universal Habitats Rock Ledges  -  Various size & shapesPriced from $40.00

Water Works Fake ‘Wood’ Accessories  -  Various size & stylesPriced from $25.00

Geosystem Ceramic Driftwood  -  Large | X-LargePriced from $25.00


Exo-Terra Plants  -  Desert  | Rainforest | Water – Various stylesPriced from $12.50

Exo-Terra Jungle Vines  -  Small | Medium | LargePriced from $21.95

Generic Silk Plants -  Various styles (available online or pet store)Priced from $10.00