The Best Pet Lizards For First-Time Reptile Parents

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A lot of prospective pet owners are turned off by the extensive care requirements for pet lizards. But there are plenty of species of lizards that make great beginner pets because they are low maintenance, friendly, and require little space. 

If you’re on the fence about getting a pet lizard, you’ll want to keep reading to learn more about the best species to start out with as a pet. 

Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet Lizard

Before you start looking for a pet lizard, you should take stock of your current living situation and ask yourself: “can I reasonably take care of a pet lizard right now?” Here are some of the most important considerations:

Time Commitment

Lizards, like all pets, require daily attention. This includes feeding, checking their water, and monitoring their health. You’ll also need to clean and maintain their enclosure regularly, including removing waste and cleaning the substrate.

Many lizards benefit from regular handling and socialization. This can be time-consuming, especially if you have a species that is more shy or requires taming.

All-in-all, you can expect to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour each day caring for your pet lizard. 

Budget Considerations

The cost of acquiring a pet lizard can vary greatly depending on the species you choose. You’ll need to budget for the terrarium or vivarium, heating and lighting equipment, substrate, hides, and decor. This initial setup can range from a couple of hundred dollars to over a thousand, depending on the size and complexity of the enclosure.

You’ll also have to factor in the cost of ongoing care, including food, electricity for heating and lighting, and periodic replacement of equipment. 

Plus, all reptile owners should budget for potential veterinary care. Lizards can develop health issues that may require professional attention. It’s wise to have an emergency fund for unexpected medical expenses.

Space Requirements

The size of the enclosure depends on the species of lizard. Some smaller species can do well in 10-gallon tanks, while larger species may require custom-built enclosures or even dedicated reptile rooms. Ensure you have enough space for the enclosure, and consider the space required for additional enclosures if you plan to get more lizards.

You’ll also have to have space to house the food, extra substrate, and additional equipment required to care for your lizard. 

Remember that the time commitment, budget, and space requirements can vary significantly depending on the species of lizard you choose. Research the specific needs of the lizard species you’re interested in to get a more accurate picture of what’s required. 

What to Look for in an Ideal Pet Lizard for Beginners

When choosing an ideal pet lizard for beginners, there are several key traits and characteristics to consider. These traits can help ensure a more enjoyable and manageable reptile ownership experience. Here are the traits to look for:

Temperament – A good beginner lizard should have a generally calm and non-aggressive temperament. It should be less likely to bite or display defensive behaviors when handled or approached. Lizards that tolerate handling well are often preferred by beginners who want to interact with their pets.

Hardiness – Look for species known for their overall good health and resistance to common reptile diseases. Lizards that can tolerate minor fluctuations in care parameters are also good for beginners. 

Size – Smaller lizards are often easier for beginners to handle and house. They are also more suitable for smaller living spaces, like apartments. Plus, smaller lizards require less food, which can reduce the overall cost of owning a pet lizard. 

Obviously, each individual lizard is different. Some bearded dragons might be cranky, while others are goofy and fun-loving. Generally, you should find a pet lizard with a balance of all of these traits, as it will make your experience as a reptile owner more rewarding. Keep reading to see the best lizards for beginners:

Top 3 Pet Lizard Species for Beginners

Out of all the lizards that are available as pets, there are a select few that are ideal for first-time reptile owners. These include:

  • Leopard Geckos
  • Bearded Dragons
  • Anoles

Leopard Gecko

Leopard geckos are popular pets because of their charming personalities, low maintenance requirements, and manageable size.

leopard gecko


  • Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) range from 7 to 10 inches in length, and have a stocky body, a short snout, and are covered in small, bumpy scales.
  • They can live up to 20 years in captivity. 
  • They are generally docile and have a calm temperament, making them suitable for beginners.

Habitat and Enclosure Requirements:

  • A 10 to 20-gallon terrarium is typically suitable for one or two leopard geckos. 
  • Juveniles should have a soft substrate like brown packaging paper or paper towels, while adults should have a sand mat, flat stones, or composite materials.
  • Maintain a temperature gradient in the enclosure. The basking spot should be around 88-92°F (31-33°C), and the cooler side should be around 75-80°F (24-27°C).
  • Leopard geckos are crepuscular and do not require UVB lighting. However, they do need a consistent day-night cycle.

Feeding and Dietary Needs:

  • Leopard geckos are insectivores. Appropriate food items include crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches.
  • Dust the insects with a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement to ensure proper calcium absorption.
  • Provide a shallow dish of fresh water, although they mainly get their hydration from their food.

Leopard geckos are probably the universally accepted beginner lizard. They are friendly, easy to care for, and intelligent. Before you get a leopard gecko, read more about the care required for each kind of gecko:

Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are known for their friendly and interactive nature, making them a popular choice among reptile enthusiasts. There are many different types of bearded dragons that can be kept as pets, but the pogona vitticeps, the central bearded dragon, is the most common. 

bearded dragon eating a cricket


  • Bearded dragons can typically grow to 18+ inches and have a flattened body covered in small, bumpy scales and are typically tan to yellow or reddish-brown in color.
  • Bearded dragons can live for 10-15 years or more in captivity when properly cared for.
  • One of their most recognizable features is the “beard,” a flap of skin under their throat that can puff up when they feel threatened or during displays of dominance.

Habitat and Enclosure Requirements:

  • A spacious glass or wooden enclosure is essential. A 40-gallon tank is suitable for a juvenile, but adults will need a larger enclosure, such as a 75-120-gallon tank.
  • Use a substrate like reptile carpet, newspaper, or ceramic tiles for easy cleaning, with non-toxic foliage and hides for an engaging environment.
  • Maintain a temperature gradient in the enclosure. The basking spot should be around 90-95°F (35-40°C), with the cooler side around 75-85°F (24-29°C).
  • Bearded dragons require 8-10% UVB lighting to metabolize calcium effectively.

Feeding and Dietary Needs:

  • Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they eat a combination of insects and plant matter.
  • Offer a variety of insects like crickets, dubia roaches, mealworms, and silkworms. 
  • Provide a variety of dark leafy greens (e.g., collard greens, mustard greens, and dandelion greens) and other vegetables (e.g., bell peppers, carrots, and squash).
  • Offer fruits like berries, apples, and melon occasionally as treats.
  • Dust insects and vegetables with a calcium supplement, and provide a multivitamin supplement as needed.

Beardies are great beginner-to-intermediate pet lizards because they require a bit more care, but are very sociable creatures. Make sure to read up on all that’s required for a safe beardie enclosure before you purchase your first pet lizard:


While green anoles can be interesting and relatively low-maintenance reptiles to keep, they may not be as interactive or handleable as some other pet lizard species. However, they’re still great pets for beginners. 



  • Green, brown, and knight anoles are the most common types of anoles kept as pets, and they typically grow to around 5 to 8 inches in length, with slender bodies and long tails.
  • They are called “green” anoles because they can change color, ranging from bright green to brown, depending on their mood, temperature, and environment.
  • In captivity, anoles can live to be up to 8 years old. 

Habitat and Enclosure Requirements:

  • A small, vertical glass terrarium or enclosure is suitable for a single green anole. A 10 to 20-gallon tank can work well.
  • Use a substrate like peat moss or coconut coir to maintain humidity and provide hiding spots.
  • Temperature and Lighting: Maintain a temperature range of 75-80°F (24-27°C) during the day with a basking temperature of 90°F (32°C)
  • Provide a UVB light source for proper calcium absorption.
  • Anoles require moderate humidity, around 60-70%. Regular misting of the enclosure can help maintain humidity levels.
  • Include branches and foliage for climbing, as anoles are arboreal and enjoy perching.

Feeding and Dietary Needs:

  • Anoles are insectivores, primarily feeding on small insects and other invertebrates.
  • Feed them a diet of appropriately sized insects such as crickets, small mealworms, and flies.
  • Dust their food with a calcium supplement and a multivitamin supplement once or twice a week.
  • Anoles have high metabolisms, so they should be fed small amounts of food multiple times a week.

Anoles require a bit more care than leopard geckos and bearded dragons, specifically when it comes to habitat construction and humidity monitoring. But, they are really interesting creatures and make for great pets. Make sure to do some additional research before purchasing any kind of anole:

Care and Maintenance Tips for First-Time Reptile Owners

Do Thorough Research: Study the specific needs of your chosen reptile species, including habitat, diet, and environmental requirements.

Invest in Quality Equipment: Purchase reliable heating, lighting, and temperature control equipment to ensure a stable environment.

Consult a Vet: Establish a relationship with a reptile-experienced veterinarian for routine check-ups and in case of illness.

Seek a Supportive Community: Join reptile enthusiast groups or forums to connect with experienced keepers and seek advice.

Keep Records: Maintain records of your reptile’s feeding schedule, shedding, and any health concerns that you can take to your vet in case of emergency.

Where to Buy Your New Lizard?

Usually, new pet owners will purchase reptiles from a local pet store or a big chain store. But nowadays, a lot of people buy their reptiles from online suppliers. You don’t have to worry about poor shipping standards or health conditions, because all of these trusted suppliers value reptile safety over everything else. We’ve also done our due diligence and analyzed each online reptile supplier to ensure they’re above board. 


At the end of the day, choosing the right pet lizard for your family isn’t an easy choice. You have to consider the long-term commitment, if you can sustain the budget for your lizard, and much more.

But, if you do your research and choose a pet lizard that’s suited to your environment and conditions, you should have no problem welcoming a scaly friend into your home. 


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