What Reptiles Can You Keep As Pets? 7 Reptiles to Consider

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Pets are now essential parts of most households. They teach people across all ages empathy, responsibility, and confidence.

Moreover, with the psychological issues affecting different people, pets offer a good option for people to relate with and reduce their mental stress.

Even so, a lot of people pick pets only to lose them a few years later. This is primarily because they are ill-prepared for the care needs of the pets. To avoid being part of the ill-prepared pet owners, you should make the right choice of a pet the first time.

Reptiles are among the most popular pets. These are vertebrates distinguished from other animals by their dry and scaly skin. They also often lay eggs on land for reproduction and include some of the oldest animal species.

Reptiles are among the best pets because of their mostly colorful bodies, attractive appearance, and excellent socialization skills.

Moreover, reptiles have lived in diverse natural habitats through the years and adapted to various environmental conditions. As such, they are relatively easy to care for and do not have as strict dietary restrictions as most animals.

With the wide range of reptiles available for pets, you might make the wrong choice without some guidance. The following are guidelines on some of the best reptiles for you to choose as pets.

Snake

If you are looking for a legless animal friend, a snake is among your best alternatives. The primary challenge for most snake owners is the animal’s diet. Snakes often prefer whole prey like rats or mice that are pre-killed.

Thankfully, you need not hunt for these with the many varieties available in pet stores nowadays. Moreover, you can feed your pet snake once a week without it starving.

This also makes the snake an ideal option for people who travel a lot since you can leave it without a sitter. The leading options for pet snakes are ball pythons and corn snakes. But why should you go for these two?

  • Corn snakes: These are beautiful, docile snakes that are among the easiest to look after. Corn snakes reach adult lengths of 3-5 feet and have life expectancies of at least ten years. Even so, they are quite good escape artists. It would help if you thus had a cage with a good lid to contain the snake.
  • Ball pythons: These small constricting snakes are easy to care for and docile. They nonetheless are fussy eaters, so you should settle for a captive-bred ball python used to feeding on readily killed prey. The ball python lives for 20-30 years. It is considered the kindest pet snake and can even be petted by kids.

Lizard

Some of the lizards in pet stores intimidate pet owners because of their large sizes and specific care needs. Even so, lizards have relaxed temperaments, are generally independent, and need minimal cleaning after.

Moreover,  they can hunt the bugs in your environment. This means with a pet lizard, you can reduce bug populations without exposing your household to toxic insecticides.The best lizard species for beginner pet owners are the bearded dragons and frill-necked lizards. Here are tidbits on what these lizards are:

  • Bearded dragons: These are so-named because of the loose skins around their necks that resemble beards. The skin puffs when a bearded dragon is excited or frightened. The bearded dragon is an Australian native that reaches an adult length of 18-24 inches and makes a docile pet.
  • Frill-necked lizard: This has a spectacular frill around its neck that opens when the animal feels threatened. Frill-necked lizards live for 10-15 years in captivity. They are very calm animals that grow to adult lengths of 2-3 feet. They are, however, not so easy to find in pet stores.

Gecko

This is a small or medium-sized lizard that lives in warm environments. Most gecko species are nocturnal and will thus be most active at night. Fortunately, they are not very vocal and will not disturb your sleep.

Geckos are peaceful reptiles but might be aggressive if you house two males together. The most common pet gecko species is the leopard gecko. This is so-named because of its striking black spots on a yellow body that resemble a leopard’s.

Leopard geckos are insectivores that thrive on mealworms, crickets, super worms, and waxworms. You can feed them thrice weekly.

Leopard geckos grow to adult lengths of 8-12 inches and live for about 20 years. Crested geckos are also becoming quite popular. They can be fed on a powder called CGD (crested gecko diet) and should be kept in a humidified cage.

Chameleon

Chameleons make fascinating pets with their color-changing ability. However, they are not the best choices for beginner pet owners because they have very specific care needs and are stressed easily.

Chameleons are arboreal, meaning that they exclusively live on trees. Therefore, they need cages that are large enough to move around in and have ample foliage for climbing or privacy. The cages should also have branches of different sizes and the right temperature settings for your chameleon breed.

The largest pet chameleon species you can pick is about 27 inches while the smallest is five inches. They live for 3-10 years. Pet chameleons should be kept alone because they are solitary creatures.

Moreover, males can be particularly aggressive towards each other when kept in the same cage. Chameleons thrive on insect diets. Super worms, roaches, mealworms, and waxworms are ideal alternatives for your pet’s diet.

You can also offer the chameleon fruits and vegetables in small amounts. The veiled, panther, and Jackson’s chameleons are the prevalent species for pets.

Iguana

These are natives of Central and South America. Though they are among the popular reptile pets, iguanas need high levels of care. They can grow up to seven feet long and weigh twenty pounds.

As such, you can only temporarily house a baby iguana in a cage. Most iguana owners choose to build customized habitats for their pets.

The ideal enclosure for housing one iguana has a height of eight feet, length of 12 feet, and width of six feet.  The cage should include lots of branches, shelves, and ramps that your tree-dwelling iguana can climb.

In the wild, iguanas are strict herbivores. Include fruits, dark leafy greens, and quality pelleted commercial feeds to mirror this diet. Animal proteins and insects can cause kidney issues in your pet iguana.

Remember that iguanas will not chew their food. It would help if you hence shredded or chopped the food into small pieces for easy digestion. You can expect to live with the iguana for 10-20 years.

Turtles

Getting a turtle as a pet requires a lot of commitment. Though fascinating, quiet, and undemanding, turtles are not as interactive or cuddly as other pets.

They are not the best picks for children since most species can become very aggressive when handled excessively or improperly. With a lifespan of 20-30 years and sometimes longer, these pets can outlive you.

When considering pet turtles, some of your best options are the red-eared slider and the African side neck turtles. Here is some information on these turtle species.

  • Red-eared slider: This is the most friendly turtle species. It is widely available and quite active. Its adult length is about 12 inches. Though often housed indoors, red-eared slider turtles can also be kept in an outdoor pond. Ensure the cage or pond you choose for your pet has the best filtration system because this turtle is quite messy.
  • African side neck: This aquatic turtle has a distinct long neck that cannot be fully retracted into its shell. It grows to lengths of 6-9 inches but needs a tank with a capacity of not less than 70 gallons because it loves swimming. The temperature in the African side neck turtle’s environment should not fall below 70 degrees Celsius. This makes an indoor environment the best choice for it.

Tortoise

Pet tortoises are popular because of their docile and quiet nature. They live for 50-100 years and make the perfect choices for someone looking for a pet that will last a lifetime or even outlive them.

Though most adult tortoises are too large for you to handle, it is not advisable to handle them even when they are small. This is because handling can stress the animal or lead to disease transmission.

Owing to their large sizes, tortoises are generally housed outdoors. You can warm the outdoor enclosure or bring your pet indoors in cold weather since tortoises are ill-suited for cold conditions. The red-footed, Greek, and Hermann’s tortoise species are the best options for pets.

Conclusion

The care needs of reptiles will vary even among animals in the same family. As such, before picking one of the above reptiles, take time to study the best species for your pet then be well-versed with the care needs of that species.

It might take time to precisely understand what your pet needs, but thankfully, reptiles are quite resilient. You can get a pet reptile from pet stores, animal shelters, rescue groups, or reptile shows.

Though most reptiles are bred in captivity, some are illegally captured then sold as pets. Research your pet’s origin before taking it home to ensure you are not encouraging irresponsible or illegal animal trade practices.

Reptiles - Updated: August 31, 2020

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