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10 Best Pet Reptiles for Beginners (With Pictures)
Reptiles are a unique choice of pets that are fairly easy to care for and don’t cost a huge amount to look after. They may be cold-blooded, but their unique characteristics and quirky personalities will quickly warm your heart.
While there are a wide variety of reptiles that are kept as pets, we’ve created this list of the 10 most common types.
1. Bearded Dragon
The Bearded Dragon is one of the most common choices of pet reptiles, due to its vibrant personality and docile temperament. They are easy to look after, being omnivorous feeders and eating mostly plants and insects. Their calm temperament makes them a great pet, and some owners even take them for an occasional walk outside! They have entertaining and interesting behaviors, such as lifting their front leg and giving a submissive wave. Also, they can extend their spiny beard when alarmed, although captive bearded dragons rarely do this.
Bearded dragons love heat, so their enclosure needs to be at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and they’ll need a specialized basking spot provided by a spotlight. They are generally docile and calm animals who do not mind being handled, especially if they have been in captivity their whole lives. This makes them ideal pets for beginners and experts alike.
2. Leopard Gecko
Leopard Geckos are one of the easiest reptiles to care for, as they are not that demanding, and it is easy to create a comfortable environment for them to live in. A large tank, a spotlight to mimic the sun, and a simple controlled heat mat are all they need. They will drink water from a bowl, so there is no need for a mister or fogger in their enclosure. They are not fussy eaters either, but live insects are a must because they don’t eat plants or vegetables. The insects are usually dusted with vitamins and minerals to provide your leopard gecko with optimal nutrition.
Their placid and calm nature makes them great pets, and they are happy to be handled by children of all ages. They are not at all aggressive, so you don’t need to worry about biting. They are beautiful creatures, featuring bright leopard spots that give them their name. In addition to these spots, leopard geckos come in a wide variety of morphs and colors.
3. Chinese Water Dragon
Also known as the Asian or Green water dragon, the Chinese water dragon gets its name from its Chinese and Asian origins and from its propensity to live near creeks, ponds, and small bodies of fresh water. They love to lounge in tree branches above water and when threatened, will dive into the water, able to stay underneath for up to 20 minutes. They are beautiful animals, particularly the males. They are usually a bright, almost neon green, with black speckled spots, and their throat is brightly colored with blues, reds, and yellows. Water lizards have incredibly long tails, which can reach up to 3 feet for males and make up almost two-thirds of their body length.
Water dragons are fairly complex creatures to look after, and they need a large space to live comfortably in. They also require a high humidity and temperature to thrive and are prone to respiratory infections if they experience cooler temperatures. A basking spot with a spotlight is also a must. They are omnivorous and can be fed on a combination of crickets or mealworms and fresh leafy greens.
These lizards can take a while to tame and build up trust, but once they do, they make beautiful and docile pets. They are well-known for being highly friendly pets and actually require regular handling to prevent them from becoming aggressive.
- Related Read: 21 Best Pet Lizards for Beginners (With Pictures)
Iguanas are a common pet reptile, native to Central and South America. They require special care to look after, requiring specific food and housing. They can grow to be quite large and strong and can sometimes be difficult to tame. If they are not regularly handled, they can become aggressive in some cases. So, while they make beautiful and unique pets, they require a great deal of commitment.
Iguanas in the wild are strictly herbivorous, so feeding them is fairly simple. Leafy greens and vegetables, along with good quality commercial pellets, will give them all they need for good nutrition.
5. Corn Snake
Corn snakes, also known as Rat snakes, are commonly kept as pets due to their small size, docile nature, and beautiful patterning. They are easy to care for and breed and are happy to be regularly handled. Corn snakes love to climb, so their enclosure needs to have branches and foliage available. They will also need a heat mat, but no special lighting is required. Corn snakes feed primarily on baby or adult rodents, according to their size, and should be fed once every seven to 10 days.
Corn snakes are easily tamed and have no real ability to harm you. This makes them a great choice of snake if you have kids around.
6. Veiled Chameleon
The veiled chameleon, also known as the Yemen chameleon, is the most common type of chameleon kept as a pet. They are a relatively large variety, originating in the Middle Eastern coastal mountain slopes. They get their name from the triangular protrusion on their heads, called a casque, which grows bigger as the chameleon matures. Generally, chameleons are not ideal for beginner reptile owners, as they require a great deal of special care. They are best kept alone in separate enclosures to avoid stress, and they are known to fight.
Chameleons are best kept in screened enclosures because they benefit from the increased airflow; glass tanks without adequate air movement can cause respiratory issues in chameleons.
7. Russian Tortoise
The Russian tortoise is the most common breed of tortoises kept as pets, as they are small and easy to look after. A Russian Tortoise is, however, a massive commitment, with an average lifespan of 50 years, and in some cases, well over 100 years, so you can be sure it will be with you for a long time. They are a popular choice for novice tortoise keepers, as they are adaptive to temperature fluctuations, making them easy to look after. The best way to house a Russian tortoise is outdoors, especially in warmer climates. They love to burrow and benefit from available sand and rocks to dig under. In a natural environment, they use this burrowing technique to insulate themselves from extreme temperatures. They are easy to feed and love leafy greens, vegetables, and weeds.
Bear in mind that tortoises do not generally enjoy being handled. They are easily stressed, and this over-handling and stress can lead to a rapid deterioration in health. Adult Russian tortoises are more tolerant of handling, but even then, it should be kept to a minimum.
8. Ball Python
The Ball Python, also known as a Royal Python, gets its name from its tendency to curl up into a ball. They are strikingly beautiful reptiles, with a wide array of colors and patterns, which make them one of the most popular pet pythons in the world. They make for ideal pets because of their relatively small size (the smallest in the python species), friendly nature, and being fairly easy to care for. Ball pythons in captivity are believed to be the longest living snakes, up to 40 years, in some cases.
Pythons love warm temperatures, with many places to hide, like rocks and logs. They will need a fairly large tank and will eat a meal of small rodents once a week. They are happy to be handled and make a great pet if snakes are your thing.
9. Crested Gecko
Crested Geckos are ideal beginner reptile pets, as they are small and easy to care for. They come in a wide variety of striking colors and patterns and are happy to be handled. They are nocturnal and will spend most of the day sleeping. They primarily live in trees in their natural environment, so an enclosure with branches and leaves is essential. Males should not be kept together, as they are known to fight, but one male and several females are ideal.
These geckos used to be exceedingly rare and were once thought extinct. Now, due to extensive breeding in captivity, they are widely available and are a popular reptile pet.
- Related Read: 11 Best Geckos to Have as Pets (With Pictures)
10. Merauke Blue-Tongue Skink
The Merauke blue-tongue skink, also known as the giant blue-tongue skink, is the longest of the blue tongue species, often reaching lengths over 30 inches. Blue-tongued skinks are friendly, with a big personality, and love to be handled, enjoying the occasional scratch on the head or chin. Blue-tongued skinks are mostly terrestrial and prefer floor space as opposed to climbing areas. Males should never be kept together because of fighting, and they are even prone to fighting females and so are usually best kept alone.
Their personable nature and striking appearance make them ideal reptile pets for beginners, and they have a highly adaptable diet, making them easy to feed.
No matter your choice, reptiles make unique and interesting pets. Provided that their specific requirements are met, most reptiles will live a long time and provide years of friendship and entertainment.
Featured Image: mrthoif0 from Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.