Welcome to the wonderful world of pet reptiles! Reptiles are interesting animals to keep as pets. They don’t need as much space. You have no need to take them outside to go to the bathroom. Their cages are easier to clean than picking up a yard full of doggy doo-doo. And they don’t have hair, which is helpful if you are allergic to cat and dog hair.
If you’re looking to have a reptile as a pet, check out our list of 18 of the best reptiles to keep as pets, along with some useful information about each one…
18 best reptiles to keep as pets are:
- Leopard gecko
- African fat-tailed gecko
- Bearded dragon
- Crested gecko
- Blue-tongued skink
- Green anole
- Ackies monitor lizard
- Corn snake
- Rat snake
- Gopher snake
- Rosy boa
- Cuban False Chameleon
- Brown house snake
- Kenyan sand boa
Let’s go through what facts are important to think about when choosing your reptile. We’ll also talk about the easiest reptiles to keep as pets. It’s important to think carefully about what the reptile needs and if you’re able to cater for its needs. Some reptiles live a very long time, and you must be sure you can look after the reptile for its whole life.
Let’s look at our list of reptiles…
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A leopard gecko is a lizard. They are yellowish with black spots on them. Leopard geckos are easy to keep, and they don’t bite. They don’t move very fast. That makes them easy to manage when you change the cage or handle them. They are easy to tame. Leopard geckos can deal with temperatures that are hot or quite cool. Leopard geckos are small lizards. They are about 8 to 12 inches long. They live for 6 to 10 years, but some have lived up to 20 years.
These geckos eat different kinds of worms – super worms, mealworms, and waxworms. Leopard geckos also eat crickets. Their food must be fed to the geckos while it is alive. They need the crickets and worms to move so that they know where it is to eat it.
Leopard geckos are not too expensive, and their food is not expensive either. They are easy to keep. They prefer to eat every day, but they don’t have to eat daily.
African Fat-tailed Geckos
African fat-tailed geckos are very similar to leopard geckos. They do not have special needs and are easy to keep. They live between 10 to 25 years and grow 8 inches to 12 inches long.
They eat worms and crickets. Their colors are usually large patches of light and reddish-brown.
Bearded dragons are popular pets. They become very tame and like to come out of their cages. They often sit on their owner’s shoulders, and some of them even learn to walk on a leash. Bearded dragons are bigger than leopard geckos. Adult bearded dragons grow to 16 to 24 inches.
They will get to this size when they are about one to two years old, so make sure your tank is big enough. They live until they are about 12 years old. Bearded dragons need special lights to keep them healthy. These are light globes that give UVA and UVB light. UVA and UVB are two different kinds of ultraviolet light rays that the bearded dragon would normally get from the sun. Because your bearded dragon is inside, you must put these light globes in his tank; otherwise, he will die.
Bearded dragons eat fruit, vegetables, and insects. They need calcium powder and vitamin supplements to stay healthy. They like to eat every day. Sometimes they can miss a day of eating, but this should not happen too often. Your tank must be set up correctly.
Your bearded dragon may need to move away from the heat, so he will need space to do that. You also need to make a basking spot for him. The basking spot has a higher temperature than other parts of the tank. Thermometers are essential in the bearded dragon tank. If your tank lights go off or the temperature is not correct, your bearded dragon can die.
Crested geckos have spiky eyebrows that make them funny and entertaining to watch. The spiky eyebrows are spines that go from their eyes to their tails. They like to come out of their cages, and you can handle them easily. Crested geckos like to climb. Make sure their tanks are tall so that they have space to climb.
If your crested gecko disappears when you have it out, look at the top of the curtains. There’s a good chance you will find it up there!
They eat insects. Crested geckos live to about 10 years, but some live a lot longer. They grow to 8 inches. They are nocturnal lizards and don’t need any special lighting in their tanks. They can usually survive at room temperature but need higher humidity in their cages. Crested geckos are friendly and do not usually bite.
Blue-tongued skinks have bright blue tongues. They grow up to 24 inches and live 12 to 15 years. They like to burrow, so their tank will need to have space for them to do that. Blue-tongued skinks come from Australia. The temperature where they live can change quite a bit, and you need to copy this in their tanks. Some parts of the tank must be cool, and some parts warmer with a basking spot that is nice and warm (95degrees F – 100 degrees F).
Skinks need high humidity in their tanks. This means there must be a lot of water in the air in their tanks. Humidity is sometimes tricky to get right, making them a bit harder to care for than other lizards. It is helpful to put live plants, logs, and rocks in their cages.
Blue-tongued skinks are omnivorous. Omnivorous animals eat plants and meat. Blue-tongued skinks eat fruit, vegetables, and insects. Generally, blue-tongued skinks do not bite. If they get a fright, they may bite. They have no teeth, but their bite is still quite strong, so handle them gently. They are often shy, but if you handle them frequently and gently, they will become friendly.
Green anoles have beautiful colors. They are very bright green with a red section called a dewlap on their throats. They are small lizards- only about 5 inches to 8 inches. They are shy and don’t like to be picked up and handled. These are good lizards to keep if you just want to watch them.
If you’re going to handle your lizard, it is best to choose another type of lizard. They don’t need special lights. Regular reptile warming lights and humidity levels are all that is required to care for them. They eat insects.
Iguanas are lizards that can grow quite large. They can grow up to 5 to 6 feet. That is about as long as the height of an average man. It will take several years for the iguana to grow that large. You will need to buy a very big tank at the start or change his tank several times as he grows. Iguanas live about 10 to 15 years, and they are very beautifully colored. Iguanas do not eat meat.
They are herbivores which means they only like to eat plants. Iguanas like to eat fruit, vegetables, and even some flowers. If you don’t want to feed live food to your reptile, then an iguana is a good reptile for you. Iguanas can be shy, and so it is vital to handle your iguana gently every day. Tame iguanas like to come out of their cages. Sometimes their owners put leashes on them and take them for a walk.
Iguanas do not usually bite. They might bite if they get a fright, and a big iguana will have a painful bite. Their claws are very sharp, and you must be careful when handling your iguana.
Uromastyx are lizards from the same family as bearded dragons. You say their name like this: “uro – mas- sticks.” They are also called spiny-tailed lizards. They grow up to 14 inches to 16 inches. This is not very large, but they are heavy lizards. They live a very long time – 15 to 30 years.
They are not challenging to look after and do not need special lights. Uromastyx like to dig. It is important to give them space to dig in their cages. They eat mostly plants, vegetables, and fruit, but they need to eat insects once a week.
Ackies Monitor Lizard
The Ackies monitor lizard grows to about 24 inches to 30 inches long. This size is small for a monitor lizard. It means that they will need larger cages than many of the lizards we have spoken about here. They come from Australia and have spines on their tails. They swish their tails and use the spines to defend themselves.
They live for 15 to 20 years. Ackies monitor lizards are tame and seldom bite. They eat insects and pinkie mice. (A pinky mouse is a baby mouse that has no hair yet and is still pink.) They like to have a basking rock. They do not need special lights and are easy to keep. Other monitor lizards are larger, more aggressive, and are difficult to keep.
Corn snakes are beautiful snakes that come in lots of different colors. They have different names for their colors. For example, some are creamsicle, okeetee, and candy canes. Always make sure your corn snake is healthy when you buy it. Try not to purchase tiny babies, especially the unusual colored ones.
They are more fragile than the standard colors and die quickly. Ask the seller what the corn snake is eating so that you can continue with similar food. Corn snakes eat mice of various sizes. Smaller snakes will need to eat baby mice. Some US states do not permit you to feed live mice to snakes. You can buy snake sausages or frozen mice. You must defrost and warm them before feeding.
Corn snakes are not venomous. They are constrictors – this means they coil around their prey and squeeze to kill it. Corn snakes don’t usually bite their owners. Sometimes they get very excited about their food and might accidentally bite the owner’s hand if he is holding the food. They do not need special lights and are easy to keep.
Adult corn snakes usually only eat once a week in summer and every two or three weeks in winter. Babies may eat more often. If they eat frequently, they will grow quickly.
Rat snakes are a lot like corn snakes. They are about 3 feet to 5 feet long as adults. They eat rats and mice. When a rat snake feels afraid, it lies still and pretends to be dead. They are easy to care for and can be handled without them biting.
Gopher snakes are also called pine snakes or bull snakes. They grow to about 4.5 feet long. They look a lot like rattlesnakes and can live until they are 20 years old. They shake their tails and hiss if they are afraid. They are constrictors and do not have venom. Gopher snakes will bite if they think you are trying to harm them.
They eat rats and mice. Gopher snakes like to bask in the sun. In their tank, you need to make sure there is a rock under a heat lamp so that they can bask. They are easy snakes to keep, although they are sometimes a bit grumpy.
King snakes get their name because they often eat other snakes. They even eat rattlesnakes. They grow from 3 feet to 4 feet. They are carnivorous and eat mice and rats in captivity. Adult king snakes do not need to eat every week. If they eat a large rat, they can skip two or three weeks before they eat again. They like to soak in water, so make sure their water bowl is big enough for them.
They can live a long time – 20 to 30 years. There are different types of kingsnakes; some are brightly colored with red, white, and black bands. Others may be black or black and white. Kingsnakes sometimes bite, so you need to handle them carefully. They have no venom, so you will not be poisoned, but it is still sore.
They are not difficult to keep, but you must remember to keep them by themselves. If you keep a kingsnake with another snake, it may eat the other snake.
Milk snakes are family of kingsnakes. They grow quickly during the first few years and soon reach 2 feet in length. Milk snakes have bands of colors – usually black, white, and red rings. They are easy snakes to keep. It is best if you have a heating mat under the cage. They can live to 20 years old. They are easy to handle and seldom bite. Feed your milk snake mice and rats and sometimes crickets. In the wild, they eat various animals. They even eat lizards and other snakes. Don’t keep your milk snake with other snakes.
Rosy boas are pinkish-brown, orange, black, or rust-brown constrictors. Rosy boas are thick snakes. They are good snakes for children or beginners because they like to be handled. They do not often bite or try to strike. They live up to 30 years so be prepared to look after them for a long time. Their length is usually about 17 inches to 34 inches. Some of them can grow to 44 inches. They like to burrow into sand, so you need to provide something for them to burrow into in their cages.
Cuban False Chameleon
A Cuban false chameleon is not a true chameleon. It is a kind of lizard. Its real name is Anolis barbatus, and they look very much like chameleons because of their eyes. The eyes can move separately from each other. They have short tails and legs.
They come from Cuba, where they spend a lot of time in the trees. If you have a Cuban false chameleon, you will need to make sure you get a tall cage. The cage should be 24 inches to 36 inches tall. The tank must have lots of tree branches or vines in it so that the chameleon can climb. A lot of owners put live plants in the tank.
Cuban false chameleons grow to 6 inches to 7 inches. Unfortunately, they only live from 3 years to 6 years. They need a cool side where the temperature is about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The warm side should be 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Cuban false chameleons need a high humidity – 70%. Keeping the humidity high is tricky, so don’t choose this lizard for your first lizard.
They need a water bowl to soak in, but they don’t drink from the bowl. Cuban false chameleons drink water from the surfaces from leaves or flat surfaces. It is helpful to use an automatic dripper in their tanks. They eat insects and snails. They must have a snail every three to four days. On other days feed the chameleon insects like crickets. The crickets must be dusted with calcium and multivitamin powder.
Brown House Snakes
Brown house snakes come from Africa. Africa is hot, so it is essential to keep brown house snakes warm. They need a hot side of their tank – about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a good idea to put a heat mat on the hot side of the tank. There must be a cool side of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Africa has a lot of sunshine, so the snake would get a lot of ultra-violet light in the wild. You will need to get a 2 – 5 % UVB light globe. Brown house snakes grow from 3 feet to 4 feet. They are usually dark brown with white or cream stripes that run from the head to the tail. Mice are the best diet for brown house snakes.
Kenyan Sand Boa
Kenyan sand boas are small snakes and come in lots of different colors. Male Kenyan sand boas are only about 20 inches. The females are bigger than the males. They grow to about 2 feet. You only need a small tank for Kenyan sand boas – a 10-gallon tank is a good size.
They are thick, strong snakes, so make sure your snake cage has a well-fitting lid. Kenyan sand boas easily live up to 30 years. Kenya is a very hot country, so your boa will need a high temperature in the cage. The hot side should be 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the cool side 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They like to burrow. It would be best if you had sand, coconut mulch, or aspen shavings on the bottom of the tank.
They eat mice. Baby sand boas often only eat live mice, but adults will eat mice that have been frozen and then thawed. Don’t keep male Kenyan sand boas together – they will fight. Kenyan sand boas do not usually bite.
Tortoises and Turtles
Tortoises and turtles are not suitable pets because they live for more than 50 years. This is a very long time to look after a pet. A lot of tortoises and turtles are abandoned or not looked after correctly because they live so long. Some tortoises and turtles can grow very big.
They are hard to keep in a cage when they are so big, and they can cause a lot of damage in your house. Many tortoises and turtles are endangered – there are not many of them left in the wild. It is better to leave them in the wild and not keep them as pets.
Cage Size For Your Pet Reptile
You must have the right size cage for your reptile. Think about what size cage you can afford and where you’ll put it in the house. Make sure that your adult reptile will have enough space when he is fully grown. You’ll need lights and heating pads.
The reptile must have the right temperature and the right light to grow properly. Remember that reptiles are cold-blooded, so they cannot keep themselves warm. You must provide warmth for them. A thermometer will help you measure the temperature.
Substrate For the Cage
Substrate is the material you put on the bottom of the cage. This can be sand, coconut mulch, sawdust, spaghnum moss, or newspaper. Different reptiles need different substrates. So research this carefully. Mulch and moss are good for reptiles that require high humidity because they soak up moisture.
Be Careful Of Buying Baby Reptiles
Baby reptiles are very fragile. They die quickly and are much harder to feed than adults or juveniles. A juvenile is a young reptile but not a baby. It is better to look for a reptile that is at least three months old. Check with the seller that your reptile is eating properly. Many people buy tiny baby reptiles because they are cheaper, but they often don’t eat well, and then they die.
Can You Feed Your Reptile?
Reptiles eat different things in their diets. Some might only eat vegetables. Some eat insects, and some eat mice. Reptile’s food must sometimes be fed to them while it is alive. They need the mice, crickets, and worms to move to know where it is to eat it. People are sometimes squeamish. Squeamish means that you don’t like to see blood or meat – it makes you feel sick.
Squeamish people will not like to see their reptiles eating insects, worms, or mice. Some people are scared of mice or worms. If you are squeamish or nervous, it is better to get a reptile that eats only vegetables. If you are comfortable feeding your reptile insects or mice, you can choose reptiles that eat meat.
Water For Your Reptiles
Water bowls need to be big enough for the reptile to soak in because many reptiles like to go into the water. Humidity means the amount of moisture in the air. Some reptiles need high humidity. You will need to get an automatic dripper system or spray moisture often in the cage. A hygrometer is a meter for reading the humidity in the tank. Reptiles that are shedding always need extra humidity to help them shed their skin.
Thermoregulation Of Reptiles
Reptiles thermoregulate. This means that the reptile uses the outside air or environment to heat or cool themselves. It is important in any reptile cage to have one hotter side and one cooler side. The reptile will move to the side that it needs.
There are many beautiful reptiles that are easy to keep. If this is the first time you are caring for a reptile, it is best to stick to reptiles with simple needs. Once you have more experience, you can keep reptiles that are more complicated to look after. Generally, reptiles that need higher humidity are more challenging to care for. If you are young, it is also better not to get very strong or large reptiles as you will battle to handle them. Your reptile will give you many happy, exciting experiences.