Are you thinking about buying your first pet gecko or lizard? If so, great choice! They are amazing reptiles. But, in order to make the experience a good one for both you and your new pet, you’ll want to educate yourself first.
Choosing the Right Species
You may or may not be aware of just how many different types of lizards and geckos there are. Deciding on the right one for you is important. Let’s take a quick look at the various types and get an idea of what to expect from your point of view as a new owner.
You can’t do any pet lizard research without running into several using the word “dragon” in their names. That’s mostly because one of the most popular pet reptiles aside from snakes is the bearded dragon.
A lesser but still fairly popular dragon is the Chinese water dragon.
Both make great pets but do require a little extra care and maintenance than some others on this list. But, there is no reason not to make one of them your first pet reptile.
Perhaps due to the world famous Geico gecko, many people assume that all geckos are your basic green common house geckos But, that simply isn’t the case.
They come in all sorts of wonderful colors and designs, from the yellow and black designs found on the aptly named leopard gecko to the eye-popping blues, oranges, and yellows found on the not so friendly tokay gecko.
Your more common varieties like leopard geckos and crested geckos are great for first timers. But, not all species make great pets. For example, the tokay gecko from Thailand mentioned above tend to be extremely aggressive and in general don’t take too kindly to handling.
Probably the coolest looking pet lizards are chameleons. The have eyes that move in different directions, crazy looking feet, and they always look grumpy.
In general, these are a little more demanding in terms of care. This is mostly due to their humidity requirements.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t OK for a first timer. But, you really need to ensure you can give your new chameleon all the attention it needs.
When most people think of a lizard, they tend to think of something that looks like the most common anole pet, the green anole. That’s because they are one of the most common lizards found in pet shops.
There are other species too like the brown anole, but the green anole is the most commonly kept one.
They are a good low-cost starter reptile that’s friendly though not one that’s general great for handling.
Iguanas are truly and amazing reptile. They are beautiful. They are intelligent. They are not the right reptile for everyone.
While a well kept iguana can make an amazing pet, they are one of the more difficult lizards to keep for a few reasons, but mainly due to their size and the costs involved.
If you’re looking for your first reptile, this many not be the right choice. But, if you are experienced and have the resources, an iguana might end up being your favorite pet.
Of the reptiles on the page, skinks are arguably the most chill. They are extremely docile and compared to others like anoles, which love to run and jump in all directions and iguanas that won’t hesitate tail whipping you, skinks are generally friendly reptiles.
The most popular skink kept in homes is the blue tongued skink. They are fairly robust, friendly, and a pretty solid choice as as first reptile pet.
Another skink gaining a lot of popularity is the red-eyed crocodile skink. This is mainly because they look like miniature dragons. They are extremely docile, but they are much less personable than blue tongues and aren’t the best choice for first time owners.
Choosing a monitor lizard as a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience. But, they are in now way the right choice for first timers.
Of all the reptiles mentioned, they are probably the most intelligent. They also require the most attention and care. Plus, they can get very large.
If you are a seasoned retile owner looking to expand your horizons, definitely take a deeper look at monitors, but for the inexperienced, opt for a bearded dragon or leopard gecko instead.
Setting Up Your New Lizard’s Home
Aside from choosing the right lizard or gecko for you, getting their new home set up before you actually buy your new pet is the next most important part of this process. Every type of reptile has its own specific environmental requirements.
For example, a proper enclosure for a leopard gecko is going to be significantly different than that of what you will need for a crested gecko.
You will want to make sure you have at a minimum:
- the right size enclosure
- proper lighting
- proper heating
- the right type of substrate
- hides, plants, and other decor
- establish the right humidity
It can take several days up to several weeks to get the enclosure just right, so plan ahead.
Don’t Forget Nutrition
Your new gecko or lizard is going to need to eat. While you will most likely be able to pick up the basics at the shop you buy your pet from, if you purchase it online you may not have that option.
You will want to get not only the food it needs, but also any other nutrition, like calcium or reptile multivitamin.
You can also get a special water treatment to make sure your new pet reptile is getting water that’s safe to drink.
Make Sure You Know What You’re in For
The reason that research is so important is that each type of lizard or gecko require their own special needs. Some can live for multiple decades like monitors whereas some might only live for five to eight years, like chameleons.
You need to make sure you have the resources to keep it well fed too. A small green anole takes much less in terms of money to keep it well fed than a larger lizard like a bearded dragon.
Common Lizard Questions
Every lizard is going to be differen, but these are very common questions. They might help you get a better idea of what to expect should you decide to become a lizard owner.
Geckos fall into these questions too.
What do pet lizards eat?
This varies from species to species, but many of those you would keep for pets eat a mixture of insects, like crickets, and vegetables. Each breed has its own dietary requirements though, so check first before trying to feed yours something new.
Where can you buy a pet lizard?
Almost all pet shops from large to small have some type of lizard for sale. But, it’s always recommended to choose to shop at a local independant shop and not a big brand store.
You can also find reputable dealers online.
How much are pet lizards?
The run the gambit of price ranges where you may be able to find a green anole for $5-10 whereas the more exotic species can run you hundreds of dollars and maybe more.
How long do pet lizards live?
This is also very species dependent. As mentioned before, some chameleons may only live five to eight years, while other lizard types can live for decades.
If you have any other questions about purchasing your first gecko or lizard, please let us know.