Lizards make up a large portion of the exotic pet world. For some with allergies to animal fur and dander, or those that cannot have a pet that roams free around the home, lizards present a good alternative. They are fun to watch, have their own personalities, can be handled, bond with their owners and are fun to care for. But with almost 5,000 lizard species worldwide, which ones are suitable for keeping as pets? In this article we will look at 25 types of pet lizards for beginners to more advanced reptile owners.
25 Types of Pet Lizards
1. Green Anole
Green anoles are native to the southeastern United States. They live 2-4 years, sometimes up to 8 or more. Anoles reach a length between 5-8 inches, females usually getting no bigger than 6 inches. They are active during the daytime, which is a plus over other nocturnal reptiles. Green anoles are shy and often spook easily. It may take awhile before they get used to their owners presence, or are comfortable being picked up.
2. Leopard gecko
Leopard Geckos are a favorite among lizard lovers, one of the most popular pet lizards. They come in many different morphs, giving you lots of colors and patterns to choose from. If properly cared for they can have a long life span, even up to 25 years! Leopard Geckos are native to Asia and live in dry environments. Leopard Geckos are one of the easiest lizards to start with, a great choice for beginner lizard owners. They do not require as much as other lizards do for their enclosure setup and maintenance. They can be skittish, but with time and patience, can become very comfortable with their owners.
3. Crested Gecko
Crested Geckos are native to southern New Caledonia. They were even thought to be extinct for some time but were rediscovered in 1994. Crested geckos live 15-20 years. A crested geckos appearance makes these geckos almost irresistible to reptile lovers. They have what look to be eyelashes and cute toe pads, and although they are not as vibrant as the leopard gecko, they too come in many morphs and colors. Crested Geckos are great for beginners because of their easy-going nature and require less care than other lizards.
4. Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are native to Australia. The ones you will find for sale are 100% bred in captivity, however, because in the ’60s Australia banned the export of dragons. Now they are one of the most popular lizard pets. Beardies can live between 7-15 years. Bearded dragons are a bit more of an expensive lizard to own in terms of food and supplies. Still, they make great pets and are relatively easy to care for. They also seem to enjoy human companionship, tolerating people better than most lizards.
5. Gargoyle Gecko
Gargoyle geckos, like crested geckos, come from New Caledonia. They can look very similar to crested geckos, but there are a few easy ways to tell the two apart. One being the gargoyle geckos do not have spines above their eyes or on their back. They have two little horns on their head, and their eyes are either blue or silver. Gargoyle geckos can have great temperaments and can be handled in small intervals. They love to climb and need higher humidity levels. Their care is the very similar to a crested gecko. These lizards can make excellent pets and can live up to 20 years.
6. Tokay Gecko
Tokay geckos are native to Asia, dwelling in rainforests. Tokays are one of the largest species of gecko, reaching a length of about 12 inches. They are insectivores, love to climb, and do require high humidity. Tokays are also known for their spunky attitudes. They can be tamed and calmed with patience but are feistier than their counterparts. Tokay geckos live to about ten years in captivity.
7. Chinese Water Dragon
Chinese water dragons are native to Asia and live for 10-15 years. Water dragons are considered pets for more intermediate experience levels because they require a lot more involved care and large enclosures. They are arboreal and love to climb. As their name suggests, they also need a water source, preferably one large enough for them to swim in. Chinese water dragons are intelligent and can make excellent pets with time and patience.
8. Panther Chameleon
Panther Chameleons are found in Madagascar, living in tropical climates. Highly prized for their beautiful array of colors, they are a coveted species by reptile hobbyists. They have a lifespan of 5-7 years in captivity. These chameleons are considered an easier chameleon species to care for, but this does not mean they are great at being handled. They do not tolerate humans well. They are more of an “enjoy from a distance” type of pet. Watching them can be thoroughly enjoyable.
9. Blue-tongue skink
Blue-tongue skinks are a hardier lizard and make great pets for first-time lizard owners. They are docile and relatively gentle and easy to tame. These skinks are omnivores, which means they enjoy eating both insects and greens. Skinks can reach lengths of 27 inches and do require larger enclosures. These lizards can be a lot of fun and a great addition to your home.
10. Green Iguana
Green iguanas are a sight to see, but they don’t make the most excellent pets, and should only be considered by experienced reptile owners. As far as care goes, besides the fact that they require considerable space, they also eat a lot of food. Green iguanas do not make great pets because they can have very poor temperaments. They can be highly aggressive, and they are not very tolerant of humans. They use their tails like whips and will bite. If you are thinking about taking in a green iguana or any species of iguana for that matter, take their size and temperaments into consideration.
11. Red-Eyed Crocodile skink
Crocodile skinks look a little like a mini dragon from a fantasy novel. Crocodile skinks are suitable for beginners, and are relatively low cost to start. They are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk) and shy, so they may stay hidden more than some other lizard pets. They don’t like to be handled that much so picking them up should stay to a minimum.
12. Gold-Dust Day Gecko
Gold dust day geckos are beautifully colored lizards, but they are extremely sensitive and can become stressed quickly. Native to northern Madagascar, they were introduced to several Pacific islands and are now numerous in places like Hawaii. This species can be a bit high maintenance and does require much higher humidity than other lizards. It is not recommended that they are handled, as aside from stress their skin can tear if you are too rough and their tails can fall off. Gold-dust day geckos would be a good pet for intermediate reptile owners.
13. Ackie Monitor
Ackie monitors make great pets and would be suitable for beginners. If you are looking for a monitor and it’s going to be your first, an Ackie would be a great start. They are smaller than most monitors, although can still get up to 28 inches long. With their large appetites, feeding them may cost more than some other lizards. They have a calm temperament, and some even describe the Ackie as playful. Ackie monitors can live 15-20 years.
14. Argentine Tegu
Argentine Tegus are native to South America, and they have become a favorite pet for those that like larger species of lizards. Males are larger than the females, and can grow to length of 3-4 feet. Argentine Tegus are relatively easy to handle, and can become docile and acclimated to their owners. They are highly intelligent and overall enjoyable lizards. The Argentine Tegus size is what makes this lizard a more challenging pet. They will need a massive enclosure of at least 6 ft by 2 ft. Argentine Tegus will have you asking yourself if you are up for the care for this huge lizard and if you have the space.
15. Green Basilisk
Green Basilisk are also referred to as the Jesus Christ lizard because they can run across water on their back legs. They are native to Central America and require a lot of humidity because they live in rainforests. They are considered semi-aquatic and semi-arboreal, so they need height to climb and should have access to water. Unfortunately the green basilisk doesn’t usually like to be handled. They have a skittish nature and can become easily agitated. Because of this they are more suited for an intermediate to advanced reptile owner.
16. Eastern Glass Lizard
Eastern glass lizards will have you doing a double-take because, as you can see in the photo, they look like a snake. However they are actually a lizard, but they do not have legs. These lizards are among the easier lizards to care for. They don’t enjoy being handled all that much, though. Eastern glass lizards are genuinely unique and can live for a very long time, up to 30+ years in captivity. They are native to the southeastern U.S.
17. Giant Plated Lizard
The giant plated lizards are native to Africa and they reach approximately 30 inches in length. Their body looks flat, and they are covered in pretty tough scales. They are skittish lizards and in the wild like to hide in rock crevices. As a pet, they may also hide most of the time so they aren’t the best choice if you are looking for an interactive pet. With time and patience they can learn to be occasionally handled.
18. Frilled Dragon
The frilled dragons are remarkable-looking reptiles. The “frill” around their neck is a large membrane that they can extend out in a fan around their head as a defensive display. Frilled Dragons are native to southern New Guinea and the northern Australian coast. They can reach lengths of 3 feet and liver for 20 years. These lizards live in the trees and need large, vertically oriented enclosures. They will cost a bit to feed because they eat a lot of live insects daily. Frilled Dragons also need a higher humidity and will need regular misting. Not a good choice for beginners.
Uromastyx is a pretty neat lizard that does seem to enjoy being handled. You can actually use seeds as their substrate, and they can and will eat them, which is perfectly safe for them. They require a larger sized enclosure but not too huge. They are expensive to start but are an easier lizard to care for, and because of their docile nature, they are suitable for beginners. Uromastyx can live up to 9 years. Their bodies are mostly smooth except for their spiny tail.
20. Green Tree Monitor
Green Tree monitors are beautiful bright green, striped lizards. They can live between 15-20 years old and reach sizes up to 3 feet. They are intelligent and can make excellent pets if you take a lot of time to work with them. Otherwise, they don’t typically enjoy being handled. They do need a large enclosure and need to be able to climb. They also require high humidity levels.
21. Dumeril’s Monitor
Dumeril’s monitors are a big monitor, but they are a bit smaller than other monitor species. They reach lengths of about 4 -4.5 feet, so they will still need a very large enclosure. Their demeanor is described as docile and calm. Due to their size and enclosure size, they might not be great for a first-time lizard owner. But if you have your heat set on a monitor they are a great choice.
22. Caiman Lizard
Caiman lizards are beautiful pets. They are really docile, intelligent, and almost like a puppy dog, but they require huge enclosures. Height is required as well as length and width. They can get up to 4 ft long or longer. Caiman lizards are also semi-aquatic, which means they will need a water source, preferably one big enough they can swim in. Caimans would make great lizards if you are an experienced reptile owner and provide the room and care this reptile needs and deserves.
23. Satanic leaf-tailed gecko
The Satanic leaf-tailed geckos are one of the most fantastic-looking gecko species. They are native to Madagascar and grow to 2 – 3 inches in length. These geckos can live for ten plus years. Their can be finicking in temperament and care and are best for more experienced reptile owners. Despite their finickiness, they are a worthy pet and very interesting.
24. African Fire Skink
African fire skinks have amazing colors. Fire skinks will reach about 15 inches long and can live up to 20 years. While they can be shy, if cared for properly in an appropriately sized enclosure (ideally 50 gallon terrarium), owners have said they can be rather active with good personalities. They will tolerate handling, but can easily squirm out of grasp so should only be held in places where they cannot escape.
25. African Fat-Tailed Gecko
African Fat-tailed Geckos are very similar to leopard geckos. They are a bit smaller, but only by an inch or so, and they require a much higher humidity. They are recommended as a great place to start if you are beginning in the lizard world because they are very calm. African fat-tailed geckos can be a long-time companion living up to 25 years when properly cared for.