Tired of your run-of-the-mill pets like cats and dogs? If yes, that’s only one of many reasons why you should choose an exotic lizard pet. Intelligent and quirky, lizards are chock full of personality that is sure to delight their owners. Although lizards can vary greatly in terms of size, personality, care requirements, and cost, what they all have in common is they are an exciting (but manageable) change of pace for animal lovers.
Types of Exotic Lizard Pets
Monitor lizards are big, with species ranging from 2 feet to well over 8 and have an equally large personality to match. These fun lizards are active, attentive, and intelligent (in fact, they’ve believed to be one of the most intelligent reptiles on Earth). They are much more capable of affection than your average reptile and have been known to seek out attention from their owners.
Sounds sweet, but beginners steer clear of this exotic lizard. Monitor lizards will need to be socialized to be a safe and suitable pet which requires a lot of time. They can be wonderful and responsive companions once this is accomplished but are recommended only for those with several years of reptile experience. Popular types of monitor lizards kept as pets include the smaller Savannah monitors and Ackie monitors.
Similar to monitor lizards, Tegus are often mistaken for their distant cousins. This species tends to be larger than the average monitor lizard.They also tend to have a calmer temperament compared to monitor lizards, but still require socializing to keep them tame. Intelligent and affectionate as well, these lizards have been likened to “scaly puppies” as they will actively seek out the companionship of their owners. As is the case with any large undomesticated animal, tegus are better suited for reptile owners with several years of experience under their belt.
These lizards are native to Central and South America and have a variety of species. This is another type of lizard that is best for expert reptile owners. Large and in charge, iguanas can grow to be over 5 feet long. Owning one is a big commitment as they have advanced care needs with specific housing, lighting and feeding requirements.
Regular handling is a necessity to tame and properly socialize a pet iguana. Once this happens, owners will have major bragging rights as iguana are not the easiest lizard to manage. Green iguanas are the kind of lizard most commonly kept as pets.
Despite their fearsome name, water dragons are small and as adults range between 2 and 3 feet in length. These lizards are quite friendly and enjoy being handled by their owners, but regular socialization is necessary in order to keep them tame. They have a pleasant enough personality, but owners are still sometimes caught off guard by their care requirements. Native to tropical environments, they like humidity and water in their enclosure which can require more frequent cleaning than a purely terrestrial lizard.
The Chinese water dragon is the most popular variety and resembles a miniature green iguana. While many reptiles are solitary creatures, this lizard species is an exception and prefers to live in captivity with other water dragons.
Skinks are a type of lizard that is comprised of over 1,500 sub-species. There are a few that are popular as pets, but skinks overall are widely considered to be easy and manageable lizards. Despite their relatively small size (they average between 6 and 12 inches long), these animals are very docile with straightforward care requirements. They are a great option for first-time lizard or reptile owners and are even suitable as a pet for children.
The blue-tongued skink is easily the most popular as it is one of the most social of the species and one of the friendliest lizards overall.
Geckos are small and colorful pet lizard options that tend to be popular with beginners. Leopard geckos and crested geckos are just a few of the over 1,600 sub-species out there but are two of the most popular types. Their small size makes them inherently easy to manage, and their calm, docile temperament certainly adds to their appeal. Bear in mind that, although calm, geckos prefer not to be handled so you’ll want to keep physical contact to a minimum.
Chameleons are slow-moving, color-changing, and curly-tailed charmers. Their unique appearance is striking and makes them a coveted pet lizard option. Despite how laid back they seem, chameleons have very specific care requirements which can be challenging for a beginner. The challenge in caring for one is also compounded by having one of the shortest life spans of lizards in captivity (less than 5 years).
Since chameleons are arboreal lizards (tree-dwellers), it’s important that they have a tall cage with ample branches to climb and foliage to hide behind. They are more of a look-but-don’t-touch kind of pet but make for beautiful pieces of living art.
Last but certainly not least is everyone’s favorite pet lizard: the bearded dragon. These Australian natives have some of the simplest and most straightforward care requirements and like it hot and dry. This means minimal fuss and clean-up for their owners. But practical benefits aside, beardies are beloved for their friendly and sociable temperament. They enjoy interacting with their owners, but more than that, are known to be quite affectionate. There are plenty of stories of bearded dragon owners teaching their lizard tricks or going on walks. These lizards offer one of the most interactive experiences and are a joy to own.
You can find bearded dragons for sale, along with many of these other pet lizard species, online at specialty reptile shops. The increasing popularity of reptiles and exotic pets has made these fascinating creatures easier to acquire than ever before.