Which Lizards Make Good Pets? 7 Best Species to Own

Updated May 19, 2022
pet bearded dragon lizard on hand

Lizards can make exciting pets, but with so many species available, it can be tough to choose which pet lizards will be right for you. Many of the most well-known lizards have very specific care requirements or unpredictable personalities. However, these seven lizards can make great choices for both new and experienced reptile enthusiasts. Choosing the right pet lizard will help ensure that you and your pet are happy for many years to come.

1. Leopard Geckos

Leopard Gecko

These small lizards fit in your hand, even when fully grown, and are one of the most popular lizards kept as pets. Leopard geckos make good beginner pets because of their gentle demeanor, ease of care, and the availability of a multitude of interesting colors and patterns.

  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Size: 6 to 10 inches long
  • Care level: easy to moderate

Leopard Gecko Lizards as Pets

Leopard geckos are docile, confident lizards and tolerate handling well. Even when provoked, they rarely bite. However, their tail can break off if the lizard feels threatened. One leopard gecko needs at least a 20-gallon glass aquarium, which must be kept at a controlled, warm temperature range with a special basking area.

You'll need to feed your leopard gecko a mixture of live crickets and mealworms a few times each week, along with vitamin D3 and calcium supplements. These lizards are crepuscular, so they are most active at dusk and dawn.

2. Bearded Dragons

pet bearded dragon lizard

Bearded dragons are medium-sized lizards that are hardy and easy to care for. They make great pets because they tolerate daily handling, rarely show any aggression toward humans, and even become affectionate with their owners.

  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Size: 13 to 24 inches long
  • Care level: moderate

Bearded Dragons as Pets

Bearded dragons have a calm, easygoing personality and may even enjoy cuddling. This makes them a great pet choice for children. These lizards need large habitats with a controlled temperature as well as a "hot spot." UVB light is also essential to their metabolism. Bearded dragons are omnivores, and they eat a diet of crickets, worms, pinky mice, leafy greens, and squash. Each meal should be dusted with a multivitamin or mineral supplement.

3. Crested Gecko

crested gecko lizard

This species of gecko was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1994. Thanks to captive breeding, these unique lizards are now plentiful from pet stores and breeders. Crested geckos make great beginner lizards pets because they can be kept at room temperature and have a striking appearance and multiple color patterns.

  • Lifespan: 15 to 25 years
  • Size: 4 to 8 inches long
  • Care level: easy

Crested Geckos as Pets

Crested geckos tolerate handling very well. However, these small lizards are climbers. Each toe of the crested gecko, as well as the underside of the tail, is covered with small hairs called setae, which allows them to grip smooth surfaces. For this reason, they need a tall aquarium filled with branches for climbing.

Their habitat setup is less complex than most other pet lizard species. Crested geckos can be kept at room temperature, but it's best to avoid extreme heat or cold, and UVB light is not required for this species. However, they still require a calcium supplement and multivitamin powder on their diet of live insects.

4. Blue-tongued Skinks

blue-tongued skink lizard

The blue-tongued skink gets its name from the distinctive, thick blue tongue. These pet lizards make great companions because they are intelligent, gentle, quiet, and tolerate handling. However, because blue-tongued skinks are lesser-known lizards, they may be more difficult to find and more expensive to purchase.

  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Size: 18 to 24 inches long
  • Care level: easy to moderate

Blue-tongued Skinks as Pets

Blue-tongued skinks are diurnal, which means they'll be awake during the day when you would normally want to interact with them. These large lizards should be handled carefully to support their entire body. If a blue-tongued skink feels threatened, they may bite.

Due to their larger size, they need a spacious enclosure with special bedding. You'll need to maintain and monitor a warm environment, and a source of UVB light is recommended. These lizards are also omnivores and must eat a combination of vegetables and insects.

5. Green Anoles

green anole lizard

Also known as the Carolina anole or the American chameleon, these lizards are small and quick. They do not usually adjust to being handled, but make good pets because they change colors and are active and interesting.

  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Size: 5 to 8 inches long
  • Care level: moderate

Green Anoles as Pets

Anoles are small lizards and have quite fragile bodies, so all handling must be very careful. They can change colors from brown to different shades of green, depending on temperature, stress, and other environmental or behavioral factors. Green anoles have special habitat needs, and maintaining a specific humidity range is very important for these sensitive pets.

A hygrometer to monitor humidity level is necessary, and you'll need to mist their enclosure two to three times a day. Green anoles eat insects and can be maintained on crickets, small cockroaches, flies, waxworms, fruit flies, and other small insects.

6. African Fat-tailed Geckos

African fat-tailed gecko lizard

Fat-tailed geckos are closely related to leopard geckos, but are native to West Africa. These geckos are patterned with tan and brown bands, and some have a white stripe that passes down the length of their body. They make good pets because they have docile dispositions and move more slowly when being handled.

  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Size: 7 to 10 inches long
  • Care level: easy to moderate

Fat-tailed Geckos as Pets

Fat-tailed geckos tend to be more timid than other geckos. They generally don't make quick movements, and may be more suitable for children to handle than other gecko varieties. Fat-tailed geckos do not require a UVB light, and should even be kept out of direct sun.

This species does not climb very much, so the height of the enclosure is not a concern, but you'll need to maintain a humidity range between 50 to 70 percent. Fat-tailed geckos can be fed just like leopard geckos with a diet of insects dusted with a calcium or vitamin powder.

7. Argentine Black and White Tegu

Argentine black and white tegu

The Argentine Black and White Tegu is a fast-growing, large lizard species. These reptiles have more complex needs than other pet lizards due to their large size and carnivorous diet. However, they make good pets because of their high intelligence and friendly temperament, in some cases even seeking out human attention or becoming very bonded with their owners.

  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Size: 3 to 5 feet long
  • Care level: high

Tegu Lizards as Pets

Tegus have been described as being "dog-like," and can become quite attached to their owners. Early handling is necessary to get these large lizards used to human interaction.

These pets generally need a large, custom-built cage to accommodate their size. The enclosure needs to be cool (75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit) on one end, with a basking area of 95 to 110 degrees on the opposite side, and a source of UVB light or natural sunlight is required. Tegus are carnivorous lizards and should be fed a variety of meat items, including frozen, thawed mice or rats, ground turkey, chicken gizzards, or fish.

What Lizards Are Good Pets?

Lizards are fascinating and beautiful pets. With so many species to choose from, it should be easy to find a lizard that will make a good pet for anyone's needs. When choosing a pet lizard, consider the available space you have for your new friend, their lifespan, personality, housing needs, and diet. You'll be sure to select the perfect lizard for your household.

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Which Lizards Make Good Pets? 7 Best Species to Own