How to choose the best pet reptile
Popular lizard pets are numerous, and lizards as pets are a great option for lots of reasons. Different types of pet lizards may be chosen depending on various criteria. “Best pet lizards” is a relative notion because for some people the fact if their pet is the easiest lizard to take care of comes on the first place. For others, unique and cool lizards are the best selection. Some friend of mine was purposefully searching for the smallest monitor lizard in order to relax watching it while being in the office for long hours.
Types of pet lizards
Lizard breeds are different as well. But one important factor is that there are specific care requirements for all types of pet lizards. And choosing some pet lizards it’s a high priority to find some pet lizards that will correspond to your lifestyle. Remember to analyze how much are lizards themselves and their housing and how much space they will need.
What else? If you are looking for the best beginner lizards consider Bearded Dragons, for example. Any giant snake species are not for a novice handler. Iguanas, being inexpensive and intelligent, can nevertheless be moody and aggressive. The size also matters. Smallest lizard pet may not occupy much room by itself, but it may need some facilities and a big tank to live. Thus, there is no single answer to the question of what qualifies a lizard as a good pet because these species may be distinguished by size, ease of care, handleability, personality, and availability.
There are plenty of lizards that make wonderful pets. Find some options of lizards for pets below. In fact, some cool lizard pets can bring you hours of enjoyment and Instagram popularity.
Our Pet lizards list
The leopard gecko is probably the most popular lizard pet in captivity today. Being small and easily available in various colors and patterns in any pet shop they are low maintenance, which makes them common lizard pets. Their care requirements are very simple and they are generally docile and easily tamed. They say, these are one of the easiest lizards to care for and one of the most gentle. What simplifies the care proceedings, even more, is that neither special lighting nor meal plan is necessary. Babies must be fed daily but adults can be fed every other day and left alone for a few days. These hardy, long-lived little lizards make an ideal first reptilian pet.
It’s interesting to watch them because they have movable eyelids. Unlike other types of pet lizards that usually have sticky lamellae on their feet, leopard geckos have tiny claws at the end of each toe, making them ground dwellers. What makes this type of lizard pets different from others is also the fact that they are less prone to caudal autotomy but will detach their tail being threatened. Their fat is accumulated in a tail, so that loss may turn to be a trouble for the lizard. These small (7-10 inches) and space-efficient lizards need controlled heating, could be fed with crickets, waxworms, and mealworms. Adult species require a 20-gallon tank or equivalent.
African Fat Tail Geckos are quite similar to leopard geckos but are even more gentle and docile.
Varanus acanthuras, or often called the “ackie”, is the ridge-tailed lizard or spiny-tailed lizard. This type of small monitor lizards is an ideal captive that is one of the easiest lizards to care for. If you are looking for some cool cute lizard, the size of a dwarf, the looks of a little dragon that beautifully colored lizard pet is for you!
These common pet lizards are rather active, and watching and caring for them will bring you a lot of fun. Ackies can be held on a daily basis and usually tame very well. Ackies can be fed every other day and will accept a variety of foods including crickets and pinky mice. Remember Ackies require controlled heating, UVB lighting as well as a big cage – 55-gallon tank or equivalent as a minimum. Ackies are more expensive than other ‘beginner’ lizards, sometimes they are not easy to find on the market.
Bearded dragons, or “beardies”, are good pet lizards for beginners. They are relatively small lizards and could be referred to the top of the lizard pets list due to their docile conduct and uncomplicated care requirements. These dragon lizard pets are active during the day. It’s great fun to watch them.
We could say, Beardies are over the top when it comes to being social. They have great personalities, unique for every individual specimen, and make the best lizard pets for a family to be interacted. Being omnivores, Bearded dragons could eat both insects and vegetables. It’s a really cute display animal, so that makes a good choice for those who spend a lot of time at home or in their office.
Unfortunately, their tail does not detach and does not regrow, if it is broken or injured. Luckily or unluckily, different types of Bearded dragons are not only characterized by individual features, but they also need specific life conditions including temperature, humidity and habitat requirements.
As a matter of fact, Bearded dragons have Australian roots and are rather gentle domestic lizards. They are so sociable that they search for people’s attention constantly. They are some of the most rewarding and easily cared for lizards. Such pet lizard breeds could be worth buying because of easy handling and reliable character. But they need proper care, including a 40-gallon tank as a minimum, UVB lighting, and controlled heating.
Some alternatives to lizards
A Russian tortoise is a better alternative to the popular red-eared slider, because of lower maintenance demands and a very important factor that makes it one of the best reptile pets, i.e. its ability to interact with a human. However, a long lifespan which is up to 50 years, makes this species a long-term commitment. It is relatively small for a tortoise and could achieve the size of 8-10 inches as a maximum, these tortoises have a lot of stamina, which moves them to the top of the best reptile pets list. Unlike other reptile pets, they don’t have water requirements, as they get almost all of their moisture from their food.
Ball Python is for those individuals who are looking through the pets’ lists and wish to find some popular legless companion. Balls are a little shy and smaller in size than other snakes, which appeals to many beginner snake owners. Diversity of color variations provides potential owners with lots of options. Another significant issue to be considered is their lifespan, 25-30 years on average, which is a long-time commitment for every human! Not all spouses could stay together for such a long period of time. Ball pythons do not have complicated tank demands, which could make them suitable for first-time owners.
The crested gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus, belongs to the list of popular lizard pets because of several reasons. First, they are low maintenance in comparison with other pet lizard species. They do not need special heating or lighting conditions, but their owners shall keep in mind that temperatures above 80 degrees F will be stressful for them. Second, they can eat some fruit-based powders mixed with water, which means they do not require complex nutrition plan or exotic insects for breakfast. Third, their small size (5-8 inches) makes 20-gallon tank enough for its comfortable living.
Crested geckos could be of various colors and patterns, from stripes to spots to everything in between. The Crestie is a very docile and entertaining reptile. The long crests on their body and eyes make them look like cartoons. These geckos are brighter in color than other types of pet lizards and “fire up” at night when they are most active and their colors are dull during the day when they are resting. They are well-behaved and obedient, could be tamed, but they are much more delicate than some bigger lizards. Moreover, they are prone to the accidental loss of their tails which will not harm them, but the tail will not regrow.
Day Geckos have sticky pads on their feet, lamellae, that allow them to scale the glass, and walls if they plan to escape. There are “68 known living species and subspecies” of the day gecko. Geckos are diurnal, they are awake during the day, which means their owners will have the opportunity to view them during their peak active hours.
Argentine Black and White Tegu
The Argentine black and white tegu, Tupinambis merianae, is the largest lizard on our best pet list. It is important to note that adult specimen needs more space than many people may afford, but if the biggest lizards for pets, as well as 4-6 foot by a 2-foot wide cage or larger which could occupy a significant space, do not confuse you, Tegus are those who match you perfectly. Being one of the most intelligent reptiles, Tegus are able to be trained some simple tricks and to react to their names. They need UVB lighting and controlled heating. Tegus are friendly lizards that easily socialize. But be careful while choosing some Tegu lizards for pets. For example, Columbian tegus do not make a good pet lizard because they are often aggressive and difficult to care for.
Green iguanas are one of the most common lizard pets easily available in pet shops at a relatively low price. These pet lizard types are characterized by intelligence and sociability, not to mention their beauty. Every customer could be touched with those cute lizards when they are small. But these pet shop clients fool themselves into thinking that these good lizards would be such forever. Iguanas grow fast, have big teeth and can cause nasty cuts and slashes by accident. Adult iguanas require caging half the size of a standard bedroom and specialized heating and lighting conditions. Thus, they are suitable for advanced keepers only.
Chinese Water Dragon
The Chinese Water Dragon is quite similar to an iguana, but much smaller and not aggressive, which makes it a perfect substitute for dangerous iguanas. It is full of personality and spunk! Once they get used to their owner, they can be easily handled. Water dragons will need a large tank (bigger than a gallon) because they need a water environment.
The savannah monitor, Varanus exanthematicus, is sold at a low price, many babies cost $25 or less. Beginner lizard keepers would better avoid these types of lizards as pets because adult monitors are rather powerful and could inflict serious injuries or destroy property. Savannah monitors require huge cage spaces and experienced handling. They need a lot of food, their cages shall be cleaned every day, special care conditions including controlled heating, lighting, and humidity are to be provided.
Green Anoles come in two variations, the brown anole and the green anole. The green anoles are popular lizard pets. Although their cost is quite low, it could mislead the customer because their care requirements including expensive lighting and controlled environment can cost their owner a fortune. Anoles are easily stressed and should not be handled on a regular basis. Being carnivorous, they shall be provided with daily insect feedings as juveniles and every other day as adults.
The male green anoles have a pink flap of skin underneath their chin called a “dewlap”. They use their dewlap in territorial displays and when it comes time to court the ladies. These lizards have sticky feet that allow them to climb the walls and sides of their glass tanks. It’s better to avoid handling or catching anoles because they drop their tails if they feel risk or threat. This defense mechanism called caudal autonomy helps them to distract the predator and escape.
Chameleons can adapt well to living in captivity but a lot of complex instructions to follow dealing with them make them suitable for experienced keepers only. Chameleons sold in pet stores are often wild-caught and could carry lots of various parasites and diseases. Their setup is expensive, controlled lighting and specific humidity demands are to be followed.
This pet reptile is known for its crazy eyes, long tongue and ability to change color. If the latter makes the reason for you to buy a chameleon you should know it is a myth that they can camouflage against different backgrounds. A chameleon is funny to watch because it is the only reptile that can move each eye independently of the other and their tongue is anywhere from 1 to 1.5 times the length of its body. Though chameleons are beautiful, it is better not to handle them unless it is absolutely necessary as they are easily stressed or hurt.
Types of lizards and monitor pets are numerous and various. Among available monitor species are Nile monitors, Asian water monitors, green tree monitors, and others. Almost none of them are suitable for living in captivity because of them growing to a large size and being very sensitive in their environmental needs.