The Best Pet Lizards for Kids: Top Beginner-Friendly Choices

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Best Pet Lizards For Kids
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Selecting a pet lizard for a child involves considering the unique needs and personalities of both the reptile and the young caretaker. Understanding which lizards are best suited for kids is crucial for a positive experience for the entire family. Some lizards are more docile and easier to handle, making them ideal first pets for children who are fascinated by reptiles. These species typically require less intensive care, which can be a good match for a child’s developing sense of responsibility.

Caring for a pet lizard can be an enriching venture for children, teaching them about the importance of daily care, maintenance, and the long-term commitment required to keep their reptilian companion healthy. It is important to provide a comfortable habitat, proper nutrition, and regular health check-ups. Additionally, families should be aware of the legal and ethical considerations when owning a pet lizard and be prepared for the financial aspects of providing a suitable environment and equipment.

Key Takeaways

  • Some lizards are particularly well-suited for children due to their docile nature and simpler care requirements.
  • Keeping a pet lizard teaches kids about responsibility, daily care routines, and the commitment needed to maintain the health of their pet.
  • While lizards can be rewarding pets, it is important to consider the legalities, ethical concerns, and financial commitment involved.

Selecting the Ideal Pet Lizard for Kids

Choosing the right pet lizard for your child involves careful consideration of size, temperament, and the species’ specific requirements. This will ensure a positive experience for both the child and the pet.

Factors to Consider

  • Size: Smaller lizards are often more manageable for children. Look for species that are known for remaining relatively small even when fully grown.
  • Temperament: Opt for lizards that are known for their docile nature. Non-aggressive and easy-to-handle traits are important for interaction with kids.
  • Handling: Some lizards tolerate handling better than others. Those that are beginner-friendly and accustomed to human touch make better pets for children.
  • Different Species of Lizards: Explore reputable sources or speak to a herpetologist to identify which lizard species meet these criteria. Popular options include Bearded Dragons, Leopard Geckos, and Crested Geckos.

Remember to assess the lizard’s needs and whether your lifestyle can accommodate them. It’s important to provide your pet lizard with proper care for a healthy and happy companionship.

Top Pet Lizards for Families with Kids

Choosing a pet lizard for your family involves considering temperament, care needs, and safety for both the pet and the children. Here are some popular and suitable options.

Leopard Gecko

Leopard geckos are docile and easy to handle, making them a great choice for families. You’ll appreciate their resilience and the simplicity of their care requirements.

  • Diet: Insects like crickets and mealworms
  • Habitat: Warm, dry environment; under-tank heating
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years

Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons enjoy interaction, which can be rewarding for kids who want to engage with their pet regularly.

  • Diet: Omnivorous; mix of vegetables and live prey
  • Habitat: Spacious tank with basking areas; UVB lighting
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years

Crested Gecko

For a less demanding lizard, crested geckos are ideal as they don’t require UV lighting and can thrive at room temperature.

  • Diet: Commercial crested gecko food; occasional fruits and insects
  • Habitat: Vertical space with hiding places; misting for humidity
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years

African Fat-Tailed Gecko

Similar to leopard geckos, African fat-tailed geckos are calm and easier to handle but they need a more humid environment.

  • Diet: Insects
  • Habitat: Warm, moderately humid; under-tank heating
  • Lifespan: Around 20 years

Gargoyle Gecko

With their unique appearance, gargoyle geckos are intriguing yet undemanding pets.

  • Diet: Crested gecko diet; insects
  • Habitat: Arboreal setup with room to climb; misting needed
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years

Blue-Tongued Skink

The blue-tongued skink is a larger option and requires more space but is known for its affable nature.

  • Diet: Omnivorous; variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins
  • Habitat: Large ground space; requires UVB lighting
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years

Green Anole

Green anoles are smaller and less demanding, but they can be more skittish, so handling should be minimized.

  • Diet: Small insects like crickets and flies
  • Habitat: Vertical space with foliage for climbing; UVB lighting
  • Lifespan: 4-8 years

Each lizard species has unique qualities and care requirements. When making your choice, consider how much time you can dedicate to maintenance and interaction to ensure a happy environment for your new reptile companion.

Creating a Comfortable Environment

Ensuring the right habitat is crucial for your pet lizard’s health and happiness. Attention to temperature, humidity, and the overall design of your lizard’s living space is essential.

Habitat Requirements

Your pet lizard will thrive in an enclosure that closely mimics its natural habitat. The enclosure should be large enough to allow for a range of behaviors, such as climbing and hiding. Using the right substrate is important for comfort and hygiene; for many species, coconut fiber or reptile carpet works well. The enclosure should also include a basking area which imitates the warm spot a lizard would find in the sun, and a sheltered space where it can retreat and cool down.

Feature Importance
Basking Area Provides warmth and UV exposure.
Hiding Spots Offers security and stress relief.
Substrate For hygiene and replicating habitat.

Your lizard’s vivarium or cage must be a well-decorated tank to provide both stimulation and a sense of security. It can include items like branches for climbing, leaves for hiding, and a pool of water for drinking and bathing depending on the species.

Temperature and Humidity Control

Proper control of temperature and humidity in the vivarium is fundamental to your lizard’s well-being. Most lizards require a temperature gradient in their enclosures, with a basking area that is warmer, achieved through heating lamps or a heating pad. The cool side of the tank allows your pet to regulate its body temperature. You should have thermometers in both areas to monitor the temperature closely.

Area Temperature Range
Basking Spot 85-100°F (29-38°C)
Cool Area 70-85°F (21-29°C)
Night Time Can drop to 65-75°F (18-24°C)

You will also need to regulate humidity by misting the enclosure manually, or with an automatic system to maintain proper humidity levels. This is especially important for tropical species. Humidity levels in the enclosure should generally range from 30% to 70%, specific to your lizard’s species. A hygrometer within the enclosure will help you track this.

Humidity Level Typical Need
30%-50% Desert species
50%-70% Tropical and forest species

By efficiently managing these conditions, you can create a pleasant living environment for your pet lizard and ensure that it leads a healthy and contented life.

Lizard Nutrition and Health

Proper nutrition is vital for your pet lizard’s health and longevity. Ensuring a balanced diet and understanding your lizard’s specific nutritional needs will prevent most common health concerns.


Your lizard’s diet should consist primarily of live insects, like crickets and mealworms, as these are nutritional staples for many pet lizard species. How often you feed your lizard will depend on its age and species. Juveniles typically need daily feeding, while adults may only require food several times a week. Offer food in a shallow dish and remove uneaten items to prevent spoilage.

Supplements and Hydration

Calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are crucial to prevent bone disorders. Dusting your lizard’s food with a calcium supplement 2-3 times a week is recommended. Only use vitamin D3 supplements if your lizard does not have UVB lighting, which otherwise enables them to synthesize D3 naturally. Adequate water is also essential for hydration and shedding. Offer fresh water daily, either through a dish or misting, depending on your lizard’s needs.

Common Health Concerns

Inadequate care can lead to health issues such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) from calcium deficiency, shedding problems from low humidity, and obesity from overfeeding. Watch for signs of these conditions and consult a veterinarian experienced in reptile care if you notice symptoms. Regular monitoring of food intake, growth, and behavior is a key aspect of proper care and will help you detect problems early.

Daily Care and Maintenance

Ensuring the health and happiness of pet lizards involves routine care and maintenance. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific needs of your reptile pets to provide proper care. This includes regular cleaning, responsible handling, and precise habitat management.

Routine Cleaning

Your daily cleaning tasks are essential to keeping your pet lizard healthy.

  • Spot Cleaning: Each day, remove any waste or leftover food from the habitat.
  • Water Checks: Ensure water dishes are clean and filled with fresh water.

Bi-weekly, perform a more thorough cleaning of the entire enclosure, replacing substrate as necessary and disinfecting items to prevent bacteria and parasite buildup.

Handling and Socialization

Proper handling is key to nurturing a friendly relationship with your pet lizard.

  • Gentle Interaction: Start with short sessions, gradually increasing as your pet becomes more comfortable with you.
  • Consistency: Regular, but not excessive handling helps your pet acclimate to socialization.

Always wash your hands before and after handling to protect both yourself and your lizard from potential contaminants.

Monitoring and Adjusting Habitat Conditions

Creating a stable environment is vital for your lizard’s health.

Habitat Element Details To Monitor Adjustment Tips
Temperature Ensure the enclosure maintains species-specific temperature zones. Use thermostats and digital thermometers for precise control.
Humidity Monitor levels to meet species-specific requirements. Mist the enclosure as needed or adjust humidity control devices.
Lighting Provide adequate UVB lighting for metabolic health. Replace UVB bulbs every 6-12 months, even if they still emit visible light.

Regularly check these conditions and adjust as necessary to keep your reptile pets comfortable and healthy. Remember that precise habitat conditions vary for different lizard species; always research and adhere to guidelines for your specific pet.

Lifespan and Long-Term Commitment

When considering a pet lizard, you should be aware that lizard care is a long-term commitment. Various species have different lifespans, which are significantly extended with proper care.

Bearded Dragons are hardy lizards and among the most popular pet reptiles for kids. With a proper habitat and diet, they can live 8 to 12 years. They need a warm environment and UVB lighting to thrive.

Leopard Geckos offer a slightly longer commitment. These reptiles can be ideal pets due to their docile nature and may live for 10 to 20 years when well-cared for. They require a warm, humid environment and consistent feeding schedules.

Here is a breakdown of common pet lizards and their expected lifespans:

  • Bearded Dragon: 8-12 years
  • Leopard Gecko: 10-20 years
  • Crested Gecko: 10-15 years
  • Blue-Tongued Skink: 15-20 years

Understanding the lifespan of your pet lizard is crucial to ensure that you or your family are prepared for the responsibility. It involves regular feeding, habitat maintenance, and veterinary care over the years, all of which contribute to your reptile pet’s health and longevity.

Care for these reptiles will include temperature regulation, substrate changes, and monitoring for health issues. Be sure you are ready for the commitment to provide a loving and stable environment for the entire life of your chosen pet lizard. Make an informed decision considering the life expectancy and care requirements to ensure a rewarding experience for both you and your pet lizard.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

When choosing pet lizards for kids, it’s crucial to understand relevant legislation and the importance of ethical ownership. These factors can greatly influence what species you can keep and how they must be cared for.

Species-Specific Legislation

Local laws: You need to check your local laws and regulations before selecting a lizard. Some species may be protected or prohibited in your area.

Species Legal Status Notes
Bearded Dragons Typically legal Widely regarded as suitable for beginners.
Leopard Geckos Often legal Popular due to their docile nature.
Iguanas Legal with restrictions Some regions might require permits.

Endangered species: Ensure the lizard is not endangered or taken from the wild. Conservation statuses may limit availability or require special permits for ownership.

Responsible Ownership Practices

Habitat needs: Lizards have specific habitat requirements for temperature, humidity, and lighting that you must adhere to for their well-being.

  • Bearded Dragons: Require a warm environment and UVB lighting.
  • Leopard Geckos: Thrive in a habitat with a temperature gradient.

Long-term commitment: Owning a lizard is a long-term responsibility, some species live for decades. Ensure that you’re prepared for this commitment.

Pet lizards for kids: While lizards can be great pets for kids, always supervise interactions and teach children about proper lizard care to promote animal welfare and ensure safety for both the child and the pet.

Additional Lizard Species for Enthusiasts

For children who have a burgeoning interest in pet lizards, exploring species beyond the common choices can be exciting. Here are several intriguing options tailored for the young enthusiast ready to expand their pet reptile collection.

Beyond the Standard Choices

  • Uromastyx: These spiny-tailed lizards are known for their preference of hot climates and vegetarian diets. They come in various colors and sizes, making them visually stunning pets.
  • African Fire Skink: With their vivid, shiny scales and medium size, African fire skinks make for charismatic pets. They require a humid environment and regular feeding of insects.
  • New Caledonia Gecko Species:
    • Gold-Dust Day Gecko: These brightly colored geckos are active during the day and relatively small, making them suitable for older children who can handle them gently.
    • Other geckos from New Caledonia, such as the Crested Gecko, offer a more handleable option with simpler dietary needs of fruit-based preparations and insects.
  • Chameleons:
    • Veiled Chameleon: They are fascinating due to their changing colors and unique eye movements but require specific care in terms of humidity and feeding.
    • When considering chameleons, be prepared for a more hands-off pet, as they can become stressed with frequent handling.
  • Chinese Water Dragon: Ideal for those with the space for a larger enclosure, these lizards thrive in a humid, tropical setup and can grow up to 3 feet long.
  • Green Iguanas: A common yet sizeable option, they need a considerable amount of space and a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits in their diet.
  • Ackies Monitor: Smaller than other monitor species, making it a more manageable pet. It needs a warm, spacious enclosure with plenty of space to dig.
  • Savannah Monitor: They are relatively tame with proper socialization but require a large habitat and a commitment to providing a varied diet.
  • Long-Tailed Lizard: These slender and active lizards are a great choice if you’re looking for a smaller, less demanding pet. They thrive in a tropical setting with ample climbing space.
  • Argentine Black and White Tegu: Although they can grow quite large, these intelligent reptiles can become quite docile with regular handling and interaction.
  • Miscellaneous Reptiles:
    • Corn Snakes and Ball Pythons: Although not lizards, these snakes are often considered by enthusiasts for their docile nature and ease of care.
    • Russian Tortoises: Another non-lizard option that’s hardy and better for hands-on interaction.
    • Jesus Christ Lizard: Named for their ability to run on water, these lizards are a spectacle but require a semi-aquatic setup that can be challenging to maintain.

Expense Management

Before selecting a pet lizard for your child, you need to understand the specific costs associated with their care including the initial setup and ongoing expenses.

Cost of Ownership

Initial Setup: Your initial investment will include purchasing a suitable cage and creating a habitat with proper heating, lighting, and bedding. For a standard setup, you may spend:

  • Cage: $50 – $150 depending on the size and material.
  • Heating and Lighting: $20 – $100 for initial equipment, plus ongoing electrical costs.
  • Bedding: Sand substrate or reptile carpet ranges from $10 – $30 and will need regular replacement.

Maintenance Costs: These recurring expenses include food and bedding, and they can vary based on the type of lizard you choose:

  • Food: Expect to spend $5 – $20 per month. Insectivorous lizards will need a diet of crickets or mealworms, which are less expensive than pinkie mice, a typical food for carnivorous species.
  • Bedding Replacement: Costing around $10 – $30 every few months, depending on how frequently it needs to be changed.

Healthcare: Periodical vet check-ups are recommended. An annual visit can cost between $50 and $100, but unforeseen health issues may increase this budget.

Remember to factor in these costs when considering a pet lizard to ensure you can provide a healthy environment for your new reptile pet.

Educational Resources for Reptile Care

When considering pet lizards for your kids, it’s essential to gather reliable information to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some resources that will help you understand the needs of reptile pets:


  • Your First Lizard” by Susan Patterson – A comprehensive guide for beginners.
  • Lizard Care from A to Z” by Richard D. Bartlett – Deepens your knowledge on specific care details.

Online Forums and Communities:

  • HerpCenter – An online forum where you can get advice from experienced reptile owners.
  • ReptileForums – Discuss the care and maintenance of lizards with other enthusiasts.


  • Reptiles Magazine ( – Offers a variety of care sheets and articles on different reptile species.
  • Herp Care Collection ( – Provides extensive information on the health and husbandry of reptiles.

Local Herpetological Societies:

  • Participate in meetings and workshops offered by these societies to gain hands-on experience and knowledge from experts.


  • Seek a vet specializing in exotic animals to understand the medical needs of pet lizards.

Care Sheets and Manuals:

  • Find species-specific care sheets provided by reputable breeders and retailers, which offer step-by-step instructions on the daily care of pet reptiles.

Remember, being well-informed is pivotal for the successful care of any pet lizard. The resources above will empower you with the knowledge you need to provide an ideal environment for your new reptile companion.

Community and Events

If you’re a reptile enthusiast looking to integrate a pet lizard into your family, engaging with a community can be very rewarding. You’ll encounter numerous events that provide educational opportunities and allow you to connect with fellow reptile lovers.

Local Herpetological Societies:

  • Monthly meetings
  • Guest speakers
  • Share experiences with pet reptiles

Annual Reptile Expos:

  • Showcases of different lizard species
  • Workshops for proper care and handling
  • Networking with breeders and experts

Online Forums and Groups:

  • Daily discussions
  • Advice on husbandry from seasoned owners
  • Upcoming events and meetups

Youth Programs:

  • Interactive sessions for kids
  • Learning about reptile conservation
  • Fun activities aimed at responsible pet ownership

To keep informed about these activities:

  • Subscribe to newsletters from reptile-focused organizations.
  • Join Facebook groups or subreddits dedicated to pet lizards.
  • Visit local pet stores for event flyers and community boards.

Remember, participating in these events not only broadens your knowledge but also helps in creating a supportive environment for you and your pet lizard to thrive.

Purchasing the Right Equipment

Before you bring a pet lizard into your home, it’s crucial to purchase the right equipment to create a comfortable and healthy habitat. Ensuring you have the essential supplies from the start will contribute to the wellbeing of your new pet.

Essential Supplies

Enclosure: You’ll need a vivarium or cage that is large enough for your lizard to move around comfortably. Size requirements vary by species, but a good rule of thumb is to choose one that is at least twice as long as your lizard from snout to tail, and as wide as the lizard is long.

Substrate: The floor of the enclosure should be lined with a suitable substrate. Options include reptile carpet, coconut fiber, or specially formulated reptile bark. This will help regulate humidity and provide a naturalistic environment.

Temperature: Lizards are ectothermic and require external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. You should have a temperature gradient in the enclosure, with a basking area on one end and a cooler area on the other.

Area Temperature Range
Basking Area 90-100°F (32-38°C)
Cool Area 70-80°F (21-27°C)

Heating Pad vs. Heat Lamp: Both can be used to provide warmth, but a heating pad placed under the basking area can more closely mimic natural heat from the ground. Alternatively, a heat lamp can offer a more focused heat source. Some species may require both.

UV Light: UVB lighting is necessary for lizards to process calcium and prevent metabolic bone disease. Ensure the bulb covers at least two-thirds of the enclosure’s length and replace it every 6 months for optimal output.

Humidity: Maintaining the correct humidity is essential. A hygrometer will help you monitor the levels, which should be suited to your lizard’s natural habitat.

Habitat Humidity Level
Tropical 60-80%
Desert 20-40%

Water: Provide a shallow pool of water for drinking and, depending on the species, bathing. Ensure it is shallow enough to prevent drowning and clean it regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Basking Rock/Area: A flat stone or designated area that absorbs heat is crucial for your lizard’s thermoregulation during basking periods.

Remember, different species of lizards have varying requirements. Always research the specific needs of the species you intend to bring home and consult with a reptile specialist when selecting equipment.


Choosing the best pet lizard for your child involves consideration of several key factors, including the lizard species’ temperament, care requirements, and safety. The Bearded Dragon, Leopard Gecko, and Crested Gecko are top choices due to their gentle nature and manageable size.

  • Bearded Dragons: They are friendly and enjoy handling, making them suitable companions for kids who want to interact with their pet. They require a warm environment and a diet of insects and vegetables.
  • Leopard Geckos: Known for their ease of care and docile temperament, these geckos are perfect for beginners. They thrive in a simple habitat and eat a diet of insects.
  • Crested Geckos: With their unique ability to climb and their tolerance for handling, they offer an engaging experience. Crested Geckos eat a commercial diet which simplifies feeding.

Ensure any pet reptile for kids is accompanied by education on responsible pet ownership and proper hygiene practices to safeguard both the child and the animal.

Habitat: It’s crucial to provide a stable and suitable environment for any lizard species, taking into account their specific temperature and space needs.

Longevity: Be mindful that some lizard species can live for many years, requiring a long-term commitment.

When selecting a pet lizard, prioritize your child’s ability to participate in its care under supervision. With the synergistic blend of knowledge and enthusiasm, a pet lizard can be a rewarding addition to your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

When choosing a pet lizard for kids, it’s crucial to find species that are gentle, low-maintenance, and safe. Below are answers to common questions to help you make an informed decision.

What species of lizard is recommended for children just starting with reptile pets?

The Leopard Gecko is widely recommended for children and beginners. They are docile, easy to handle, and have straightforward care requirements.

Which lizard breeds are known for being particularly gentle and safe for family environments?

Crested Geckos and Leopard Geckos are known for their gentle nature. They rarely bite and are suitable for families due to their easygoing temperament.

Can you suggest some lizard types that are low-maintenance and suitable for a beginner’s terrarium?

For a beginner’s terrarium, consider Leopard Geckos and African Fat-tailed Geckos. They do not require large enclosures or elaborate setups.

What are some considerations for selecting a lizard as a classroom pet?

A lizard as a classroom pet should be hardy, non-aggressive, and able to tolerate frequent handling. Bearded Dragons and Leopard Geckos are often chosen for such environments.

What lizard varieties are best known for their friendly disposition towards humans?

Bearded Dragons and Blue-Tongued Skinks are well-known for their friendly disposition toward humans and willingness to be handled once they trust their owner.

How suitable are bearded dragons for kids interested in keeping a reptile companion?

Bearded Dragons are highly suitable for children as they are generally docile and enjoy being handled. They also show a range of interesting behaviors that can be educational for kids.

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