First-time reptile owners: four low-maintenance lizards 0 3383

New to reptile keeping or simply not got the time to care for high maintenance pets? Discover four fantastic low maintenance lizards...
Bearded Dragon

Over the last decade, reptiles of all varieties have become ever more popular for pet owners, with the number of pet reptiles reported in the UK exceeding nine million in 2011. While the class of reptiles includes turtles, snakes, crocodilians, amphisbaenians (legless lizards) and tuatara, the humble lizard can make the ideal pet for the first-time exotic pet owner. But which do you choose? Here are four low maintenance lizards that are ideal for beginners…

Crested gecko (correlophus ciliatus)

The crested gecko ranks among the most popular reptiles for beginner owners, being friendly little creature that is quite happy to be handled when taken out of its vivarium – although, as with all lizards and reptiles, handling should be kept to a minimum.

Crested geckos don?t normally grow more than eight inches in length and are easy to look after, as far as pet care goes, since they don?t require live food in their diet (although they do still appreciate the occasional live insect).

Leopard gecko (eublepharis macularius)

Like the crested gecko, the leopard gecko is another popular lizard for the newcomer. They are small and non-aggressive, and easy to handle when taking them out of their cage for cleaning.

Leopard geckos subsist on live crickets, with an adult getting through 10 to 15 of the insects every day. Feeding your leopard gecko is pretty easy for the new reptile owner, as they do not overfeed, simply rejecting their food once they are full.

Green iguana (iguana iguana)

By far the most popular breed of pet iguanas, the green iguana is one of the larger domestic reptiles, so will require a suitably sized vivarium to live in. They are tolerant towards being handled and, being totally herbivorous, only eat fruit, flowers, roots and leaves, rather than the live insect diet of many pet lizards. Both these traits make them ideal pets for a beginner.

Bearded dragon (pogona)

There are eight species of bearded dragon, and all make great pets for beginners. They are easy to handle, enjoy the affection they receive from their owners and behave with affection in return. Not only that, bearded dragons are easily controlled and are happy to explore outside of their tanks.

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Top 3 exotic pets for children 0 1935

Pet Syrian Hamster

Children don’t always want a run of the mill pet and often like to be adventurous in choosing their new playmate. You might think that exotic pets won’t make a good match for your child, but we’ve pulled together a list of the top three types of unusual pet for children.

Syrian Hamster

Syrian Hamsters are a more unusual breed of your standard hamster.

They love being handled, which is great for kids – once you’ve shown them how to do this properly. You should only get one, or if you want one per child, be sure to house them in separate cages as they’re very territorial and will fight.

They live for about 2 years. Feed your hamster a good quality hamster food and supplement their diet with some fresh fruit and vegetables but avoid citrus fruits as they’re too acidic.

Learn more about hamsters at our sister-site


Rats may not sound like a great pet for a child but they are friendly, active little creatures. They need to live together in pairs but get two of the same sex, otherwise you’ll have lots of baby rats too!

Rats love human company so are great for kids, and they’re pretty easy to look after. They just need a big enough indoor cage, and a nest box for sleeping, plus toys to keep them entertained when they’re on their own.

You can buy ready-made rat pet food at pet shops. They also like grains and vegetables and will need fresh water available.

Rats can live up to three years.


A chinchilla can live up to 15 years so is a big commitment for a child’s pet. Chinchilla’s need to be kept indoors in a cage of about 1m x 1.5m. They also like to be in pairs. They’re nocturnal, so consider this when choosing for a child.

Chinchillas will need exercise outside their cage at least once a day because they’re really active creatures. Feed them Chinchilla pellets which you can buy in pet stores. This will give them a lot of the nutrients they’ll need but they also need a constant supply of hay to munch on. You can give them raisins and sultanas for a treat.

Should you choose a chameleon as a pet? 0 3884

Pet chameleon

Chameleons are not the easiest pet to take care of, and are more for the advanced reptile enthusiast. That said, they are beautiful creatures and they can thrive if well looked after.

Our pet care advice below will help you decide whether a chameleon is right for you:

Different types of chameleon

There are a few different chameleons suitable to be kept as pets: The Veiled or Yemen Chameleon is one of the easier species to keep. They can grow to two feet, so make sure you consider that when buying a cage.

Panther Chameleons are active during the day, and require a similar environment to the veiled chameleon. They grow up to about 20 inches.

Jackson’s chameleons are the smallest of these three breeds, and grow to around 10 inches. Some species of Jackson’s chameleons also have a horn.

All chameleons prefer not to be handled, and need to be housed on their own. If you want to breed your chameleons, make sure you look into this carefully.

Getting the environment right

A chameleon’s natural habitat is the humid rainforests and arid deserts, so they need a humid environment with enough space to allow for their tree climbing – the minimum size is three feet by three feet by four feet tall.

You’ll need to include lots of tree branches and foliage within the cage. The chameleon likes to bask, and you’ll need different basking spots, in a range of different temperatures, depending on your type of chameleon.

You’ll also need UV lighting that’s designed for reptiles as well as a misting system if you’re not going to be there to ensure humidity is at the right level. Misting needs to take place twice a day.

Feeding your chameleon

Chameleons are insectivores, and so a mixed diet of crickets, roaches, and worms is their preferred menu. Some also like vegetation such as fruits and vegetables.

Chameleons don’t drink from a bowl, preferring to take droplets of water from the leaves, so it’s important you’re misting twice a day, or providing a water system that drips.

With the right pet care, chameleons are a fascinating pet to keep, but are probably not for you if you want a reptile to handle. You’ll also need to put time into making sure their environment is right, as they can easily get sick if not.