Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplash
Lizards are interesting reptiles that are completely hypoallergenic. They don’t shed their hair like furry creatures.
While many lizards are wild, most of them are a perfect selection for pets simply because of their reputation for being exotic and a little bit mysterious. Most of them are easy to care for, but there is a lot to consider before getting a pet lizard.
I’ve put together everything you need to know about owning a lizard, such as the best type, the ideal habitat, and how to feed one. By the end of this post, you will be a well-informed pet lizard parent.
Let’s Learn Some Basics About Lizards
Before we get into the things you need to know about owning a lizard, you should first know a few basic things about these reptiles.
All lizards have scales and tails. Scales are the tough outer layer of skin that all lizards have to keep them protected from predators and from drying out.
Most lizards have four legs, but there is one distinct lizard that is legless, a scheltopusik or glass lizard. It looks like a snake, but it has an ear hole, which lizards have and snakes do not.
When it is time to reproduce, many lizards lay eggs. Some of these reptiles give live birth like the Chinese crocodile lizards.
Lizards can climb or even swim. Geckos, for instance, are amazing climbers. They can even climb up and down a slippery glass, thanks to their special toes covered in tiny hairs that help them grip onto things and then let go when they want to move.
These reptiles can hide out in plain sight or be very bright. Male collared lizards are an attractive shade of blue, especially during mating season. While some lizards are colored to stand out, others use their color to blend in with the surrounding environment.
When it’s warm, lizards usually bask in the sun, but some stay hidden until winter is done. Reptiles in general are ectothermic, which means they cannot keep their bodies at the same temperature all the time.
They can crawl under a rock to cool off or expose their bodies to the sun to keep warm. Lizards that live in a region with cold winters will find a place to hide and slow down their bodies until spring when it is warm.
What Type of Lizard Should You Get?
Now that you have an idea of what a lizard is, your next concern should be the type of lizard that’s right for you. I have selected a few amazing options that you could potentially consider in case you decide to get into the pet lizard hobby and pet care.
A bearded dragon is a lizard that usually displays a beard-like extension of the throat when threatened. The option that is most readily available in the pet trade is the inland bearded dragon.
Is a bearded dragon the right pet lizard for you? When we consider all the lizards that we are looking at, the bearded dragon is probably the best one for handling. For one thing, it is a lot bigger and more robust compared to other pet lizards.
This reptile is quite impressive. It is attractive, active, entertaining, naturally tame—with few exceptions—and relatively easy to keep. You can stick one on your shoulder and it will still be there after an hour.
There are a few downsides, of course. The bearded dragon’s diet is a little bit more specialized. It will need fresh greens, insect feeders, as well as nutritional supplements daily.
It will also need the most expensive lighting, which is UVB lighting. You’ll need a UV bulb, at least every six months, depending on the type that you get. You can learn more about the bearded dragon over at Reptiles Life, which is a treasure trove for reptile pet enthusiasts.
This is a small ground-dwelling lizard that’s known for its distinctive movable eyelids and fat tail.
Leopard geckos have been selectively bred in the pet trade for their colors and patterns. Mostly, they are spotted like leopards. But through captive breeding, you will find them in different colors and patterns.
One of the coolest things about these lizards is their ear canal. They have a very strange one in that if you put a flashlight on one end, you could see right out of its ear.
For a lot of you, especially beginners, a leopard gecko could be the ultimate kids’ pet lizard. They are just adorable and will hardly scare anyone. These little guys are super docile and will tolerate being handled. They are not going to jump, bite, or get scared easily.
They are also pretty low-maintenance and very easy to keep. They are going to need insect feeders, which could be a hitch for some people. But compared to bearded dragons, leopard geckos don’t need to eat a whole lot of insects. These pets will also need moderate heating and inexpensive housing.
Blue Tongued Skinks
This is the largest lizard in the skink family. A blue-tongued skink has a tubular, long body with a short tail and short legs.
Its unique and coolest feature is the bright blue tongue. These reptiles use the blue tongue to scare off a potential predator. They like staying underneath the ground. The distinctive pattern on the back blends into the leaf litter.
Although larger than some pet lizards, blue-tongued skinks are surprisingly easy to handle. You can hold one in your hand, and it will stay there until you place it down. They are very unlikely to bite, which is good because they pack a powerful little bite. They don’t scratch probably because of their tiny little legs.
These lizards are easy to care for. For starters, they are easy to feed. They will eat a lot of things that are readily available at your local stores, including fruits and vegetables. But they tend to poop a lot, so be careful when handling one.
They need a very moderate temperature for their basking spot, preferably in the high 90 degrees. This is very nice considering that many reptiles would need higher basking temperatures.
What to Consider When Looking for a Pet Lizard
The pet lizards mentioned above are just a few popular examples that beginners will find easy to handle and care for. But, if you walk into a pet store, you will come across many lizard species and you have to be able to pick one.
Here are some useful tips that will make the selection process very easy:
How much can you spend? We aren’t just talking about the actual price of the pet lizard you want to buy. You also need to factor in the cost of supplies, and then, decide if the overall cost is within your budget.
Hopefully, you already have the enclosure set up before you buy your lizard. This way, you will know how much money you have remaining.
Wild Caught or Captive Bred
The next important thing you need to find out is whether that pet lizard is wild-caught or captive-bred. If the lizard is captive-bred, then it means someone already had a male and female that they used to breed the lizard you might buy. Wild-caught lizards, on the other hand, are caught from their native land.
Wild-caught pet lizards might be harder to tame and could be parasite-ridden, less healthy, and less likely to get used to captivity. So, it is always more convenient for beginners to go for captive-bred reptiles.
Easy to Handle and Docile
It is always good to find out the temperament of the pet lizard. We recommend that you request to handle the lizard. If the pet store owner refuses, then that’s an indication that the lizard is probably unfriendly and not very easy to tame.
Caring for Pet Lizards
The basic setup needs for your pet lizard are pretty simple.
You need a good enclosure, bedding, and water, some form of heat and lighting (UVB bulb). Some species need climbing branches, whereas others need a hide box. Regardless of where you build a home for your lizard, you have to avoid windows and doors to dodge those drafts.
The effectiveness of your care depends most on the setup. When you get it right, all you have to do is feed it and provide clean water. Most pet lizards are not very dirty. So, you may have to clean the setup once or twice a week.
There are two ways to feed pet lizards, depending on which one you get. Carnivores mostly eat mealworms and crickets. Omnivores, on the other hand, eat bugs as well as veggies. Also, all lizards should get vitamin supplements at least twice a week.
This guide has covered everything you need to know about owning a lizard. Remember, you must be able to cover the upfront costs, can train and tame your lizard, and can handle and provide the care it needs. If you are in the market for a low-key pet, a lizard might be just what you are looking for.