Reptile Basics

Before you make a decision about adding a reptile to your family, be sure you know whether or not reptiles are allowed where you live! Many areas have laws pertaining to dangerous reptiles, including constricting snakes and venomous snakes.

Pick a captive bred reptile whenever possible. Wild reptiles that have been tamed are not as used to human handling as captive bred reptiles are. At the pet store or breeder, be sure you pick out a healthy reptile. Look for a reptile with clear, alert eyes and no visible sores or lesions. Make sure your reptile seems to be generally healthy, and is kept in a clean cage.

Leapin’ Lizards! Some lizard species have very specific and complex care, living, and diet requirements. Some (like chameleons and certain geckos) can be very difficult to care for because they are delicate; others (like iguanas) grow large and can be aggressive. Certain lizard species need special lighting and heating for their housing. These are species that are hardy and easy to tame — perfect for beginners:

  • Leopard geckos
  • Bearded dragons
  • Blue-tongued skinks
  • Green anoles

Snakes are a popular pet choice for those who are new to reptiles as pets. Certain starter species, like corn snakes, ball pythons, king snakes, and milk snakes are generally easy to care for and not too picky when it comes to dinner. These snakes are relatively small and easy to handle. Other types of snakes may be too large or strong for one person to care for on their own. More snake info from!

Believe it or not, turtles can be a challenging pet reptile. Generally, turtles are long-lived, messy, and can grow large, needing larger housing space. They also need exposure to ultraviolet light. But turtles aren’t the only reptiles that need special light and heat. Proper lighting and heating is essential to keeping pet reptiles healthy. Knowing and maintaining the proper environmental conditions for your pet of choice is just part of being a responsible pet owner.