Lizards are a popular starting point for people interested in owning a pet reptile for the first time. For those who don’t have any prior experience with a cold-blooded animal, these creatures can make the learning curve an enjoyable and entertaining experience. However, that’s not to say that just any type of lizard is suitable to be someone’s first pet lizard. There are dozens of lizard species available in the exotic pet industry. They vary greatly in size, care needs, cost, temperament, and more. This handy guide of the best 5 pet lizards for beginners is your cheat sheet for a great first-time lizard-owning experience.
The 5 Best Lizards for Beginners
Our lizard recommendations come from different parts of the world, like different climates, and are known to have distinct personalities. What these lizards have in common, however, are qualities that ensure they’ll provide as hassle-free a pet owning experience as possible:
- Low maintenance
- Docile and non-aggressive
- Friendly towards humans
- Manageable size
The bearded dragon, also affectionately called “beardies”, is one of the most popular pet lizard species, if not the most popular. Beloved by both beginners and experienced herpers, they offer a pet experience that’s highly interactive and, dare we say, cuddly?
Their above-average intelligence (compared to other reptiles) gives them a unique ability to show more affection than the typical reptile. Snuggling with your bearded dragon on the couch, or perhaps even taking a nap in front of the tv, is all within the realm of possibility. There’s also a number of stories of owners teaching bearded dragons tricks and even taking them on walks.
From nose to tail, bearded dragons only grow to be about twenty inches in length. Slow moving and calm, they look much more menacing than they actually are. When it comes to their environment, they like it hot and dry. Bearded dragon owners don’t have to fuss over humidity levels which also means less clean-up.
Leopard geckos are almost always guaranteed to be mentioned on a list of lizard recommendations. Docile, mild-tempered and friendly, these sweet little guys are just as charming on the outside as they are on the inside. They are quite social as far as reptiles go, and are tolerant of frequent handling by their owners. Their friendly nature makes them a hit with children too. Just be sure not to overdo the physical contact otherwise your leopard gecko might become agitated.
These lizards are a very manageable size, only growing to be 6 and 8 inches on average. Housing them is easy as they only need a 15-20 gallon terrarium, which is on the smaller side. In addition to not taking up much room in your home, a smaller tank also spells out extra cost-savings for their owners (and who doesn’t love a cost-effective pet?). Since leopard geckos don’t have sticky toe-pads like other geckos, they won’t need extra tall (and extra expensive) tanks for climbing, either.
Blue-tongued skinks are a rising star in the pet reptile world, and not just because they are funny looking (their blue tongue is actually a defense mechanism that protects them in the wild). These plus-sized lizards are one of the biggest beginner-friendly lizards. Although blue-tongued skinks are about the same length as bearded dragons, skinks are a lot heftier.
But don’t let their large size fool you, these gentle giants are sweet and affectionate creatures. Blue tongued skinks have great temperaments and are full of personalities to match. They’re easily tamed lizards and are very friendly with humans and are known to actively seek out their human companions, demanding snuggles, cuddles, and pets.
The second gecko to grace our beginner-friendly lizard list, crested geckos (also sometimes called eyelash geckos) are as calm as they are eye-catching. Like all the other lizards mentioned so far, crested geckos are naturally docile and a non-aggressive species making them well-suited for human interaction. Less is more for these little guys who, while still very well-tempered, aren’t as big a fan of handling as their counterparts.
In terms of size, crested geckos are roughly the same length as leopard geckos meaning they’re just as easy and convenient to accommodate. Environment-wise, they like it cooler and humid. For the pet owners looking to test their hand at advanced reptile care, the hearty crested gecko will be tolerant of a few mistakes here and there.
A smaller and more docile version of a monitor lizard, Savannah monitors will pose the biggest challenge of our beginner pet lizard recommendations—literally. They can grow to be between 2.5 and 3 feet in length, and they are heavy. Their size paired with their strength and intelligence means that they’ll need a well-built enclosure to prevent them from escaping.
Despite their larger size, Savannah monitors can be quite gentle once they’ve been hand raised. After they have become accustomed to their owners, they are known to be docile animals that enjoy regularly being handled by humans.
One of the biggest perks of owning a Savannah monitor is that they are a miniature version of some much bigger reptiles. Already a popular pet option in the United States, they can commonly be found at many pet stores both in-person or online. Before getting one, just bear in mind that they have rather stringent care requirements which can be a handful for an owner who was expecting a low maintenance experience.
Buying Your New Pet Lizard
You can find bearded dragons for sale, and all of the other lizards mentioned in this article at online reptile shops like XYZReptiles.com. Specialty pet stores like these have the best selection of lizard species (and their morphs) ensuring you find the exact lizard you were looking for. On top of having plenty of pet lizard options, you will also find all the equipment you need to care for your new scaly friend in one convenient location. From tanks to heating lamps to substrate to hiding boxes, you can find everything you need to care for your new pet lizard with just a few clicks of a button.