4 Best Pet Lizards

What makes a good pet lizard? These below lizard species have been ranked by size, ease of care, handleability, personality, and availability.

 

Leopard Gecko

Leopard Gecko, photo by Kouneli

 

#1 – Leopard Gecko

The leopard gecko is probably the most popular pet lizard today in captivity. This small lizard can come in many different colors and patterns (morphs). They are without a doubt the easiest pet lizard to care for in today’s market. Unlike diurnal lizards, leopard geckos are nocturnal which means they are active at night. Since they are nocturnal, they do not need the special UVB lighting which most of the other pet lizards may need. This can save any owner a great deal of money. Care and maintenance is fairly easy. This would be a great first pet lizard for anyone of any age.

Scientific Name: Eublepharis macularius

Lifespan: Approximately 20+ years with proper care

Handling: Anytime.
Size: Up to 6 – 9 inches
Care: Easy
Lifestyle: Nocturnal, active at night.

Crested Gecko

Crested Gecko, photo by Jennifer Morrow

#2 – Crested Gecko

The crested gecko is another fascinating type of gecko which is starting to become very popular in the reptile industry. The one benefit that intrigues most pet owners to buy them is the fact that they don’t need a heavy insect diet like most of the other reptiles need. They can be fed primarily on a simple, packaged, crested gecko diet which is a fruit-based powder mix that mixes with water. Similar to the leopard gecko, crested geckos are also nocturnal and their care is relatively easy.

Scientific Name: Rhacodactylus ciliatus
Lifespan: Suspected 10 – 15 years,  possibly 20+ years with proper care
Handling: When handling, make sure to be gentle and try to not frighten your gecko. If your gecko gets frightened, it may drop its tail.
Size: Up to 6 – 9 inches
Care: Moderate
Lifestyle: Nocturnal, active at night.

Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragon, photo by ta-graphy

#3 – Bearded Dragon

The bearded dragon, also known as a “beardie”, makes a great first time lizard for anyone. They are very docile and laid back. If you are looking for a lizard that you can handle regularly, this may be the lizard for you. Their requirements are slightly higher than the previous geckos though, requiring the special type of uvb lighting and heat lamps. But if you have the extra money to spend, they are well worth it.

Scientific Name: Pogona
Lifespan: Approximately 5 – 10 years based on proper care
Handling: Anytime, they are usually quite tame
Size: Up to 18 – 24 inches long
Care: Easy
Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day

Blue Tongue Skink

Blue Tongue Skink, photo by Mark Dumont

#4 – Blue Tongue Skink

Blue tongue skins aren’t everyone’s first choice when looking for a first pet lizard which is a shame because they make awesome first pet lizards. Similar to the bearded dragon, they are also a very hardy, docile and calm type of lizard. The requirements and care of a blue tongue skink are relatively easy.

Scientific Name: Tiliqua Scincoides
Lifespan: Approximately 15 – 20 years
Handling: Most are tame and don’t mind being handled often.
Size: Up to 18 – 24 inches long
Care: Easy
Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day

 


 

Best Pet Lizards for Advanced Keepers

What qualifies a pet lizard for the advanced keeper? The below pet lizards have been chosen due to their large size, bad temperaments, and/or aggressiveness. Although they may make great pets for the advanced keeper, they might just not be the right choice for the average person trying to start out with a pet lizard.

 

Chameleon

Chameleon, photo by Harald Hoyer

#1 – Chameleon

Chameleons, also known as “chams” are quite amazing lizards to have. Although they are a “see, but don’t touch” type of animal, they are well worth having. Their ability to rotate each eye in a different direction and to shoot their tongue out of their mouths a long distance to catch their prey is quite remarkable and fun to watch. If you want a lizard to admire in your home, then the chameleon is a perfect choice for you. The reason they are more for the advanced keeper is because their care is slightly higher than most reptiles as they are very delicate lizards.

Scientific Name: Chamaeleonidae
Lifespan: Approximately 4 – 7 years (Males live longer than females)
Handling: Only handle when necessary. Most chameleons do not like to be handled and get stressed very easily. Stress can lead to a shorter lifespan.
Size: Up to 18 inches long
Care: Medium
Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day

Chinese Water Dragon

Chinese Water Dragon, photo by David Shane

#2 – Chinese Water Dragon

Chinese water dragons are quite interesting to watch in their enclosures as they run and jump from branch to branch, especially when they are young. Most are tame and are quite capable of being handled occasionally. The only reason why they are not considered a good pet lizard for a beginner is because of their size, care and the amount of money that needs to be invested to care for this type of lizard.  As a lizard species that reaches close to 3 ft in length, space is definitely a need for this type of lizard,more space than the average owner is willing to provide.

Scientific Name: Physignathus cocincinus
Lifespan: Approximately 10 – 15 years
Handling: You may handle Chinese water dragons, but try to keep it to a minimum.
Size: Up to 24-30 inches long
Care: Medium
Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day

Black and White Tegu

Black and White Tegu, photo by Christoph Anton Mitterer

#3 – Argentine Black and White Tegu

The argentine black and white tegu is definitely the biggest lizard on our best pet lizard list. Having that in mind, room is definitely a must have to house this type of lizard. As a juvenile, they are quite docile and fun to handle. These lizards need a lot of time and attention to care for. But in the long run, they can be quite rewarding to their owner. If you have the time and space for a lizard this big, they are well worth it.

Scientific Name: Tupinambis merianae
Lifespan: Approximately 15 – 20 years
Handling: They are generally calm and easy to handle if raised properly
Size: Up to 48 inches long
Care: Medium
Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day

Don’t let this ‘best pet lizards’ list limit you on what you can or should get, because there are many more lizards out there that make great pets as well. This is just a list of the most popular pet lizards that are held in captivity today. Feel free to add a comment on which lizard you think makes a great pet for the beginner or the advanced keeper of lizards.

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