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Exploring Reptile Housing Options: Display Cages vs. Racking Systems:


As reptile keepers, one of the most crucial aspects of our work is ensuring the well-being and comfort of the reptiles under our care. Choosing the right housing system is a fundamental decision that can significantly impact the health and behaviour of our scaly friends. Two common options for reptile housing are display cages and racking systems, each with its own set of pros and cons. In this blog post, we'll delve into the benefits and drawbacks of both, shedding light on the considerations that herpetologists must weigh up when making this important decision.

Display Cages:


1. Aesthetic Appeal: Display cages offer a visually pleasing environment for both the observer and the reptile. They allow for a more natural setup, mimicking the reptile's native habitat, which can enhance the overall aesthetic of the enclosure.

2. Behavioural Observation: Display cages provide ample opportunities for observing natural behaviours. With more environmental enrichment options, reptiles are more likely to express their natural instincts and engage in activities such as climbing, basking, and exploring.

3. Temperature and Humidity Control: It's often easier to control and maintain specific temperature and humidity levels in display cages, which is crucial for the well-being of many reptile species. This is particularly important for those from tropical or subtropical regions.


1. Space Requirements: Display cages can be large and take up considerable space, making them less practical for keepers with limited room. This can be a significant constraint for those working in smaller facilities or on a tight budget.

2. Cleaning Challenges: Larger enclosures may pose challenges when it comes to cleaning and maintaining hygiene. The more complex the setup, the more time-consuming and labour-intensive the cleaning process can be. It can also pose additional risks if one is dealing with venomous species.

Racking Systems:


1. Space Efficiency: Racking systems are highly space-efficient, allowing keepers to house a larger number of reptiles in a smaller footprint. This is particularly advantageous for breeders or facilities with limited space.

2. Ease of Maintenance: Cleaning and maintaining racking systems are generally more straightforward than managing multiple display cages. The streamlined design makes it easier to access and care for individual enclosures efficiently. It is also easier to swap out the tubs and thus giving the keeper the opportunity to give the used tub a thorough deep clean.

3. Temperature Control: Racking systems often provide better temperature control due to the proximity of each enclosure. This can be advantageous for species that require precise temperature gradients.

4. Privacy: Racking systems afford a greater degree of privacy for the reptiles. This is especially handy for species that are of a nervous disposition or are problematic feeders.


1. Limited Enrichment Opportunities: The confined space of a rack system may limit the availability of environmental enrichment options. Reptiles may have less room to engage in natural behaviours like climbing or burrowing.

2. Aesthetic Concerns: Racking systems are often perceived as less visually appealing compared to display cages. While this may not be a significant concern for breeders, it can be a drawback for those prioritizing aesthetics in a public or educational setting.


Ultimately, the choice between display cages and racking systems depends on the specific needs and goals of the keeper. Balancing factors such as available space, budget, and the natural behaviours of the reptiles in question is crucial. Whether opting for the aesthetic appeal of display cages or the practical efficiency of racking systems, the primary focus should always be on creating a habitat that promotes the health and well-being of the reptiles under our care.

JP Wittstock

23 November 2023

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