If you’re thinking of adding a pet to your home, and considering pet lizards for beginners, then there are many things to consider.
Every type of pet needs their own space and if you live in a small apartment or house, then you might find owning a reptile quite challenging. Not all lizards are suitable as pets, but these 7 are great for beginners (mostly).
Things to Consider Before Buying a Lizard
Although not an exhaustive list of considerations, the questions below are a good starting point.
- Will the new pet have enough space?
- Are there other pets in the house that might not get on with a lizard?
- Will the family be okay with it?
- Are they willing to feed and clean up after an exotic pet?
- What types of pet lizards am I interested in?
- What types of lizards are available to own where I live?
Pertinent Information for Lizards Before Buying One
- Some lizards grow up to 7-feet length and live for multiple decades.
- Many lizards are docile creatures, but others become aggressive when agitated. If you have other pets, consider whether they will make good housemates for your new lizard. Some will tolerate dogs and cats, but others get nervous and may try to injure themselves (or others).
- If you have family members who are skittish toward reptiles, a pet lizard may not be the best pet choice.
- Like all pets, lizards do require regular cleaning. Keeping animals in a confined space caused litter to accumulate. Unclean conditions may cause health issues for your pets and for you.
Please research whether there are particular breeds or species of lizards with certain restrictions where you live. Some may be considered invasive or protected and have regulations surrounding keeping them as pets.
Ackies monitors are among the best lizards for pets and a great first lizard for beginners. They are easy to care for, and these large lizards can live for up to 15 years. They are not as aggressive as other lizards, so they make great pets for children who want to learn about lizards.
Ackies monitors are easy to care for, and they are unlikely to bite. With the right care, you can enjoy years of friendship with your monitor lizard. In the wild, Ackies monitors live in forests and woodlands in South Africa. They eat mostly insects, but they can also eat smaller reptiles.
In the wild, they are most active at night, but they can be active during the day in captivity.
How big do Ackies monitors get? Up to 2 feet or more
How big does the enclosure need to be? 5 feet long, 3 feet wide, 4 feet tall
If you have children and want to get them into reptiles, a gecko is a great place to start. Geckos make great pet lizards for beginners. They are very easy to keep and are good little pets to keep in a classroom or room as they are very quiet.
These small lizards are nocturnal and more active at night, but they can also be seen during the day.
Geckos eat crickets or mealworms, and you can either buy them frozen or buy them live, which kids can have fun catching. They don’t smell and they make a minimal mess of their living conditions with a regular cleaning schedule, which makes them wonderful pet lizards for kids.
There are many different kinds of geckos, but Leopard geckos are the most common.
How big do Leopard geckos get? Up to 1 foot but likely less
How big does the enclosure need to be? 3 feet square
The Bearded Dragon is a very popular lizard for beginners. This is because they have a very calm temperament, they are easy to care for, and they are easy to handle.
Bearded Dragons can grow up to a foot long, and they live for around 10 years, though some are known to live as long as 15. Bearded Dragons eat a variety of insects and greens.
You should feed them crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches, as well as some leafy greens.
Many lizard species are nocturnal and prefer to remain hidden in daytime hours. Bearded Dragons are active during the day. That characteristic makes them among the best pet lizards for beginners.
How big do Bearded Dragons get? Up to 1 foot, but likely less
How big does the enclosure need to be? 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, 4 feet tall
Red-eyed Crocodile Skink
If you are interested in owning a skink, the red-eyed crocodile skink is a great choice. Caring for them is easy, and they are social lizards, so you can keep more than one in the same tank.
Skinks are nocturnal, so they are more active at night, but they can also be seen during the day.
Skinks are great small pet lizards for beginners and experienced reptile keepers.
How big do Red-eyed Crocodile Skinks get? Up to 3 inches
How big does the enclosure need to be? At least a 20-gallon size (in volume)
If you want to get a lizard, but you are worried about the space they will take up, the Rankin’s dragon is a great choice. It is a small lizard, growing between 6 inches and 10 inches long.
They eat insects, so you need to feed them crickets or roaches, and they like greens, but you can feed them kale or collard greens.
You need to keep Rankin’s lizards warm, so you need to keep their tank warm, and you should use a heat light. They are nocturnal, so you don’t want to keep them in a brightly lit room during the day.
They are good pet lizards for beginners and, as social lizards, you can keep more than one in the same tank.
How big do the Rankin’s Dragon get? Up to 1 foot
How big does the enclosure need to be? 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, 2 feet tall
If you are interested in buying a skink, the blue-tongued skink is one of the best lizards to keep.
They are easy to care for and is social, so you can keep multiples in the same tank. You can also keep them in groups with other skinks or blue-tongued skinks.
Blue-tongued skinks are nocturnal, but they are sometimes active and visible during the day. They do not like a lot of holding, so if you’re looking for a lizard to hold in your lap blue-tongued skinks are not good candidates.
How big do Blue-Tongued Skinks get? Up to 1 foot
How big does the enclosure need to be? 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, 2 feet tall
Green Basilisk Lizard
The green basilisk lizard is a very unusual lizard. It is a medium sized lizard, and can live for up to 10 years.
They are a borderline lizard for beginners and may be more appropriate for an intermediate lizard keeper. It’s definitely inappropriate for a first-time pet owner, but if you’ve kept other pets successfully and take the time to learn about the basilisk species, it can be a good candidate.
They are extremely active lizards and do not normally like to be handled a lot. When they are handled it should be by an adult, or an experienced child who is familar with lizards and only under close adult supervision.
Basilisk lizards eat crickets, roaches, and mealworms, but you can also feed them chopped up greens. You do not want to keep them in bright conditions during the day, since they are nocturnal.
How big does a Green Basilisk Lizard get? Up to 3 feet
How big does the enclosure need to be? 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, 3 feet tall
Learn more about the Green Basilisk Lizard
Other Lizards for Consideration
Some lizards on this list below for additional research are on the expensive side for a beginning pet, but if you have some experience keeping other reptiles, and have the budget for it, they are viable pets.
- Gargoyle Gecko
- Crested Gecko
- Frilled Dragon
- Panther Chameleon
- African Fire Skink
What do lizards eat?
Most pet lizards eat a variety of insects and vegetables. In the wild, lizard diets can vary. Some pet lizards are insectivores and others are herbivores. A combination of both insects and vegetables are typical for lizards kept as pets.
Pet Lizards for Beginners – Conclusion
When shopping for pet lizards for sale, you have many choices. This curated list barely scratches the surface on what’s available in the reptile pet trade. A few lizards on the list are also among the top 10 reptile pets for beginners.
When you decide on the right lizard for you, make sure that you have the right enclosure and equipment for them, and you have time to care for them.
Lizards can be great pets, and some species are a good choice for kids.
As with all pets, supervise small children around them – This protects the pet(s) and the child (children) from unintended consequences. Lizards, and many other pets, become unpredictable when agitated or when fearful.