There are over 6,000 different species of lizards, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Some lizards are less than an inch long, while others like the Komodo Dragon can reach up to over 10 feet in length. With such a wide variety of species, colors, and sizes, it is no wonder that lizards have become a highly popular pet.
It is estimated that almost 2 million households in the United States have lizards as pets, and that number is swiftly growing. Most lizards are easy to care for as pets, but some require special housing with strict temperature and humidity regulation. If you are a novice in the world of keeping lizards, you’ve come to the right place! We put together this list of the 20 best pet lizards for beginners, to help you choose the perfect reptilian companion.
The 20 Best Pet Lizards for Beginners:
1. Bearded Dragon
The Bearded Dragon is one of the most well-known and popular choices of lizard pet, as they are easy to care for, outgoing, and friendly and can even be taken for walks on leashes. Bearded Dragons are one of the most social lizard species and enjoy being around their owners. They can grow to around 2 feet in length, live for up to 15 years in some cases, and are among the most easy-going and well-behaved pet lizards around.
2. Leopard Gecko
Leopard Geckos are one of the most popular lizard pets and are an especially great choice for beginners. They are docile, easy-going lizards that are unlikely to bite and are happy to be handled. A unique trait among Leopard Geckos is their vocalization; they are known to be particularly vocal especially when hungry. These lizards grow quickly and will reach maturity within a year. They grow to around 8 inches long and have a lifespan of about 10–15 years.
3. Ackies Monitor
Native to Australia and closely resembling a Komodo Dragon in miniature, the Ackies Monitor lizard is a great beginner choice, despite its comparatively large size. These lizards can reach up to 30 inches in length, which is intimidating to many beginners, but they have a mellow and docile temperament that is great for newcomers. These lizards have a fairly long lifespan of 15–20 years, so you should be prepared for a long-term commitment before bringing one home.
4. African Fat-Tailed Gecko
The friendly and docile African Fat-Tailed Gecko is native to West Africa and is quickly becoming a popular pet due to their ability to thrive in captivity and their openness to being handled. Their tails are almost as thick as their bodies (hence their name) and they are easy to care for. They grow to around 9 inches long and can easily live up to 20 years in captivity if well looked after.
5. African Fire Skink
The African Fire Skink is a popular lizard pet due to its beautiful bright red coloring and its low maintenance, making it an ideal choice for beginners. While they are fairly shy and don’t enjoy being handled, they are highly active and have entertaining personalities that are great to observe. They typically reach about 15 inches in length and have an average captive lifespan of 15–20 years, with few notable health issues.
6. Argentine Black and White Tegu
The Argentine Black and White Tegu is a large lizard that can reach up to 4 feet in length, but despite their large size, they are docile and friendly lizards that are happy to be handled. They are one of the most intelligent species of lizard that become somewhat attached to their owners and can even be house-trained! In captivity, these lizards can live for 15–20 years.
7. Blue-Tongue Skink
As its name suggests, the Blue-Tongue Skink is well-known for its bright blue tongue and docile temperament. They are on the large side and can weigh up to 4 pounds, but at only around 20 inches, they are not that long for their weight. They are easy to care for, happy to be handled, and easy to tame, making them a great choice for beginners. They have an average lifespan of 15–20 years but have been known to live in excess of 30.
8. Caiman Lizard
Caiman Lizards are large, beautifully colored, and easily trainable animals that can reach up to 5 feet long. They require a big enclosure with water to submerge in, making them a big responsibility. They can be trained to be handled, but this may take time and patience. If you are a beginner looking for a large lizard, the Caiman Lizard is a great choice due to its striking rainbow colors and ease of trainability, and it typically lives for up to 10 years.
9. Chinese Water Dragon
Chinese Dragons are one species of several types of Water Dragons and are the easiest for beginners. Once they are used to your presence, they are fine to be held and handled and are typically quite friendly. These lizards require a fair bit of special attention, though, with large enclosures, a good-sized pool of water, and carefully monitored humidity. If these requirements are all met and you are dedicated, then they make wonderful beginner lizards and typically live for 15–20 years.
10. Crested Gecko
The Crested Gecko was once thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in the early 1990s. They are known for the spines that travel down the length of their body, giving them their crested look—complete with eyelashes! They are docile lizards that are happy to be handled and easy to care for, provided that they have a large, tall enclosure that they can climb in. They typically grow to about 8 inches long and can live for up to 10 years.
11. Gargoyle Gecko
Gargoyle Geckos are native to New Caledonia and are ideal lizards for beginners due to their simple and easy caring requirements. These lizards will take a while to tame and may bite as youngsters, but once they become accustomed to their owners, they are fairly docile and fine to be handled. They reach a maximum of 8 inches in length and can live for 10–15 years in captivity.
12. Gidgee Skink
Unique among lizards, as they prefer to live in groups, Gidgee Skinks are easy-to-care-for, low-maintenance lizards that are ideal for beginners. They are comparatively large, though, reaching up to 10 inches long and need a fairly large enclosure. They are shy lizards that need some time and training to handle and are better housed with a partner. They have long lifespans of around 20 years.
13. Gold-Dust Day Gecko
The Gold-Dust Day Gecko is a beautiful lizard with striking green skin and gold specs. They are not hugely popular pets due to their easily stressed nature and sensitive skin. These lizards also do not enjoy being handled and are particularly shy and are best strictly for display. They are small lizards that only grow to around 6 inches and typically live for up to 10 years.
14. Green Anole
Green Anoles are known for the bright red dewlap under their chin and bright green body. They are active and somewhat skittish lizards that may take time to get accustomed to handling, but with patience, they can become relatively tame. They are small lizards that do not require a large enclosure and are easy to care for. They are usually around 8 inches long and have an average lifespan of 3–6 years.
- Related Read: What Do Green Anoles Eat in the Wild and as Pets?
15. Green Basilisk
Also known as the “Jesus Christ Lizard,” the Basilisk is famous for its ability to run on water. They are best kept in pairs or groups but preferably with only one male, as they can be quite territorial. They are active lizards that need a fairly large enclosure but are generally easy to care for. They reach a maximum size of around 36 inches and typically live for 8–10 years.
16. Green Iguana
Green Iguanas are perfect for lizard novices due to their herbivorous diet. However, these lizards get big, require large enclosures, and are surprisingly powerful. They can grow up to 6 feet in length and need a pool of water to bathe in but are fairly easy to tame and enjoy being handled. While they do need a fair amount of space and some time and dedication to care for, their docile nature makes them a good choice for beginners. Real commitment is needed with these large lizards, as they can live for over 20 years in captivity.
17. Jewelled Lacerta
The Jewelled Lacerta is a large lizard and can reach over 3 feet in length, but they are fairly lightweight for their size. While they are easy to care for generally, they are shy lizards and will take time to train. Even once trained, they still are not prone to being handled, and this should be done only occasionally. They have an average lifespan of 12–20 years, but with proper care, they can live longer than that in captivity.
18. Long-Tailed Lizard
Named for its uniquely long tail, the Long-Tailed Lizard’s tail is typically three to four times the length of its body. They have a gentle, docile, easy-going nature and are easy to look after and ideal for beginners. These lizards have prehensile tails, meaning they can wrap them around branches and hang from them if they want, an unusual trait among lizards. They need a fairly large enclosure to accommodate their long tails and typically live for around 6 years.
19. Savannah Monitor
Savannah Monitors are one of the most easily tamed monitor lizards, making them ideal for beginners looking for a large lizard. They will require a large habitat, though, that has a deep substrate because they love to dig and that is strong enough to house their powerful stature. With enough training, they enjoy being handled and are not overly active or skittish. While they are fairly large, they are not as large as other monitor species, typically reaching 3 feet in length, and they can live for up to 20 years.
The Uromastyx is a docile, friendly lizard that is ideal for beginners. They are easy to care for but love to dig and burrow, so they will need an enclosure will a fair amount of substrate. They are also almost exclusively herbivorous and are easy to feed. They only reach about 16 inches in length but are rather bulky and heavy for their size. They are a long-term commitment, though, and can live for 20 years and beyond in captivity.
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Featured Image Credit: Jason Patrick Ross, Shutterstock