several reptiles in a collage

While the thought of lizards, and turtles as beloved pets may strike fear into your heart, Reptiles make great pets. Some require very little care, while others require a lot more (Some even require specialized diets). If you are considering getting a Reptile as your pet, consider what you want in a pet. Some Reptiles are more active than others. Some are territorial, while others prefer solitary lives. Your lifestyle and where you live also makes a difference in what pet will work for you.

Wild or tame, reptiles and amphibians can make good pets. These cold-blooded creatures can be easy to care for, and are often affectionate and playful. Reptiles have these traits, but with the addition of scaly skin, fangs and claws. Before choosing any pet, it’s important to research the pet’s personality and potential health problems, and be prepared to care for them.

Have you ever thought about owning a Reptile as a pet? Many people do, and reptiles make great family pets due to their docile nature and the fact that most don’t need much space. Reptiles range in size from tiny chameleons to massive green iguanas. Some Reptiles are carnivores, meaning they eat meat, while others, such as turtles, are herbivores, and only eat plants. Reptiles are low-maintenance pets, though there are a few necessary care items you will need to provide for reptiles.

If you’re fascinated by Reptiles and Reptiles’ wild counterparts like turtles and bearded dragons, then reptiles make great pets. Looking for a new pet? Have you considered a Reptile? There are plenty of good reasons to add Reptiles to your family. 

Green Anoles

A green anole that has climbed onto a plant

Green Anoles are native to Georgia and South Carolina, but have been brought and released in several other places in the world. They are one of the smallest lizards in North America. 

Green Anoles are very active, and like to climb trees and plants to find food. They are usually found climbing on something looking for food. They eat worms and other insects and shouldn’t be fed any fruits or vegetables. Green Anoles are very easy to care for, and only need to be fed once a day.

Green Anoles are very agile and quick, and they use this speed to escape predators. They are not aggressive towards humans, and will try to avoid contact unless provoked. They are very territorial, and can get very aggressive with other Green Anoles.

Because they don’t like to be held they don’t make the best pet choice for families with children. They are active during the day, and can be interesting to watch while they’re eating or moving around inside of their enclosure.

Anoles are very easy to find, and can be purchased online or at local reptile shops. They’re typically sold for $8 to $10, but different varieties can cost a little bit more.


a colorful chameleon climbing across a rope

Chameleons are reptiles native to Africa, southern Europe and southern China. Chameleons are reptiles with skin that can be many different colors. Some chameleons are completely green, while others are yellow, orange, red, blue, black, white, or brown. They can change color in as little as a few seconds. Chameleons are not venomous, but they do bite when threatened.

Many people are interested in Chameleons as pets, but often they are told by others that they are not easy to care for, and that they will bite. But, if they are given the right environment, these little animals are friendly, and make a great companion for the whole family.

Chameleons are very territorial, and will become aggressive if they feel something is in their space. Many Chameleons don’t even like to be handled by their owners, and will usually become stressed out from being handled.

Chameleons make great pets because they are very colorful and fascinating creatures. They have always been considered as amazing pets because of their unique looks. Because of their abilities, Chameleons are one of the most popular pet reptiles.

Hatchling chameleons are available through breeders, and will cost anywhere from $50-$300 depending on the type of chameleon you purchase.

Bearded Dragons

a bearded dragon that is eyeballing the camera

Bearded Dragons are native to Australia, and are one of the oldest reptilian species still alive today. They are very colorful, and can be a variety of colors including reds, greens, blues, and yellows. They are very territorial, and will defend their home against intruders. They are also very aggressive towards other reptiles, and should never be housed together.

Bearded Dragons are gems. If you don’t know what you’re getting into, you might just think these are big, ugly lizards that eat their young. But they’re not, they’re beautiful and fascinating animals that are fiercely loyal to their owners. They have personalities, they’re energetic, and they’re fascinating. 

The real reason Bearded Dragons are amazing is that they’re great first pets for young families. Sure, you can have a few other pets in your house before you get a bearded dragon (such as a hamster, guinea pig, rabbit, or gerbil), but if you go with the Bearded Dragon route, you’re set for life.

Bearded Dragons are arguably one of the best pets ever. They are cute, fun, and the perfect size for a home. They are not only tough, but they also make wonderful pets for children. They are great with the whole family, and kids will love seeing their pet up close. They are also easy to care for. Many families have happy bearded dragon experiences.

Bearded Dragons are very active animals, and will require a large enclosure. They can reach lengths of 2 feet long, and weigh as much as 15 ounces. They are very fast moving, and need a lot of exercise.

Green Basilisks

a green basilisk crawling across a rock

Green Basilisks are native to Central America and are very fast, and can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Most people don’t know these lizards by name, but they know about their reputation for being able to run on water.

Green basilisks are very agile, strong and can climb trees and shrubs. They are omnivorous, eating insects, fruit, and even small rodents. Males are also very territorial, and will attack other males that are kept with them. 

If you want a pet that is as fascinating as a lizard, but with a friendlier face than a snake, a Green Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) is the perfect pet for you! They can be a great family pet. Basilisks are generally docile and don’t bite unless provoked, and they’re not venomous. They are easy to take care of and won’t get too big, so they make a great pet even with small homes. 

Green Basilisks are the smallest species of Basilisk lizard in the world, but they still have a few things going for it that might make it the perfect pet for your family. First, for a small animal they have a relatively long life expectancy. Second, this lizard is generally pretty easy to care for. Third, as we’ve already mentioned, they’re not aggressive.

Fortunately they also don’t cost too much. Depending on where you look for them they should cost between $20 and $40.

Caiman Lizards

a caiman lizard eating a bug

With the growing interest in exotic pets, especially reptiles, there are more Caiman Lizards available for adoption. Caiman Lizards are known to be difficult to handle, and difficult to care for. If you get past that, they are very pleasant to have around. 

The biggest obstacle for most families to own them is the upfront cost of ownership. They require a fairly large enclosure to be happy lizards. As you can guess this is something that you are likely going to be building yourself because there aren’t any Caiman Lizard enclosures on Amazon.

If cost isn’t going to scare you away there are a few other things that might. Don’t get us wrong, these can be great pets, but one of the biggest problems people have is they don’t fully understand what they’re getting into with Caiman Lizards before they get one and take it home.

Finding food for them that they will eat can be one of your biggest challenges. Some Caiman Lizards will only eat snails. Finding a reliable supply of these can be challenging, and making sure they’re free from any diseases or parasites. The last thing you’ll want to do is buy some poor quality food for your lizard and have them get sick or die.

If you are still interested, read on. There is a lot you’ll need to learn before you decide if this is a pet for your family.

Green Iguanas

a green iguana basking in the sun

Green Iguanas are native to Central America as far north as Mexico and down as far as southern Brazil. They are one of the largest lizards in the world and they are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants. They are usually not aggressive towards humans, and will allow themselves to be handled without fear.

Green Iguanas are very territorial, and will defend their home against intruders. They are also very curious animals, and will approach anything that moves. They are very agile, and can climb trees and shrubs.

Green Iguana are a relatively new addition to the family pet community. With the rise of exotic pets and its popularity, Green Iguanas have become a popular pet choice. Green Iguanas are a larger, and somewhat difficult to care for reptile that are relatively low maintenance.

Green Iguanas do best with families that have older children and are more interested in watching their pet than handling them. At their adult length they’re a handful even for adults. If you have a nice backyard with a lot of space, lots of sunshine, and years of reptile experience these animals could be a good pet for you. 

This should not be the first reptile your family owns. They are a pet for families with years of reptile experience. They are great lizards, but for most they will be too much. If you think that they will be too difficult to care for then you should not get a Green Iguana for your family. Enough of these are already given up each year because families realize that they cannot provide the care needed for them.


a close up of a geckos face

Geckos are small lizards native to every continent except Antarctica, though different species of Geckos will be found in different places. They are small, colorful creatures that are usually found in tropical climates. They are very colorful, and can be a wide array of colors.

Geckos are not picky about the specifics of their enclosure set up, as long as the basics are covered they should be happy. They are very easygoing and friendly, and will enjoy having company. Most don’t mind being held. 

Geckos are very easy to care for and maintain. They are not venomous, but they can bite if provoked.

They are very quiet, and will remain hidden until they feel threatened. They are very territorial, and will defend themselves against intruders. They are very sensitive to temperature changes, and will move to warmer areas if it gets too cold.

Geckos are very fun to watch, and will provide hours of entertainment for you and your family. They are very curious animals, and always enjoy exploring their enclosure.

Depending on the species of Gecko, you can expect to pay about $15 to $75 per Gecko. On average most people won’t spend more than $30 to $40 on a Gecko.

Savannah Monitors

a savannah monitor getting some sun near their home

Normally the format we use for a pet introduction is why blank is a great family pet. For Savannah Monitors we need to deviate from that, because for most families they are not great pets. The sad reality is that most families that will get a Savannah Monitor will give it up at some point in the first few years of its life. 

These pets are not good with kids, they don’t like being handled and they really don’t care what you want, they have their own plans. We strongly encourage people interested in this animal to read this article, and then watch some YouTube videos on how they are with their owners. We cannot stress this enough that this is NOT a reptile you should consider unless you have a lot of experience with reptiles and fully understand what you are getting into.

The reality is that 99% of the people who will read this article will not be ready for this animal as a pet. We want to provide you with all the information we can on all of the pet options you have, but we also want to be fully honest. We want your pets to be just as happy as you are, and most people will be just as unhappy as your Monitor is after a few months or a year. There are a lot better reptiles that you can bring home to your family, and we hope for your sake and theirs that you pick them and not a Savannah Monitor.

African Fire Skinks

a close up of an african fire skink's face

African fire skinks are a lizard species native to the woodlands of West Africa. They are very fast moving lizards, and are known for being able to climb trees.

African fire skinks are very active, and enjoy running around in their enclosure. They are very agile, and will enjoy climbing just about anything. They are also very curious, and enjoy investigating things in their enclosure. 

A pet Fire Skink will not only add flair to your home, but will also make a valuable companion for your kids. Skinks are easy to care for and are known for their intelligence. They are active, social, and curious, and even though they are small, they don’t bite. They also make great pets because they are clean and quiet, and don’t require a lot of attention, which makes them suitable for people who don’t like high maintenance pets.

Africa is home to many colorful species of Skink, but few are as striking as the African Fire Skink. There are several different subspecies, but the most common are the African Fire Skinks. This species is one of four closely related species that are found across the continent, and the only species that is from the tropical rainforests of western Africa.

For those who don’t know, the African Fire Skink is a lizard that spends its time basking on plants and rocks. They are known as a great pet as the animals seem to be great with children as they are super friendly and endearing.

If you decide to purchase an African fire skink, you can expect to pay about $40 to $50.


a uromastyx basking in the sun

Uromastyx are large lizards native to North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Uromastyx make great pets for those who love reptiles. They are very affectionate and gentle, and will enjoy having their owner near them. They are very curious, and will enjoy interacting with their owners.

Uromastyx are very unique looking. They are not venomous, and are usually kept as pets due to how different they look from other lizards. Uromastyx make great pets because they are very fun to watch. They are very easy to care for, and require little maintenance. They are very clean, and will be happy in a quiet environment. 

Uromastyx make great pets for people who enjoy reptiles. Because they are  large lizards they’ll need a spacious enclosure. You may want to consider getting a larger enclosure from the start to avoid buying multiple enclosures over their life. They are very easy to care for and maintain, and won’t need any special care once their enclosure is set up. 

A Uromastyx will cost about $100 to purchase. Because of their need for a large enclosure, the upfront costs will be quite a bit more when you factor in the enclosure and all the other equipment needed. They make great pets, but can be very expensive because of everything they need.

Argentine Black and White Tegu

a close up of an argentine black and white tegu with their tongue out

Argentine Black and White Tegu are native to South America. Their name suggests that they’re from Argentina, but they’re also from Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. They are very fast growing, and can reach lengths of 5 feet and weigh as much as 20 pounds. 

Because they’re large lizards they’ll need a bit more care than other lizards will. Most owners end up building them an enclosure because it’s pretty difficult to find one large enough for them. While they start out small, they get really big, really fast. Many families aren’t prepared for how fast they’ll grow, or how big they’ll get.

If you have time to give them the care they need, and the space they need, you’ll find that Argentine Black and White Tegus are great pets that just want to fit into your family like a dog or a cat would.

As great as these lizards are, we don’t recommend them as the first lizard you bring home. We make this recommendation because of their space requirements, how large they will quickly get, and all of the upfront costs associated with them. Already lizards are one of the most given up pets in the country. We want to make sure people know what they’re getting into before they bring home any pet.

If you decide that an Argentine Black and White Tegu is the right pet for your family you can expect to pay between $200 and $500 for them. Price seems to be all over depending on where you live in the US, as well as how available they are where you live.

Russian Tortoises

a russian tortoise with a mouth full of strawberry

Russian Tortoises are native to the southern parts of most of Asia. They are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants. They are slow moving animals, and can grow up to 8 inches long.

Russian Tortoises are very hardy creatures, and can handle large temperature changes. They also have thick shells, which protect them from predators. These turtles are not as common as American tortoises, but are still available through breeders.

Russian Tortoises can live for decades, and are very slow growing. They are also very easy to care for. They are very calm and laid back, and will eat almost anything you put in front of them. They are also very friendly, and will enjoy interacting with people.

Russian Tortoises are among the few animals that have been around for over 100 million years, and yet they still haven’t changed much. They’re hardy, stubborn, and take a long time to mature. Unlike dogs, cats, or horses, they don’t require grooming, and they don’t require exercise. They hardly shed, and they don’t need to be bathed. 

In the past few years, the Russian Tortoise has gained in popularity in the US. This is thanks to its low maintenance, pretty color variety, compact size and great longevity. Now that these Tortoises are gaining popularity, the question is: are they the best choice for your family?

Eastern Box Turtles

an eastern box turtle moving across the gravel outside

Eastern Box Turtles are native the eastern coast of North America near water. They love eating meat, vegetables and fruit. They only tend to be aggressive with other Eastern Box Turtles during mating season. If you keep multiple turtles you’ll want to feed them in different places to make sure all of your turtles get fed properly.

Eastern box turtles are very laid back, and will eat almost anything that they’re fed. They are very calm and relaxed, and won’t bite or attack unless provoked. They are very easy going, and will adapt to just about any environment.

They are relatively easy to care for, and don’t need too much attention once you have a good habitat for them. Even though they don’t need an aquatic habitat, they still need a habitat large enough that they can walk around in.  

Eastern box turtles are slow growing, taking about 5 years to reach adulthood. It can be fun for kids to watch them grow up and be able to care for them with only minimal supervision. Another kid friendly part about them is that they’re active in the day unlike a number of other reptiles. Something to consider is that these turtles usually live for 25 to 40 years, making them a lengthy commitment for pet owners. They also don’t like being held or touched, making them good pets for watching, not playing with.

Eastern box turtles can be purchased as young adults, and while they’re fairly common they are somewhat expensive. Expect to pay between $150 and $250.

Red Eared Slider Turtles

a red eared slider turtle enjoying the sun while resting in some weeds

Red Eared Slider Turtles are native to North America, and are one of the smallest freshwater turtle species. They are very hardy animals, and can be found in a wide variety of habitats. They are omnivores, eating both plants and meat. 

Red Eared Slider Turtles are very slow moving, and will take several years to mature. They are not particularly aggressive, and will usually avoid confrontation. However, they may bite if provoked. 

The Red Eared Slider Turtle is one of the most popular pet turtles around. They can be many different colors, are easy to care for and inexpensive to purchase, and it makes a great addition to your family. They are relatively small, making them a good choice for families with smaller children. As with most turtles, they are best kept in a large enclosure, because they can get a little aggressive if kept in a small enclosure. 

Slider Turtles are one of the best pets ever, and one of the most fun! They’re cute, cuddly, and easy to find at pet stores, and they have a low maintenance life-style. Sliders are very social animals, they often seek out the company of other turtles and have little trouble getting along with other pets. 

Maybe you’ve seen videos of them online? They’re a little shy of human contact if they’re wild like the ones in most videos. Even wild Sliders will still come up and take food out of your hand if you are calm and patient enough. They really enjoy eating finger sized fish or little bits of melon like watermelon. If you have enough space for these little guys then they could be a great addition to your family.

African Sulcata Tortoises

an african sulcata tortoise walking through the grass

Let’s face it, most people don’t have the patience to deal with a pet tortoise. They’re messy, they’re slow, and if you’re not careful they can kill your dog or cat. They’re also delicate and dangerous. So, what’s a busy professional to do? Well, there’s no better candidate than the African Sulcata Tortoise. These gentle giants are hardy and docile, and they can live for more than 50 years if given the proper care.

African Sulcata Tortoises are native to the Sahara Desert in Africa, and are one of the largest land tortoises in existence. They are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants and are slow moving animals that grow up to 3 feet long. They are highly adaptable and can live in a wide range of habitats, from dry desert to wet grasslands. But if you want them for a family pet you’ll need space for them to move around.

While the African Sulcata Tortoises can be great pets, most families don’t realize how much space they need to house them. They grow to almost 3 feet long, so a small 10’x10’ pen just isn’t going to cut it. They don’t need too much else after you get their home set up, so if you have the space for them they can be great for your family!

They are not aggressive towards people, however, and will usually allow their human owner to handle them. African Sulcata Turtles are very calm and laid back, and will accept their owner as part of their environment. They are also very easy to care for. They require little food, and will eat just about anything you give them.

Long-tailed Lizards

a long-tailed lizard climbing through a leaf

Long-tailed Lizards are native to Southern Russia as far Southeast Asia. They love running and hiding in the tall grasslands there, eating insects all day. They are one of the smallest lizards in the world but have the largest tails proportional to their body size. They are usually not aggressive towards humans, and will allow themselves to be handled without fear.

With the growing interest in exotic pets, especially reptiles, there are more Long-tailed Lizards available for adoption. Long-tailed Lizards are very curious, and will enjoy interacting with their family. They are very agile, and will climb trees and walls. They are very active throughout the day, and will enjoy running around in their enclosure. 

Long-tailed Lizards are not territorial, and if they had a large enough enclosure you could keep several of them together. They are also very curious animals, and will approach anything that moves. They are very agile, and can climb trees and sticks or branches in their enclosure.

Long-tailed Lizards are great with families that have children and love to watch them as much as handle them. Even at their adult length they’re barely a handful for children.

Reputable breeders and pet stores will typically sell Long-tailed Lizards for between $10 and $20.

Reptile Species SizeCharacter TraitsCostLifespan
Russian Tortoises4 – 8 inchesSocial pets that can recognize their owners. Russian Tortoises are very territorial and should be housed alone.$80 – $200Up to 50 years 
Chameleon9 – 24 inchesVery territorial and like to stay alone. Chameleons tend to be protective of their living area and don’t like being handled.$30 – $3003 – 10 years
Bearded Dragons16 – 24 inchesBearded Dragons are docile and sociable. They enjoy human handling but are territorial with other lizards. $30 – $1006 – 12 years
Red Eared Slider Turtle8 – 16 inchesActive and friendly pets. Red Eared Slider Turtles are calm and enjoy human handling.$20 – $3015 – 20 years
African Sulcata Tortoise24 – 30 inchesMostly active during dusk and dawn. They spend most of their time grazing or borrowing and don’t like being handled. $50 – $20050 – 70 years
Green Basilisk21 – 25 inchesBasilisks are active and adventurous. They don’t like being handled and it is easy for them to get irritated.$20– $1008 – 10 years
Caiman Lizard2 – 5 feet Neither solitary nor very social. Caiman Lizards are intelligent and can be trained to be handled.$350 – $15008 – 12 years
Green Iguana4 – 6 feet Active during the day and rest at night. They are calm but excessive handling can stress them.$20– $20015 – 20 years

Cost of Keeping Reptiles

The cost of owning and taking care of a reptile can range from $150 to $2000 a year depending on the reptile you own. Reptiles come in all sorts of sizes and their needs vary greatly. The cost of keeping different species will vary based on the type of enclosure they need and their care needs.

Here is a table showing the cost of things a reptile needs: 

Reptile$20 – $1500
Cage$30 – $1200 depending on size and indoor or outdoor setup
Light + UVB Bulb$20 – $70 yearly
Reptile Heaters$5 – $25
Water Filters$70
Feeding bowls$15 – $45
Decorations (Basking rocks, branches, timers, surge protectors, etc.)$50 – $100
Bedding$9 – $30 monthly
Food$5 – $45 monthly
Veterinary charges$35 to $125 yearly

General Information

a caiman lizard enjoying some sun

Reptiles are some of the most interesting and popular pets in American homes. They can be as little as a few inches long or as long as several feet. Caring for reptiles takes a lot more effort and equipment than what it takes to care for dogs, cats or other small mammals.

Reptiles have a unique type of skin that is dry and covered with scales or bony plates. The hard and dry skin protects them from the hot environments they come from. Their skin is also good at retaining water in the dryer environments. Reptiles are cold-blooded animals and depend on their surroundings to keep themselves warm.

Most reptiles need large and spacious enclosures. Their enclosures need to have lighting, heating and humidifying equipment to help them regulate their body temperatures. 

Green Iguanas are one of the largest lizard species and are up to 5 feet long. They will need a large and outdoor living enclosure. On the other extreme are reptiles like Geckos who are tiny and only get to about 8 inches long. Their small size allows them to be kept in an indoor aquarium or another small cage.

The cost of buying a reptile can range from $15 to $1500 and setting up their enclosure can be expensive and complex. Their enclosure can cost anywhere between $30 dollars for a tiny reptile to a few thousand dollars for the largest reptile. There are additional expenses that you should plan for like veterinary, food and maintenance expenses. All these expenses can add up making them a relatively expensive pet to own. Still the idea of owning an exotic pet like a reptile, makes some people willing to spend the time, money and effort. 

Most reptiles need a lot of attention and should only be owned by experienced reptile owners. There are a few reptiles that are easy to keep that will give you the experience you’ll need to own the more difficult ones. We recommend getting your feet wet with one of these reptiles first.

What is the Ideal Habitat for Reptiles?

Type and Size of Enclosure

a gecko that's climbing along a tree branch

Their habitat needs are very different from that of dogs or rodents. While some reptiles can be housed indoors, others will need a large outdoor enclosure. We have individual articles that detail the needs of reptiles so you can find out what they need before you get them.

The design of the outdoor enclosures can also vary greatly depending on the reptile. Tortoises can be kept in an outdoor fenced area but lizards should be kept in an area covered from all sides, including the top. Having a top to their enclosure is very important to stop the lizards from climbing and escaping their cage. 

Some like Russian Tortoises like to burrow. If kept outside their fence should start at least 1 foot in the ground. Depending on how much they like digging you may need something several feet below ground to keep them contained. There are a number of different things you can use as a barrier from concrete or wood, or even a store bought fence. 

Smaller reptiles can be kept indoors inside a glass or plastic tank. The enclosure should have a tight lid and should be secured on all sides to keep them from escaping. 

Habitat Requirements 

The substrate will depend upon the type of enclosure and the reptile that will use it. For outdoor housed reptiles a mix of sand and dirt are a good choice. The substrate should be thick and allow your reptile to move around. Avoid using soft substrate like sand for Green Iguanas because they can eat it. Ceramic tiles or river stones are better choices for them. 

For indoor cages a variety of substrates like reptile carpet, coconut fiber or reptile bark are inexpensive. The substrate should be replaced once a month to keep your reptile’s environment clean. 


Reptiles need both warm and hot areas because it helps them regulate their body temperature. Depending upon the temperature where you live, you may need to add a heat source to their cage. Reptiles like to bask under a heat lamp to get warm. Inside their cage they’ll need a warm and a hot area with a basking spot somewhere in the hot area.

All enclosures should have lights and they should be paired with a timer to create a normal day and night cycle. While outdoor reptiles will not need a separate UV lighting source, indoor reptiles will need one. The UVA/UVB lighting bulbs should be replaced every 7 to 8 months to make sure they maintain their effectiveness.

If your reptile is in an outdoor enclosure and the climate matches your reptile’s needs, separate heating or lighting equipment may not be needed. The outdoor area must have a covered area to protect your reptile from sunlight. Contrary to what some people believe it is possible for reptiles to get too much sun!


Some reptiles like to climb and having branches or other things to climb on inside their enclosures is important. The branches should be strong enough to hold the weight of your reptiles.

For reptiles in indoor enclosures, plants can be added to their enclosure. The plants should be non-toxic because some reptiles may eat them.

Additional Habitat Requirements

a bunch of crickets that will be lizard food

Some reptiles like the Red Eared Slider Turtles are semi-aquatic reptiles. They need access to both land and water. There are many ways that this can be done. We cover a few different things that can be done in the article we have specifically about the Red Eared Slider. 


The food preferences of reptiles vary based on the species. Some like Russian Tortoises, African Sulcata Tortoises and Green Iguanas are strict herbivores that need to be fed a vegetarian diet. Feeding them is not very expensive because you can give them vegetables like sweet potato, bell pepper, whole green beans, leafy greens and others. If you keep your reptiles outside, they may also enjoy eating the vegetables or plants growing in your garden. 

Omnivore reptiles will eat pinky mice, insects, worms or cockroaches. We recommended feeding them food that has been bought from a pet store. Avoid feeding them wild-caught prey because they may carry diseases that can infect your pets. We have articles about a wide range of reptiles that will list the types of foods they need. 

How to Feed Younger Reptiles?

Younger reptiles should be fed smaller pieces of food. For reptiles that are vegetarian, finely chop the vegetables before feeding them. The amount of food should be increased as your reptile starts growing. Younger reptiles should be fed 2-3 times a day and older reptiles once a day.

Fruits and Supplements 

Most reptiles will need calcium and vitamin supplements in their diet. These can be added to their diet every other day. Fruits can also be fed to some reptiles 2 to 3 times a week. Avoid giving fruits to African Sulcata Tortoise because it can cause them to have kidney problems.

Remove uneaten food from their cage after an hour or your reptiles could overeat. The uneaten food can also make the enclosure smell if it starts rotting.

General Reptile Care

a reptile owner checking the substrate moisture level

Managing Their Climate

Keeping the climate conditions in the recommended range is very important to keep your reptiles healthy and happy. How you do this will depend on the type of enclosure – indoor or outdoor, your climate and the reptile you have.

Humidity is an important factor for reptile care. Some reptiles may need regular misting to keep the humidity in their enclosure high enough for them. There are a number of ways to do this, with a spray bottle misting their enclosure being the cheapest and easiest. If convenience is more important, there are automatic misters that can be tied to the hygrometer in your reptile’s enclosure. Using an automated system means your reptile’s enclosure will always be at the right humidity.

The humidity should be increased when your reptile is going to shed because higher humidity helps them shed their skin. Most reptiles shed in patches and not all at once like snakes. It’s important to remove any old skin when you find it in their enclosure to keep it clean.

Most reptiles like to soak themselves and a water bowl or tub should be kept inside their enclosure to let them soak themselves. The water bowl should be large enough for your reptile to soak their entire body. It’s important that your reptile’s water bowl be cleaned and refilled everyday. The clean water helps keep the humidity in their enclosure higher and gives them fresh water to drink as well as soaking their skin.

Cleaning the Substrate 

Reptiles will generally poop on their substrate but they will sometimes poop while soaking themselves in their water bowl. Their poop should be removed from the cage any time you see it. To make sure your pets home is as clean as possible, thoroughly disinfect their enclosure once a month. Always wash your hands anytime you interact with your reptile or their cage. Your reptile’s fecal matter can contain bacteria that can cause diseases in humans.

Attention Requirements of Reptiles

Reptiles are one of the longest living pets you can have. Depending upon the species they can live anywhere from 20 to 70 years. When deciding on getting a reptile, factor in the average lifespan of the species because some can live as long as you. Many owners don’t realize this and eventually end up giving their reptiles to a rescue. 

Most reptiles don’t need a lot of human attention but they are high maintenance pets.

Aggressiveness in Reptiles

Aggressiveness in reptiles can vary a lot by species. While some can enjoy the company of their owners, others like Chameleons are solitary and like to live alone. Chameleons don’t like being handled and can bite if they feel threatened.

What to Consider Before Selecting a Reptile?

When getting a reptile you should learn about the behavior of species you are interested in. If you want a social reptile that likes to be handled then Bearded Dragons could be a good choice. They will almost never attack or bite you. Their non aggressive personality makes them a great pet for families with kids. Some lizards, especially Green Iguanas are known to use their tails to attack. If they feel threatened or stressed they will use their tail to attack you. They can move their tails very fast and cause a lot of pain very quickly.

Are all Reptiles Territorial?

Most reptiles do show some amount of territorial behavior. The aggressiveness can be more in some and less in others. Housing two males and a female together will usually cause the males to become aggressive with each other. The males will fight or try to mate with the female and this can be stressful for the female. One way to avoid this is by keeping them in a large enclosure with barriers in between.

Some reptiles need time to adapt to their new home. When introduced to their new home they may rest for most of the day and not move around. Give them time to get used to their new enclosure. They will become active once they feel comfortable with their new home. 

a turtle eating a flower

Are Reptiles Good for Beginner Pet Owners?

Reptiles are generally kept as pets by experienced pet owners. Some reptiles can be very aggressive and hit their owner with their tail if they are not handled properly. There are a few reptile species that are generally non-aggressive and can be owned by less experienced pet owners. Finding out about the behavior of different reptiles will help you decide which reptile can be best for your family.

Basic Facts about Reptiles

Reptiles are four-legged animals with more than 11,000 species and over 2,100 subspecies found around the world. This is far larger than the amount of bird or mammal species. Reptiles are also known to be some of the longest-living pets with some tortoises living 70 to 80 years! Owning a reptile could mean having a pet that can live as long as you! 

Reptiles have dry skin because they do not have sweat glands. The scales or bony plates on their skin are made from keratin, a substance that gives strength to their scales. 

Some reptiles have unique defense mechanisms. Some will hiss, others can camouflage themselves or a few may shed their tail when they feel threatened. 

Most reptiles reproduce by laying eggs. Depending upon the species, the reptiles can lay anywhere between 2 to 100 eggs. We recommend keeping males and females separate, especially if they have not been spayed or neutered.

Lizards use their tongue to smell. While they do have nostrils, lizards only use them to breathe. They will stick out their tongue and pick up the scent in the air. They flick their tongue to help get more air over it to help them look for food. 

Reptiles are known to carry Salmonella bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts. A reptile owner can get infected with bacteria that can cause diarrhea or a fever. Washing your hands before and after handling your reptiles or cleaning their cage is recommended. This should prevent you from getting infected with any bacteria they might have.

Reptiles should usually be kept alone. Their need for a large enclosure can make it difficult to keep more than one reptile together. Housing them together can also result in aggression or fighting between them.

Some reptiles can change their skin color to adapt to their surroundings or according to their mood. This is most commonly seen in Chameleons. There are over 100 species of Chameleons.

Author Profile
A woman with curly hair holding a cat.
Contributing Author & Social Media Expert

Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.