A Beginner's Guide to Pet Reptiles

Illustration of best reptiles for beginners

Reptiles may make wonderful pets, but novice owners may become discouraged when they learn how costly and challenging certain reptiles are to maintain. Unfortunately, a lot of pet store customers return home with inaccurate or even partial knowledge about how to properly care for the reptiles they have purchased. As a result, when an owner learns what it takes to take care of their pets, they are caught off guard and unprepared. Unmet expectations and improper reptile care advice can lead to a negative experience for the owner and even lead to the reptile's demise.

Best Reptiles for Beginners

Due to their food, habitat requirements, or awkward adult size, certain reptiles are bad selections for novices. Some easily accessible reptiles, nevertheless, are suitable for novices. Compared to other reptiles, these creatures require less upkeep, but they still require a sizable initial investment in the right tools. It is essential to conduct careful study before selecting one of these creatures and to set up your cage before taking your new pet home.


Unfortunately, the iguana, one of the most popular lizard species offered in pet shops, is not a good choice for novices. They are not the best pets due to their size, propensity to become violent when mature, and particular nutritional and environmental requirements. Other lizards, like Chinese water dragons, have highly particular needs in terms of temperature, humidity, lighting, nutrition, and special bulbs that release UVA and UVB rays. A few lizards stand out for being particularly good for novices, though.

  • Leopard Geckos: considered by many to be the ideal lizards for beginners since they are and easy to care for. A 15-20 gallon tank is large enough for an adult leopard gecko, and even though they are nocturnal and do not need specialized (UVA/UVB) lighting, it is recommend to get a low level UVB light since geckos can benefit from the rays. They are insectivores and should be fed a variety of insects. They are also quite docile and easy to handle.
  • Bearded Dragons: These are probably the most challenging of the beginner reptiles listed here, mostly due to the equipment needed to keep them. These Australian natives reach a size of 18-24 inches, so they need a good-sized tank (about a 50-gallon one for an adult). are a similar species that also make good beginner pets. Both are desert dwellers, so a relatively high temperature needs to be maintained as well as exposure to UVA and UVB light (the bulbs are relatively expensive and last only about 6 months). Owners of can expect to spend a fair amount of money on the proper enclosure, but these lizards are entertaining and easily tamed. They need a diet that is a combination of insects (when young) and a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit (main diet as adults).


The nutrition requirements for snakes are the largest challenge for many owners. Owners of the most popular types of snakes must be willing to give them complete prey, such mice or rats (pre-killed is preferred). The benefit of leaving a snake alone for a few days without a pet sitter is that they often only need to be fed once a week or less. Additionally, they don't need UVA or UVB lamps.

  • Corn Snakes: These beautiful snakes are docile and easy to care for. They reach an adult length of only three to five feet or so and can be expected to live 10 years or more. are excellent escape artists and need an enclosure with a tight-fitting lid, though!
  • Ball Pythons: A snake, are usually quite docile and easy to care for. They do have a reputation for refusing to eat so potential owners should be persistent in finding a healthy captive bred ball python (you may even want to ask for a feeding demonstration to ensure the snake will readily take killed mice). Ball pythons can be expected to live a long life (20-30 years) and are possibly the most common kind of pet snake.


Thankfully, the notion of selling turtles—especially red-eared sliders—as fantastic kids' pets appears to have waned. Children tend to find aquatic turtles to be somewhat dull since they grow to be fairly huge and filthy. Meeting the housing and environmental requirements of the majority of turtles may be quite difficult (aquatic turtles and tortoises). Choosing to purchase a turtle involves a lot of planning and dedication.

  • Eastern Box Turtles: These turtles live a long time, but they do not get large like a lot of tortoises. They do not have the aquatic requirements like red-eared sliders have therefore they have less maintenance. live in varied climates, so they are quite adaptable and are omnivores, so they eat both plants and insects.