The Top 4 Prey Holding Tanks

Written by Katie Melynn
Published: June 5, 2022
© Kirill Kurashov/Shutterstock.com

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Some pets like and benefit from fresh food. While they may feed on live prey in the wild, you can keep live food in a holding tank and humanely kill them before feeding them to your pet. While this isn’t the best course for all pet owners if you want to try keeping live prey, finding the right equipment can take the guesswork out of the process.

Before deciding if this is the right path for you and your pet, consider the type of prey you will need to keep. Snakes eat mice while lizards and some turtles like insects. Rodents such as mice require more care and maintenance. Insects are easy to keep as prey and only need minimal work.

If you plan to feed your pet fresh prey, you will need a place to hold them. There are plenty of affordable options on the market to make holding prey easy and convenient. We’ve compiled a list of budget-friendly holding tanks that make feeding live prey easy and convenient.

A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Prey Holding Tanks

  1. Favola Hamster Cage
  2. Favola Hamster Cage
    • Has narrowly spaced mesh to keep your hamster safe
    • Comes with an exercise wheel and food dish
    • Plenty of space for bedding
    • Can easily be expanded
    Check Amazon
  3. Exo Terra Faunarium Terrarium
  4. Exo Terra Faunarium Terrarium
    • Very affordable option
    • Ideal for keeping insects
    • Can easy move
    • Made of thick, durable plastic
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. REPTI ZOO Double Hinge Glass Reptile Terrarium
  6. REPTI ZOO Double Hinge Glass Reptile Terrarium
    • Mesh screens on top provide ventilation
    • Glass sides are easy to clean
    • Features front doors for easy access
    • Raised bottom can accommodate heater
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. REPTIZOO 18 Gallon Full Glass Reptile Terrarium
  8. REPTIZOO 18 Gallon Full Glass Reptile Terrarium
    • The removable top provides ventilation
    • Front panel swings open
    • Made of float glass
    • Waterproof bottom
    Check Amazon

#1 Best Overall: Favola Hamster Cage

In our review, the best prey holding tank is the Favola Hamster Cage. This cage provides plenty of space for prey such as mice to live healthy lives. Depending on the type of animal that you keep and their diet, you may need to actually breed animals such as mice for prey. If this is your plan, you should maintain a clean and healthy habitat for them. Not only is it the humane thing to do, but it also ensures that your entire household remains free from disease and mess.

The Favola habitat includes everything that you need to get started with keeping mice. It has plenty of space for them to exercise, eat, sleep, and burrow. The cage also comes with a feeding dish, water bottle, exercise wheel, and habitat. Considering you will need to care for multiple animals, keeping a budget in mind becomes more important. The Favola habitat works within most budgets and is durable enough to last for years.

One hamster owner recommends this cage for its size and design. “The deep pan fully contains the bedding and gives plenty of space and depth for my robo to burrow around. It’s about twice the size of your average Critter Trail cage, and it has well-defined corners, which help hamsters orient themselves.” Whether you are keeping mice as pets or prey, this cage is a great option.

Overall Best
Favola Hamster Cage
  • Has narrowly spaced mesh to keep your hamster safe
  • Comes with an exercise wheel and food dish
  • Plenty of space for bedding
  • Can easily be expanded
Check Amazon

2. Best for Bugs: Exo Terra Faunarium

Ironically, some of the best habitats for keeping and transporting pets like bearded dragons also make great habitats for their live prey. Insects like crickets and roaches make tasty morsels for lizards, snakes, and other pets. Keeping these as live prey is easy with the right tools. This faunarium from Exo Terra includes everything that you need for bug collection and keeping.

One of the best aspects of this option is the price. It is just a fraction of the more expensive and larger glass tanks. You can also take it with you to the pet store to restock on prey when needed.

It comes in two sizes: medium and large. It is made of thick, durable plastic and has ventilation on the top. “We use this habitat for classroom-based mealworm/beetle colonies,” wrote one reviewer. “Only terrarium that works so well.” The tank doesn’t include any habitat elements or food. You will need to purchase or provide those separately. Fortunately, this is a budget-friendly tank and you will be able to afford any other elements specific to the live prey that you may need.

Best for Bugs
Exo Terra Faunarium Terrarium
  • Very affordable option
  • Ideal for keeping insects
  • Can easy move
  • Made of thick, durable plastic
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best Large Tank: ReptiZoo 35-Gallon Terrarium

This terrarium can work for a variety of uses, including holding live prey such as insects. It is larger than most pet parents need but some prefer it because it can be used to hold prey for multiple pets. If you keep multiple pets that need the same prey, this 35-gallon tank can hold plenty of meals for them. ReptiZOO makes two sizes, one 50-gallon, and one 35-gallon. Both have mesh screens on top to provide ventilation and sturdy glass sides that are easy to clean and allow you to see the insects inside.

It’s not well suited for mice or other small rodents. If you plan to breed these types of animals to use as prey, you should look for an option specifically suited for their needs and lifestyle. You can lock the doors on this tank, but one reviewer noted that you then need to keep track of the keys. “The bottom is really sturdy and the doors work great. Just make sure you don’t lose the keys that go with it,” they wrote.

Best Large Tank
REPTI ZOO Double Hinge Glass Reptile Terrarium
  • Mesh screens on top provide ventilation
  • Glass sides are easy to clean
  • Features front doors for easy access
  • Raised bottom can accommodate heater
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best Small Tank: ReptiZOO 18-Gallon Full Glass Reptile Tank

While marketed for reptiles, this small tank from ReptiZOO makes a great holding tank for their live prey as well. You can use it to hold crickets, roaches, and even mealworms. This is a smaller tank than many others but it still has all of the top features that make it a top option. The top provides ventilation while operating on a hinge for opening. The front panel swings open toward the front and can be wiped down easily for cleaning.

You will need to assemble this tank, just like others from ReptiZOO. Some reviewers had trouble with this step. Fortunately, there are plenty of helpful videos and tutorials on assembly if you have trouble with the included instructions. This tank takes up less room than its larger counterparts while still including all the features that make ReptiZOO such a popular brand.

Best Small Tank
REPTIZOO 18 Gallon Full Glass Reptile Terrarium
  • The removable top provides ventilation
  • Front panel swings open
  • Made of float glass
  • Waterproof bottom
Check Amazon

Choosing the Best: What to Look For

When considering options for holding live prey, the most important factor is what type of prey you need to care for. After that, consider your budget and the available space that you have.

Type of Prey

Before deciding on a holding tank, do plenty of research about what type of prey your pet eats. Snakes and other similar pets like mice. Keeping and breeding mice for prey require specialized habitats so that they can live safe and healthy lives. Insects like crickets, roaches, and mealworms can be kept in a glass or plastic tank with plenty of plant life and larvae for them to eat.

No matter which option is right for your pet, it’s important that you provide a safe and healthy environment even for their prey. You should consider it like keeping two types of pets: one for the long-term and one that will eventually become a meal.

Budget

There are budget-friendly and high-end options for every type of prey. Plastic tanks tend to be less expensive than their glass counterparts. Smaller tanks are also more budget-friendly than larger ones. Consider how long you plan to use the tank when thinking about your budget as well. While a cheaper tank may be less expensive right now, if you have to replace it quickly, you may end up spending more in the long run.

Space

It’s best to keep live prey in a different room from the pets who will eat them. This means extra space for a holding tank. Look for one that is big enough to hold the live prey but not so big that it takes up more space than you have available. Just make sure that the holding tank is large enough to provide them with a safe and healthy space to live.

The Different Types of Prey Holding Tanks: Pros and Cons Compared

When looking at various holding tanks for prey, you can choose between a small rodent habitat or a holding tank for insects. These are the two most commonly kept types of live prey. Each has its pros and cons.

Small Mammal Habitat

ProsCons
Often cheaperNeeds more cleaning and care
Takes up less spaceWill need to humanely kill rodents before feeding
Available in kits will all required items

Insect Holding Tank

ProsCons
Available at multiple price pointsCan take up more space
Minimal maintenance neededInsects often hop in and out of the tank
Easy feeding to pet

Verified Review: User Experience

For insects, reviewers really liked the Exo Terra habitat. One reviewer added it to an already established live prey breeding setup. “I purchased this to go with a similar size tank/box I already have to use to house and gut load feeder roaches and locusts for my bearded dragon,” the reviewer said. “The box is a good size with lots of ventilation. It feels sturdy and well made. The lid clips on securely and there is a large door in the lid for feeding or spot cleaning.”

ReptiZOO makes multiple appearances on our list as a top holding tank for insects. These tanks are a bit more expensive than the plastic options, which also work great, but provide a more permanent and long-lasting holding tank solution. They have multiple size options and configurations so you can find one that works for your space. You will need to assemble the tanks, which some users found to be challenging. “Took at least 20 minutes to put together by myself but it was super simple and easy to do,” said one reviewer. “The only thing I wish it had was a little suction cup on the door. I bought some from my local hardware store, just to open the doors a little easier. Other than that it’s absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to see my little guy grow in his new home. I would totally recommend this to anybody who wants a front-opening tank.”

About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie is a Teaching Artist with The APEX Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland and was awarded an Author Fellowship to Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She also enjoys spending time with her three kids and cat.

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