11 Great pet reptiles for beginners

Beginner pet reptile - Bearded Dragon

11 Great pet reptiles for beginners

  As reptiles became more and more popular as pets
In the last few decades, many species have become available
Hobbyists proliferate.

  There must be hundreds of varieties that the average amateur can use regularly. This is excellent for experienced keepers who have the necessary skills and knowledge to care for unknown alien species, but it can often make things more difficult for beginners.

  Beginner pet reptile - Bearded Dragon

Many existing species require careful care and are difficult for novice breeders to provide, while others are notoriously bad-tempered or require food that is hard to come by.

  But don’t worry, there are many kinds of dogs that really do make great pets for beginners. Below we share 11 of the best reptiles for beginners. We’ll also talk about some of the new breeders that I think are "on the edge of beginner fit".

  Here are our favorite reptiles. Just remember that we are all different individuals with different preferences and skills. So set yourself up for success by choosing a species that fits your personality perfectly.

  Bearded dragon pet

Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are generally considered one of the best reptiles for beginners, and it’s easy to see why.

  For one thing, bearded dragons are pretty big (most grow to 18 to 24 inches long) and don’t grow too big to keep.

  Usually voracious predators, they don’t have many feeding challenges, and they are one of the most docile species in the entire reptile feeding hobby.

  Bearded dragons are also readily available in captive-bred form. In fact, breeders in North America and Europe only have access to captive-bred individuals because Australia does not allow the export of native wildlife.

  Also, breeders breed bearded dragons in a variety of different colors, so breeders have a lot of options when it comes to picking specific lizards.

  However, they do present some challenges.

  Bearded dragons need full-spectrum lighting to stay healthy, and their impressive appetite means they produce equally impressive waste. So, you’ll find it necessary to clean up your dragon’s habitat every day.

  Pet Leopard gecko in Tank

If you were to survey every "best reptile for beginners" article, the leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) would probably be the winner.

  I wouldn’t argue with that, except to say they’re insect-eating lizards, which means they need a little more care than corn snakes or ball pythons.

  The leopard gecko is also a little small.

  This is great for parents who are eager for their son or daughter to get a pet that doesn’t take up too much space. But it also means you’ll have to handle this lizard much more gently than a lizard twice its size.

  All that aside, the leopard gecko is almost ideal. They are easy to feed, they are nocturnal, generally very docile lizards and usually require fairly simple habitat Settings.

  Some seem easy to handle and may even crawl into your hands semi-voluntarily. Leopard geckos breed in incredible numbers, so they’re easy to find. You can even get all kinds of beautiful color variations.

  Corn snake

Suffice it to say: The corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) is the best reptile for beginners.

  All else being equal, snakes are easier to feed than lizards or tortoises, they are easier to handle than their legged counterparts, and their metabolisms are slower than most non-snake animals.

  Corn snakes meet every criterion we’ve identified before, except one: They’re not exactly nocturnal; They change their activity patterns depending on climate, food availability and other factors.

  But that doesn’t matter, because the vast majority of snakes don’t seem to need fancy lighting to thrive (which is why nocturnal species are generally more popular).

  The corn snake doesn’t even care if you light up its habitat — it just needs the light from the surrounding room.

  Thousands of corn snakes are born in captivity each year, and they are usually docile and spend their lives feeding on rodents. Corn snakes are also the ideal size, although really large snakes may reach 5 feet.

  To be honest, I don’t have much to say about these horrible snakes.

  Ball python care

The only reason I think corn snakes are better for beginners than ball pythons (Python regius) is because corn snakes are tropical animals and need slightly warmer temperatures.

  Other than that, ball pythons are just as good as corn snakes for beginners. They are usually docile, thrive without any special light, and they can reach the ideal size. While ball pythons caught in the wild are difficult to feed, ball pythons in captivity (which are readily available) will usually eat mice or small mice without problem.

  Also, while normal-looking ball pythons are very beautiful animals, their color and pattern variations are incredible.

  Russian tortoiseJallen98499 [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Let’s be clear: Turtles and tortoises are often one of the most challenging choices for beginners.

  That said, the Russian tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii) may be the best choice for breeders who have a single-minded interest in crustaceans.

  To start on the positive side, Russian tortoises are an ideal size for beginners, as they usually reach a straight shell length of 4 or 5 inches. Not only are they docile, many can be considered "friendly" or "outgoing" by reptile standards.

  They seem to recognize their keepers very clearly, and if you’re not careful, your Russian tortoise will chase you around, climb on your feet, and "beg" for food.

  However, they do present several key challenges that new breeders need to be willing to accept. They are diuralistic herbivores that require not only full spectrum lighting but also a carefully calibrated diet.

  But most troubling of all, they don’t reproduce regularly. Most of the Russian tortoises you see for sale are wild-caught individuals.

  Captive-bred specimens are available, and new breeders would be wise to seek them out.

  However, beginners can usually successfully use wild-caught Russian tortoises provided they are willing to work with a veterinarian to eliminate any parasites or infections, provide proper lighting, and design a proper diet.


Raising aquatic reptiles is one of the most complex tasks a beginner can attempt. In addition to learning everything you need to keep a "typical" reptile, you must also learn how to maintain an aquarium.

  However, with enough commitment and resources, beginners can (and often do) succeed with aquatic turtles.

  The musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) is probably the species with the best chance of success for beginners, but unfortunately they look rather dull, leading many to look elsewhere.

  However, the musk turtle has many advantages. They are relatively small – most have straight shells up to 4 or 5 inches in length – and very hardy.

  They’ll eat almost anything, and it’s easy to keep them healthy with a varied diet that includes pellets, bugs, fish, and some vegetables. They’re also nocturnal, which means they don’t seem to need any special lighting.

  Musk turtles are not friendly, but they are not usually aggressive. Given the layout of their bodies, even those with spines are easy to handle.


If musk turtles aren’t your cup of tea, consider painted turtles (Chrysemys picta). Painted turtles are a little more challenging to maintain, but they’re still perfect for new keepers.

  Painted turtles grow larger than musk turtles, and they are more active. That means you need to provide them with a relatively spacious tank – 50 to 100 gallon tanks are ideal.

  Of course, you’d also need a very powerful filtration system to keep all that water clean, which would greatly increase the initial cost of the habitat.

  Painted turtles need full-spectrum lighting, as well as a sunlamp to maintain the proper body temperature.

  They are generally relatively easy turtles, easy to deal with, and they are easy to feed – a variety of foods, including pellets, fish, insects and plants, usually keep them healthy.

  Red-eared turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) are very similar to painted turtles and are more readily available in the pet trade, so many people recommend them to beginners.

  However, red-eared turtles can reach larger sizes than painted turtles, creating additional, unnecessary challenges for keepers.


The blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua spp.) is an unusual looking lizard with smooth scales, a large head and relatively small legs.

  They’re named for their brightly colored tongues, which they use to scare away perceived threats. However, most blue-tongued skink are docile and easy to control in captivity.

  Bluetongue skink is omnivore and usually easy to feed. However, you will need to provide them with a range of different foods to ensure they enjoy a balanced diet.

  Generally, this means providing your pet with a combination of insects, rodents, fruits, vegetables, and commercial foods.

  It’s not entirely clear whether the bluetongue skink needs full-spectrum lighting. Some keepers provide the lizards with lights that produce UVB wavelengths, while others simply use fluorescent lamps in the lizards’ habitat.

  It may be wisest to provide full-spectrum lighting for these lizards until it becomes apparent that they don’t need it.


The common king snake (Lampropeltis getula sspp.) is perfect for beginning reptile lovers. They can reach the ideal size (most are about 3 to 5 feet long), they are very hardy animals and are usually relatively docile.

  Newly hatched calves usually release an unpleasant musky smell soon after they are handled, but most calm down and become quite docile over time.

  A small percentage of hatchlings may be difficult to feed because they prefer to prey on reptiles, but it is usually not difficult to find captive hatchlings that are happy to eat rodents.

  Like most other snakes, common king snakes thrive without any special lighting, and they will also stay comfortable in relatively small cages.

  There are several different subspecies of the common king snake, but they all thrive with relatively similar care protocols.

  The California king snake is probably the most popular among reptile lovers, but the Eastern (L. g. getula) and Florida King snakes (L. g. floridana) are interesting alternatives. Several color mutations have occurred in this species, giving keepers many different appearance options.

  LichanuraRose Boa (source)

The rose snake (Charina trivirgata) is an under-appreciated snake that is often an excellent choice for novice reptile breeders.

  Unlike some Cousins who grow too big for beginners, rose pythons can reach 3 or 4 feet in length. They are also fairly calm snakes, able to take the interactions and handling of their handlers in their stride.

  Rose pythons will thrive in relatively simple habitats, and they will stay healthy without any special lighting. They rarely have foraging problems because most individuals are aggressive predators.

  It is usually not difficult to find rose pythons in captivity, as they breed regularly. The rose snake is also an attractive animal, with longitudinal stripes — a rare pattern among common snakes.

  Also, there are several different subspecies of rose pythons, which will give you a variety of color options. They can even be in albino (non-pigmented) form.

  You will need to keep your rose boa’s habitat relatively dry, as they come from arid habitats. However, it is often easier to keep animals that need dry conditions than those that need high-humidity, rainforest-style enclosures.

  Crested dog gecko

The crested gecko (Correlophus ciliatus) is another strong contender for the title of best junior reptile.

  These lizards were only rediscovered by science in the mid-1990s, after being thought extinct for decades. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the breeder to figure out their needs and the ideal breeding regimen.

  Part of what makes crested geckos so good for newbies is that their needs are so easy to meet.

  Not only can crown geckos stay healthy without full spectrum lighting, but they’re also relatively small, so they don’t need very large enclosures or habitats.

  They can also live entirely on commercially produced food, so you don’t have to feed them insects if you don’t want to.

  Also, crested geckos thrive in relatively mild temperatures, so – depending on how warm you keep your home – you may not even need to use a heat lamp.

  These lizards are not as docile or easy to handle as bearded dragons or leopard geckos, but they are rarely defensive or prone to biting.

  Crested geckos are also attractive lizards with a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns.

  Distinguishing between reptiles suitable for beginners and those not suitable for beginners is not an arbitrary process. Reptiles have several key characteristics that make them a good choice for new breeders.

  Not every species we’ll talk about later meets all of these criteria, but they all meet some of them.

  The difference between reptiles in captivity and those captured in the wild is vast.

  Reptiles caught in the wild are always parasitized. They are constantly experiencing intense stress, and many have been doing so for weeks or months. They are often less tolerant to human interaction than captive-bred breeds, and many already have diseases before you buy them.

  As a result, captive-bred specimens are almost always preferable, especially for beginners.

  Keeping pet reptiles often saddens new breeders enough that there’s no reason to make things more challenging. So skip the ones that require ants, reptile eggs, or other hard-to-get species.

  If you’re willing to do your homework, you can choose a herbivore (designing a diet for an herbivore is more difficult), but it’s much easier to choose a reptile that feeds on crickets, mice, or pre-made commercial food.

  Nocturnal species are often a better bet for beginners than diurnal reptiles, but for an unexpected reason: Many diurnal lizards and tortoises need some sophisticated lighting to stay healthy.

  Beginners who fully enjoy a certain type of daytime pet can still succeed, but if you haven’t warmed up to a certain type of pet yet, do yourself a favor and choose a nocturnal pet. It will allow you to avoid many challenges.

  Some reptiles interact with humans in a way similar to some common birds or small mammals. They will tolerate your presence, and they may even find it stimulating or otherwise beneficial to their spirit.

  But others are using bumblebee diplomacy against humans.

  There’s nothing wrong with putting them in the latter category (assuming they’re small enough not to pose a safety hazard), but you have to treat them as "pets," just like fish. You’ll still need to interact with them from time to time, but you’ll want to do so only when necessary.

  This is not what most beginners think of when they start thinking about buying a pet reptile. So, if possible, start with domesticated species.

  Obviously, beginners should definitely avoid breeding species that become very large. Not only do large reptiles require very large shelters, but they are also expensive to maintain and often present safety concerns.

  But beginners should also avoid very small species. Very small species are often difficult to feed, they are often more fragile than medium sized species, and it is more difficult to treat their injuries or diseases.

  Also, very small reptiles heat up and cool down easily
Faster than medium-sized species. This reduces the "wobble" a little bit
More suitable species provide space.

  Simply, look for tortoises in the 4-6 inch range, lizards in the 8-24 inch range, and snakes in the 3-4 foot range.

  The 11 varieties mentioned above are certainly the best choices for beginners. However, there are some other varieties that beginners can consider. Just realize that these animals present additional challenges that most of the animals described previously do not.

  Tiger gecko – The tiger gecko (tiger gecko) is one of the hardiest reptiles, being nocturnal, perfectly built and easy to feed. But they are almost always aggressive and perfectly willing to bite (hard). Captive-bred individuals can sometimes learn to accept handling, but finding captive-bred geckos can be challenging. African Fat-tailed geckos – Almost everything you can say about leopard print geckos is about African fat-tailed geckos (half-tailed geckos). They aren’t as showy as their Asian counterparts and don’t breed often, but if you want something different, the African fat-tailed gecko is worth considering. Prairie King Snake – The Prairie King snake (Lampropeltis calligaster) is just as good for beginners as the corn snake or the regular king snake. They don’t breed very often, and their color doesn’t vary as much, but they are usually calm, easy to keep, easy to feed, and perfectly sized. Box Turtles – A million kids temporarily raise a box turtle (Terrapene spp.) found on the road, but (thankfully) most are released into the wild shortly thereafter. In fact, the only reason box turtles don’t make our top 13 is because they are less common, and most box turtles for sale are wild-caught. But box turtles in captivity are easy to raise, even though they require full-spectrum lighting. Various Tropical Tree geckos – There are many tree geckos in the pet trade (mainly Southeast Asia). Almost all are caught in the wild, and many can be flirtatious or defensive when handled. All that aside, most of these geckos are relatively easy to keep if you’re willing to receive qualified veterinary care. But if you’re willing to invest in veterinary care, you might be better off choosing captive-bred species. Note that there are also many tropical tree geckos, such as Uroplatus spp., which are not for beginners.

Obviously nothing prevents a beginner from keeping
Reptiles that are not on this list. If you want, you can just go out and buy a mata
Mata (Chelus fimbriata), Caiman lizard (Dracaena) or some
Other species with a reputation for being difficult to sustain.

  Plot warning: This is not going to go well.

  Instead, we should start by choosing a species
Then you are likely to succeed. Personally, I still like a lot
The animals on our list, I’m lucky enough to work with reptiles

  Start with a good species. Learn as much as you can about them. Do your best to give your pet the highest quality of life.