When it comes to pets, cats and dogs usually rank high on people’s lists. But reptiles can also make great pets. They’re hypoallergenic, fascinating to watch, and relatively easy to maintain.
Certain types of reptiles do require more care than others. For example, many people are fascinated by iguanas, but iguanas need a large enclosure, have a complex diet, and can be extremely aggressive at times. And giant snakes, such as the Burmese python, are expensive to feed and hard to tame.
If you’re fascinated by reptiles but have never cared for one, it is better to start with an easy to maintain reptile and work your way up to more complicated reptiles. The list below is five reptiles that are recommended for beginners.
First-time reptile owners that want a lizard should consider the leopard gecko. These lizards come in a variety of colors and patterns and grow up to around 7 to 10 inches. All they need in their aquarium is a hide box, under tank heating pad, a substrate that they can’t ingest, a shallow water dish, and some mealworms or crickets.
It should be noted that geckos shouldn’t be handled regularly until they are around 6 inches in length. Even then, the most that a gecko will do is crawl around on your hands. They aren’t as interactive as other types of reptiles. You also have to be careful not to hold their tails or their tails will drop off (they do regenerate over time).
Another easy lizard to care for is the bearded dragon. These lizards have unique appearances, have docile attitudes, and enjoy interacting with their owners. Some even enjoy going for walks! They enjoy eating a balanced diet that includes crickets, mealworms, veggies such as sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, and even fruit.
Their enclosures are easy to set up. According to Officially Pets, the best type of enclosure for a bearded dragon is a terrarium that mimics their natural environment. Bearded dragons need hot, dry environments that get plenty of sunlight. Using a UVB light within their enclosure can provide them with proper heating and light. If possible, bearded dragons should spend time outside on sunny days.
Corn snakes are some of the best types of snakes for beginners. They’re docile, come in beautiful colors, and do not get very large. Their non-aggressive behavior makes them easy to handle. Smaller corn snakes eat frozen pinkie mice, while larger corn snakes enjoy frozen rats.
Corn snakes can live in a tank. They need an under tank heating pad, a water dish that allows them to soak, a substrate that can’t be ingested, and several hiding spots. Corn snakes also like climbing and may enjoy having a branch in their enclosure. Something to keep in mind, however, is that corn snakes are very good at escaping. Make sure they have a lid on their enclosure that is secured.
For those that want a snake with a larger girth than a corn snake, ball pythons are a good option. Ball pythons grow up to 6 feet in length and are rarely aggressive. When handled regularly as babies, ball pythons get used to human interaction and become docile. They’re typically shy as babies but will become more engaging as adults.
Ball pythons require relatively simple enclosures and will eat frozen or live mice. Larger pythons eat rats. Ball pythons need a basking light, but do not need a UVB light, and require both a hot side and a cooler side in their enclosure. Ball pythons that are exposed to high humidity will develop scale rot, which does require antibiotics to treat.
Many inexperienced reptile owners like the idea of an aquatic turtle, such as a red-eared slider, because they think they’ll be easy to care for. However, aquatic turtles can be hard to care for. They need large tanks to swim in, defecate often, and are very messy animals.
Those that want a turtle should consider getting a Russian tortoise. They’re small enough to be kept indoors, are responsive to their owners, require a relatively simple habitat, and prefer a diet of high fiber hay and dark leafy greens. When weather permits, they like to spend time outdoors, where they burrow in dirt and climb on rocks. When Russian tortoises are cared for properly, they can live up to 40 years.
These five reptiles are just a few of the many reptiles out there that are perfect for inexperienced reptile owners. It is always a good idea to visit a pet store or talk to a breeder before adopting a reptile. Before introducing any sort of new pet to your family, do your research on the animal to make sure you can provide the necessary care.