Reptile Safe Paint: Which One Should You Use?

You got a new home for your pet, but it looks quite plain and boring.

Many reptile parents take the matter into their hands and decide to dive into a bit of good old DIY to decorate their pet’s enclosure. That’s when you start being assailed by doubts concerning the tools you can or cannot use.

If you’re looking for reptile safe paint, you’ll be relieved to know it’s actually possible to paint your reptile’s enclosure with most types of paint, as long as you take the right precautions.

Risks of Not Using Reptile Safe Paint 

It’s safe to say your reptile spends most of their day inside their enclosure, so it’ll be fundamental to make sure this place is a safe one for their health.

Although painting an enclosure always brings some kind of danger along, it’s far from being forbidden and it’s not uncommon for reptile owners to paint the outside and even the inside of their pet’s home.

The risks related to painting are mainly its toxicity and the way it may start to wear off after some time, leaving small pieces on the ground that can be swallowed by your pet.

Most Dangerous Paints for Reptiles

Researching the different types of paint and evaluating their good and bad sides is the first step to take when you want to decorate your pet’s tank.

From skin problems to more serious diseases, there are many things that could go wrong if your reptile gets in direct contact with dangerous paints.

VOC Paint 

VOC paint is at the top of the reptile paint “toxicity” category, and for a good reason.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) are chemicals that are released in the air as you use the paint and are extremely bad for your health and that of your animals.

Even though some of them dissolve after the paint has dried, it’s not uncommon for this type of paint to keep releasing chemicals in the air for a long time after that.

Exposing your pet to these chemicals can cause all kinds of medical problems, starting from respiratory diseases.

Spray Paint

There is no reptile-safe spray paint, strictly speaking, but that’s not to say spray paint can’t be used to decorate your pet’s enclosure.

The difference between traditional paint and spray paint is that the latter has a stronger “wear off” factor that shouldn’t be underestimated.

When using spray paint, you should be extra careful to cover every inch properly, because this type of pigment is more easily inclined to chip away and leave a sea of small pieces on the bedding of your tank, where your pet will find it, rub over it or even worse, eat it.

Safety Tips When Using Paint for Your Reptile Enclosure 

You’ve seen the bad side of the coin and maybe you might be going back on your intention of painting the new house of your reptile because of it.

Don’t worry and be assured that what you read in the beginning is still true: most paints are safe to use for your reptile enclosure, and actually, even those that aren’t strictly safe can still be used with the help of a few tips.

Safe Room

The first thing you want to do when you need to paint anything is to do it in a room that isn’t normally used much or that is well ventilated, or even better outside in the yard.

Even when you use pets’ safe paint and there’s no risk of toxins flying around, the smell is never pleasant and you want to avoid having your family and your pets breathe in the paint for days.


Before you start applying the pigment, it would be wise to use an acrylic primer all over the surface you need to paint.

This trick will turn every surface into a water-resistance surface and reduce the risk of melting and chipping.

Zero VOC Paints

If you’re looking for reptile-safe paint, the low or zero VOC paints are the ones for you.

There are many brands that produce this type of paint (Ecopaints, Olympic Premium, Valspar, to name a few) and they are the best non-toxic pet safe paint on the market.


Sealers work perfectly with non-toxic paint but can actually turn even your less healthy paint into a safe one, by acting like a shield when you apply it over the pigment.

Choose preferably a VOC-free, water-resistant sealer to finish your decoration.

Bathroom Paint

Maybe you just moved into a new house or you just renovated and you still have cans of paint lying around.

You’ll be glad to know you can use your bathroom paint for your reptile enclosure as well because bathroom paint is usually mold-resistant, self-priming, and VOC-free.

The whole package!

Dry time

The precautions don’t end with the painting process. Dry time is as important as everything else on this list.

Whatever paint you use, make sure to leave the newly decorated enclosure in a well-ventilated space and let it dry for at least two weeks before you put your pet inside.


Even after taking all the possible precautions, paint is bound to fall apart sooner or later.

That’s why it’s important to repaint the enclosure after two or three years to keep good coverage.

Can I use paint for reptile enclosures?

pet safe paints

Yes, you can, whether your purpose is aesthetic or practical, there’s nothing wrong in wanting to decorate your pet’s home.

The market is moving towards non-toxic types of paint, so it won’t be hard to find the product that better fits your needs.

However, the enclosure is an environment where your pet is going to spend most of its life, so you want to keep it as safe and healthy as possible.

That’s why you should make an informed choice when buying your reptile paint.

If you follow the tips contained in this guide and do your research, you will successfully craft the colorful enclosure of your dreams in complete safety.

Happy painting!

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