How To Make Fake Rocks For Reptiles

Do you want to add some real looking rock formations to your reptile’s habitat?

Do you worry about having enough hides or basking areas for your reptile?

If you are looking for a specific rock look in your reptile’s cage, but want to avoid something so heavy, you might look into how to make a fake rock for your reptile.

Part of adequately caring for your reptile is giving them a comfortable home fitting all of their needs.

For many reptiles, rocks are essential to add to their habitat to give them a place to bask and are often put together to create a place for them to hide.

They also allow you to put your creativity into action and build an attractive home for your pet.

Rocks are easy enough to find or purchase, but they are heavy and even crack the tank’s bottom.

You don’t have to stick with those; instead, make a rock or rock formation for the tank yourself!

Continue reading to learn more about creating fake rocks for your reptile’s enclosure.

how to make fake rock for reptile

What You’ll Need

This section focuses on the materials you will need to make fake rocks, a cave, or hide for your reptile’s habitat.

You may have some of the supplies around your home, but others will require a trip to the store to purchase.


If you have recently ordered through the mail, you might have received some styrofoam as part of the packaging.

You will be able to use styrofoam of different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses to create your homemade rocks.

If not, ask some friends, family, or sometimes local stores to see if they have some on hand they can give you.

The amount you will need depends on how big or small you want to make your rock.

For a rock formation or hide, you will be putting together several layers, so make sure you have plenty of styrofoam.

It is better to have more than you need to start with, so you can play around with different designs, sizes or make multiple rocks.

Sanded Grout Mix

Sanded grout mix contains large grains of sand to give your rock a very realistic feel and is available at your local hardware store.

Unsanded grout is also available at stores, and it won’t give you as rough a texture as the sanded.

There are several color options available to fit with you on your design ideas.


Get the water out of your kitchen or bathroom sink to add to the grout mix.

Read the grout’s directions to make sure you are using the correct amount of water and get the grout to be the right consistency.

Grout or Cement Color

Add these colors to the grout to give it a real rock color if you have a particular shade in mind.

This is available at the hardware store near the grout.

Expanding Foam Insulator

This product will be especially useful if you are creating a hide or formation.

Found at your local hardware store, spray it to fill in holes and gaps in the styrofoam or to build up certain areas.

Water Based Polycrylic Sealer

This sealer helps to protect your finished product.

You will apply at least three coats to make sure everything is sealed.

Knife or Saw

A sharp knife or saw will come in handy as you shape and cut into the styrofoam and create the hide, formation, or rock.


A hot glue gun is a great option here for putting the pieces of styrofoam together.

Don’t use chemical glues because they will melt the styrofoam.

Paint Brushes

Paintbrushes make applying the grout and sealant so much easier.

You don’t have to go out and purchase costly ones.

Cheap brushes will work just fine but make sure they are larger, so they apply a more significant amount of the grout at one time, saving you time and energy.

Step By Step Instructions For How To Build A Fake Rock

This section will give you full detailed information on how to build a fake rock for your reptile tank.

Once you get the hang of the process, you will be able to create beautiful rocks to make your reptile’s tank functional.

#1 Design Your Rock, Cave, Or Hide

In this step, you will need to think about what you want to create.

Do you need just a basking rock, or are you thinking of making a cave or hide?

Measure the space you have and decide how big or small you want to make your fake rock.

#2 Build The Rock

Using your styrofoam, and glue start building up the rock using the styrofoam in layers.

It doesn’t have to look pretty in this step, just get the basic design of what you want.

We recommend laying out the styrofoam first, marking the layers with a pen or marker, and then gluing the pieces together.

#3 Fill In The Gaps

Using the expanding foam insulator, fill in the gaps and holes where the styrofoam doesn’t quite meet.

You can also use this on the styrofoam to build up other areas to create more styrofoam character.

After it is sprayed, it will start to expand.

You will need to leave this overnight to expand fully, dry, and harden.

#4 Carve the Rock

Using your knife or saw, start carving the styrofoam and insulation foam to how you want the rock to look.

You don’t have to get too detailed, because the next step, adding the grout, will fill in.

#5 Mix The Grout And Apply It

Mix your grout according to the instructions, adding the color if you have decided to use it.

Don’t mix up too much grout at once, because it will start drying out as it sits waiting for you to use it.

Apply the grout using your paintbrush and coat thoroughly, filling in all cracks and crevasses.

You will need to let each coat dry before applying the next one.

This process usually needs about three coats to have the rock looking like you want it, but you might find another coat won’t hurt.

At three coats, your rock will be strong and should cover all of your styrofoam base.

If you don’t add color to the grout, you can paint it once you have applied the three layers, and it has dried.

#6 Apply Sealant

Once the grout has thoroughly dried, apply the sealant.

This is such an essential part of the process because it protects your creation from falling apart in the tank.

Apply three coats of the sealant in every part of the rock, getting into every crack and crevasse.

Allow the sealant to dry thoroughly for a few days before you put it in your reptile’s environment.

Once it is dry, place it in just the right place in the tank for your reptile to enjoy.

Commonly Asked Questions

Does A Reptile Need A Rock In Their Enclosure?

Many reptiles do benefit from having a basking rock in their enclosure.

When placed in the warmer area of their tank, they will spend a lot of time there to soak up the benefits of the light you might have installed over the tank.

Do I Have To Use Rocks In My Reptile’s Tank?

There is no absolute rule saying you must use rocks in every reptile’s tank.

Aside from rocks, some reptile owners will also use branches or driftwood and even cork to create textures and to give the reptile something to climb.

For many reptiles, rocks are commonly found in their natural environment, making sense to add them to their environment when they are in captivity.

Can I Buy Fake Rocks For The Reptile’s Enclosure?

If designing and creating a fake rock isn’t your idea of a good time, or maybe it isn’t something you have time to do right now, you can find fake rocks to purchase.

Fake rocks, caves, and hides are available for purchase from many local and chain pet shops and online retailers.

They are found in various shapes, sizes, and colors and are usually made out of resins.

These fake rocks are designed to look very realistic and fit in with your vision and design of the tank.

They range in price depending on the size and quality of the piece.


We hope you have enjoyed reading about how to make a rock for your reptile’s enclosure.

These step by step instructions will allow you to create beautiful, one of a kind pieces for your reptile’s home, giving them new things to climb and places to bask.

This process may take some time and patience, but once you have gone through the process, you will be able to create these pieces quickly and easily add new pieces to the tank as you desire.

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