Has your Leopard Gecko become pale? Are you worried your gecko may be sick because it is not its natural color? Is your gecko behaving a little out of the ordinary? While anxiety over these sudden changes in your gecko’s appearance and behavior is entirely normal, there is likely no cause for alarm. This is
Are you considering lizards as pets?
Do you find the cool look and funny behaviors of lizards appealing?
Then you’ve come to the right place!
Lizards make unusual but adorable pets for any animal lover.
That being said, some of them require more work than others.
But their active behavior and interesting looks more than make up for the effort.
In this guide, we go over some of the best pet lizards on the market and give you the information you need to pick the right one for you.
The Best Pet Lizards For Beginners
There are many types of lizards that make great pets, but not all of them may be the best choice for a brand new reptile owner.
On the whole, lizards take more effort than most reptiles, but the ones in this section are lizards more geared for the beginning pet owner.
For more details on these beginner pet lizards, check out our expanded section below.
Bearded Dragons – Bearded dragons (or beardies as their owners call them) are among the most common and popular of pet lizards.
Physically, they’re larger than the other lizards on the list and require more food, but their behavior is among the most amusing and fun to watch.
Because of their larger size, they are tougher and more resistant to changes in temperature than other lizards.
They need to eat a lot, but as adults, they need to eat less frequently than the other lizards.
The common health problems which occur in bearded dragons can be prevented fairly easily with a proper diet and enclosure temperature.
Leopard Geckos – This is the next most common lizard pet because they are the easiest lizard to care for.
Leopard geckos have a shorter life span than the bearded dragon, but they are smaller and therefore require a smaller enclosure.
These lizards are also nocturnal, which means you don’t have to mess around with UV bulbs as other lizards need.
For personality, the leopard gecko is docile and calm.
Many lizards are easily stressed and threatened, but not this one.
They don’t eat as much and have relatively few health problems.
For people who have never owned a pet before and are very nervous, the leopard gecko may be just for you.
Blue-Tongue Skink – This is one of the easiest of the large lizards to care for though they are less common than the other two on this list.
They are the easiest to handle of the lizards, and they have great personalities, and funny behaviors make owning them a blast.
Many owners feel like the skink is almost a cat or a dog because of how much it loves to be handled, pet, and scratched.
Blue-tongue skinks need a lot of space but don’t require too much in terms of heat or humidity.
Once you get your enclosure set up properly, you don’t have to watch them carefully.
Another beginner benefit of this lizard is its diet.
They eat a good amount, but their larger size means they eat less often.
Expanding On Beginner Options
In this section, we go over our three picks for the best beginner pet lizards and offer more details on their care.
We go into detail on each pet and the following information:
As the most common pet lizard, there is a lot of information and help out there on the bearded dragon.
Check out our dedicated informational article on bearded dragons.
Use this section to help you decide if bearded dragons are right for you.
Bearded Dragon Behavior
Bearded dragons are fun lizards to own.
Their behavior is largely calm and entertaining to watch.
Beardies commonly spend a large part of the day (up to 8 hours some days) basking under their lamp.
They also can spend an equal amount of time hiding in their cool spot.
However, beardies love to interact with objects in their environment and get active when it’s time to eat.
You can handle bearded dragons most of the time when they’re not stressed or threatened.
A lot of owners take their beardies out of their enclosures or even take them for walks.
One of the most fun parts of owning the bearded dragon is when it yawns and puffs out its beard.
On the whole, bearded dragons do tend to get stressed out by changes in the environment.
During this time, they hid for long periods and refuse to eat.
You can easily help calm your bearded dragon with several calming techniques.
Bearded Dragon Care
Caring for a bearded dragon requires a bigger amount of effort when they’re young, but it eases up as they get older.
The biggest challenges in caring for the bearded dragon are maintaining their healthy diet and keeping their enclosure at the right temperature.
You can expect when you adopt a bearded dragon to spend 15-30 minutes twice a day on them.
Bearded Dragon Diet
Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they need meat (insects and worms) and vegetation (veggie and fruits).
Their diet changes based on their age.
This easy reference chart should help you get a better idea of what feeding a bearded dragon entails.
Note: All insects should be smaller than the distance between the bearded dragon’s eyes.
This prevents injury from eating.
Bearded Dragon Habitat
A bearded dragon’s habitat is the trickiest part of owning a bearded dragon, but with the right tools and information, this doesn’t have to be too hard.
First, they require more space.
The general rule of thumb for an adult bearded dragon enclosure is to get a tank that is 40-50 gallons in size.
This tank needs to have different areas at different temperatures.
The basking area is the warmest spot where the beardy rests, the cool or hiding spot is where they hide and relax, and this all changes at night.
The basking temperature should be from 100° – 110° degrees Fahrenheit (38° – 43° C) for babies and 105° degrees Fahrenheit (40° C) for adults.
For the rest, it should be the same for adults and babies.
The overall temperature of the enclosure should be around 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).
The cool spot or hiding spot is between 70° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (21° – 29° C).
At night, you should switch off your lamp, but check to make sure it ends up in the 65° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 21° C) range for temperature.
In addition to a heat lamp, they also require 12 hours of UVB light for nutrition and health.
Bearded dragons should not ever be kept with another bearded dragon.
Bearded Dragon Health
Bearded dragons tend to live for 12-14 years.
They stay healthy for the most part, but if stressed, they don’t eat or go into their basking spot to absorb heat and UV rays.
The other issues which arise are respiratory problems and digestive issues.
These can be fixed with a checkup with the vet.
Overall, bearded dragons are simple to care for with proper diet, enclosure setup, and destressing.
In this section, we go into detail on what you need to know to care for a leopard gecko.
Use this section to help you decide if you want to adopt a leopard gecko for a pet.
Leopard Gecko Behavior
Leopard geckos are the most popular choice with beginners because of their calm behavior.
As nocturnal lizards, they move more at night, but they like to be handled and don’t have sticky pads on their toes to climb out of enclosures and escape.
When they move, it’s usually pretty slow, so you don’t have to worry as much they’ll escape.
But you do want to keep an eye on them.
They shake or rattle their tails when excited about food, which is an adorable trait. Leopard geckos almost never bite, and they can be kept with other leopard geckos.
Most owners describe their behavior as bouncy, and these lizards can also be vocal.
In general, they’re calm and fun to watch and play with.
At first, you need to go through a gentle taming process where you let them move around your hands for 10-15 minutes at a time.
This process takes about a week.
Be careful not to pull on the tail which can detach itself and fall off. The tail grows back in about 40 days.
Leopard Gecko Care
There are almost no challenges in caring for leopard geckos.
You can expect the most difficult part to be setting up their enclosure, but their requirements are less strict than most lizards.
They aren’t prone to serious health problems in captivity if cared for properly.
As an owner, you can expect to spend 15-30 minutes caring for your pet every other day.
Of course, you could and should pay attention to them more, but they don’t require as much checking on as other lizards.
Leopard Gecko Diet
Leopard geckos are insectivores, which means they exist on a diet of insects and occasional small worms.
If you decide to own a leopard gecko, you’ll mostly be feeding them crickets and mealworms.
You can choose to feed them waxworms or superworms as a treat a few times a month if you’d like as well.
Fully grown leopard geckos eat 3-4 times a week. How much they get depends on their size.
The common formula for determining how much to feed them is two worms or crickets for every inch they are long.
This means a 10″ inch gecko should be fed 20 mealworms 3-4 times a week.
The food should be gut loaded and dusted with nutrients to make sure the geckos are getting all the nutrients they need.
This is like sneaking in an extra vitamin in your dog’s dog food to make sure they have no vitamin deficiencies.
It’s also common and natural for leopard geckos to eat their shed skin.
Leopard geckos require a shallow bowl of water always filled in their enclosure which they drink from and bathe in.
Leopard Gecko Habitat
Leopard Gecko habitats should be between 10 and 20 gallons large.
The flooring of the tent can be as simple as a newspaper or as nice as pea gravel or flat stones.
Don’t use sand because they can eat it, which may cause a blockage in their intestines.
Take care to keep the flooring dry, but you won’t have to change it often.
Leopard geckos choose one area for their droppings which can be easily spot cleaned as you go.
Make sure you include a moist hide box for the gecko.
This is where it goes to shed its skin properly.
For temperature, you should use a heating pad or tape to heat one side of the tank.
This helps keep the overall temp of the enclosure up while still providing a cool place on the other side.
The overall temperature of the tank should be around 88° – 90° degrees Fahrenheit (31° – 32° C).
Unlike other pet lizards, geckos are nocturnal, which means they don’t require direct exposure to UV rays to be healthy.
You won’t need a UV bulb in your setup for this lizard’s enclosure.
Leopard Gecko Health
This reptile has an average life span of 10-20 years.
The females can grow up to 7″ – 8″ inches long, and the males grow up to be 8″ – 10″ inches long.
Their major health problems come from malnutrition and Vitamin D and calcium deficiency.
This is most likely the result of the owner not gut loading and dusting their food before they feed it to them.
Overall, the leopard gecko is as cuddly as a lizard gets.
It’s adorable and has active behavior with few caring needs.
In this section, we look at the blue-tongue skink in detail for behavior and care.
Use this brief overview to help you decide if the skink is right for you.
Blue-Tongued Skink Behavior
The blue-tongue skink is a great choice for beginners because of its easy-going behavior.
Once acclimated to their environment, they enjoy being handled and even scratched like a dog or a cat.
Owners describe their personalities as fun and curious.
They like to investigate things in their environment, and you can take them out and let them explore your house.
Just make sure you watch to make sure they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t.
Blue-tongue skinks aren’t prone to getting stressed, and they’re more active than most other lizards.
Blue-Tongued Skink Care
These lizards are fairly easy to care for.
Their diet is easy to manage once you’re aware of what they need, and they are a hardy lizard which can withstand changes to their environment with ease.
This reptile is also pretty slow-moving and poorly skilled at climbing, so you don’t have to worry about it escaping.
They aren’t prone to major health problems, and the common health problems are avoidable with the correct tank setup and diet.
As an owner, you can expect, at a minimum, to spend 15-30 minutes every other day on caring for them.
It would be best to do this every day, however.
Blue-Tongued Skink Diet
A skink’s diet is the easiest to manage out of all the lizards.
They can eat pretty much anything!
But if you want a healthy skink, you need to balance its diet to include protein, vegetables, and fruit.
Adult skinks should be fed every 2-3 days while young skinks need to be fed every other day.
During a meal, you need to feed them as much as they’ll eat at one time, and when they stop eating, take the food away.
The ratio of food should be 50% vegetables/greens, 40% protein, and 10% fruit.
To create a good balance, you should switch up their food sources every few meals.
It’s also a good idea to add a Vitamin D and calcium dusting supplement every third feeding to ensure there is no deficiency.
They have a huge selection of foods which are OK for them to eat, including the following:
Vegetables & Greens
Blue-Tongued Skink Habitat
An adult blue-tongue skink needs a 40-gallon tank with a screened-in top.
They should always be kept on their own and with no other skinks in the enclosure.
Like the bearded dragon, the blue-tongue skink needs specific basking and cool area temperatures.
The basking area should be from 90° – 100° degrees Fahrenheit (32° – 37° C), and the cool side should be 75° – 82° degrees Fahrenheit (24° – 28° C).
Some may suggest skinks don’t need a UVB bulb, but I recommend having one on for 10-12 hours a day.
The flooring of the tank can be aspen, recycled paper substrates, fir bark, and cypress mulch.
Don’t use a flooring chip that’s been treated chemically because the chemicals may be toxic to the skink.
Blue-tongue skins enjoy space and aren’t great climbers.
Make sure the items in the tank don’t get in their way or put the reptile up high and put it in danger of falling.
The humidity of the tank needs to be low, but the exact number depends on the specific species of blue-tongue skink.
You need a hygrometer to keep track of the enclosure’s humidity.
Blue-Tongued Skink Health
Blue-tongue skinks live between 15-20 years in good health.
They range from 18″ – 24″ inches in length when fully grown.
As with many reptiles in captivity, the common health problems are a result of an unbalanced diet, stress, and poor temp and humidity conditions.
Blue-tongue skinks are known as the toughest lizards for pets because of their larger size.
They can resist slight changes in their lives without shutting down and developing major health problems.
Overall, the blue-tongue skink’s gentle nature, easy diet, and durable body make it a great choice for beginning lizard owners.
Some Not So Good Beginner Options
There are many lizards which make great pets but aren’t the best choice for beginners.
If you’re an experienced reptile owner and you’re looking for a new type of pet to take on, you may want to consider the following.
Gold Dust Day Gecko – This gecko is native to hot, humid environments and has stunning coloration and looks.
They stay small and live a shorter time (5-8 years).
Their diet isn’t hard to manage as it consists mostly of protein and fruit.
The difficult thing with caring for gold dust day geckos, which make them for more advanced owners is their skittish personality.
They’re nervous lizards and shouldn’t be handled often or harshly.
They are easily panicked and stressed.
This behavior prevents them from eating or basking.
In some circumstances, they drop their tails off as a diversion.
Crested Gecko – The crested gecko is another smaller lizard that has a fascinating look.
Their tank needs to be larger than the other geckos, but their food needs are about the same.
Like the Gold Dust Day Gecko, this gecko has a nervous personality.
While you can handle it a little more than the gold dust, if it drops its tail, it doesn’t grow back.
The crested gecko is also a good climber and escape artist, so make sure your tank is sealed up.
Ultimately, the crested gecko is a display lizard which may not be what a beginner wants in a pet.
Usually, you want a pet more engaging and fun at first.
There are many options for the best pet lizards out there, but it also depends on your personality as a pet owner.
Make sure to review the details in the sections above to help you pick the right lizard for you.
Owning a lizard may seem like a lot of work at first because of their enclosure, diet, and emotional needs.
But these animals fun personalities and fascinating looks make it all worth it in the end.
After all, how many people do you know that have one of these oddly cute pets?
Check out our other guide for more information on some of the other best reptile pets.
By The Way: Here Are Other Lizards We Cover
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