5 Friendly and Affectionate Reptile Pet Species

When you think of a pet, an image of a dog or cat may immediately come to mind. They're fluffy, affectionate, and can be fun to play with. But dogs and cats are not your only options.

When you think of a pet reptile, you likely conjure up images of a lizard or snake behind glass. While cool to watch, you don't necessarily think of them as friendly or playful. But some reptiles are more accepting of interactions with their owners, and some can learn a fun trick or two!

If you're looking for a unique pet that's more inclined to hang around you and your kids, we've got five great reptiles to consider.

1. Leopard Gecko

Leopard Gecko

Small but mighty, the leopard gecko is a reptile that enjoys spending time with their owners and climbing all over them. Known for their friendly and calm nature, they're relatively easy to care for.

These little lizards average between seven and 10 inches in length and live up to 25 years when kept as pets. The 20L Zilla Critter Cage is the perfect size for adult leopard geckos.

They love to be handled gently and can even be handled by children, making them great family pets. (Always remember to support your leopard gecko's body when handling them, as they don't have sticky toe pads.) And best of all, they have a sweet smiling face.

2. Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragon

Want a friendly companion that loves to sit on your shoulder and is awake during the day to accompany you around the home? Then the bearded dragon is just what you've been looking for.

These quirky lizards are fairly easy to care for, live an average of 15 years, and enjoy daily handling. In fact, you can gently perch your bearded dragon on your chest, arm, or shoulder. You can also entice these food-motivated pets to spend time with you using treats like the Zilla Reptile Munchies Omnivore mix.

Bearded dragons grow up to be around 24 inches long, so they need a good-sized home like the Zilla QuickBuild Terrarium or get them everything they need to thrive with the Deluxe Bearded Dragon Kit.

3. Argentine Black and White Tegu

Argentine White and Black Tegu

Looking for a reptile that can play fetch and do tricks like a dog but has the personality of a cat? Then the Argentine Black and White Tegu may be the pet for you. Adult tegus are known for their docile demeanors, but it takes dedicated training to get through their "teenage years." (Remember, they do have sharp teeth and strong tails!)

About the size of some small dogs like Shih Tzus and pugs, tegus grow up to around four feet in length and live for up to 20 years. With personalities more like cats, they keep to themselves until they want your attention and affection. Tegus show their affection to their humans by climbing on them, flicking their tongues, and wiggling their tails.

Because of their size and strength, tegus are best suited for more experienced reptile owners who can provide them with the care they need, a spacious habitat, and proper lighting.

4. Corn Snake

Corn Snake

A snuggly snake? You bet! The corn snake is a sweet serpent great for first-time reptile owners that enjoys curling up with you.

Known for their docile personalities and colorful bodies, corn snakes can grow up to six feet long and live into their 20s. The 40BR Zilla Critter Cage makes the perfect home for adult corn snakes paired with the Zilla Rock Lair to give them a safe hiding spot. Be sure to keep an eye on these burrowing snakes — they are great escape artists!

With frequent and gentle handling, they love to spend time with their owners. You can hold them close to your body, and they enjoy slithering up your arm.

5. Russian Tortoise

Russian Tortoise

Known for their ability to form strong bonds with their owners, Russian tortoises are laid-back, gentle, and live up to a whopping 40 years. Unlike some of their larger land-tortoise relatives, these little guys only grow to between five and 10 inches, making them an excellent option for a pet. The 40BR Zilla Critter Cage works well for their indoor enclosure.

These food-motivated little herbivores can learn some basic tricks and can even recognize their name. Tasty snacks like leafy greens, fruits, and the Zilla Reptile Munchies Veggie Mix are excellent training aids to positively reinforce their behavior.

Selecting a New Scaly Family Member

With these personable picks, we've made finding the perfect (and cuddly!) reptile to add to your family easier. They love to be around their humans, enjoy being handled, and some can even learn tricks. Plus, they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes to suit your needs.

Check out our other guides to discover more about why reptiles need proper lighting and heat, how to understand your bearded dragon's body language and how to feed your reptile.