Reptiles make wonderful and intriguing pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, close to 3.7 million households own reptile pets in America. The animals are quite different from other typical home pets like dogs and birds as they offer a unique pet experience. Unlike most mammal pets, a significant number of pet reptiles don’t require much space. Besides, you won’t have to feed them every day. You will not also need to spend countless time loving and coddling them. All these factors make your scaly friend an ideal pet for beginners.
There are several relatively low maintenance reptiles that are easy to care for as pets. These animals are amiable and docile. They also don’t need special care or years of pet handling experience. Additionally, they don’t grow to unwieldy adult sizes that present habitat problems.
Here is a list of pet reptiles that will make an excellent addition to your home:
Lizards make an exciting addition to your family. They have a gentle demeanor and are one of the easiest to care for pet reptiles. Lizards also don’t grow to big sizes to demand large spaces. Most would easily fit into your hand even when they are grown. However, there are so many species available, and choosing the right animal should be a top priority. A species like the iguanas is a poor choice if you are a beginner. Iguanas are very aggressive and demand specialist care.
Some of the best lizard subspecies include:
Leopard gecko is among the most popular lizard pets for a beginner due to their friendly nature, exciting colors and patterns, and low maintenance needs. Leopard geckos are nocturnal and require a 10 to 20-gallon glass aquarium. You can line the aquarium with alfalfa-based pellets or calcium sand. Alternatively, you can use a layer of paper towels or reptile carpet. Provide a hot environment of temperatures of between 78 to 88 degrees for your pet.
Additionally, gecko lizards share the same sleeping patterns as humans and thus a need 10 to 12 hours of light. Typically, leopard geckos are insectivores, and you can feed them a mixture of crickets and mealworms. A young reptile should be fed daily while a mature one needs food three times a week. Dust all insects with vitamin powder and calcium. You should also ensure you provide an adequate supply of fresh water.
These medium-sized lizards are hardy and have low maintenance needs. They are popular because of their docile nature. They also tolerate daily handling and can become quite affectionate with the pet owners. Juvenile dragons can grow to reach13 to 24 inches in length. You should provide the same housing requirements for the bearded dragons as that of the leopard gecko. However, ensure you provide a more significant amount of space.
Additionally, ensure you mist the dragons with water daily to provide ideal humidity. You should also offer full-spectrum lighting for 12 to 14 hours inside the aquarium. Bearded dragons love a mixed diet of worms, crickets, leafy greens, squash, and pinky mice. Feed baby dragons daily while the adults can be fed twice or three times a week. You should also dust each meal with an ideal mineral supplement or multivitamin.
The right snake species will provide exceptional company and stress relief for you. Unlike common mammal pets such as puppies, snakes won’t require daily walks outdoors. They also stay quiet at all times. A snake habitat is also easy to clean owing to its infrequent defecation. However, before you decide to own a snake, you should first research the most suitable species and their life span.
Some of the safe and easy to care breeds to choose from include:
Corn snakes are beautiful reptiles that are docile and require little care. They come in an array of elegant colors and patterns. Your reptile will live for ten years and grow to a length of only three to five feet. You need to provide a tight-fitting lid enclosure for the snake as they are excellent at escaping.
The enclosure should be at least a 20-gallon long glass tank. You should also provide a hide box for the snake to curl up and hide. Besides, maintain the ambient housing temperature of 80 to 85 degrees. Corn snakes are purely carnivorous and should be fed on pre-killed frozen mice. Dust the meal with suitable supplements and multivitamins. Growing reptiles should be fed twice a day while an adult can be fed only once a week. You also need to provide an adequate supply of water for the snake.
Ball pythons are docile and little maintenance reptiles. They are known to be poor eaters, and you should be persistent in finding the ideal healthy meal for the pet. Ball pythons can live for between 20 and 30 years, and you should be committed to taking care of the pet for such a long period. The small constricting snake can grow between 2 to 5 feet and thus need minimal living space.
A baby ball python should be housed in a 20-liter tank while the adult reptile can be housed in a 40-liter tank. Provide an ideal substrate on the house floor. You should also provide a temperature of at least 78 degrees and a humidity of between 40 and 60 percent. Adequate lighting should also be provided for at least 8 to 12 hours each day. You should also avoid housing different species of snakes in one housing. Feed the reptile with an appropriately sized frozen rodent warmed to room temperatures. You can also feed the snake with live rodents. The juvenile snakes should be fed once a week while the adult can be fed every one to two weeks.
Turtles are gaining immense popularity as ideal pets across the globe. They are beautiful, interactive, and require less work than cats or dogs. They also live for long and are ideal low maintenance pet gifts for young children. However, over 356 species of turtles inhabit different environments across the world, and some may not be perfect home pets.
If you are just starting, the following are the best options:
The pond slider can grow to between 6 inches and one foot long. They can also live to see their 60th birthday. The reptiles are easy to find, acquire, and care for. They are also cute pets ideal as children gifts because they don’t bite or scratch when touched. Pond sliders need a 10 gallon to 20-gallon tanks with water temperatures of between 75 to 84F. You should also provide an ambient temperature of between 75 to 80 F. Additionally, reptiles love to slither out of the water and bask, consequently providing a spacious basking spot with temperatures of 90F. You can feed your pet with commercial turtle food or krill, shrimp, small fish or snails.
Eastern box turtle
The eastern box turtle is arguably the most popular pet under the turtle category. They are called eastern box turtles because of the shape of their bodies that looks like a box. These turtles, which are endemic to the Eastern United States, are not aquatic. Therefore, unlike the other turtles, they don’t need an aquarium. You can house them in a terrarium or an ideal outdoor location. If you prefer an outdoor habitat, ensure it has some enclosure to prevent the animal from escaping.
Eastern box turtles are tiny and grow to 6 inches only as adults. The turtles will eat almost any food you give to them; thus caring, and feeding is relatively cheap. You can feed the reptiles live insects, snails, and grubs. They will also devour vegetables such as collard greens, dandelions, and romaine lettuce. Eastern turtles are easy to bond with during feeding time. However, remember they can live up to 100 years. They, therefore, require a long term commitment.
Tortoises are calm, fun, entertaining, and easy to care for pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), over 350,000 different households keep different tortoise species in the US. Tortoise is a slow land dweller and should not be confused with turtles. While turtles mostly live in water, the tortoise inhabits the land. Different types of tortoise need a different level of commitment.
The following are some of the ideal species for beginners:
The Egyptian tortoise is a small species that grows to only 5 inches long. The tortoise is endemic to the deserts of Libya and Egypt, where it got its name. According to Saint Louis Zoo, the reptile is critically endangered in the wild. Consequently, to protect this species, ensure you purchase it only through authorized breeders. The pet is ideal for small spaces and will do better in indoor settings with controlled temperatures and humidity. You should provide UVB light, UVA basking light, and tank temperatures of between 765 to 85F. They will also do well with a humidity of between 20 to 30 percent. You should feed the tortoise on grasses, fruit, and vegetables. As a general rule, provide food that is equivalent to the size of the tortoiseshell. Feed the pet once a day and for five days a week. The Egyptian tortoise can live well past 70 years, and you should be ready to commit to caring for the pet for such an extended period.
Russian tortoises are among the most popular pet tortoises in the United States currently. The tortoise can live past their 40th birthday and grow to about 2 to 10 inches when they receive excellent care. You can house the pets in warm indoor enclosures or outdoors or in a 20-gallon terrarium. If you are accommodating them indoors, maintain room temperatures in their enclosures. You should also provide an ideal basking area, UVB light, and humidity of between 30 to 50 percent. The animal loves to burrow. Therefore provide enough soil in the enclosure. The Russian tortoise is hardy and can adapt to different temperatures. The reptile loves to eat fresh, fibrous vegetables.
Consequently, provide leafy greens and grasses such as alfalfa hay. You should also feed the pets large, diverse salads at least thrice a week. Don’t feed the animal too many fruits as the sugars in fruits give them digestive problems. Sprinkle their salad with vitamin and calcium supplements at least once a week. You should also provide non-chlorinated water to the pet. Importantly, a Russian tortoise does not like being handled too much.
Captive-bred chameleons make an excellent addition to your family. The species that can change colors make fascinating pets. Changing colors provide the animal with camouflage, temperature regulation, and a means of communicating. They also change colors in response to lighting conditions, stress, or excitement. When they are happy, they adopt bright colors. A dark brown to black chameleon is a stressed pet. There are over 180 different species of chameleons, and the breeds bred for captivity are some of the easiest to care for species.
The following are some of the famous captive bred chameleons to consider keeping:
Veiled chameleons are among the most famous captive breeds ideal for newbie owners because of their less demanding needs.
The species, which originated from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, can live for up to 8 years. They can also grow to between 10 and 24 inches. Females tend to be much smaller than their male counterparts. They are called veiled chameleons because of the sizeable helmet-like structure on their heads. These pets can look in any direction without turning their heads or shifting their bodies because each eye can rotate 180 degrees. Veiled chameleons are incredibly territorial and should be kept alone. However, they are docile with humans and are hardiest and easy to care for pet reptiles. Habitats should be spacious and well ventilated. Besides, ideal habitats should be constructed of mesh or screen. You can feed the pet a well-balanced diet consisting of crickets, roaches, waxworms, and mealworms. Additionally, supplement their diet with dark, leafy vegetables like pothos, ficus leaves, and collard greens. Chameleons rely on moisture on plants for water. Consequently, you should mist plants within their habitat at least 4 to 5 times a day. Feed the reptile daily and ensure to sprinkle their food with calcium and multivitamin supplements once a week.
Jackson’s chameleons, originated from East Africa and come with prehistoric looks. The chameleons are the easiest breeds to look after as they are resilient, docile, and hardy. The reptiles are born with deep brown color but develop a bright green hue once they reach four months. The males have three horns, while the females have none. Jackson’s chameleons reach an adult size of 8 to 12 inches. The males can live for 8 to 10 years while the females live for 3 to 5 years. Only one adult chameleon should be housed in an enclosure. Males are very territorial and are known to fight a lot.
A spacious and well-ventilated enclosure with enough branches and vines should be provided for the animal. The reptiles are cold-blooded and thus require ambient temperatures of between 75 degrees and 87 degrees. You should also provide a full-spectrum UV light for optimal health. Chameleons are insectivores that enjoy plant and insect-based diets. You can feed them flies, grasshoppers, roaches, mealworms. Provide plenty of drinking water and maintain a humid condition of at least 50 percent in their housing.
FAQs on Reptiles as Pets
What is UVB light, and does my reptile need it?
UVB is an ultra-violate light that is crucial for all living animals. The UVB light enables the body to synthesize vitamin D3 that is crucial in the metabolism of calcium. Without UVB light, reptiles cannot use calcium in their diet and may resort to getting it from their bones, resulting in a horde of health problems.
Can my pet bite?
All animals can bite when they feel threatened or sacred. They can also bite if they mistake some parts of your body for food. You should not handle any reptile too aggressively. You should also learn to know when the animal is stressed and agitated. The reptiles covered in this article are docile and rarely bite.
Do reptiles carry salmonella?
Yes, several reptiles have salmonella bacteria in their digestive tract. However, you are more likely to get salmonella from uncooked food than from your reptiles. Of the 50,000 causes of disease confirmed each year in the US, only a small percent is attributed to reptiles.
What is the essential part of keeping reptile?
Different types of reptiles have different care needs. Before you bring home a reptile, ensure you have done enough research to provide the best care.
Reptiles are popular pets because they are docile and easy to care for. The pets are also quiet, odorless, and adapt quickly to different habitats and lifestyles. However, before you rush and bring home any reptile, it is essential to identify the ideal species that suits your lifestyle.