6 Best Pet Reptiles: Guide for Beginners and Experts Alike

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So you want a pet reptile? It's easy to see why. These cold-blooded creatures are visually stunning and available in a vast spectrum of shapes, colors, and patterns. If you're looking for a beautiful pet that can serve as living art, you're looking in the right class of the animal kingdom. But reptiles have plenty of other perks aside from their dazzling appearance. 

Reptiles are often much lower maintenance than your average dog or cat (and a lot cheaper too). If we had to pick a downside, it's that there are so many wonderful species to choose from that it can be difficult figuring exactly what type of reptile you want. Need help deciding? We've got your back. Whether you're a total reptile beginner or an experienced enthusiast, check out our recommendations for the 6 best pet reptiles for you.

Ball Python

The belles of the reptile ball, ball pythons are one of the most popular pet snake species-and for good reason. These easy-going snakes get along well with humans and are some of the most social species out there. Not many snakes tolerate daily handling by their owners, but ball pythons do so with grace. In fact, many actually seem to enjoy it! Aside from their wonderful temperament, this snake species also boasts the biggest variety of morphs. With thousands of different types of ball pythons to choose from, their owners have a unique opportunity to choose a pet with a truly customized appearance.

Bearded Dragon

Another pet reptile darling, bearded dragons (also affectionately referred to as "beardies") are one of the most popular pet reptiles of all reptile species. The reasons? They're calm and non-aggressive, inexpensive to feed, and wickedly smart for reptile standards. The latter quality is probably the bearded dragon's biggest claim to fame as there are numerous accounts of owners teaching their beardies to do tricks. Their above-average intelligence makes these lizards a highly interactive experience with greater opportunity for pet and owner bonding. There are just as many stories of bearded dragon owners taking their pet for walks or taking naps on the couch together.

Boa Constrictor

Don't let their size fool you, these gentle, slow-moving giants are as big as they are docile. For a reptile owner who wants a pet with that "wow" factor with minimal hassle, boa constrictors are a great option. If you have the space to accommodate their plush-sized enclosure (they need length and height as these snakes are partially arboreal), you'll find yourself with a laid-back companion for decades to come. Boa constrictors also shine in an area where other snakes struggle: feeding. Some snakes can be picky eaters while others worry their owners by refusing to eat for weeks at a time. Not the boa constrictors. These big boys are great eaters which can offer their owners peace of mind.

Leopard Gecko

One of the cutest reptiles out there, leopard geckos are beloved for their chubby bellies, big eyes, and permanent smiles. Caring for them is straightforward and their small size (average 8-10 inches in length) makes them easy to accommodate in small living spaces. Both of these qualities have resulted in leopard geckos being a popular option for beginners. But experienced lizard owners love them too, as leopard geckos have a lot of personality packed into their tiny bodies. These little guys are vocal and use chirps and barks to communicate their intentions.

Russian Tortoise

If a hearty armored pet is more your type, the Russian Tortoise is our top pick. Unlike most other tortoises, these guys stay tiny their whole lives rarely exceeding 10 inches. This makes them a lot less unwieldy and far easier to accommodate into your living situation. Why a small tortoise and not a turtle, you may be wondering? Turtles may be small but being aquatic creatures, their habitats require a lot more maintenance and frequent deep cleaning. Tortoises, on the other hand, are terrestrial creatures typically native to arid climates, like their environment dry and warm, keeping mess at a minimum.

Crested Gecko

This other gecko is another popular pet reptile option. These goofy-looking critters are impossible not to smile at. In addition to their odd-but-charming appearance, these lizards are known for their docile disposition and friendly temperament. They do well with human interaction and are social enough to accommodate frequent handling. In addition to being total sweethearts, crested geckos are loved for their relatively simple care requirements. Adolescents seem to prefer insect-based diets, but adults tend to favor fruit substitutes. Either way, they're inexpensive to feed, which is always a welcomed perk. 

Why Get An Alternative Pet?

Reptiles are a radical departure from traditional pets like cats or dogs. Feeding and interacting with them is an exciting foray into the exotic. It also doesn't hurt that reptiles tend to be much less costly and time-consuming and all around far easier to own. 

The Benefits of Owning A Reptile

The first benefit of owning a reptile is how affordable they are to feed. With the exception of snakes, most other reptile species (turtles, tortoises, and lizards) are either herbivores or insectivores, both of which are inexpensive to keep on hand. Even in the case of snakes who primarily eat rodents, they eat infrequently (adults tend to only eat every 10-14 days) which helps to offset the higher cost of a feeder mouse or rat.

Then there's the time-saving aspect. Reptiles are highly independent creatures needing little-to-no social interaction with their human owners-or other snakes-for their mental well being. Most would be perfectly content to be independent their entire lives (granted they're fed, of course). That said, people with busy or irregular schedules don't need to worry about coming home to check on their pet, take it out for walks, or make sure it isn't lonely. 

Where To Find Reptile For Sale

Whether you want a critter with four legs or none at all, these animals offer a unique and exciting pet-owning experience that never gets old. You can find these and other reptiles for sale at specialty online shops that have everything from tanks to heat bulbs to substrate options.