Discover the perfect pet lizard for you by learning about the unique personalities, care needs, size, and lifespan of the 8 best pet lizards out there!
Lizards are the coolest animals, we can all agree on that. They live all around the world with so many varieties of colour, shape, and size. It is said that there are about 6000 species of lizards existing in the world today!
No wonder when it comes to getting one as a pet it can be overwhelming, but with this easy guide, you can discover the right one for you.
1. Bearded Dragon
The Bearded Dragon is a classic. Easy to care for and fun to have, this lizard is a perfect one for you if you are just starting your journey into lizard care. They are super friendly and love hanging out with you! They are quite small, growing 1 -2 feet in length. This takes top place for our best lizard pets!
These lizards come from Australia and live for up to ten years. Because they come from a warm place you must make sure they have enough heat! This means that they need controlled heating and UVB lighting. They need a basking area of 100℉.
They are pretty resilient pets, but keep an eye out on them as this means they hide illnesses well.
Can I handle a Bearded Dragon?
One of the great things about this lizard is that they are easy to pick up and hold. Perfect for children who want to be tactile with their pet, this one can be held if they are gentle and caring!
They are also awake through most of the day, giving you a chance to handle them and hang out with your new scaly pal.
What do they eat?
Bearded dragons are pretty easy to feed and live on a diet of insects and plants. They must get fed twice a day and have constant access to clean water. They love munching on crickets, mealworms, fruit, and leafy salad.
Upkeep: $8 a week
2. Crested Gecko
Crested Geckos come from New Caledonia, a group of islands near Australia. They are small reptiles that grow up to eight inches, but don’t let their cute big eyes fool you! They can be very wily and quick, so watch out for them if they are out of their enclosure.
They have sticky pads on their feet and love climbing, so a home full of plants and foliage is a must when having one of these as a pet. They also need high humidity so their enclosure will need to be misted twice a day. You will also need a thermostat to make sure the tank’s temperature is perfect!
Crested geckos are easy to care for, eating mainly insects and powder, and can live up to 15 years. They need feeding about three times a week. Because of how easy they are to care for, these are great pets for beginners.
Are they suitable for children?
Crested geckos are friendly enough, but sometimes can be shy when handling. This might mean that a different lizard might be better for children. They also are nocturnal, meaning that if the kids go to bed early they won’t see much of the gecko!
Why do their tails drop off?
Crested geckos might lose their tails if they are too stressed. It doesn’t harm them, but their tail won’t grow back.
They do so as a defence mechanism. When feeling frightened of a predator, they will drop their tails as a distraction. Sometimes they think humans are predators so might drop their tails when seeing you!
Make sure you are calm and gentle when handling your gecko to avoid the tail dropping off.
Set-up: $125 – $380
Upkeep: $8 a week
3. Leopard Gecko
Another great lizard for beginners, leopard geckos are very easy to look after and handle, resilient to health issues, and docile. They are small lizards, growing about 8 to 10 inches in length.
These geckos are native to the dry areas of Afghanistan, India, and Iran. They are hardy lizards, with adults only needing to be fed every other day. They are able to be left for a few days by themselves as long as they have water, heat, and light. These lizards can live up to twenty years.
Their tank will need heating and a low-level UVB light as these lizards are crepuscular, which means that they are active at dawn and dusk but not during the day. However, because they are crepuscular, they might not be suitable as a pet for children. As these geckos don’t climb, a tall tank is not necessary for them.
What do they eat?
Leopard geckos only eat insects, loving to snack on mealworms and crickets. You must gut-load the insects before feeding them to your gecko. Buying calcium supplements for them is also a great way to ensure they are healthy and strong.
Why do they wave their tails?
Leopard geckos are known to communicate via their tails. When they feel frightened, they might wave their tails, lowering their bodies to the ground and shaking their tails in the air. If your gecko is doing this, leave them alone! They might be a bit frightened of you, so need some time to calm down.
There are other reasons for tail waving, too! Sometimes they do it out of excitement when they are about to eat their food.
Set-up: $100 – $300
Upkeep: $7 a week
4. Panther Chameleon
Panther chameleons come from the rainforests of Madagascar, living entirely in the trees and avoiding the ground. The males of this species are the most colourful, with distinctive patterns running across their abdomen. This, coupled with the fact that they live longer than females, means that males are often preferred over females.
Panther chameleons can grow up to 2 feet long and live for four to seven years. They are not known for being a friendly species of lizards, enjoying their own company, but can get used to you handling them. It does take time for them to warm up to you though. Because of this, they might not be the best kind of lizard for kids. However, their colours and movements are so beautiful to watch, you don’t need to handle them to enjoy their company!
The panther chameleons tank must be tall with an array of branches and fauna for them to climb. They also need a warm tank with a basking area of 90℉, but with a cooler area of the tank for them to shelter in. A basking lamp is needed to be on 10 – 12 hours a day but switched off at night.
Panther chameleons are omnivores and eat a range of insects and plants. The insects being fed to the reptile must be gut-loaded and dusted with powder supplements.
As caring for this lizard is a bit more complex than others, panther chameleons might not be suitable to those looking for a first-time lizard. They take a lot of care and their housing must be perfect for them!
Why do they change colour?
Chameleons are famous for their ability to change colour. Most people think that they change to match their backgrounds, but this isn’t true! Chameleons change colour because of a whole load of reasons, from temperature and light to emotional state and mating.
What do they use their tails for?
The tails of these reptiles are often called their fifth hand as they are prehensile, meaning they are used to grasp things. Chameleons can hang from their tails quite safely and it helps them keep their balance when climbing.
Set-up: $180 – $380
Upkeep: $9 a week
5. Veiled Chameleon
Because chameleons are incredible animals, we have two on the list of top pet lizards! Veiled chameleons are a little bit smaller than panther chameleons, but also live about four to seven years. The males normally live slightly longer and grow bigger than the females, growing up to 20 inches.
These chameleons come from the mountain regions of Saudi Arabia and Yemen and are normally a greeny grey in colour, allowing them to blend into their surroundings.
Similarly to the panther chameleon, these lizards don’t normally like being handled. They need a lot of special care and attention, so these are not advisable pets to have for children or beginners.
When housing a veiled chameleon, the tank must be tall so they can climb. They love lots of foliage to hide and trees to climb, and a good ventilation system to keep them healthy! They need a basking light on a timer, heating of around 75℉ during the day and a little cooler in the night. They need a full spectrum UV light on during the day. They need to also stay hydrated, with misting at least twice a day.
When it comes to feeding, these chameleons love insects and must be fed them every other day. They also are partial to munching on leaves to keep them hydrated.
What is so special about their eyes?
All chameleons are so special in so many ways, their colour-changing powers are just the start! The eyes of chameleons are another way as to why this species of lizards are so fascinating. They have panoramic vision and a high level of magnification, meaning that if you have one as a pet they will always be keeping an eye on you!
Can they be kept together?
Chameleons are very territorial and you should not keep two in the same enclosure. In the wild, these reptiles are very solitary, only hanging out with each other to mate. They like their own company!
Set-up: $170 – $380
Upkeep: $9 a week
6. Monitor Lizard
These lizards are incredible, but not for everyone. There are different types of monitor lizards, varying in size and colour, but they are all very big lizards. The smallest monitor lizard that can be kept as a pet is the Timor Monitor who can grow up to 20 inches long. Some types of monitor lizards, such as the blue-tailed monitor, can grow up to five feet in length!
These lizards come from Africa, Asia, Australia, and Indonesia. They are natural predators in the wild, hunting and eating fish, rodents, birds, insects and anything they can. These lizards are also well known as being tricky to tame, so definitely not a good species of lizard for a beginner or a child. Taming these lizards takes time and energy, with them is known to bite and scratch handlers. However, some monitor lizards are easier to tame than others, such as the Savannah monitor, who can become more docile with handling.
These lizards can also live up to 20 years, so are a real commitment. But they are worth it.
The tank of the monitor lizard needs to be big with sturdy branches and foliage for the lizard to explore and hide. A lot of monitors like swimming and being in the water, so a little pool for them is a must to make sure they are enjoying themselves. They will also need a basking light and a cooler section of the tank. They need a UVB light on for 12 hours a day and might need an additional source of heat.
Perhaps not the best pet lizard, but one we couldn’t leave off the list!
What do Monitors eat?
These lizards love their live food, so having one as a pet isn’t the best if you are at all squeamish! They mainly eat rodents and live insects. You can buy dead mice frozen to feed safely to your lizard.
When feeding them be careful, as these lizards have toxic saliva and a strong bite! Use tongs when offering a monitor lizard food.
Is the Komodo Dragon a type of Monitor Lizard?
Yes! The biggest lizard in the world, the komodo dragon, is a type of monitor lizard. This lizard is infamous for being a savage hunter who can grow up to ten feet long. So if you have a monitor lizard, remember who their cousin is!
Set-up: $170 – $650
Upkeep: $20 a week
7. Red Ackie
The Red Ackie is a type of monitor lizard and the one that is most suitable to have as a pet. They are pretty chill compared to other monitor lizards, and smaller, growing to around 26 inches. Maybe a bit easier to have around the house than a komodo dragon, right?
Compared to most monitor lizards, these are pretty hardy and tough, adapting well to living as a pet. This means that if your heart is set on a mini dragon and you are a first-time reptile owner, consider the Red Ackie. They do live up to 20 years though, so bear this in mind! When it comes to handling them, you need to build up trust with them. They can become aggressive and frightened. Because of this, they are probably not suitable for children.
Because these are big reptiles, they need a big tank! It needs to be kept humid, with a UVB lamp on for 12 hours a day. A thermostat and a heat emitter is a must to keep them healthy and happy.
Red Ackies eat insects and rodents and have big appetites. Make sure they don’t eat too much as they can get overweight in captivity. Rodents should only be given to them as a treat.
Where do they come from?
These monitor lizards come from Australia in the dry scrublands. Because of this, they love rocks to hide around and a deep substrate to burrow deep into. Remember, when getting a lizard as a pet you must find out about where they come from and how you can replicate this for them!
Can they swim?
All types of monitor lizards can swim. They sometimes love to swim, but mainly love just wallowing in the water to keep them cool. Make sure you have a water dish big enough for them to get in.
Set-up: $170 – $650
Upkeep: $20 a week
8. Chinese Water Dragon
These beautiful lizards come from southeast Asia and grow up to 25 inches, with half their length being their tail. These are very special lizards and therefore have very special care needs. Getting one of these as a pet is not advisable for beginners.
They eat insects mostly but can be fed leaves and greens. They can be handled and can become very friendly with humans, but have been known to bite. They are kid-friendly, as long as an adult is properly caring for the lizard. They normally live for around 15 years.
Chinese water dragons love to swim and are very active during the day time, climbing trees and wallowing in water. They love having another Chinese Water Dragon friend to hang out with but might get aggressive with each other if they don’t have enough space.
These lizards need a big tank with lots of trees, plants, and a big bowl of water. Their tank needs to be kept humid and must have a basking light for them. During the daytime, the temperature needs to be around 90℉ but cooler at night.
Can Chinese Water Dragons get ill?
When it comes to Chinese water dragons, a perfect habitat is essential as they can become frail and unwell easily. They are known to bang or rub their heads on the walls of the tank and this can cause sores. You must check them regularly for mouth rot.
Why do they love water?
One of the main reasons these lizards love the water is that they see water as a place of refuge. When they are frightened or feel threatened, they go into the water and can stay submerged for a long period of time.
Set-up: $90 – $300
Upkeep: $5 a week
The world of lizards is diverse and incredible. From ones that change colour to ones that swim, there is something for everyone when it comes to having lizards as pets! Now it is your time to decide. Whatever you go for, I am sure you will be more than happy with your new best friend! Which lizard is it going to be?
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