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Top 5: The Best Lizard Pets


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Thursday, 14 de May 2009

Top 5: The Best Lizard Pets
Lizards are becoming more and more popular each day in the pets’ market. The name ‘lizard’ has been used as a synonym for the reptiles’ suborder Lacertilia, which excludes snakes. Lizards are mostly animals with scales and four legs, except for the slow worm (or blindworm), which eventually lost their legs throughout their evolution.

There is a big variety of lizards: there are more than 5 thousand species of lizards all around the globe, except for the frozen continent Antarctica. Only a small portion of those are commercially available as pets. However, in time, the available variety of species tends to grow, although not all are indicated for those who are inexperienced on dealing with lizards.

Below, you’ll find the list of some of the best pet lizards, which bases its classification on the animal’s docility, its housing and feeding ability and its availability on the market.

1 – Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)

The Leopard Gecko is a great choice for beginners on dealing with lizards. It is a small reptile, with 18 to 25 cm. of length when kept in captivity, and you can easily house a pair of them on a 60x40x40 cm. terrarium. They are not aggressive almost at all and are quite tolerant when handled.

These are insectivore animals, whose diet is mostly based on crickets. They will accept, however, a great variety of insects, which actually should be introduced on their diet in order to widen it up a little more. They could turn out to be expensive pets to keep, since they need to be fed until they reject the food. Adults can eat up to 10–15 insects in one day, every two days.

You can now easily find leopard geckos for sale, including in several colour patterns and phases. The only thing that might be difficult is for you to choose one.

Advantages: Given that the leopard gecko is a night-time animal, it doesn’t need the same lighting care that day-time reptiles do, which means you can either use a weak potency UVB lamp or not even use one.

Disadvantages: Having a night-time pet also has its inconveniences, especially when it comes to compatibility with the owner’s “schedule”. Given the fact that these lizards’ highest activity period is opposite to most humans’, their owners will be asleep at the time when their pets are most active.

2 – Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)

The Bearded Dragon can still be viewed as a small animal if you consider lizards’ highest possible dimensions. With a 50–60 cm extent, the Bearded Dragon needs to be housed in a considerably sized terrarium: 90x50x50 cm is the ideal size for an adult specimen. This kind of lizard is actually an easy pet to find at sale.

The Bearded Dragon is a sociable, rather expressive pet that suits as an ideal lizard for contemplating purposes. It is also probably one of the best lizards when it comes to interaction with its owner. Besides interacting, it also tolerates being handled quite well, especially if you consider that this is a cold-blooded animal. It is a quite active pet in its terrarium.

Being an omnivore animal, the Bearded Dragon eats both insects and vegetables. This means its diet is a little more complicated to be followed by inexperienced owners. The ratio between the amount of insects and vegetables varies throughout this lizard’s lifetime. It is also recommended that you set a diversified feeding plan.

3 – Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides)

There are several species of blue-tongued lizards, being the most common one the Tiliqua scincoides. Having this lizard as a pet demands the same type of care as for the Bearded Dragon: they are both diurnal animals that need the lamps’ whole spectrum; there almost isn’t any difference between their sizes, since the blue-tongued skink’s body extent can also reach 60 cm, meaning the terrarium used needs to have the same dimensions. Both lizard species are docile and tolerate regular handling quite well, and both are omnivore. The blue-tongued skink is fed with insects, worms and vegetables as well, although not on the same proportions that bearded dragons are given.

Nevertheless, the blue-tongued skink is different from the bearded dragon and other lizards on some aspects as well. The blue-tongued is quieter than the bearded dragon although not as docile, and also accepts vegetables better at its younger age, which makes it easier to feed.

What might come as the most dramatic difference between the blue-tongued skink and other lizards is actually its price on stores. Although it is not particularly hard to find this kind of lizards on the reptile pets market, blue-tongued skinks are generally more expensive than the species mentioned before.

Advantages – The blue-tongued skink has a rather long life expectancy: from 18 to 20 years. This means that eventually the initial investment will pay off. These are also quite resistant pets when compared to other reptiles, particularly at their youngest age. One of the causes of their high resistance is the way they are born: instead of being laid in eggs, they are born with their bodies already formed.

Disadvantages – The blue-tongued skink tends to defecate more often than, for example, the bearded dragon, thus demanding a more regular maintenance of the terrarium. Some experts state that this is a reason for these animals to be better suited on an exterior terrarium, which is larger and better ventilated.

4 – Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

There are several breeds of iguanas, which differ from each other on their body length, colour and many other aspects. The green iguana is probably the most popular species, as well as the easiest to find in pet stores.

The iguana is actually a large-sized reptile, whose body length can reach up to 2 metres. From all reptiles mentioned on this top 5 list, iguanas are the hardest to maintain on the interior, given that they need a large terrarium that measures 3x2x2 metres – at the very least.

Green iguanas are quite territorial animals with large-sized nails, which are usually proportional to their own size and can sometimes cause some ugly bruises on their owners when they don’t perceive that the iguana is feeling uncomfortable. These are, however, reptiles that tolerate being handled fairly well. Some iguana owners actually claim to have taught their pets to do their physiological businesses on proper places.

The green iguana is an herbivore animal that feeds exclusively on green food. This is a much more practical feeding style, given that you don’t have to raise living food nor worry about having to buy or order insects on stores that might not be available all the time.

Advantages – The green iguana is one of the easiest reptile pets to find on the market, as well as one of the most inexpensive. As a consequence, there is also more information about them available, as well as veterinarians who are experienced on this species.

Disadvantages – The size of an adult green iguana might not suit a large part of our homes and, therefore, become slightly hard to manage on the inside. Not all houses can fit a 3x2 metres reserved space on some corner.

5 – Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

The Carolina Anole is the smallest reptile on this top 5 list, since it usually measures around 15–18 cm. However, they actually need a larger terrarium than what you might think of at first. These reptiles should be kept in groups, usually a male and several females, which means that you will need a 50x40x35 cm terrarium in order to house a group of 4.

The Carolina anole is quite docile, but they are also quite shy with humans and don’t actually really like being handled. They can become great contemplating-purpose animals once they feel at ease on their terrarium because there they become somewhat more extroverted.

The Carolina anole feeds on insects and, sometimes, worms. These are quite low-maintenance reptiles when it comes to feeding them, given that they eat a very small amount of food when compared to others like the leopard gecko and the bearded dragon. They will feel satisfied with an average of two crickets a day.

It is not particularly hard to find Carolina anoles on the pet market. On the other hand, what might actually be hard is to find a group of them in order to fit the same terrarium. Anyway, these are easily-bred animals, thus it will not be too hard for you to find a breeder selling some.

Advantages – Besides their low-maintenance type of feeding, as already mentioned above, Carolina anoles also don’t need very potent lamps, although they do need UVA/B light.

Disadvantages – Since these are mainly a contemplating kind of reptiles, their levels of interaction with their owners will always be very short.
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sannick said:
This list started off well, but the last two suggestions are terrible. Iguanas do not make good pets for anyone but the most experienced reptile handlers. Their cages will be expensive ($3,000-$10,000) even if you custom make a cage for them it will run you over $1,000. They are territorial and can harm adults and could potentially kill a child. This should be listed under the worst reptile pets. Anoles should not be housed in groups as males will harass females. They also require tons of space and full spectrum lighting. They are very difficult to keep despite their abundance in the wild. Much better choices in addition to the leopard gecko, bearded dragon, and blue tongue skink: ackie monitors, fat-tailed geckos, crested geckos, gargoyle geckos, and even an Argentine black and white tegu (can get fairly big, but other than that easy to tame and raise). Almost any list of the worst lizard pets will list the Iguana, and many of them list anoles. Availability is important, but if it's a large and aggressive animal, it should not be on any recommendation list.
Shone said:
Reptiles are pretty much my thing, if I could I'd have more then just a gecko and Bearded Dragon
trident2herp said:
green iguanas and any anole do not make good beginner reptiles, green iguanas get big and require a lot of maintenance, and take a lot of commitment. Anoles are stressed out very easy and need exact requirements
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