There are many different types of pet lizards you can choose from if you’re looking at getting a new reptile. Monitor lizards, chameleons, bearded dragons–the list goes on and on. How do you choose?
Well, thankfully there are a lot of resources online about what it takes to care for each type of pet lizard, which makes it easy to pick one that’s right for your lifestyle.
If you’re just starting out as a reptile owner, we have a few tips and tricks that might help you decide on a new scaly friend. And if you’re already experienced with reptiles, then we have a few suggestions for you too!
How To Choose A Pet Lizard
You’re probably reading this page right now because you’ve thought about, in some kind of seriousness, about getting a pet reptile. You might be in the early stages where you’re just learning about what it takes to be a reptile owner, or you could have done all your research and be ready to buy!
If you’re just starting out on your reptile adventure, this page is going to have a lot of great information for you! But, if you’re at the point where you know what kind of reptile you’re looking for, and you want to know how to go about getting a reptile, you should jump to our Buying Reptiles Online section!
Back to the beginners: chances are you’ve read a little bit about what it takes to be a reptile owner. You need a vivarium that’s outfitted with all the right substrates, plants, and lighting for your specific reptile; you need a feeding schedule with specific kinds of food, etc, etc.
And, you might have various different reasons for wanting to become a reptile owner:
- Are you just not a big fan of other pets like golden doodles or siamese cats?
- Do you have an appreciation for reptiles of all shapes and sizes?
- Are you looking for a pet that you can keep in a small apartment?
Choosing the right pet lizard can be a large sticking point for many potential reptile parents. If you know you want to get a pet reptile, but just aren’t sure what kind of reptile, we may be able to help!
The Three Things Every Reptile Owner Should Know
For people who have never taken care of a pet lizard before, there are a few factors we like to consider.
- Time commitment
- Space commitment
- Money commitment
Time is probably the most important factor here. With a dog, you have to make sure you take it for walks and that it gets the exercise it needs. With lizards, you have to commit to a very specific schedule for their feeding, light/dark hours, and much more.
On average, you should expect to spend a few hours a week caring for your reptile. That includes feeding them, cleaning their enclosure, and ensuring that they get the socialization they need.
If you have a packed schedule or aren’t home for long periods of time, a pet reptile might not be for you. Missing one or two feeding times probably isn’t a big deal, but if you find yourself having to adjust your lizard’s schedule to fit your own, that’s not fair to the lizard. Maybe a fish would be more your speed!
Space is the next factor we like to consider. Not only will you need to create a dedicated area where you can set up the vivarium, you also have to arrange a place to store food, gear, and other reptile supplies.
Depending on what kind of terrarium you get, you might have to consider additional lighting or heating options for your pet lizard. Do you have the outlets necessary for the lamps, pumps, and heating mechanisms?
There are several small lizards on our beginner’s list, but if you can’t carve out a dedicated space in your house or apartment for a little scaly friend, maybe hold off until you can get a dedicated space.
And finally, money. Unfortunately, owning reptiles, no matter their size, can be expensive. Products for them aren’t as readily available as stuff like cat litter or dog treats, and some reptiles require specialized food or equipment that isn’t cheap.
Not only is the upfront cost high–buying a terrarium, setting up the lights, heat, etc.–upkeep is also a bit pricey. Depending on how large your lizard is, you might be spending a lot of money on Dubia roaches or mealworms, and not to mention the electric bill for heat lamps! It’s safe to say that you should have a budget of at least $100 a month before you even start looking for a pet reptile.
Best Pet Lizards for Beginners
When we pick pet lizards that would be great for beginners, we like to think about size, ease of care, and ease of access.
Small lizards are typically better for beginners, that way you can get accustomed to having a terrarium without feeling overwhelmed by sheer size. Plus, you want your new pet to be laid-back and easy to care for, that way you’re not stressing!
And finally, you need a pet lizard that has a small diet and simple care needs. Both of our beginner lizards (anoles and leopard geckos) have very easy habitat setups and a diet you can get from local pet stores or from online retailers.
Here are some more details about the best pet lizards for beginners!
Anoles are a type of lizard that is found throughout North and South America. There are over 400 different species of anole, and they come in a variety of colors, including green, brown, and red.
Anoles are typically between 3 and 6 inches long, though some can grow up to 10 inches in length. They are mainly insectivorous, and will eat a variety of insects, including crickets, spiders, and moths.
Anoles are excellent climbers, and can often be seen basking on tree branches or leaves. In the wild, anoles typically live for 2-3 years.
However, in captivity, they can live for up to 10 years.
Anoles make great pets for a number of reasons.
- First, they are relatively low maintenance and easy to care for. They also don’t require a lot of space, and can be kept in a small terrarium or enclosure.
- Anoles are also generally very docile, and make great pets for first-time reptile owners.
- If you’re interested in getting an anole as a pet, you can expect to pay between $15 and $50 for one.
To learn more about how to care for anoles, check out our care guide!
Leopard Geckos come in a range of sizes, patterns, and colors, making them great pets for kids, as well as beginners in the reptile pet world.
Leopard Geckos are found in the wild in the Middle East, particularly Pakistan. Today, there are many different varieties of Leopard Gecko, including albino, sunburst, and tangerine colorations.
Here are some additional details about Leopard Geckos:
- On average, a Leopard Gecko lives for about 10 to 12 years
- Leopard Geckos are social creatures that can be kept in pairs
- Leopard Geckos are nocturnal and spend most of their time in cool, dark places
- They are mainly insectivores, with diets consisting of crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers
- After socialization, some Leopard Geckos will enjoy being pet and interacting with you
To learn more about what makes Leopard Geckos great pets, check out our complete care guide!
Other Pet Lizards to Consider
If you’ve had a pet lizard in the past and are looking to get back into the hobby, there are some more “advanced” pets you can check out.
When we say advanced, we just mean that these reptiles are larger and require more care than the beginner reptiles. These kinds of pet lizards are great for people who already have a terrarium setup and reptile supplies, or people who have experience working with exotic reptiles.
Bearded dragons are perhaps the most sought after reptiles as pets. These spiky little creatures hail from the scrublands of Australia, but have since become a staple of the US reptile scene.
There are eight different species of bearded dragons, all of which are fairly similar, varying mostly in appearance. Of these eight, however, only a handful are legal to own as pets in the United States. These include:
- Pogona vitticeps (Central bearded dragon)
- Pogona minor (Western bearded dragon)
- Pogona barbata (Eastern bearded dragon)
- Pogona henrylawsoni (Rankins bearded dragon)
Despite being the most popular pet lizard in the world, bearded dragons make our “advanced” list because they require more care than other lizards. On average, a bearded dragon can grow up to 24 inches (sometimes larger), so you’re going to need a fairly big terrarium to house your reptile.
Because of their size, you’ll have to spend more money on a terrarium, lights, heat rocks, decor, and reptile supplies. Food, in particular, is a big consideration. Juvenile bearded dragons are ravenous creatures, and they need fed at least three times a day. As the beardie grows up, they won’t need fed nearly as much, and their diet can lean away from protein-heavy insects and can include more fruits and vegetables.
That being said, beardies make great pets. They’re friendly, smart, and docile. They like sunbathing and enjoy feeding time, which helps create a bond with their owner.
If you’d like to learn more about what it takes to have a pet bearded dragon, head over to our beardie care guide!
Frilled-neck lizards, also known as Chlamydosaurus kingii, are a species of lizard that is native to Australia. They are the largest lizards in the country, and can grow up to 2 feet in length.
They have a long, frilly neck and a spiny crest along their back. Frilled-neck lizards are omnivorous, and will eat a variety of insects, small mammals, and reptiles. These lizards are also excellent climbers, and can often be seen basking in trees. Although they are not considered to be endangered, their numbers have been declining in recent years due to habitat loss, and many people are keeping them as pets to keep them from reaching extinction.
Frilled-neck lizards aren’t as popular as beardies, but they still come with many of the perks!
- Calm and docile creatures, frilled-neck lizards love to interact with their owners once they’ve been socialized.
- They can live between 10 and 15 years
- They have a simple diet, consisting of mealworms, crickets, and vegetables like sweet potatoes and leafy greens.
If you’re interested in getting a frilled-neck lizard as a pet, just know that they need a fairly large terrarium–about 55 gallons or more–and the lizards can cost anywhere from $200 to $400.
To learn more about how to care for a frilled-neck lizard, check out our care guide!
We’ve probably all seen cartoon chameleons that can drastically change their skin color and pattern to match their surroundings, and that’s just one of the chameleon’s neat traits.
Unlike some of the other lizards on this list, chameleons are tropical tree lizards, meaning they love climbing in the hot, humid jungle. For this reason, most chameleon vivariums are taller than they are wide in order to accommodate tall jungle foliage.
Specific details about length, weight, and behavior depend on the type of chameleon you’re raising, of which there are a few.
- Veiled chameleons
- Panther chameleons
- Pygmy chameleons
- Jackson’s chameleons
- Senegal chameleon
But, on average, chameleons grow to about 14-18 inches. Pet chameleons usually live between 2-5 years, but some species are known to live longer, up to 10 or more years.
Chameleons are great pets for more advanced reptile owners, simply because their habitat requirements are fairly specific, and they require a steady diet. To learn more about how to take care of a pet chameleon, check out our care guide!
Lizard Blog Posts
For most reptiles, sex is determined by environmental factors, most notably, temperature. This process varies greatly from how sex is determined for mammals, which is purely based on…
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…
As responsible pet owners, we strive to provide the best care and nutrition for our scaly friends. One common question that often arises among chameleon keepers is, “Can…
Buying Reptiles Online
For a lot of people, becoming a pet owner requires that you take a visit to your local pet shop or big-name pet store. You see what animals they have for sale, pick one, and that’s that.
But, the Internet has opened up a lot of avenues for potential reptile pet owners, and it’s really allowed people to get pet lizards they hadn’t had access to before.
Certainly, there’s a lot of hesitation about purchasing reptiles online:
- Is it legal to buy reptiles online?
- Are the reptiles taken care of and healthy?
- Will the reptiles arrive at my home safely?
Thankfully, all of these questions have answers! Buying reptiles online is a safe and legal practice, and many people are turning to it as the preferred way to purchase reptiles.
To read more about what is involved in buying your reptile from an online vendor, check out our in-depth guide!