Rob, so sorry for your losses. Someone mentioned vinyl plank flooring, I second that, it looks great, lasts virtually forever, and they have water resistant and maybe even waterproof kinds now. I installed water resistant out on my sunporch 3 years ago and it's put up with all those lovely changes of Massachusetts weather over that time.
I like the caiman lizard idea. But a glass enclosure is going to be substantial for an adult. Zoo Med keeps them in really big Waterland Tubs with some sort of custom steel cage over the top. If you go on their website I'm sure they still have the article (The Vivarium online maybe). Don't give up on turtles, try a smaller species that could be an interesting breeding project like Stripe necked musks or Cagles maps.