Top 5 Reptiles and amphibians for kids


Top 5 Reptiles and amphibians for kids

Author: Dr Laurie Hess, Dipl ABVP(Avian Practice)

Certain reptiles and amphibians can make great pets, but some of these animals are complicated to keep and not all are suitable for children.

If you’re allergic to feathers or fur, or you’re looking for an attention-seeking pet that barely needs to leave the pen, these incredible reptiles and amphibians may be an excellent choice for you. With proper adult supervision, older children can learn to care for these animals and develop an appreciation for nature’s diversity.

Here are five of the best reptiles and amphibians for families with children:

As lizards go, these animals are relatively easy to care for and handle. These yellow/brown to orange or red lizards get their name from their ability to expand the skin on their throats when upset or stressed. They can grow to a foot to two feet long, from nose to tip of tail, and live an average of seven to 10 years.

The lizards should be housed in glass jars heated with an outside lamp so that the temperature in the sunbathing area (the area set up for pets to bask in the sun) is 90 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and around 70 degrees Fahrenheit in cooler areas. They should be provided with branches or logs to climb on, as well as full-spectrum lamps with UV-B/UV-A bulbs to enable them to synthesize vitamin D3 in their skin, thereby absorbing calcium from food. In order to retain moisture and allow them to peel properly, they should be sprayed daily with water to absorb moisture through their skin. They should also be provided with a shallow bowl of water that they can climb into if they wish.

Bearded dragons should be fed live crickets and mealworms, frozen and thawed pinkies or furry mice (rubbed with supplemental calcium powder at least twice a week), plus a variety of chopped vegetables including kale, collard greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, peppers and shredded carrots. They should also add a multivitamin supplement to their food twice a month. If handled regularly, bearded dragons can be quite docile and very interactive.


These lizards are named for their yellow skin, which is initially covered with brown stripes that eventually fade to spots as they age. They grow up to a foot long and can live for eight to 10 years with proper care. These geckos live in glass jars with rocks to climb and a bowl of shallow water to soak in. They should be given a moist stash box with moss or vermiculite and sprayed daily to provide humidity and promote normal skin shedding. They should provide a hot bulb outside the tank to keep the temperature from the 90 degrees Fahrenheit basking zone to the 70 degrees Fahrenheit cold zone, at the farthest bulb.

Even though leopard geckos are nocturnal in the wild, indoor living leopard geckos should also be provided with a full-spectrum UV-A/UV-B bulb to properly synthesize vitamin D3 and absorb calcium.

Leopard geckos should be fed live crickets daily to every other day, and occasionally live mealworms, waxworms, or other insects rich in vitamins before feeding them. Insects are also dusted with calcium powder before feeding the geckos. Older geckos can be fed with frozen and thawed pinky mice. These lizards are easy to handle and usually gentle, making them the reptiles of choice for families.

Corn snake

These orange to reddish-brown snakes make great family pets because they are easy to handle and can live into their 20s if cared for properly. They’re big enough not to be too fragile, but not too big to be intimidating. Although they can grow to four to six feet long, they are generally easier to deal with than many pythons and pythons because they don’t grow as wide as other snakes.

These snakes should be kept alone in glass fish tanks with escape proof LIDS, at least one stash box (such as a hollow log or PVC pipe) for them to feel safe, and branches for them to climb. They should be equipped with a hot bulb outside the tank to provide warm areas of 85 degrees Fahrenheit and cold areas of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Moist peat moss or paper towels should be provided, sprayed and replaced regularly to prevent mold growth to ensure adequate humidity for proper shedding.

While snakes consume calcium when they eat the bones of their prey, they usually perform better if they are provided with a few hours of full-spectrum UVB/UVA light each day to ensure they experience the diurnal and seasonal cycles. Paper bedding, such as shredded paper or commercially produced compressed recycled paper pellets, is ideal for bedding, not wood shavings or walnut shells, as paper can be digested when eaten, while ingesting wood or walnut shells can cause gastrointestinal obstruction. Sand should also not be used as bedding, as it can also cause intestinal blockages if ingested.

Corn snake feed should be freshly killed or frozen and thawed rodents. Never offer live prey, as they can bite snakes and can cause fatal infections in your pet. Baby snakes can be fed to mice, while adult snakes can be fed to rats or mice. Young snakes should be fed every 5-7 days, while adults should be fed every 7-10 days. The water should be placed in a shallow, undetachable bowl large enough to soak. Corn snakes are best handled two to three days after feeding, after they start digesting their food, not before they get hungry again, as hungry snakes may be cranky and more likely to bite. Under gentle restraint, these snakes can become very docile and respond easily to the touch of their owners.


These tortoises (tortoises that live on land rather than in water) are active and usually like to eat. They are also small, growing no more than 8 to 10 inches long, and the females are slightly larger than the males. With proper care, they can live to be over 40 years old. Ideally, these heat-loving reptiles would be housed in a warmer climate; In more temperate areas, however, they can be housed in well-ventilated glass jars, screen tops or large plastic bins with ventilated tops. The opaque (rather than transparent) shell sometimes prevents the tortoise from pacing or crashing into the tank walls. Heat can be provided by a standard heat bulb, an infrared (red) heat bulb, or a ceramic heat emitter to keep it at 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the rest of the housing no lower than 80 degrees. Full-spectrum bulbs that provide UVB light are essential for these reptiles to synthesize vitamin D3 and subsequently metabolize dietary calcium properly.

Russian turtles love to dig and burrow, so they must be given deep substrates such as recycled paper pellet products or shredded paper. Other substrates, such as rabbit pellets or cypress mulch, can be used if replaced frequently to prevent mold growth. A hidden box, such as an upside-down half log or wooden box, can provide shelter and safety.

These animals are desert species and tend not to consume much water. They should soak in shallow water several times a week to stay hydrated, and they should have a shallow basin of clean water to drink if they wish.

Russian tortoises are herbivores and eat a variety of dark leafy greens, including romaine lettuce, kale, carrot tops, collard greens, mustard greens and beet leaves, with small amounts of carrots, squash and bell peppers. Small amounts of fruit, such as apples, bananas, pears and berries, can be eaten as an occasional snack, but should not make up more than 10% of the diet.

Commercial turtle feed can also be used with vegetables and fruits. Fresh grass and hay can also be provided. Our goal is to provide as much variety in our diet as possible. Sprinkle the food lightly with calcium powder every other day, and sprinkle with calcium powder containing vitamin D on the days in between. In addition, food should be dusted with multivitamin powder twice a month. Generally, as long as their feet remain in contact with solid surfaces, these gentle reptiles love to be handled and are very calm pets.


In general, amphibians are often more difficult to care for than most reptiles, so most amphibians are not suitable for families with children. However, Pac-frogs can make great pets if kept properly. These South American amphibians, also known as Argentine or Ornate Horned frogs, come in a variety of colors (yellow, green, orange, and brown) and patterns (stripes and spots), growing from a quarter inch to 2.5 to 4 inches long for males and 4 to 8 inches long for females after a year and a half. With proper care, these frogs can live up to 15 years.

Pac-frogs should be housed alone in 10 to 20 gallon plastic or glass jars with screened LIDS and damp substrate (leaf litter or peat moss), as well as hiding spots, such as behind live plants. These frogs like to dig holes with only their eyes above the ground; Therefore, the tank substrate should be deep. A shallow water dish can also be provided for them to soak in, but should be changed daily to avoid smudging.

The temperature of the tank should be maintained between 72 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. These frogs may dry out and overheat when dehydrated, so if a heating element is necessary to keep the tank temperature up, a tank under heating pad or a red or purple, low watt-hour night bulb is best. Daily sprays and the provision of damp (but not wet) bedding help them retain moisture. Providing UV for this species is controversial because these wild frogs are usually buried under leaves on the forest floor. However, if the tank is taller than 6 inches, compact 5.0 fluorescent lights are recommended to aid in vitamin D formation and calcium metabolism.

Pac-frog loves to eat and will overeat if given the chance. Generally, they eat mostly crickets and cockroaches, but can also eat live mealworms, waxworms, silkworms, earthworms, fish eaters, and even frozen and thawed baby mice, live caterpillars, grasshoppers, and snails. Food should be dusted with calcium powder to supplement vitamin D3, and food should be dusted with multivitamin powder once a week. Very large adult Pac-frogs should not be fed daily or they will become obese.

As amphibians, Pac-frogs have thin, fragile skin that dries out quickly and is easily damaged if treated rudely. They also absorb toxins and bacteria through the skin, so handling them should be kept to a minimum, and when handling them, you should only touch them with wet gloves, not bare skin.