4 Types of Reptiles to Enjoy as Pets

Not all pets are furry. Some of us adore the sleek scales or leathery skin of  a reptile. So, what types of reptiles make the best pets? There are many to choose from! Here's what you need to know about reptiles and four species to consider.

What is a reptile?

These creatures first appeared on Earth over 315 million years ago during the Mesozoic era. Yes, they lived alongside the dinosaurs! Reptiles are cold blooded, breathe air, shed the outer layer of their skin as they grow and their metabolism shifts with the temperature of their environment. For example, reptiles become inactive during cooler months. When they need to warm up, they bask in the sunshine or a heat lamp if kept as a pet. 

A few popular reptiles you've likely heard of are crocodiles, snakes, lizards and tortoises. So, what's not a reptile? Mammals, arachnids, —and humans, of course! 

The study of reptiles and amphibians is known as herpetology. So, sometimes reptile parents refer to their pets as "herps." Reptiles also get classified as "exotic pets" by veterinarians, at reptile (or herp) expo (an event where breeders get together to sell their reptiles) or in pet stores.

Before You Get a Reptile As a Pet

Reptiles make excellent beginner pets for those who prefer an animal that needs less maintenance than a cat or dog. Reptiles don't require daily walks, a litter box or a yard, making them perfect for condo or apartment living. 

Before you head to the local pet store, look up breeders or visit a herp swap, you'll want to decide what type of reptile would best mix with your family, personality, budget and space. Some reptile pets need big habitats. (We're looking at you, snake friends!) 

Also, are you OK with feeding your pet insects, worms, mice and produce to ensure proper balanced nutrition? Many reptile owners find their pets prefer live bugs, which can take a little getting used to if you've only had a kibble-munching cat or dog around the home. Rest assured, some reptiles will thrive on easier-to-feed dehydrated options if providing live food doesn't work for you.

4 Types of Reptiles to Consider As a Pet

  1. Geckos

    Zilla blog types of reptiles
    One of the most popular reptile pets is the gecko. You'll find dozens of varieties, colors and sizes readily available in pet stores. Geckos have cool sticky pads on their toes to help them climb vertical walls, make quirky chirping noises and have no eyelids. What's a gecko to do when it gets a piece of sand in its eye?

  2. Lizards

    zilla blog type of reptiles
    Despite a popular misconception, not all lizards are geckos. Beyond that popular species, you'll find several docile lizards that make great pets, including skinks, chameleons, uromastyxs and bearded dragons. One cool trait lizards possess is the ability to drop tails when scared or being hunted. The detached tails wiggle to keep the attention of the hunters while the lizards scurry away to safety. (Second cool lizard trait: their tails grow back!)

  3. Snakes

    zilla blog types of reptiles
    The twisting, turning and constricting of a pet snake is super cool to watch. All snakes are carnivores and feed on insects, fish, small mammals, and birds. They use their tongues to smell and hunt their prey, so it's always flickering about. Some snakes lay eggs and tend to nests, but many snakes also give birth to live young. Other snakes (and reptiles like lizards and tortoises) lay eggs and tend to nests. Some cities have ordinances stating which breeds of snakes are allowed, so it's important to find out what works in your city before you adopt.

  4. Tortoises

    zilla blog types of reptiles
    These land-dwelling reptiles look very different from geckos, lizards and snakes. They come with hard shells and have the ability to retract their head, neck, arms and legs inside their shell and clamp down tightly to stay safe from predators. Tortoises are mostly vegetarian, with an occasional craving for an insect or worm. Popular types you might see in a pet store include Russian, Greek, Red-foot or Star tortoises. 

    Ready to shop for your new reptile pet? Be sure to set up your pet's habitat before bringing home your gecko, lizard, snake or tortoise.

    Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, For Owners
    National Geographic, Reptile Pictures & Fac