10 Fascinating Small Pet Lizards to Add to Your Reptile Collection

If you’ve determined to get into the reptile-keeping business, there’s no better way of accruing knowledge than starting with a small pet lizard. These are generally easier to care for, and you have a variety of species to choose from.

Today, we will discuss the 10 most popular small lizards you can keep as pets, so you can choose whichever seems right to you. Let’s get it going!

1. Green Anoles

green anole care

These arboreal lizards are widely spread through the southeastern US and inhabit a varied and lush ecosystem. They are omnivorous and demand a varied diet consisting of insects, worms, fruits, and veggies, depending on their nutritional needs.

While not chameleonic in nature, green anoles can change their coloring under certain conditions.

These include stress and reaction to specific environmental conditions. Green anoles are known to turn black or brown if temperatures are too low; a feature meant to increase light and heat absorption.

Don’t mistake green anoles for brown anoles, though, since they are different species. Green anoles are more popular in the aquarium trade, although both species are available.

In the wild, brown anoles rank as pests due to their high reproductive rate and impressive appetite.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate

Green anoles are generally easy to care for but require specific conditions to thrive.

Aside from the reptile-specific temperature gradient, green anoles also require a personalized habitat with climbing and hiding places for a plus of comfort.

It’s important to note that these lizards can live in pairs or groups so long as you only have one male per enclosure. Green anole males aren’t exactly friendly toward each other.

2. Crested Gecko

Crested geckos are by far the most popular pet lizards in the world. They are native to South Caledonia, where they inhabit a multitude of habitats like rainforests and wild mangroves.

They are docile and adaptable and make for awesome pets thanks to their hardiness and morph variety.

Crested and leopard geckos rank as the most diverse species thanks to the selective breeding they’ve been subjected to. You can find numerous morphs varying wildly in terms of pricing, which means there’s a lizard for everyone.

These omnivorous reptiles come with a cute appearance with large eyelashes and a visible skin crest covering the head and back. They are generally friendly and docile, so you can keep them in pairs and groups.

So long as you limit the number of males, of course – this is a recurrent theme among reptiles in general.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

Crested geckos don’t need much care, so long as you terrascape their enclosure wisely.

House your gecko in a fitting ecosystem that mimics the reptile’s natural habitat with a variety of climbing and hiding areas. These are nocturnal lizards that need to rest during the day.

A stable temperature gradient is necessary, with humidity levels ranging between 50 and 70% during the day and 40-50% during the nighttime.

3. African Fat-Tailed Gecko

African fat-tailed geckos are also highly popular in the lizard trade, but not always for the right reasons. While these are beloved reptiles, part of their popularity is owed to their similarity to leopard geckos.

These 2 species are similar in many areas, especially appearance; although a more knowledgeable eye can easily distinguish between the 2.

African fat-tailed geckos’ natural habitat is in West Africa, where this species has adapted to the arid African environments, just like leopard geckos. These reptiles are ground-dwelling, so you don’t need climbing spots for them.

Overall, African fat-tailed geckos are docile and friendly and should make for great pets.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

Make sure your fat-tailed gecko has a soft substrate for burrowing purposes and a diverse ecosystem with rocks and hiding places.

These are necessary to keep the lizard safe and comfortable during the daytime when all the resting and sleeping occurs. Overall, these lizards are easy to care for, provided you adjust their housing conditions properly.

Aim for a temperature gradient of 75-80 F during daytime with a basking spot going as high as 90 F. Nighttime temperatures can drop as low as 70 F, but not lower.

Keep in mind that African fat-tailed geckos are prone to obesity if the lizard’s name wasn’t a clear-enough indicator.

Manage the gecko’s diet properly to prevent excessive caloric consumption while still ensuring adequate nutrient intake.

4. Leopard Gecko

Leopard geckos are the number one lizard in the reptile trade and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Their most distinctive feature is the trademark smile, which some gecko species replicate to a point (I see you African fat-tailed mimic), but never to the same effect.

These lizards are some of the friendliest and most docile pets you can get, making them great for adults and children alike.

They are also outstandingly diverse, as you can find numerous morphs that vary in appearance and price considerably.

The cheapest leopard gecko you can get costs approximately $15, while the most expensive one is in the range of $2,000-$3,000 or more.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

Leopard geckos are easygoing and adaptable when kept in stable conditions and a natural-looking habitat. Aim for at least 20 gallons of space for one adult leopard gecko and keep temperatures and humidity stable in the long run.

You’re aiming for temperature values between 80 and 90 F, with the higher end representing the basking spot and humidity between 30 and 40%.

Humidity levels are lower than in other geckos due to this species’ adaptability to arid habitats with lower levels of air moisture. Just like fat-tailed geckos, this species is also prone to obesity.

Make sure you provide your leopard geckos with a stable and varied insectivorous diet for proper nutrient intake. These lizards can reach a lifespan of 20 years or more with personalized care and love.

5. Spiny-Tailed Lizards

Listen, I know that today’s article is entitled ’10 Small Pet Lizards,’ but we need to make an exception for this one. Spiny-tailed lizards may not be as popular as other entries on today’s list, but they are sure to win you over.

Depending on the species, these lizards can vary in size between 8 inches and 3 feet. They live in arid regions around Africa and Asia and are accustomed to higher temperatures compared to other species.

They are also hardy and adaptable overall but require a personalized habitat to stay healthy and happy. These lizards are herbivorous, so they need a plant-based diet with leafy greens, bell peppers, fruits, and a variety of veggies.

If you need help with how to set up the lizard’s diet, speak to a vet or an experienced reptile keeper.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate

Spiny-tailed lizards aren’t exactly meant for beginners. These lizards need a lot more space than your typical crested gecko, for instance, depending on the lizard you’re getting. The reptile’s standard requirements are also different from other gecko species.

The ideal temperature range sits between 85 and 100 F during the daytime and 80-90 F during the nighttime. Humidity levels match those of any other desertic lizard, at values around 30-40%.

If you’re up to the task, the lizard will reward you with its presence over decades to come; spiny-tailed lizards are known to live more than 20 years in captivity.

6. Pygmy Chameleon

Pygmy chameleons are the smallest lizards on today’s list, only reaching up to 3-6 inches, depending on the species and the specimen.

These adorable creatures are widespread throughout Africa and Madagascar, inhabiting lush rainforest ecosystems with rich vegetation and plenty of hunting opportunities.

These diurnal creatures are quite feisty, despite their small size, which means you can’t house them in pairs or groups.

Otherwise, they are docile reptiles who have easily adapted to life in captivity. They are also fairly energetic and will regularly patrol and explore their habitat during the day.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

Pygmy chameleons don’t need much to thrive. Aim for environmental temperatures around 70-80 F during the day and as low as 60-70 F during the night.

A temperature gradient is necessary, as is the case with most reptiles. Humidity is best kept at 70-80%, which is considerably higher than most other geckos.

You can preserve humidity levels by spraying the chameleon’s habitat several times per day or having an automatic misting system do the job instead.

Keep your chameleon in a diverse and lush ecosystem to provide it with a sense of security and comfort. And remember that chameleons drink water from the live plants around them.

7. Day Gecko

gold dust day gecko

Day geckos are highly popular in the reptile trade for their varying sizes and vibrant coloring. Depending on the species and specimen variation, these lizards can reach between 2.5 and 12 inches.

Most specimens are light green with a white underbelly and red spots and lines on the dorsal area. Some specimens also come with blue marks.

These insectivorous lizards spend their nights sleeping and resting to prepare for day hunting. They have a diverse diet, as they can consume anything that flies, walks, or crawls in their vicinity and have a well-developed social sense.

It is possible to house multiple day geckos in the same enclosure, so long as you only have a male per group and there’s sufficient space for all lizards. You’re looking at a minimum requirement of 20 gallons for one specimen.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

Day geckos are easy to maintain but require specific living conditions to thrive. Aim for a lush ecosystem with plenty of vegetation and climbing areas.

These lizards are fairly active and energetic, so they’re likely to explore their habitat regularly.

Aim for temperatures around 80-85 F, all the way up to 90 F for the basking area. Nighttime temperatures can go as low as 70 F, but not lower.

These lizards will accept some petting but don’t overdo it. If your gecko doesn’t appear in the mood for being held or petted, give it space for the time being.

8. Side-Blotched Lizard

Side-blotched lizards aren’t as popular as other geckos on today’s list, but they can hold their own. These tiny lizards can only grow up to 2.5 inches and are widely spread throughout the southeastern US.

They occupy a variety of ecosystems, thanks to their adaptability and versatility, including arid regions and wooded areas.

These lizards are small, energetic, and fast, a lot more agile than your typical household gecko. They are also curious and exploratory, so they require a closed ecosystem that would help them scratch this itch.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

Side-blotched lizards are easy to care for. They are insectivorous, need a varied diet, and prefer a lush ecosystem with a lot of layout variation and stable parameters.

Aim for a temperature range of 80-85 F (up to 90 F for the basking spot) and down to 70-75 F for nighttime values.

Aim for at least 20 gallons of space for one specimen. This could sound weird, given this lizard’s small size, but it makes sense. Side-blotched lizards are vivid and energetic, and they’ll make use of all the space at their disposal.

These reptiles have low territorial tendencies, so you can keep them in a group. Just make sure there’s enough room for all lizards to prevent tension and stress.

9. Pygmy Blue-Tongued Skinks

Pygmy blue-tongued skins are very similar in appearance to side-blotched lizards. Their body composition is almost identical, except for the size.

This species can reach 10 inches in full adult form, so make sure you have sufficient room for it to prevent stress and allow for a shorter accommodation period.

These lizards are native to South Australia and have an omnivorous diet, capable of consuming almost anything.

Only treat them with fruits in moderation, though, since the added natural sugar can make the lizards prone to obesity.

As an interesting fact, these lizards use their bright-blue tongues to deter predators.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate

Pygmy blue-tongued lizards are burrowers, so make sure you provide them with an adequate enclosure setup. Aim for cypress mulch, soft soil, coconut coir, or a combination of these for a substrate to cater to the lizard’s digging tendencies.

These reptiles enjoy a temperature gradient between 85 and 95 F, including the basking spot. Nighttime temperatures can go as low as 73-75 F.

These lizards aren’t particularly difficult to house, but they require a bit more specialized care routine. Consider skipping this species if you have no experience in lizard or reptile keeping.

10. Mediterranean House Gecko

This is another species of tiny lizard that can only reach 5 inches as adults. This species isn’t as varied as leopard or crested geckos in terms of coloring or patterns, but they are beautiful and cute nonetheless.

The typical Mediterranean gecko exhibits dull colors like yellow, earthy-brown, and orange, with spots or intricate patterns covering the body.

This species is native to North Africa and various regions in Asia and can inhabit a variety of habitats. Despite being a proficient climber, this lizard prefers to live at ground level, hiding behind rocks and vegetation.

Their habitat should be a mix of climbing elements, ground hiding areas, and live plants for a well-rounded layout.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

This is an easygoing, docile, and friendly lizard that can adapt to any setup you place it in. However, make sure that its habitat mimics its natural environment for faster adaptation and improved comfort.

Aim for a standard temperature gradient of 70-85 F and a humidity level of up to 70% and no lower than 50%. Have a reliable UVB light source during the daytime for proper vitamin D synthesis and adequate calcium absorption.


In essence, you have a multitude of geckoes and lizard species to go for. It all comes down to your preference and expertise in reptile care and maintenance.

Most of these species are beginner-friendly, but do your homework and learn as much as you can about your preferred species.

Most lizards can live for decades in captivity with good care, personalized housing, and a varied diet.

Robert from ReptileJam

Hey, I'm Robert, and I have a true passion for reptiles that began when I was just 10 years old. My parents bought me my first pet snake as a birthday present, which sparked my interest in learning more about them. read more...