Yes, reptiles are scaly and cold-blooded but that doesn’t mean they can’t make great pets! Snakes, turtles, tortoises, and lizards have exploded in popularity in the past few years. Reptiles provide a vastly different sort of animal companion experience from your typical dog or cat (which still dominate in pet popularity charts). According to a study conducted by the American Pet Products Association, there are over 4.5 million American households with at least one reptile pet. And for most of those reptile owners, those differences are precisely what makes these creatures so appealing. In addition to having that ‘wow’ factor, reptiles tend to be lower maintenance, lower cost, and overall, easy to fit into anyone’s lifestyle.
Which Type of Reptile is Right for You?
Caring for a reptile is a fun and novel expense – but even though they make great pets, it doesn’t mean that keeping a reptile pet is the same for everyone. Would you ever say that owning a Chihuahua is the same as owning a Great Dane? No, of course not. The same applies to reptiles, and the experience of owning one type of reptile can be quite different from that of another.
While each of the different reptile species are fascinating and fun to own in their own way, they do have unique quirks and care requirements. This is something that potential owners should know before choosing a reptile pet. Amongst this pet category, specific species can vary greatly in terms of intelligence, personality, physical requirements, dietary needs, and more. As such, some reptile species might be better suited to one lifestyle or another.
Reasons Why Snakes Make Great Pets
Let’s start with the most iconic and perhaps, notorious, of reptile species: snakes. Admirers are often initially drawn to their vibrant and beautiful appearance; however, they quickly realize the many other charms of serpents.
Snakes are legless creatures that are easily the easiest to care for of all reptiles. Aside from needing their owners help in providing a heat source in their enclosure, snakes are a fairly hands-off pet. In terms of nourishment, adult snakes eat infrequently (every 10-14 days on average). Not only does this keep their food costs low, but also means that they can be left alone for a week at a time – ideal for those who travel often.
Snakes are apartment-friendly pets that don’t require a lot of space. With an appropriately sized tank outfitted with a few sticks and hidey-holes to entertain them, most snakes can happily live their entire life in the safety of their habitats. Unlike Fido that needs space to flop around and play, snakes have no such need; they don’t need to be shown physical affection, they don’t need space to roam, and they certainly don’t need to be taken outdoors to do their business.
Reasons Why Turtles and Tortoises Make Great Pets
Turtles and tortoises are easy going reptiles and among the more intelligent of reptile species. They have a much greater capability to bond with their owner and show affection than a snake or lizard has but are slightly higher maintenance.
Despite the extra-cleaning that comes with owning an aquatic pet, Still, these shelled creatures can be feisty making them great fun to watch. Turtles are fairly active animals and have more entertainment value than a snake or lizard that is prone to hiding. Another plus, many of the popular pet turtle varieties don’t get very big, making them easy to house anywhere that their tank will fit.
Land-dwelling tortoises can get big – but don’t let that intimidate you. These gentle giants are known for showing their owners affection through head bumps or following them around. While caring for a tortoise isn’t particularly demanding, to thrive, it is recommended that they have outdoor space to roam in (or at least a very large tank). If you have the square footage to spare, these sweet creatures make for wonderful, decades-long companions.
Both turtles and tortoises are easy to feed, enjoying leafy greens, fruits, and even flowers. Tortoises are mostly vegetarian and can likely be fed with your household veggies and finished off with a dry tortoise diet. Turtles, however, are omnivores that also eat protein such as frozen bloodworms or bugs. Feeding either creature is unlikely to set their owners back much.
Reasons Why Lizards Make Great Pets
Lizards embody a wide variety of creatures big and small, timid and fearsome. Some of the most popular types of lizards as pets are bearded dragons, chameleons, iguanas, and monitor lizards. A common feature that makes lizards such fun to own is their inquisitive nature. Although they do enjoy having a nice box to hide in, lizards aren’t shy about exploring their surroundings and watching the goings on with rapt attention. Some types of lizards, like bearded dragons, are particularly friendly and seem to have the capability of recognizing their owners.
When it comes to caring for a lizard, their needs are closest to those of tortoises as they also have particular temperature, lighting and humidity requirements. Being insectivores, lizards are inexpensive to feed even though they need to be fed on a daily basis. Their diet typically consists of bugs like crickets and worms which are readily available at reptile pet stores but can always be supplemented with canned or dried lizard diets.
There are also omnivorous lizards that enjoy fresh salads with cricket croutons! The famously friendly bearded dragon eats bugs and plants. If you’re looking for your first pet lizard, it doesn’t get any better than the versatile bearded dragon. This handy bearded dragon care guide will tell you everything you need to know about their personality, dietary needs, and habitat setup.
Next Steps: Find Reptiles For Sale
There is a lot to love about the different reptile species. While they each have their own pros and cons, one thing that they all have in common is that they make great pets. The exotic pet industry is growing rapidly which has made it easier than ever to find reptiles for sale. Whereas reptiles used to be limited to specialty pet stores or sold by word-of-mouth now they can be found everywhere, including mainstream pet retailers.
For the ultimate choice in selection, buying a reptile from a reptile specialty business will almost always be the best choice. For instance, specialty stores will have intimate knowledge of their snakes from their infancy and can clue you in to their personalities and feeding habits. If the physical appearance of your pet is important to you, specialty stores are likely to have a much greater variety of morphs to choose from.