Are you interested in joining the ranks of reptile owners? It can be difficult when first starting out to decide what sort of reptile you want to get. There are a large number of choices and it’s not always easy to tell which ones aren’t good for beginners. In order to help you with this decision, I have come up with a list of the best reptiles for beginners.
If you have looked around in the reptile section of a pet store, I guarantee that you have seen these guys. They are small, cute geckos who always seem to have a smile on their face. Leopard Geckos are known for being friendly and easy to take care of. They can live off a diet of gut loaded and vitamin dusted mealworms, which aren’t very expensive and easy to breed if you want to raise your own.
If you don’t to buy an expensive cage, you won’t need one for one of these guys. Using a plastic tub container, you can make your own cage for cheaper than buy a glass one (For more information on this, see How To: Make A Leopard Gecko Tub). On top of this, they do not need any special lighting because they are nocturnal. All they need is an under tank heating pad that keeps one part of the cage at around 90 degrees.
- Easy to Find
- No Special Lighting Requirements
- Come in a variety of Morphs
- Relatively Inexpensive
- Insectivore – You must keep a supply of mealworms or crickets in your home.
Bearded Dragons, aka Beardies, can make an exciting starter reptile pet. They are known for being docile, friendly, and playful. Unlike our last starter pet, these guys are active during the day and are a ton of fun to watch run around. Beardies are omnivores and live off of a diet of fresh greens and insects. They require access to UVB lighting and controlled heating every single day. Their cage size requirements are on the bigger side as well with an adult needing a cage of at least 3ft by 18in by 18in – bigger is better though. One important note is that baby bearded dragons are delicate. For your first Beardie, it is recommended that you get a sub-adult or adult.
- Friendly, Docile, Playful Personalities
- Adorable Looks
- Come in Different Morphs
- Easy to Find
- Larger Cage Requirements
- Special Lighting Required
- Omnivores – Need insects and Fresh Greens every day
- Baby Bearded Dragons are Delicate
3. Rosy Boa
The Rosy Boa is a great first choice if a snake is what you are looking for. They are relatively common which makes them easy to find. They can be relatively inexpensive to purchase, but it depends on the color morph. These guys only get to 4 feet long as most with the average boas ranging from 2 to 3 feet. Because of this shorter length, Rosy Boas can be kept in 10 to 15 gallon terrariums for life. Rosy Boas also have very long life spans, it is normal to expect a captive one to live 30 years or more. They are also known for being docile and tolerating handling well.
- Relatively Inexpensive
- Tolerate Handling Well
- Manageable Size
- Small Cage Size
- Prone to escaping if cage is not secured
- Must feed Mice
Our second gecko on the list, Crested Geckos only share a few things in common with Leopard Geckos. Cresties are nocturnal so they need no special lighting. They also have no special heating requirements, temperatures about 80 degrees can stress them out. One of the best things about owning a Crestie is their diet. These guys can live entirely off of a specially made powdered diet. They are also handleable and easy to tame, but unlike leopard geckos they are prone to the accidental loss of their tails. This does not hurt them, but their tails do not grow back. The minimum cage size for an adult is a 20 gallon tall terrarium and you want to make sure it has a screen top.
- Simple Diet, no need to mess with insects
- No Heating or Lighting Required
- Friendly, Docile
- Hide a lot of the time
- Delicate, prone to losing their tails
5. Blue Tongue Skink
Last but not least is the Blue Tongue Skink. This species is one of the most popular larger lizards to keep as a pet. They are known for having wonderful personalities and they are easy to handle. Once they are used to you, they actually love being handled and even love scratches on the top of their heads or under their chins. Blue Tongue Skinks are terrestrial, so you are looking for a cage that is at least 3 feet by 1.5 feet by 12 inches. They do have heating and UVB light requirements, so incandescent heat, a heating mat, and UVB lighting is recommended.
Blue Tongue Skinks are omnivores and eat a wide variety of items. Just to a list a few of these, they enjoy high quality canned dog/cat food, hard boiled eggs, cooked ground turkey, squash, carrots, and collard greens. It is important to provide a varied diet for these guys, but don’t overfeed them because they can easily become obese.
- Wonderful Personalities
- Easy to Handle
- Awesome Blue Tongues
- Awake During the Day
- Larger Cage Size
- Special Heating and UVB Requirements
- Must provide a balanced diet of items to ensure proper nutrition
This is just a small list of what I think are some of the best starter reptiles. There are a number of others to check out if none of these quite fit what you want. In addition, I will provide a list of other potential starter reptiles so you can perform further research. It is important to remember to thoroughly research any reptile before you purchase it. Reptiles make wonderful pets, but you need to know what you are doing beforehand. If you have any questions about any of the reptiles listed here, please leave a comment or send me an email.
Other Starter Reptiles:
- Red/Yellow Ackie
- Corn Snake
- Box Turtle
- California Kingsnake
- Ball Python
- Gopher Snake
- Rankin’s Dragon
- Western Hognose
- Milk Snake
- Red-footed Tortoise
- Garter Snake
- Russian Tortoise
- Painted Turtle