Best Reptiles for Beginners
When you’re first thinking about getting a pet reptile, it can be tempting to go for the exotic ones like a chameleon, or large ones like a green iguana. But these come with a lot more work, expense, and care than other animals. When you’re first starting out, it’s better to stick to animals that are known for being friendly and easy to care for.
These make great pets for beginners. They’re naturally nocturnal, so they don’t need UV rays or simulated sunlight to survive, unlike many other lizards. They’re big enough to be interesting (8-10 inches full grown), while still not being huge. These are hardy lizards, and with the right care can easily live 15-20 years.
While their common color is yellow and white with black spots, you can find them in a wide variety of colors. Like all reptiles, they need a heated environment that’s controlled. They’re insectivores, eating crickets and other bugs. When dealing with owners, they’re known for being docile and easily tamed.
Also called “Beardies” by their fans, these lizards are bigger than the leopard gecko, around 14-24 inches when fully grown. On the flip side, they have shorter lifespans, around 8-10 years, which actually makes them work well with first-time reptile owners.
Bearded dragons are known for having a laid-back, docile demeanor that makes them great for easy handling. They’re also active during the day, which helps make them interesting. In addition to a controlled environment, they also need special UV lighting.
These small lizards only reach 5-8 inches, and are known as “cresties.” They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Crested geckos have become more and more popular with beginners recently, and with good reason. While they need heating, they’re usually fine with standard house heating, and actually have trouble over 80°F. Their diet is fruit-based powders mixed with water, which is much easier than insects or plants.
You can expect a lifespan of 5-15 years with a crested gecko. They’re handleable and easily tamed, but remember that their small size also makes them more delicate than larger lizards. Sometimes they will lose their tail, but remember that it will grow back.
These are one of the most popular snakes out there. When fully grown, they reach a length of 3-5 feet, and can live for 15-20 years. They’re relatively docile and easy to care for, which makes them great for first-time snake owners.
Make sure to check your local laws, since these can be illegal in some states, such as Georgia. These snakes are also fantastic escape artists, so make sure you have housing that is tightly secured. Corn snakes love to climb, so put plenty of branches and vertical space in their enclosure.
Also called the ball python because it pulls back into a ball when threatened. These snakes get to be around 3-5 feet, and tend to live 20-30 years, though some have been reported to make it to 50. Make sure you get a captive born and bred snake, since this will help avoid many of problems that come from wild-caught snakes.
Ball pythons are known for being very curious and, once tamed, being very good about being handled. They may try to escape the first time you hold them, but if you treat them with respect, they’ll end up being great companions.