Best Starter Reptiles
Lizards:Many lizards have very specific requirements when it comes to heat, humidity, light (especially special bulbs that emit UVA and UVB light), and diet. However, a couple of lizards stand out for their suitability for beginners and availability.
This is considered by many to be the ideal lizard for beginners. These small lizards are available in a variety of pleasing colors and patterns. Their care requirements are very simple and they are generally docile and easily tamed. Because they are nocturnal, they have no special lighting requirements which are common for other lizards.
Lifespan: 15-20+ years
Size: 7-10 inches
Minimum Cage size as adults: 20 gallon tank or equivalent
Special Care Requirements: Controlled heating
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to find, no special lighting requirements, non-threatening look, small and space-efficient
Cons: Insectivorous, need a constant supply of crickets, waxworms, and mealworms in the home
Bearded dragons are active during the day and make great display animals. Their trusting, laid back nature allows for easy handling and a great introduction to reptiles even for those who are hesitant or afraid of snakes and lizards.
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Size: 14-24 inches
Minimum Cage size as adults: 40 gallon tank or equivalent
Special Care Requirements: Daily access to special UVB lighting, controlled heating, babies are particularly delicate though adults are very hardy
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to find, limited care requirements, endearing looks good for converting non-reptile lovers
Cons: Omnivorous, requiring both insects and vegetation in their diet and fresh greens every day
The biggest obstacle for many owners is the diet needs of snakes. For most commonly kept snakes, owners must be willing to feed whole prey such as mice or rats (prekilled is preferred). However, snakes have the advantage of often only needing to be fed once a week or less so can easily be left on their own for a few days without a pet sitter. They also have no requirement for UVA/UVB lights.
These beautiful snakes are docile and easy to care for. They reach an adult size of 3-5 feet or so, and can be expected to live 10 years or more. Corn snakes are excellent escape artists and need an enclosure with a tight fitting lid, though!
A small constricting snake (adults reach 3-5 feet) that is usually quite docile and easy to care for. They do have a reputation for refusing to feed, so potential owners should be persistent in finding a healthy captive bred ball python (you may even want to ask for a feeding demonstration to ensure the snake will readily take killed mice). Ball Pythons can be expected to live a long life (20-30 years).