What lizard should I get?
First Things First
Do your research: find out all you can about the type of lizard you want, then carefully consider if you can provide the care required over the entire lifespan of the lizard.
- For many lizards, you are making a long term commitment.
- While a lizard may be inexpensive, the equipment needed to properly care for a lizard may cost many times more than the lizard itself.
- Find out how large your lizard will get as an adult. Those cute little hatchling iguanas grow into 5-6 foot lizards that need a lot of space and a lot of care.
- Be aware that all reptiles can carry Salmonella bacteria. Read about the risks and how to minimize them in Salmonella - Risk from Reptiles
About Choosing Your Lizard
Get a captive bred lizard from a reputable breeder, if possible. Wild caught lizards tend to be more stressed and prone to parasites and disease, and more difficult to tame. For more about the advantages of captive bred reptiles, see Should I Get a Wild Caught or Captive Bred Reptile?
What Kind of Lizard?
Lizards for Beginners
If you are new to lizards, start with one of the easier species to care for and handle. All of the following are suitable for beginners, if you are willing to invest in the proper equipment (proper UV lighting tends to be expensive, though there are more options than there were in the past):
- Leopard Geckos - the ultimate starter lizards: small, easy to handle, only need a small tank, and do not need special UV lighting. Crested geckos and fat tailed geckos have similar needs and are good choices too.
Lizards for Experienced Owners
Other lizards are a bit more challenging, whether it be setting up the proper environment, ease handling, the size of space you will need to care for them, or a combination of these or other factors. In this category, iguanas are the most poorly misunderstood. They can be excellent pets but require a good deal more space and care than a lot of owners expect. Tegus and monitors get quite large and sometimes have challenging temperaments. It can be quite difficult to meet the needs of chameleons, day geckos, and Chinese water dragons, so these are also better left until you have some lizard care experience. Some lizards that more experienced owners might want to consider:
General Information About Care of Pet LizardsBefore choosing a pet lizard, learn about some basic care information:
- How to Use and Calibrate a Hygrometer - humidity is another important environmental parameter you need to control (often a culprit in shedding problems), so get a hygrometer to measure humidity and make sure it is calibrated properly.