These days, more and more people are downsizing. This means everything from so-called “tiny houses” to keeping small reptiles as pets, rather than dogs or cats. So, we’ve decided to answer a question that is frequently asked by people considering alternative pets. That is, “Do Reptiles Make Good Pets?”
Please read on for info about some awesome pet reptiles and tips oxn keeping them. However, this article is just an introduction, so please do your own in-depth research before deciding whether one of these pets is right for you and your family.
These cool little critters take a lot of commitment but they can be great fun as aquarium pets. Turtles are not suitable pets for kids though! Kids typically get bored with turtles in short order. And, kids can unintentionally harm these fragile little guys by wrongly handling them.
Turtles are omnivores that are easy to keep but they will become very sick if not properly handled and cared for. Turtles will grow to about 11-12 inches at maturity and they’ll live 15-30 years if treated properly. They like to eat live crickets, small worms, small veggies, and commercial turtle pellets.
Pet turtles coexist well with larger freshwater aquarium fish but will eat fish eggs and small fish. Turtles especially like guppies and small goldfish. Turtles are semi-aquatic. That is, they require a dry space where they can sun or warm themselves as well as freshwater to swim in. An artificial gravel beach, a rock, or a structure will do nicely for them, as long as they can easily perch high and dry.
Unlike turtles, tortoises are herbivores that live on dry land. Tortoises don’t swim so a terrarium rather than a watery aquarium is needed. They are great beginner pets for adults but, like turtles, they aren’t suitable for kids. After all, they can live for 50 years or more!
Tortoises are prehistoric beasts that lived when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. They only eat plant material and the best thing to feed them is commercial tortoise food. If you put live plants in the terrarium, that’s fine but be sure they are “tortoise-safe to eat”―remember, they will forage on any plants within their reach.
Pet tortoises are awesome critters that will grow to about 12 inches long. They don’t seem to mind being picked up but be careful―their jaws will clamp down on fingers with great force!
Of all the lizards, the best and safest ones to keep as pets are the Leopard Geckos, Anoles, and Bearded Dragons (a misnomer, it’s a lizard!). These are wonderful and friendly pets that seem to enjoy being picked up and handled. They are easily hurt, though, so kids need to be supervised and taught to handle these pets with care.
Other lizards commonly found in pet stores are not suitable as pets, especially for beginners or kids. Chameleons, Iguanas, and Water Dragons are in this category. As fun and beautiful as these lizards are, each has highly specialized needs and can be hard to raise in captivity. Also, the Water Dragon can exceed 3 feet long at maturity making it difficult to manage.
The Leopard Gecko and Anole don’t grow very large, but the Bearded Dragon will grow to about 2 feet long at maturity. Also, the Bearded Dragon is an omnivore, so it will eat insects as well as vegetables. The Leopard Geckos and Anoles are insectivores though, so they won’t eat veggies or your terrarium plants. All 3 like mealworms, crickets, waxworms, and flies. Commercial lizard foods are also available at pet shops.
The lifespan of the Anole is about 5 years (cool for kids!) while Leopard Geckos may live 20 years. The larger Bearded Dragon can live more than 10 years with a proper habitat and diet.
There are lots of snakes that make interesting pets but the safest, and arguably the most commonly available of these, is the Corn Snake. This is a docile beast that is low maintenance, non-poisonous, won’t constrict handlers, and will not bite if handled properly―no injury or teasing!
Corn Snakes eat small rodents that can be purchased pre-killed and frozen. Fortunately, if you’re squeamish about that, they only need to be fed 1 or 2 a week. These pet snakes only grow to about 2 pounds and roughly 3 to 5 feet in length. But, they can live to a ripe old age of 15 years or longer as pets. Oh, they are also notorious escape artists, so a large terrarium with a secure top is a must.
Well, there you have it! Do Reptiles Make Good Pets? Absolutely, they can be a joy to own and will give you years of pleasure. So, if you are an apartment dweller or downsizing, then you might consider getting a low-maintenance reptile pet to love and enjoy. One or more of these critters might just be perfect for you. We recommend you do further research online, at your local library, or your favorite pet store for more information about reptile pets. Please remember, though, these animals can live for a very long time so they need a long-term commitment.