Exo Terra Vs. Zoo Med: Exploring The 21 Differences!

Exo Terra Vs. Zoo Med – What’s the difference?

Zoo Med and Exo Terra are companies that specialize in exotic pet care, but they are sought out more for terrariums, especially their glass terrariums. Terrariums are a very important aspect of reptile and amphibian keeping and are their actual homes.

Their popularity has increased a lot over the decade among people who keep reptiles and amphibians for pets. Making and maintaining a terrarium can be difficult, it requires proper time and planning. But you don’t have to start from scratch. 

Companies like Exo Terra and Zoo Med offer ready-made terrariums that are designed by herpetologists.

There are various types of terrariums. These include rainforest terrarium for animals that require a hot and humid climate, desert terrarium for animals that prefer hot and arid environments, and aqua terrarium, which is a combination of aquarium and terrarium. 

It all depends upon the type and preferences of your pet. Terrariums provide an easy and economical way to care for your cold-blooded companions. Exo Terra and Zoo Med are among the companies that produce good terrariums.

Exo Terra Vs. Zoo Med: Company Background

exo terra company

Exo Terra is a brand that makes mostly care products for reptiles and amphibians. It is owned by Rolf C. Hagen incorporation, which owns many other brands like Exo and focuses on animal care products.

Besides various size terrariums, Exo also offers hygiene care, nutrition, lighting, monitoring, breeding, heating and watering products, and other accessories that may be required for reptiles and amphibians.

Exo Terra has also won a brand of the year award by World Branding Awards in the year 2019 for reptile products.

exo terra vs zoo med     

Gary Bagnall founded Zoo Med because of his love for reptiles. It is a small company that has been making quality animal care products for over 41 years. Besides terrariums and its accessories, they also offer aquarium, paludarium, and avian products.

They have animal rooms and greenhouses where they care for a total of 120 species, some of which are even endangered.

Terrarium Design And Features

Below you can find the comparison for Exo Terra and Zoo Med when it comes to the company’s’ design and features.

Click here to check out the product.

Exo Terra deals in glass, plastic, and screen terrariums. The glass terrariums are a combination of glass and black plastic. The screen terrariums are made of black, anodized aluminum and designed for proper ventilation and lighting. The glass terrarium range of Exo Terra has the following features:

  • Window in front of the ventilation
  • Two doors for easy access
  • Raised and waterproof bottom
  • Stainless steel mesh cover
  • Locks
  • Inlets and cutouts for wires and tubes
Click here to check out Zoo Med’s background products.

Zoo Med makes terrarium with various backgrounds of different sizes. Their naturalistic terrariums are a combination of glass, plastic, and steel. They have the following features:

  • The removable stainless-steel screen top
  • The glass door in front with snap closure and lock
  • Waterproof base
  • Six slots for power chords and tubes

Screen Tops And Lids

Both companies have removable screen tops in their product offerings. The screen tops provide an easy way to put inside or away from large items like cork bark and plants. They also allow for better air circulation and less humidity. If you want more humidity in your tank, just put a piece of glass on top of the screen. The holes in the screen tops also allow sunlight and UV light to enter inside the tank. 

Click here to check out Exo Terra’s screens.

The screen top of Exo Terra is made of low-quality stainless steel. The material will easily rust compared to a good quality screen top. It may take longer, but if the humidity level in your enclosure is high or its surroundings, the process will expedite. 

Contrary to that Zoo Med has used good quality stainless steel for their screen tops, which will not rust anytime soon and adds to the sturdiness of the terrarium. But reviewers say that the snap closures on the screen tops tend to break easily.

The lid on Exo Terra has plastic running down its center, which makes the light fixtures wobble. That is why they specially created fluorescent compact tops. Zoo Med has an all screening lid, which allows you to install any light fixture you like. The clips on either side of the lid will help in light fixture installation.

Doors And Latch

Exo Terra has double doors on all its terrariums except for the smallest size. Double doors come very handily in various situations. Both doors lock securely independent of each other. If your pet is by one door, you can easily put food or change water from the other door without having to worry about it jumping out. But you will have to be alerted to not let the doors open.

The latch on these doors clicks down to close and lock. 

All the Zoo Med terrariums have single doors except for their one Naturalistic terrarium. Single doors are less convenient compares to double doors but there is less chance of your animal escaping.

The latches on these doors must be pushed down and they automatically bounce up to lock. Zoo med has had a few issues with their latches.

False Bottom

Good false bottoms are very important in terrariums. False bottoms are also called drainage layers, they collect water that has trickled down from the top layers. This separation is important for the longevity of terrarium, especially the ones with plants.

The depth of false bottom is four inches in Exo Terra terrariums, while it is three inches in Zoo Meds. More depth means space for more water before it overflows through the front of the door.

Terrarium Height

Having space is particularly important for reptiles in their living environment. Although they can live in enclosures smaller than what would be required by other animals of similar sizes, they still need enough area to thermo-regulate, feed, move around, bask, and create a temperature gradient. 

Each specie has its personal preferences, for example, snakes can get stressed when their enclosures are larger. They prefer small hiding places. Some animals need tall spaces to live comfortably, for example, pythons, day geckos, tree boas, and many others. 

You can also make use of the extra space and put tall plants and other pieces in the terrarium for aesthetics.

Exo Terra offers more space in height as compared to Zoo Med as is clear from the tables in ‘‘sizes’.”

Protection Against Fruit Flies And Insects

Fruit flies hanging around the tank of your animal and escapee insects running around your house can be a nuisance. Terrariums can’t keep all the flies and insects from sneaking out, but they do provide some degree of protection.

As Exo Terra’s terrariums have double doors, it means more gap and chance for flies and insects to escape. Also, there is a large gap between the bottom of the vent and the latch from where they can easily creep out. 

Zoo Med terrariums have fewer gaps in their terrariums. The single door leaves little space for flies and insects to escape. No matter which terrarium you use, you will have to provide protection against fruit flies and insect escapees through the gaps in doors and the chord and tubing slots.

Chord And Tube Slots

You may need the chords and tube slots for light fixtures, heating pads, and various other reasons. Both manufacturers of the terrariums have thought of this thing as they both come with slots for cable cords and tubes. Exo Terra comes with slots and cut-outs in the back of terrariums for power cables and tubing; so does Zoo Med.


Exo Terra is more versatile when it comes to terrarium sizes. Their glass terrariums come in a total of 19 sizes. If you are looking for a certain height or width of the enclosure, there is a better chance of you finding it in the Exo Terra collection. The table below contains more information.

exo terra terrarium sizes

exo terra sizes

Zoo Med offers a total of five sizes in their Naturalistic collection and one size in their Bugarium insect habitat kit. The table below shows the details.

zoo med sizes

Exo Terra Vs Zoo Med Cost

The costs of the same size enclosures are not much different in stores and online. Exo Terra kit comes with a background and a thermometer, a hygrometer, and some artificial plants. The thermometer and hygrometer are a good addition to the kits, but they are cheap.

And if you are a real enthusiast you would want to add real plants to your terrarium and fun background. Some may like the background Exo offers with its kit.

On the other hand, Zoo Med doesn’t provide anything extra with its terrarium, just a cork background.

Terrarium Kits

For people who have never kept ectotherms for pets before, starter kits could be of great help. Others like to make their terrariums from scratch. Exo Terra and Zoo Med both offer starter terrarium kits.

These kits include glass terrariums along with various accessories that may be required by your pet.

Exo Terra sells terrarium kits for Bearded Dragon, snakes, Leopard Gecko and Crested Gecko. They also sell terrarium kits with rainforest and desert setups, which would fit the preferences of various amphibians and reptiles.

Zoo Med offers terrarium kits for aquatic turtles, bearded dragons, snakes, chameleons, insects, crested gecko, frog, leopard gecko, and lizards in two sizes. they also make terrariums with tropical forests, aquatic and desert setup for other animals.

Exo Terra Vs. Zoo Med: Other Products Comparison

An enclosure or terrarium isn’t enough for your pet, you need many other things to make a comfortable living space for it. Not to forget, it also needs to look tidy and beautiful. It can be frustrating and confusing to choose with the range of products available in the market.

We suggest buying accessories for your aquarium from the company you buy your terrarium. And if they don’t have what you need go to the next best one. Zoo Med and Exo Terra both offer a range of other products for your animals. Below are some of the other products that both manufacturers offer and you may need.

Terrarium Accessories

Zoo Med and Exo Terra both have a large collection of accessories for terrariums, which are useful for many reptiles and amphibians. The table below makes the comparison.

exo terra vs zoo med

Breeding Products

Exo Terra offers breeding incubators with digital temperature for control for hibernation and breeding purposes. They also produce plastic breeding boxes in three sizes.

The boxes have a front opening, so they are stackable. Their snake bedding made from biodegradable substrate needs to be changed every eight weeks.

Zoo Med has fewer options in this sector, they only sell a large-sized breeding box with and without screen top and an egg incubator for reptiles.

Lighting Products

Proper lighting and heating of the terrarium tank are important. Light is required for regulating their sleep cycle and mating habits, which in turn maintains their general health. Each animal has specific needs, you need to learn first about it. 

Exo Terra and Zoo Med both offer lighting products for heating and basking purposes, UVB light fixtures for healthy bones, and visible light fixtures for other purposes.

Fixture Tools

Fixtures are required for proper lighting and heating of the terrarium. In this regard, Exo Terra offers fluorescent light controllers, screw-based fixtures, terrarium canopies, LED fixtures, and domes. Zoo Med doesn’t make light fixtures.


Since reptiles and amphibians are cold-blooded, they cannot maintain their body temperature and need an external source of heat to thermo-regulate. Proper heating of their living space is thus crucial. Exo Terra offers conduction heaters and radiant heaters for terrariums.

They also make thermostats and a range of thermometers and hygrometers for monitoring of the heat and humidity inside the terrarium. Their conduction heaters include heat mats (4 sizes), substrate heaters (4 sizes), heat stones (3 sizes), and heat cables (3 lengths). Their radiant heaters include ceramic heaters in five wattages and infrared lamps also in five wattages. 

Zoo Med offers heat mats (4 sizes), heat cables (1 length), heat rock (1 size), ceramic infrared heater, and a range of thermometers, hygrometers, and thermostats for controlling heat and humidity inside the tank.

Food And Nutrition

Most reptiles are carnivores, some are omnivores and others are strict plant-eaters. Their digestive tracts are primitive, which makes them very picky feeders. Some of them cannot digest plants while others have no means for digesting proteins.

Some animals change their eating habits when they grow into adults. Reptiles in terrariums consume less energy, so they need to adapt to their life in captivity by changing their diet. Some animals that eat small invertebrates or vertebrates can survive on plants in terrariums. 

Exo Terra makes crested and day food for Geckos, soft pellets, and cup diets for adult and juvenile bearded dragon, European and forest tortoise, and iguana. they sell pellet food for tortoise, bearded dragon, iguana, and an aquatic turtle.

Their canned food includes grass worms, silkworms, mealworms, snails, crickets, fish, and grasshoppers. 

Along with this, Exo Terra also produces calcium powder supplements, sepia bones, and liquid calcium and magnesium supplements for healthy bones. 

Zoo Med offers a combination of dried flower diet for lizards, iguanas, bearded dragons, and uromastyx. Like Exo Terra, they also make crested and day food for geckos. They also make a combination of insects, fruit, and flower diet for blue tongue skink. 

Zoo Med’s range of canned insects includes cockroaches, grasshoppers, silkworms, mealworms, crickets, shrimps, snails, and pillars. They also sell canned papaya and mangos liked by some animals.

Zoo Med also sells calcium carbonate supplements with and without vitamin D3 and D3 with vitamins, minerals, and amino acid complex for healthy bone growth.

Feeding Tools

Exo Terra offers a range of feeding tools for feeding live insects, greens, pellets, and canned insects to your pets. The tools include canopy food, water dish and worm dish (1 dish) for tree dwelling reptiles, feeding bowls (3 sizes), a food and water dish (1 size) for geckos, and a vibrating worm dish for canned insects. 

Other accessories include cup holders, turtle feeders, cricket pans, tweezers, tongs, and termite hill. Zoo Med offers a similar range of products which include, food and water bowls and dishes, tongs and tweezers, and plastic cups.  

Watering Tools

Exo Terra manufactures a range of watering tools for the ease of ectotherm owners. They include bowls and dishes of different materials in various shapes and sizes, pumps for water circulation and making waterfalls, filters, misters, and a variety of other water accessories. 

Zoo Med offers little versatility in this regard. They offer misters, waterfall structures, pumps, and bowls and dishes for water.  

Terrarium Substrates

Substrates are not just there for looking good, they also serve the purpose of maintaining micro-climate in the terrarium. Some amphibians and reptiles like to dig and burrow, unlike tree-dwelling animals. Different species have different substrate needs. They are also important for heat conductivity.

Exo Terra offers substrates for animals for terrarium setups with tropical forests, deserts, and water. We have already discussed their breeding substrates in the ‘‘Breeding Products’’ section. 

Zoo Med makes substrates for terrariums with tropical setups, water, wetland, and desert setups. They also offer sand, frog moss, clay, cypress mulch, coconut husk, calcium carbonate, pebble, and aspen wood chips substrates for various kinds of amphibians, and reptiles.

Hygiene And Care

Regular cleaning is required to keep a safe, healthy, odor-free, and attractive living space for your animals.

Cleaning of terrariums could prove to be a tedious task and you may need brushes, cloths, buckets, q-tips, sand lifters, sponges, paper towels, and a back-up cage to temporarily put your pet in. Companies like Exo Terra and Zoo Med make products to make this task easier for you. 

Exo Terra sells cleaners and deodorizers for removing stains and odors from the tanks. They offer biodegradable cleaning liquids for the decoration pieces in terrariums.

They also make cleaners for the terrarium glass. They also sell habitat cleaners for turtles like waste degraders that reduce odors and water conditioners that make tap water safe.

The care section of Zoo Med is more focused on medication and supplements for sick animals. They offer electrolyte soak for proper hydration and cellular function, shedding aid, medicine for inflamed and closed eyes, calcium blocks, water conditioners, and terrarium disinfectants and cleaners.

From VivariumTips,


Exo Terra and Zoo Med both sell amazing products for reptile and amphibian care. Their main products are glass terrariums. Both sell good quality terrariums with minor differences. However, Exo Terra is more versatile when it comes to the size of their products and type in comparison to Zoo Med.

If you are looking for a specific type and size of a product, chances are that you will find it with Exo Terra.

Below you can find buying guides and reviews for Zoo Med, Exo Terra, and related products: