When it comes to bringing home a new pet, there are so many options to choose from. For many, a reptile is a great choice. Although they might not be fuzzy like a puppy or kitten, they still offer a very unique experience and will bond with their owners much more than people might think. Reptiles are often the choice for someone looking for a low-maintenance, easy-to-handle animal that doesn’t need the type of time and attention a young dog would. That said, there are some exotics that require a lot more effort than others. If you’re looking for your first reptile, there are species recommended for beginners. Check them out here!
#1 – Corn Snake
Corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus) are a sub-species of rat snake native to North America. They make popular pets for a variety of reasons, including their docile temperaments and the wide range of beautiful patterns and colors they come in. They are relatively inexpensive, depending on the morph (the color/pattern of the snake), and only grow to be about 3-5.5 feet long. They are very hardy snakes, with minimal heat and humidity requirements, and are very easy to feed. In captivity, they will eat appropriately sized rodents and live well into their teens and even into their twenties.
#2 – Leopard Gecko
The leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is generally one of the most recommended lizards for beginners. They come in a wide range of attractive colors and patterns and are very docile, even friendly animals. They are ground-dwelling lizards native to the highlands of Asia and Afghanistan, including parts of northern India. They are easy to feed, faring well on a diet of crickets, mealworms, waxworms, superworms and roaches. Adult leopard geckos reach lengths of 8-10 inches, making them one of the larger gecko species. Their housing requirements are minimal and their heat and humidity needs are easily met.
#3 – Red-Eared Slider
Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), also called red-eared terrapins, are semi-aquatic turtles that make an excellent first time reptile. Native to the southern United States and Mexico, they get their name from the simple red stripe around their ears and their tendency to slide off rocks into the water at the first sign of danger. These turtles spend most of their time in the water and will need a terrarium that includes water and land. There are readily available commercial turtle foods to feed and they are very low-maintenance reptiles.
#4 – Ball Python
Ball pythons (Python regius), also called royal pythons, are one of the most popular snake species available. They are easy to maintain, relatively slow moving, docile and come in a huge array of colors and patterns ranging from just $20 into the thousands. Ball pythons typically reach lengths of 3-4.5ft, making them one of the smaller species of snakes. Originally found in sub-Saharan Africa, the ball python is one of the most popular captive bred snakes available. Their housing requirements are minimal and they feed easily on appropriately sized rodents.
#5 – Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons is a common name for eight species of lizards of the Pogona genus. They are named so because their throats turn black when under stress or in danger, looking similar to a man’s beard. These lizards are native to Australia and make excellent pets for beginners and experienced reptile lovers alike. They are friendly and calm, enjoy being petted, and have minimal housing needs. Captive adults can reach up to 24 inches in length and eat a diet of insects and leafy greens.
#6 – California Kingsnake
The California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae) is a smaller-sized snake native to the western United States and northern Mexico. They are very easy to care for, relatively docile and reach sizes of only 2.5-3.5ft. They come in a variety of colors and patterns and have voracious appetites – feeding mostly on rodents in captivity. With their friendly dispositions and low maintenance, they make very popular snakes for first time owners.
#7 – Crested Gecko
Crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) are a species of gecko native to New Caledonia, an island in the Pacific Ocean. They were thought to be extinct until rediscovered in the wild in 1994 and are still listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Thankfully, they breed very easily in captivity and are readily available as pets. They are strong climbers and enjoy spending their time in trees, so making sure your crested has a place to climb is a must. Otherwise, they are very easy to care for with few needs. Crested geckos are omnivores and are usually fed insects and fruit in captivity. They now come in various attractive colors and patterns.
#8 – Leopard Tortoise
The leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) is a beautiful, large tortoise native to eastern and southern Africa. They are relatively large, reaching upwards of 16in. and 29lbs. That said, they are still widely popular due to their low maintenance and attractive patterns. They are easy to care for outside (temperatures permitting) because they are not known to dig when not nesting. Leopard tortoises grow about 2-4 inches per year, so their housing requirements will change, but they are docile animals that are easy to care for. They are hardy, remain active all year, and eat mainly vegetables.