Here are the "best" lizards to welcome into your family.
"Best" is a relative term when it comes to the topic of pets. While not always a first choice for bringing home a new family member, there are plenty of lizards that make wonderful pets and shouldn't be overlooked. These lizard species have fairly basic care requirements, making them good choices for your first reptile pet.
Here are eight pet lizards that would make a great new addition to any family.
8. The Chameleon
This pet reptile is known for its crazy eyes, long tongue and ability to change color. While yes, they do change color, it is a myth that they can camouflage against different backgrounds.
They change color due to environmental factors such as stressors, threats and humidity and temperature changes.
Chameleons have a prehensile tail and are mainly arboreal, spending almost all of their time off the ground.
They are the only reptile that can move each eye independently of the other and their tongue is anywhere from 1 to 1.5 times the length of its body.
An incredible creature to watch for hours as they climb amongst the branches, chameleons are easily stressed with frequent handling.
So if you get one as a new pet, be mindful of how much you take them out of their comfortable environment!
These reptiles come in two variations, the brown anole and the green anole.
The male green anoles have a pink flap of skin underneath their chin called a "dewlap." They use their dewlap in territorial displays and when it comes time to court the ladies.
These lizards have sticky feet that allow them to climb the walls and sides of their glass tanks.
If you've ever been to the Southeast region of the U.S., you've probably seen anoles.
If you try to catch them, they can feel threatened and drop their tails. This is called caudal autonomy and it is a defense mechanism; this allows them to escape while the tail wiggles on the ground, distracting the predator.
Anoles are another reptile that prefers to be observed rather than handled, so they're only an appropriate choice for patient, hands-off first-time lizard owners.
6. Day Geckos
Geckos are another lizard you can find hanging out suctioned to the side of their enclosure, or selling insurance in commercials.
They have sticky pads on their feet, lamellae, that allow them to scale the glass, and walls if they were to escape. There are "68 known living species and subspecies" of the day gecko.
Geckos are diurnal, they are awake during the day, which means you'll have the opportunity to view them during their peak active hours.
They eat mostly insects and some plants and fruits, making them omnivorous. They are characterized by their glowing green color that can vary in shading and are prone to vocalizations- anywhere from a squeak to a bark to a croak!
5. The Chinese Water Dragon
This reptile is quite similar to an iguana, but much smaller and without the aggression. Once they get used to you, they can be hand-tamed and easily handled.
Males grow to roughly three feet in length and females up to two feet, although the majority of their length is made up of the tail.
Their tail helps them balance while climbing and can be used to whip predators when they feel threatened.
Chinese water dragons have a small, dark scale on top of their head that can sense changes in light, which helps them find a prime basking spot. This scale is called the parietal eye or "third eye" and is located on top of the head, directly between the eyes.
Water dragons will need a large tank due to the necessity of water in their environment; a single gallon tank won't be enough space for them.
4. Crested Geckos
These geckos are known for their crests that run along their head and body and make them look like they have long eyelashes.
Crested geckos are mainly arboreal and easy to care for. They are nocturnal and love climbing and jumping.
Due to their love of climbing, these geckos need a tall enclosure, as opposed to a wide tank-like enclosure.
These geckos are omnivores and feast on both insects and fruits. There are a wide variety of commercial diets readily available for easy feeding.
Like most geckos, crested geckos can also experience caudal autotomy; however, the crested gecko does not re-grow their tail once dropped.
These geckos are brighter in color and "fire up" at night when they are most active and their colors are dull during the day when they are resting.
3. Leopard Geckos
These are one of the easiest lizards to care for and one of the most gentle. They are also one of the only lizards that have movable eyelids.
"Leos" are nocturnal insectivores and get their name from the spots they develop as adults. As hatchlings, they have bands of color across their body that gradually fade as they mature.
These lizards don't have sticky lamellae on their feet, but instead have tiny claws at the end of each toe, making them ground dwellers.
Leopard geckos shed their skin in one piece and then... they eat it! The skin provides some nutrients and makes their whereabouts unknown to predators.
These geckos are less prone to caudal autotomy but will detach their tail if threatened. This can prove difficult for the lizard since the tail is where they store the majority of their fat.
The tail does regrow but looks slightly different when it does. Depending on the morph, they range in color from bright yellows and oranges to pale lavender and white.
2. African Fat Tail Geckos
These geckos are quite similar to leopard geckos but are even more gentle and docile. They are built similarly to leos, but are much more stocky. Their tail is shorter and thicker, hence their name.
The coloration of AFTs is a little different as well; their colors stay in the neutral pallet from dark brown to rusty orange and tan.
They also have tiny claws on their toes and prefer to hide and burrow during the day when they are asleep. They can vocalize by making a clicking sound with their tongue.
1. Bearded Dragons
These are on the medium side of lizard pets, ranging from 12 to 24 inches, so they will need a larger enclosure than some of the aforementioned geckos.
Their tail does not detach, and if it does break or get injured, it does not regrow.
Bearded dragons are native to Australia and are very gentle as pets, often seeking out attention and interaction. They are semi-arboreal and enjoy having branches to climb on to bask. They are diurnal and omnivorous, and as they mature need more vegetables than insects.
Beardies get their name from the way they puff out their throat when threatened, looking much like a beard.
Some dragons go into a period called brumation in the winter months that is like hibernation.
While these are some of the most rewarding and easily cared for lizards, they each have a specific and unique temperature, humidity and habitat requirements. A lizard can be a great pet, but they need proper care, special lighting, and special foods, such as mealworms. Small lizards can make good pets if you do your research and are prepared for the responsibility that comes with these unique pets.
Ultimately, the best lizard for you will depend on the qualities you want this small pet to have, as well as the amount of care that you can provide.