For many aspiring pet owners, the idea of snuggling up on the couch with a furry friend is usually the incentive to start looking for an animal for adoption. However, some people just don’t have the time to care for the low maintenance dog or cat. And some smaller animals that can live in enclosures may not be the best choices for other owners either. Luckily for everyone there are still plenty of options for a non-mammal companion on the market. Read on to see which reptiles make great pets according to experts.
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Reptiles may not be known for having loving personalities like dogs or cats. However, experts say that an entry-level lizard can be a very attentive friend.
“Bearded dragons are hardy reptile pets that can also be great for kids,” Pierre CabFounder and owner of Reptile Craze, tells best life. “They are easy to care for once their enclosure is properly set up. Surprisingly, they love to cuddle and go for walks. You can watch TV or play video games with your bearded dragon sitting on your lap!”
Cab adds that their omnivorous diet also makes them easy to feed, usually consisting of insects, fruits and vegetables.
There’s nothing quite like having a pet so carefree you never have to chase them around the house. Before you go out and pick up a turtle, though, experts say certain types of shelled reptiles are easier to care for than others.
“Turtles are often one of the first pet reptiles that come to mind, especially aquatic turtles like red-eared sliders. But maintaining an aquatic enclosure can be difficult… and smelly,” she says Georgina Ushi Phillipstells DVM, a practicing veterinarian and Florida-based author of The Reptile Room best life.
“Box turtles don’t need water, and these terrestrial reptiles require substrates that are much closer to what you would use for other terrestrial reptiles,” she explains. “However, box turtles need more space compared to other reptiles. And be prepared for a lifetime pet as these box turtles can live up to 50 years!”
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Snakes are arguably one of the most misunderstood members of the animal kingdom. However, the slithering reptiles actually make fantastic pets—especially a colorful variety.
“Corn snakes are one of the most popular snakes, even for novice and professional reptile owners,” says Cab. “They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and they are gentle snakes that take very well to handling.” Some corn snakes will even come to their owners when they approach their enclosure.”
They’re also pretty low maintenance when it comes to mealtimes. “They are low-maintenance snakes and not fussy eaters, so you can feed them live or frozen and thawed food.”
Some owners worry that adopting a reptile as a pet may mean spending a significant amount of real estate to house it. But a low-maintenance lizard can save space while making a great companion.
“Schaubergeckos are arboreal lizards — which means they like living in trees — and their enclosures are often taller than they are wide,” says Phillips. “Not only can this be great for saving space, but it also allows you to create beautiful enclosures that your crested gecko will love too!”
“They are relatively low maintenance, and while some live insects do best, they can make up a smaller portion of their diet compared to many other reptiles,” she adds.
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Oversized animals can mean a lot of maintenance, no matter the species. But depending on how comfortable you are with them, experts say some larger snakes can make worthwhile pets.
“Ball pythons are not small snakes, and adults can grow up to 6 feet long. While that size may sound a little intimidating, they still weigh less than 10 pounds, and their extra size makes them a lot easier to manage compared to smaller snakes,” says Phillips.
And similar to turtles, you probably never need to chase after your pet. “These snakes are also docile and slow moving, making them even easier to manage. It also helps that caring for them is relatively easy, as long as you’re content feeding them small mammals as they grow larger.”
Anyone in the market for a lizard might be put off by how large familiar species like iguanas can get. But for anyone new to reptile care, some species remain manageably small while still making great additions to the family.
“Leopard geckos are one of the most popular pet reptiles, and for good reason: They’re hardy, widespread, and easy to set up,” says Phillips. “They’re a bit smaller than some other reptiles, which can be a bit difficult to handle, but their docile demeanor more than makes up for it.”
Because the creatures are nocturnal, leopard geckos also require less UV light than other lizard species, according to The Spruce Pets. And while they should still get plenty of attention, their cage also requires less maintenance than many other reptiles.