If you are looking to get a pet, you may want to consider getting a reptile or amphibian. These exotic pets are a little bit different than traditional pets. They need a lot less space than a dog or a cat. In fact, there are plenty of pet reptiles or pet amphibians that will fit comfortably in a 20-gallon tank, but you will need to create a viable habitat so they can live long and happy lives.
Each pet has its own unique needs that you will have to learn, including living conditions, food, and water. You will be creating your pet’s world in this tank, so you will want to take care to make sure they have everything they need to survive and thrive. Here are 9 of the best pet reptiles and amphibians that can fit in a 20-gallon tank so you can focus on getting the best pet for yourself!
#1 Leopard Gecko
Leopard geckos are very gentle pets who prefer life on the land unlike their tree-dwelling relatives. They have claws rather than sticky pads on the limbs, which help them to crawl on the ground. For that reason, they will thrive in a 20-gallon tank. You could comfortably fit up to three leopard geckos in a 20-gallon tank.
Leopard Geckos are incredible creatures and they make even better pets. They have great vision, much like a cat. Maybe it’s because they have eyelids, and they can blink and close their eyes while sleeping. They even have a voice and can bark when irritated, though they tend to be quieter than other geckos. In addition, they are simply just cool-looking lizards.
A 20 Gallon Tank Is Perfect For The Leopard Gecko
As adults, leopard geckos develop spots on their backs, which is where they got their names. They can grow between 9 and 12 inches long and live between 10 and 20 years when taken care of properly.
Their tails are incredibly versatile. It can be used to store fat, which they will use if they are hungry. If they are mating, defending territory, or hunting, they will shake their tails. If they are in danger, they can even detach their tail to give them time to escape.
Leopard geckos love a warm, dry environment, but you should also create a place that is moist for them to hide and retreat when it is time for the time shed. Use a heat light on one side to keep it between 80 and 90 degrees F. The cool side should remain between 75 and 80 degrees F.
Leopard geckos love to eat insects, including crickets, super worms, hornworms, and mealworms. You can also feed them CalciWorms to add calcium to their diets or wax worms to add fat. They should always have access to fresh water.
They need about 12 hours of light a day, and you may want to get a UVA/UVB light bulb. Also, you will want to keep the tank well ventilated with a screened line.
#2 Corn Snake
Corn snakes are popular pets in America because they are curious, docile, and love to slither around to explore their surroundings. If you have a young corn snake, you will likely want to start with a 10-gallon tank or even as small as a shoebox. Once your snake is about 3 years of age, you can level up to the 20-gallon tank.
Corn snakes will actually be stressed out if they have too much space, so you want to make sure that your tank space is just right. They come in different colors and patterns and are relatively easy to care of, which is another reason they are such common pets.
A 20 Gallon Tank Is Perfect For The Corn Snake
Corn snakes may have gotten their name because the distinctive black and white pattern on their bellies may resemble corn. When they hatch, corn snakes are between 8 to 12 inches long, though they can grow to be between 4 to 5.5 feet in length at maturity. Typically, they live between 15 to 20 years.
Snakes reproduce by laying eggs, and they require about 60 to 65 days to hatch. Their breeding season takes place from March to May, while hatching season is between July and September. Corn snakes are most active during the day
Your corn snake should have a tank of its own, and you want to make sure there are a few branches for them to climb on. In your tank, you will want to use aspen or cypress savings as the best floor layer in your tank. If you use something like pine or cedar, it may harm your corn snake because it can cause lung and eye irritation because they are more aromatic.
Additionally, you will want to have a few dark, tight enclosures they can hide in. This will help the snake to feel safe. Keep your tank near natural lighting, though you will want to avoid direct sunlight. If you use a heat lamp, keep the warm end of the tank 85 degrees F, while room temperature (around the low 70s) will be perfect for the cool end.
Every few days, you will be feeding your corn snakes rodents, which can get larger in size as your snake gets older. Always keep fresh water available for your corn snake. The corn snake is my top pick as a pet snake for beginners especially if you are looking for something that can fit in a 20-gallon tank.
#3 Crested Gecko
Crested geckos love to climb, so you will want to add a lot of trees, branches and other accessories to help them to climb. While they can fit in a 20-gallon tank with ease, you will want to make sure to set it up vertically. This will help mimic the conditions in the wild, and your crested gecko will be happier and healthier because of it.
They are nocturnal creatures, so they will spend most of the daylight sleeping and staying hidden within their tank. Keep your eyes peeled, and you may see these little geckos leaking from tree to tree, almost like a frog.
They got their names because of the crest of skin over the gecko’s eyes. It almost looks like eyelashes, and do not be creeped out if you catch your crested gecko licking their eyes. This is how they moisten them.
A 20 Gallon Vertical Tank Is Best For Crested Geckos
Crested geckos, once fully grown, will be about 5 to 8 inches long, and they will be fully grown between 9 and 12 months. They live between 5 to 10 years, as long as you are taking great care of them.
If your crested gecko becomes too stressed out, it will stop its tail. If it does, your crested gecko will not regrow it. They will, however, regrow their skin. Crested geckos regularly shed their skin, which is why the humidity inside your tank is critical.
Your crested gecko needs a tall tank that it can climb in. You will want to keep the tank very humid, up to 60 to 80 percent humidity, so you will need to regularly mist the tank. Moss, coconut fiber, or bark can be used as substrates in the tank. It should stay between 75and 82 degrees F during the day and 68 degrees F during the night.
It is recommended to use a radiant heat source to maintain consistent temperatures. Your crested gecko should receive between 10 to 12 hours of light per day. Always make sure to have fresh water available.
Crested geckos are omnivores – they will eat everything they can. There is crested gecko food that you can buy, though you can feed them insects like crickets, wax worms, and mealworms as special treats. They also love sweet baby food, so if you want to give them a healthy, nutritious treat, consider feeding them peach, banana, or apricot baby food mixed with their typical diet.
#4 Fat-Tailed Gecko
Fat-tailed geckos are becoming more and more popular as pets. They are very open to being handled and have very docile temperaments. These are nocturnal, ground-dwelling creatures that will do great in horizontal, 20-gallon tanks. ‘
Fat-tailed geckos tend to be shy, so you will likely want moist, dark hiding spots for them to retreat to. Once your new gecko gets acclimated to its new home, you can start to handle it. They are not likely to bite or scratch you. They will be just as gentle to you as you are to them.
Fat-tailed geckos will either be tan or brown, with darker brown and tan stripes. Some will also have a white stripe along their backs. The fat-tailed gecko has eyelids, so they can keep their eyes clean from dust.
They have a thick, almost caterpillar-like tail that can detach if your gecko feels threatened, and it can regenerate it. However, the tail will look different than the original tail. It is also used to store fat when food is scarce. They grow up to 9 inches long, with males having slightly larger and wider heads. They are expected to live between 15 and 20 years.
A 20 Gallon Horizontal Tank Is Great For The Fat-Tailed Gecko
You can fit multiple fat-tailed geckos in a 20-gallon tank, but it is important to only house one male. Males tend to be territorial and will aggressively fight with other male geckos. They eat crickets and mealworms, and you can give silkworms or waxworms as treats. Fresh water should be available at all times.
Fat-tailed geckos need to be exposed to light for between 10-12 hours per day, but you will not get a UVB light because they are nocturnal. They need at least one retreat in their cage so they can sleep or hide in, and it should be kept moist to help them shed their skins. You can do this by putting a damp paper town in the enclosure or moss.
At least one end of the tank should be approximately 90 degrees F, and you can control it with a heat lamp. The other should remain in the high 70s to the low 80s. They thrive in a humid enclosure, so you will need to mist their habitat a few times a week.
#5 Pacman Frog
The Pacman frog is a native to the South American region. They aren’t great swimmers and tend to spend enjoy their time in humid environments. They make for great pets as they don’t require much maintenance.
However, if you are expecting your Pacman frog to be an active pet, then you may want to explore other options as they aren’t known for their activity. Since they don’t require much maintenance though and aren’t that active, they make for a great beginner pet for kids. They are also great if you are wanting a small animal to add to your home without requiring too much attention.
A 20-gallon tank is perfect for a Pacman frog. They should be housed alone because believe it or not they might try and eat each other.
#6 Whites Tree Frog
Whites tree frogs are very cute, but they are also very sturdy and make great pets. They are good eaters, easy to handle, and adaptable to new surroundings. They are good for beginning frog owners and seasoned ones alike – even children.
The white tree frog will be fully grown at 4.5 to 5 inches and can live up to 20 years. They have highly developed pads on their feet, which make them great at climbing. Contrary to their name, they are green with white or yellow markings on its body, though they can change the color of their skin if needed.
They got their name from the naturalist who discovered them, not their appearance. Your white tree frog is very vocal, you will hear a loud croak, which almost sounds like a quacking.
House The Whites Tree Frog In a Horizontal 20-gallon Tank
You should use a 20-gallon horizontal tank at a minimum, though you can have more than one in a tank at a given time. They will do well in a humid to semi-dry forest set up in their tank, so you will want to keep it between 75 degrees F and 85 degrees F. Make sure there is a lot of clean, fresh water available at all times.
You will want to make sure to use a substrate that is safe to eat because your frog will likely eat some on accident when they are feeding. Their diet consists of crickets and earthworms, and you can use waxworks, superworms, and mealworms as treats as well.
#7 Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Red-eyed tree frogs are great pets, easily recognized by their distinctive eyes. You can fit between 2 to 4 frogs in a single 20-gallon tank. They are social creatures, so you will likely want to have at least two at a time so they don’t get lonely!
These types of frogs are easier for more seasoned frog owners or those newbies looking for a challenge. You likely will not be able to handle your frog often, but you will have fun watching these amphibians grow up!
Red-eyed tree frogs will grow to about 3 inches, and they got their name from their uniquely, bright red eyes. They will live about 5 years when taken care of properly. Red-eyed tree frogs are nocturnal – that’s how they have survived in the wild by keeping their eyes shut.
You Can House Multiple Red-Eyed Tree Frogs In a 20-Gallon Tank
They thrive in a 20-gallon tank kept at between 75 degrees F and 80 degrees F, and you will want to keep damp substrate on the ground. This will help to raise the humidity level in the tank, and you will want to mist twice a day. Only one side of the tank should be controlled in temperature, giving them the opportunity to control their own body temperatures.
Red-eyed tree frogs need a 5.0 UVB fluorescent tube or lamp to help them synthesize vitamin D. Red-eyed tree frogs eat crickets or locusts. You can feed them mealworms, waxworks, and calciworms as treats. Mist your frogs each morning, but you can also add a water bowl to help them to stay hydrated.
They love to climb, so you will want to include trees, branches, and other things they can climb. These can be live or fake, it’s just important to have as your red-eyed tree frog will likely sleep on leaves. If you use live plants make sure they are safe choices and not something you find outside.
#8 Green Anole Lizard
Green anole lizards are great for beginning lizard owners because they are easy to take care of and able to be handled. They are active during the day, so you will be able to interact with your lizard, making them a great pet! They fit perfectly in a 20-gallon tank, and you can fit more than one in the enclosure.
Green anole lizards can grow to about 8 inches long and can live up to 5 years. Even though they are green, they can change colors based on their mood, temperature, and humidity. They can turn brown, yellow, or grey, though the color change is not as quick as other lizards.
Your green anole lizard needs a warm, humid tank. Because they like to climb, the tank should be warmer at the top (about 85 degrees F to 90 degrees F) and cooler towards the bottom (about 75 degrees F and 85 degrees F). You can control the temperature with a heat lamp, and you will want to use a UVA/UVB bulb to help mimic the sunlight for about 12 hours a day.
Additionally, you will want to keep it between 60% and 80% humidity, so you will want to mist your lizard and their habitat 2 to 3 times per day. The bottom should be lined with substrate like coconut-fiber and bark. You can use moss to raise the tank’s humidity. You will need to provide live plants and branches for your anole lizard to climb, as well as create hiding places for them.
Green anole lizards eat crickets, and you should feed them waxworks or mealworms once or twice a week to help give them more nutrients. They should always have fresh water available.
#9 Gold Dust Day Gecko
Another great pet reptile for your 20-gallon tank is a gold dust day gecko, and bonus, you can house more than one! These are best for seasoned gecko owners because they do require specific living conditions to thrive. They don’t care for being handled, so you will want to look not touch when it comes to this pet.
Gold dust geckos are shy, sweet animals with docile and playful demeanors. They have green bodies, but they get their name for the gold dusting that you can find on their neck, legs, and back. Some even have right red markings on their faces and backs. They will grow between 4 and 6 inches long and will live about 10 years.
You will want to keep your tank humid for your gold dust day gecko, so you will want to use live plants, as well as use the right type of substrate to start. You can use peat moss, cypress mulch, orchid bark. Your gold dust day gecko will need a lot of places to climb and hide.
There should be a warmer, basking area of the tank that is kept around 90 degrees F. The cooler side should be kept between 72 degrees F and 77 degrees F. This will help your gecko to regulate their body temperature. Additionally, you will need to use a UVB bulb to simulate sunlight.
Your gold dust day gecko will eat all different types of insects, so you will want to feed them crickets, roaches, silkworms, and waxworks. You can give them fruit-based baby food once a week. They should always have access to fresh water.