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Reptiles are a popular and fun class of pets to own in your home.
Not only are they fun and safe, but their behavior is unique and adorable.
With a pet reptile, it’s sure to be a popular animal for friends and family to check out.
Sometimes owning them can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing, but they are worth it!
On top of this, there are many types of reptiles you can choose from, but you want to find the one that’s the right fit.
In this article, we guide you through the best reptile pets and which one may be the perfect one for you.
Table of Contents
The Best Reptile Pets Include These Classes
There are three main classes of reptile pets. Each one has its special behavior and needs, which may make it the best pet for you.
Here is a brief description of each class with more detailed information below.
Lizards – These are one of the most common choices for reptile pets.
You can find them in many pet stores.
However, because of their size, aggressiveness as they get older, and special diet and environmental needs, they are more difficult for new reptile owners to take care of.
On the other hand, they are active, have great personalities, and fun to handle or watch play.
Snakes – Snakes are less common for a reptile pet, but they are much easier to take care of.
The biggest obstacle for snake owners is their diet.
Snakes need whole rodents and food (preferably pre-killed).
Unlike reptiles, which are more sensitive to environmental changes, snakes can survive better without UV lights or ultra-specific temperatures.
You also only need to feed them once a week, which makes trips easier as well.
Snakes have times when they’re active, and you can handle them as well, but more care needs to be taken when doing so.
Turtles – Turtles are another of the most common reptile pets.
They used to be a lot more popular, but have become less so over time.
A turtle’s diet isn’t tricky to manage, but as a whole, turtles tend to get large, live a long time, be messy, and have picky environmental needs.
Some people say a turtle’s behavior is “boring” because they don’t move quickly, but this may be more a matter of personal preference.
Choosing a turtle requires the most significant commitment because of their long life and size.
Lizards As Pets
In this section, we dig into the specifics of the lizard sub-class of reptiles as pets.
Use this information to help you decide if you want to pursue a lizard as a pet.
For more information on specific lizards, check out our best pet lizards guide.
Lizards are fairly active reptiles.
They tend to move more than other types of reptiles.
They like to play and move around in response to their surroundings.
Believe it or not, many lizard owners can sense a real personality in these pets.
On top of this fun behavior, many people find the lizard look to be both cool and cute.
They also seek sun and warmth regularly.
It’s not unusual for a lizard to spend a large portion of the day sunning themselves under their UV light.
Lizards have some unique behaviors when they feel threatened or stressed.
In some cases, they continuously hide or make themselves look small.
There is a chance that they also respond aggressively.
This means they puff themselves up as much as possible and pursue threats.
The older and larger the lizard, the more aggressive the behavior may be.
Caring for lizards takes some effort.
They are more prone (depending on specific species) to digestive health issues.
Lizards also require specific temperature, humidity, and light environments.
Because of this, you will need to be available for them at least a couple of times per day.
The lizard’s higher need for care also makes it difficult to leave them for trips.
Any trip longer than a couple of days requires a pet sitter of some kind.
A lizard’s diet is also particular.
Most of these reptiles are omnivores, which means they need to eat protein and vegetation for a healthy life.
Most of the time, protein comes in the form of worms or crickets, which need to be bought regularly.
They also eat a lot of these in short periods.
Their digestive cycle is shorter as well, so you can expect to need to feed them from 2-3 times a day up to 2-3 times a week depending on species and age.
Lizards need warmth due to their native environment.
Without a specific range of temperature at different times of day, their cycles can be thrown off, and health problems could occur.
A heating lamp and thermometer will be a necessity for these pets.
Most lizards also absorb important nutrients from the sun’s UV rays.
In an enclosure, this is accomplished with a special UV bulb.
As a responsible lizard owner, you need to have spares available in case one blows out.
They need this to survive.
Most lizards can only survive a couple of days without UV rays.
Lizards also come from either very humid or arid environments.
You will need equipment to measure and maintain a specific humidity in their enclosure.
Depending on the size of the lizard, their life span can range from 5-20 years with the larger lizards living at the higher end of the life span.
The most common health issues which arise with lizards are constipation, stress, and respiratory infections.
The common causes of this are due to their fickle environmental needs.
If you do decide to take on a lizard pet, be sure to have a nearby exotic vet you can visit when needed.
Overall, lizards are high maintenance, but they may also be the most fun of the reptile pets.
They have dynamic behavior and fascinating looks which may appeal to you.
Snakes As Pets
In this section, we look at the common aspects of snakes as a sub-class of pets.
We go over their common behaviors and care.
Use this section to help you determine whether you should look into snakes as pets.
For more information on specific snakes, check out our best pet snakes for beginners guide.
Snakes can be active pets.
They have some unique behaviors some find cute and serve important purposes.
Some of the most common snake behaviors include tongue flicking and yawning, which they use to gather smell molecules.
They also shake their heads when they’ve found food or something interesting.
Their eye colors and skin changes slightly over time, a good indication they are about to shed.
You can handle snakes calmly as well, but you should not let them roam free because they can get stressed quite easily and move quickly.
If you see a snake coiled in an “S” shape with its head above its body, the reptile is in its defensive mode and may strike.
They tend to be more skittish and stress quicker than other reptiles.
Compared to other reptiles, caring for snakes is easy.
Once you have the terrarium set up with what it needs, the main concern is the diet.
Snakes can be left alone for long periods as long as you feed them.
They don’t need active handling.
As a pet, these reptiles are more hands-off.
Snakes are carnivores, which means they only eat meat.
Most people find the most challenging part of owning a snake to be handling their diet.
Depending on the specific species and size, you only need to feed a snake around once a week.
They do need to eat whole food (as in, the entire intact mouse).
Anything broken up or composed won’t engage their whole digestive process resulting in malnutrition.
If you have a problem with the whole (although dead) animals, then snakes may not be for you.
The specific habitat needs depend on the size and species of snake, but these reptiles do require some habitat tools.
The enclosure needs to be large enough to give the snake room to move and grow.
We recommend a 20-gallon terrarium, a good size for most snake.
Snakes are reptiles and cold-blooded animals, which means they need warmth from other sources to live.
If the temperature is too low, then the snake gets sluggish and doesn’t digest its food correctly.
Snakes also may need a specific range for the humidity in the enclosure as well.
On the bright side, snakes’ requirements for the environmental needs aren’t as picky as lizards.
While you should do your best to keep temp and humidity within range, snakes can handle some variance without issue.
Snakes also need UV rays to stay healthy.
This can be accomplished by either leaving the enclosure near sunlight or using a UV bulb.
For bedding, all snakes need is a layer of wood chips and a place to hide. It does need to be changed, but only every 1-2 months.
Snakes live a reasonably long time depending on the species.
The general range of life for a pet snake is from 5-30 years.
Snakes most common issues stem from mouth rot or skin/body health problems.
The mouth and digestive problems stem from poor quality of food and/or poor diet.
Feeding your pet snake according to recommendations can help prevent this.
The other common health problem of blister disease can be avoided by keeping the enclosure in the appropriate humidity range.
For snakes, a humidifier and humidity reader is a must.
Overall, snakes are exciting to watch and keep as pets.
You don’t usually handle them as much, but they are hands-off to care for.
Turtles As Pets
At first, turtles don’t move a lot, but if they become comfortable and happy in their enclosure, they move around often.
As you’d expect, turtles don’t move exceptionally fast.
However, this means you can handle them efficiently and even take them out of their enclosure and hang out with them.
Semi-aquatic turtles (the kind most likely to be a pet) enjoy swimming and basking in the sun.
When stressed, turtles don’t get aggressive (although they can bite if threatened) but spend a lot of time pulled inside their shells and hiding.
Caring for turtle’s isn’t tricky, but they require a lot of space, are messy, and live a long time.
The toughest part of caring for turtles is keeping the water clean.
Turtles need to swim to absorb moisture and exercise.
Unclean water is the fastest way to cause health problems in your pet.
Feeding the turtles is something you do around 4-5 times a week, and there is a lot of prepackaged and readily available turtle food.
A turtle’s diet depends on its species and type.
A turtle is an omnivore and eats both meat (like insects and small fish) and dark, leafy greens.
But the tortoise is a herbivore which means it eats only plant life usually most vegetables and some fruit.
An adult turtle only needs to be fed 4-5 times a week.
Baby turtles need to be fed every day.
Because turtles are the most popular and common type of pet reptile, there are many pet stores and companies making it readily available prepackaged food for turtles.
Turtle habitats are the trickiest part of owning a turtle.
The habitats need to be large enough for the turtle to grow into.
Turtles, like all reptiles, start very small as infants and can grow to be large.
For example, a red-eared slider is born only an inch or two long but can peak out at 11 inches.
To keep a turtle this size, you need a tank.
The general rule is 10 gallons of the tank for every inch long the turtle is (or will be).
In addition to this space, turtles need in the tank water to swim in.
Swimming gives them needed exercise and absorbs moisture through their skin.
The water needs a good filtration system which has to be cleaned often.
All of this water and the turtles bigger size makes this tank a mess to clean often.
You should clean droppings once a day, replace the water every week, and thoroughly clean the tank every 2-3 weeks.
Turtles, like all reptiles, also need a specific temperature and humidity.
This is easily fixed with a heating lamp and humidifier.
With proper care, most pet turtle species can live into their 40s.
This is a long-term commitment you’re taking on when you decide to adopt a pet turtle.
All the common turtle problems are linked with Vitamin A deficiency, which is usually the result of a poor diet.
If you make sure to keep yourself educated on proper diet, then you shouldn’t have too many problems with turtles.
There are also bacteria and parasites linked with poor tank hygiene.
So just make sure to clean the tank as recommended above.
Overall, turtles are fun to own and live a long time with few health problems.
But their tanks are big and require a lot of work to keep clean.
Beginner Friendly Reptile Pet Options
While every sub-class has its own easy and hard species in it, the best class for beginners is generally the snake group.
Snakes can’t be handled as smoothly and let outside their enclosures, but once you get the terrarium set up, the snake should be just fine.
You can use thermometers and hygrometers (measures humidity) to make sure the enclosure is in the snake’s healthy range.
Managing whole rodents or animals for the snake’s food may not be your favorite thing to do, but you generally only need to feed the snake once a week.
They don’t require a lot in their habitat either.
You need the wood chips for bedding and somewhere to hide.
Their droppings are easy to find and remove.
Doing this spot-checking a couple of times a week makes it so you only have to change the bedding every 1-2 months.
Their health problems are mostly avoidable with appropriate humidity and diet, which can be controlled easily.
As a pet, you can handle them a little, but they do a lot of exciting things.
Here are a few snake breeds there are particularly easy for beginners:
Corn Snakes – As far as snakes go, this one is almost cuddly!
Corn snakes are very calm and can be handled regularly.
At their top length, they reach around 3 to 5 feet.
These snakes are pretty tough and have little health problems, but their life expectancy is only around ten years.
The biggest drawback of the corn snake is that they can escape easily, but if you have a tight lid, this won’t be a problem.
Ball Python – These snakes are also very calm and are the most common pet snake breed.
These snakes can be handled easily and have few health problems.
Male ball pythons grow to 2-3 feet, and females grow to 3-5 feet.
Their life expectancy is 20-30 years.
The biggest drawback of the ball python is how it sometimes refuses to eat, which can cause some stress on your part.
A Little Less Beginner Friendly
As a whole, lizards are more difficult as a reptile pet for beginners.
This isn’t to say they don’t make great pets.
Lizards have fascinating looks and are a lot of fun to handle and watch.
They have the best personalities.
But they require more work to care for.
Their enclosures need a basking spot, cooling spot, and things to interact with.
The enclosure needs to be a very strict temperature in all of those places which then change at night.
Plus, they need a UV lamp to get the required UV rays.
Their diet is a lot more involved to manage because they require insects and greens several times a week.
On top of this, you need to be careful about what you feed them because they have a tendency to get constipated or injured if they eat something too big.
Besides their digestive problems, they tend to develop respiratory problems.
They can get stressed out easily as well.
Here are few lizards experienced reptile owners will get a lot out of:
Leopard Geckos – Their small size and easy nature avoid a lot of the stress and space they require.
As a nocturnal lizard, they also don’t need a UV light.
You can get away with a 15-gallon tank for these lizards.
They are very active and a lot of fun to watch and handle.
They live for around 15 years.
Bearded Dragons – This is the most popular kind of lizard.
It looks cool, and they are known to have fun and dynamic personalities.
They can grow large and need a 40-gallon tank as an adult.
As a desert reptile, they require a high temperature and low humidity.
They tend to get stressed out, but this can be helped with the right tricks.
Their diet is a combination of insects, vegetables, and fruit, and these lizards can remember their owners.
Bearded dragons live from 12-14 years with proper care.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to the best reptile pets.
Reptiles are one of the most unique and special types of pets you can own.
It may seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can get a lot of love out of owning them.
Reptiles have a longer life span and entertaining behaviors and personalities that make them great pets.
If you’re a beginner, you may want to try out a reptile, like the corn snake.
They’re easy to take care of and have a docile personality.
Don’t be discouraged or afraid of trying to own a reptile.
We can help! Check out our guides and helpful articles for more information.
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