Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Reptiles?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

While reptiles are great pets, they are not for everyone due to the extra care, attention, and potential expense for novice reptile pet owners.

Most reptiles need a particular environment to thrive. To create a one-of-a-kind settings for your pet means carefully choosing safe paints so the chemicals, objects, and products (such as volatile organic compounds) aren’t harmful to reptiles.

Is Acrylic Paint Safe For Reptiles

Is Acrylic Paint OK for Reptiles?

To answer this question, it is critical to understand the constituents of each type of paint when selecting what sort of paint is safe for your reptile pet’s environment. There are only two types of paints available in general, and all other types of paints are split into this group. These two main types of paint are water-based paints and solvent-based paints.

All paints are a combination of a binder and pigment. Pigments are the part of the paint that give color and contribute to thickness. They are usually tiny particles, because they are ground to reach this level. Pigments can be either organic or inorganic.

Binders are just the liquid chemical compounds used to hold, blend, and mix these pigments to form paint.

What Kind Of Paint Is Safe For Reptiles

For water-based paints, water is used as a binder. Conversely, solvents are used as binders for solvent-based paints. To determine which sort of paint is safe, check the label to see the chemical mixes used as binders in the paint and whether they are suitable for your reptile pet.

Water-based paints are usually safe for animals.

Before applying solvent-based paints in a reptile setting, you should thoroughly inspect them. The majority of these paints contain harsh chemical compounds that may harm your reptile pet.

Related: Can you bake acrylic paint on ceramic?

Solvent-based paints usually have liquefying agents. These liquefying agents are designed to evaporate when exposed to oxygen, causing the paint to dry off. However, when paints containing these liquefying agents dry off, they leave most of their chemical contents in the air, which can continue for long periods up to years. Most of these chemicals released into the air are not suitable for your reptile pets.

How to Use Paint Safely For Your Reptile Enclosure?

How To Use Paint Safely For Your Reptile Enclosure

You can do several things to make paints safe for your reptile. Using paint safely for your reptile vivarium involves:

  • Selecting the right paint involves considering a host of features that will make the paint you use for your reptile enclosure suitable. This includes:
    • Paint type: Here, you might want to select a paint type that is suitable for your pet environment. It is prudent to avoid paints that contain VOCs or spray paints since they are not ideal for your pet enclosure. You might want to go for more durable paints to keep your reptile safe. Acrylic paints are usually suitable for this.
    • Color: Since the pet enclosure is the surface/area to be painted, it is better to use natural colors. Also, natural colors have the tendencies to make the pet feel at home in its new environment. Pets are not color blind and observe colors the same way as humans, even though they react differently.
      • It is better to present colors you may have in mind to your reptile pet and watch how they respond to them before infusing them into their environment.
      • Using white paint colors in reptile enclosures can help spot messes and stains for cleaning. This is ideal for reptiles such as tortoises that require bright environments.
      • Black or darker colors can also be helpful in reptile enclosures. They absorb heat, reducing the energy needed to keep the pet home warm. They also make stains less obvious.
  • Primers: Primers are used in surface preparation before applying paint. The endurance of your paint job will be determined by how thoroughly you prepped the surface, even if you used high-quality paint and sealer. Make sure the enclosure is completely clean and dry before painting. Before painting, add a coat of pet-friendly primer and let it dry completely. An acrylic primer is an example of a pet-friendly primer as it is also a perfect base that is water-resistant.
  • Sealers: While sealant could be used as a primer substitute or before applying primer to the base surface, the fundamental goal of sealer paint is to ensure that the new paint or primer adheres well to the substrate. Sealers could also preserve the painted surface from stains and seal and maintain any waxes found in the substrate.
  • Drying Time: The time it takes for paint to dry off should also be considered as a reptile pet has to be out of the environment until the painting is completed and dried. Chemicals released into the room while painting or when the paint is not dried might not be healthy for your reptile pet. If the paint is not adequately dry, the reptile could come in contact with the paint, which is dangerous to the pet’s skin.
    • One way to test this is the fingernail test. After painting and allowing to dry, take your fingernail and scratch the painted area. If it comes off, it is not properly dry. Keep in mind that some primers and paints can take up to a week to fully dry.

Read Also:Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Aquariums?

What can I paint in my reptile’s habitat?


Many reptiles, like bearded dragons, love climbing on rocks. Whether it’s a platform to get closer to the heat lamp for an afternoon bask in the light, or a way to hide when they feel anxious, rocks — real or fake rock wall — are a must in your bearded dragon habitat.

Other reptiles like Leopard Geckos are drawn to colors they like. They even chose to climb and lay on rocks of preferred colors. While they typically something that matches the reptile hide, they’re also known to like blue and green. It’s best to expose your pet to the colors before painting it to make sure they like it.


Wood is a great medium for snakes to climb and dangle from. It is easy to paint to give it just the vibe you’re wanting.


Make your lizards feel right at home by creating a terrarium background on the enclosure that mimics them in the wild. Use your reptile safe paints to create an image of the desert or rain forest as coverage like their natural surroundings.

The Most Dangerous Paints for Reptiles

These are paint types that may adversely affect the health of your reptile pet. This is generally because of the chemical compounds used in paint production. Generally, two categories of paints can prove dangerous to your reptile pet.

VOC Paint

This refers to paints that contain chemical compounds classified as Volatile Chemical Compounds (VOC). These chemical compounds are multiple and have various toxicity levels, and can cause adverse health effects, especially when inhaled for long periods. Having these paints inside your bearded dragon tank makes it harder to evaporate and will likely affect your pet.

Voc Paint

They are used to produce paint and other household materials such as carpets and air fresheners. The fumes can prove toxic to your pet’s lungs.

Spray Paint

Spray paints are hazardous to reptiles. This is because even with paints containing little or no VOCs, the application method requires a healthy amount introduced into the air before it arrives at the targeted surface. This amount of paint introduced into the air can last for long periods, making it generally unsafe for inhalation and the health of your reptile.

Spray Paint

Bottom Line

Does acrylic paint work for reptile’s tanks? While there is no safe paint, acrylic painting is a top choice to use for your reptile enclosure. The reason being because acrylics are water-based, non-toxic, VOC-free, carcinogen-free, not creosote, and heavy metal-free.

Since the fundamental constituents of paints have been examined, it is essential to consider these precautions when selecting suitable paint for the environment of your scaly friend.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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