Lizards are relatively quiet and clean animals that don't require a lot of real estate in your home and won't need to be walked. Some have relaxed personalities and make great pets for beginner reptile owners and kids who want a tactile connection. Others do well in domestic settings but aren't so enthusiastic about being handled.
Originally from Central Asia and India, leopard geckos are easy-going creatures that come in multiple colors, with the most well-known being the spotty leopard-like version. They're up to 10 inches long, including their tails, and weigh about two ounces. Leopard geckos have big eyes and good eyesight, and they have soft but bumpy skin. These crepuscular insect-eating desert lizards can live for close to two decades in a basic setup sans special lighting.
The first domesticated lizard, the leo, is a smiley ground-dweller that fits in a 15 to 20-gallon tank.
Double the length of a leopard gecko and clocking in at around 15 ounces, bearded dragons are hardy and super popular. These rough, scaly lizards come in earthy hues like brown, red, and yellow, and they can flare the skin below their throats, hence the name. They're friendly for a cold-blooded critter and need a warm habitat with adequate heat and lighting to make up for the chill in their veins. Beardies don't mind being handled as long as you're gentle. Daily servings of leafy greens are welcome, and a 50-gallon tank is necessary.
Blue-tongued skinks look like they've been licking a raspberry ring pop, for starters, and they have smooth scales. They're approximately the same size as bearded dragons, so they need bigger enclosures than smaller lizards and will require varied temperatures within the habit for thermoregulation. These Australian lizards are kid-friendly, low-maintenance, and even-tempered. They also tolerate handling well and are more likely to hiss than bite. You can feed them fruit, veggies, and insects.
The green anole is a U.S. native. It's small at eight inches and has a reddish throat dewlap that contrasts with its bright green body. Green anoles don't take to handling immediately but can become accustomed to it with time. If you have aspirations to do stand-up comedy, then your anole enclosure is where you can get the crickets out the way—these lizards love eating insects. Anoles enjoy vivariums with plants and branches to climb and live for about six years.
The Uromastyx, AKA the spiny-tailed lizard, is a rare, expensive, and herbivorous newcomer to the domestic pet world. It's docile and long-lived at upwards of thirty years. You'll need substrate so your Uromastyx can burrow and dig and plenty of dry and sprouted lentils and pellets so your vegetarian buddy can fill its tummy.
The strikingly patterned Ackies monitor is an Australian native and Komodo dragon relative. It lives for up to two decades, reaches 30 inches long, and is a curious but mellow animal. You'll need to accommodate your monitor with a basking spot that can get as hot as 130 degrees Fahrenheit to mimic the arid desert-like conditions hardwired into its DNA. Enlist a professional's help if you're unsure how to set the tank up safely.
The panther chameleon is just plain gorgeous. It'll make you play the trippy song "Chameleon" by PNAU and envision Joseph and his technicolor dream coat. Color changes depend on mood and temperature, and the males tend to be larger and have more robust hues on their bodies. You'll need to feed your chameleon insets that aren't already dead so it can flex its predatory muscles. A mesh enclosure will do for this animal.
For a while there, the crested gecko seemed to have disappeared off the face of the planet. Thankfully, these geckos weren't, in fact, extinct, and since 1994 they've become one of the most common pet lizards in households. Crested geckos have eyelashes but no eyelids, so they lick their eyeballs to prevent dry eyes. These small nocturnal lizards enjoy tall enclosures for climbing.
The great artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci would have been a tad jealous of the green basilisk's apparent ability to run, not just walk, on water. Physically similar to the Chinese water dragon, the 'Jesus Christ lizard' can stay underwater for half an hour and is quick as a flash—it reaches impressive speeds of 15 mph. It doesn't like being handled and prefers some company. A male and female pairing works best because these lizards can be territorial.
These little Madagascan beauties are just six inches long and live for about a decade. They're display-only lizards with delicate skin, but you can compensate for the lack of contact with hours of interesting observation time. The gold-dust day gecko is high-maintenance and best for those who already have a beginner lizard.
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