While dogs, cats and freshwater fish are the most popular pets — 122.7 million U.S. households have at least one of these animals as pets — reptiles are present in about 6 million U.S. homes. If you're in the market for a reptile, specifically a lizard, you've come to the right place.
From bearded dragons to blue-tongued skinks, we've compiled a list of the best lizard pets that you can welcome into your home.
Do Lizards Make Good Pets?
There are critiques about why animals like lizards don't make for good pets — detractors say they can carry diseases that can hurt humans and that it might be easy to miss signs of a sick reptile.
"It's really not possible for us to care for these animals in order for them to thrive and live a decent life," vet technician Lorelei Tibbetts told The New York Times.
But those on the other side argue that you can learn to take care of pet lizards, especially with more vets specializing in this field. Additionally, they are quiet, unlike dogs and cats.
If you do decide to get a pet lizard, it's important that you do your research and are ready to take on the responsibility. Find a reputable breeder or trusted pet stores to find your new pet. And lastly, be aware that it might be illegal to own some of these lizards in your state.
1. African Fat-tailed Gecko
African fat-tailed geckos can live more than 15 years. Feed them insects, such as crickets and waxworms, and place a bowl of shallow water for them. To keep these geckos safe, spot clean their habitat daily and do a more thorough clean on a monthly basis.
2. Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are an easy-to-handle lizard species that can live up to 10 years. They eat insects, greens and fruits. Don't go overboard on the fruits, thought — they only comprise about 10 percent of their diet.
Beardies thrive in hot temperatures, ranging from 95 to 115 degrees F (35 to 46.1 degrees C), but you still need to make sure they have access to water at all times.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bearded dragons do not make good pets for children under 5 or adults over 65. You should also keep this pet outside of your kitchen and wherever you eat or prepare food to avoid getting sick.
3. Blue-tongued Skink
This blue-tongued, slow-moving lizard eats a diet of snails and plants. At the Oakland Zoo, this reptile helps show visitors why proper pet care is necessary.
"Our Blue Tongue Skink is a part of a community education program designed to educate people about the importance of responsible pet ownership and animal needs," according to the zoo.
4. Chinese Water Dragon
Chinese water dragons are arguably the best pet lizard for experienced reptile enthusiasts. These reptiles, which can live up to 15 years, can grow to be 3 feet (0.9 meters) long.
They eat birds, rodents and fish. At the Smithsonian National Zoo, Chinese water dragons receive cockroaches, earthworms, mixed greens and crickets.
5. Crested Gecko
Once believed extinct, crested geckos can live up to 20 years. They are about 8 to 9 inches (20.32 to 22.86 centimeters) long. These reptile pets have a prehensile tail and eyelash-like hair to protect their eyes.
6. Leopard Gecko
Leopard geckos are one of the best pet lizards because they are docile. These spotted reptiles come in various colors and sizes. They eat mealworms, grasshoppers, larvae and crickets.
Lizards to Consider Carefully
Not every one of these reptiles is suitable as a pet. Take the green iguana for example: Not only can they get big, they also have a strong bite. Despite that, green iguanas have become increasingly popular as pets.
"The popularity of the Common Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) as a pet has contributed to its global occurrence as an invasive alien species," according to a research paper. It is illegal to own a green iguana in some places, like Florida.
Gila monsters are also not great pets. They are venomous and can hurt humans with their bite.
Lastly, you should stay away from monitor lizards. They require a lot of care and prefer not to be near humans.
Original article: 6 Best Lizard Pets for Your Home
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