16 Best Pet Lizards for Beginners Looking for a Reptile Companion

You’ve waited. You’ve read. And most of all? You’ve considered all your options. Now, it’s FINALLY time for you to get your first lizard!

But… how do you narrow down so many seemingly great choices into a list of the best pet lizards for you?

Here we’ll look at the sixteen lizards that work well for beginner reptile owners. You can also read about types of lizards in general

We’ve scoured the Internet, listened to personal stories, and tapped into our own personal experience to compile this list that will help you narrow down your choices to find the right lizard for your situation.

Now let’s dive into what the best pet lizards for beginners actually are! Consider any of the following great choices for your first lizard…

16. Central American Banded Gecko

Central American Banded Gecko

Central American Banded Geckos are like the tropical version of India’s leopard gecko.

Similar to leos, they are nocturnal, ground-dwelling lizards that eat small, live insects.

Their appearance is quite different, with a much more slender body, black and white bands instead of spots, and smooth skin.

They only reach lengths of 4 to 5 inches long, so they can comfortably live in a 10-gallon aquarium.

The humidity needs to be maintained around 50-60% with daily misting.

Ideal substrates are coconut coir, moss, and/or vermiculite, since Central American Banded Geckos spend their days burrowed underground.

Cork bark, driftwood, rocks, and live or faux plants are great opportunities to beautify the enclosure and enrich the gecko’s life.

They do best with an ambient temperature of 75°F to 80°F and a basking spot at 92°F. Since they’re nocturnal, they don’t require any specialized lighting.

Pet banded geckos do best on a diet of small, gut-loaded roaches and crickets.

If they’re cared for under these guidelines, your Banded Geckos should have a healthy, 8 to 12-year long life.

Central American Banded Gecko Cons:

Because of their small size and smooth, thin skin, Central American Banded Geckos are fragile and must be handled with an abundance of caution.

15. Northern Alligator Lizard

Northern Alligator Lizard

Unlike dangerous, 12-foot alligators, Alligator Lizards pack a crocodilian’s voracious predatory appetite and boney scales into a harmless 6-inch body.

Their enclosure should be a minimum of 30″ long and set up like a woodland floor, with moderate humidity less than 50% and temperatures ranging from a low of 65°F at night to a high of 80°F during the day.

Alligator lizards prefer a basking spot temperature around 90°F with UVB lighting.

They’re primarily terrestrial, but they’ll use their prehensile tail to help them climb low-lying branches and rocks.

The following moist substrates are excellent for Alligator Lizards:

  • Cypress mulch
  • Organic topsoil
  • Moss

These carnivorous little lizards will happily eat a diet of insects, snails, eggs, and even small rodents.

Be sure to dust any insects and neonate rodents with additional calcium and multivitamin powder.

A pet Alligator Lizard’s average lifespan is 5 to 8 years, making them a perfect lizard for the beginner reptile keeper that’s not ready to make a long-term commitment.

Alligator Lizard Cons

Alligator Lizards have some extreme self-defense behaviors, including thrashing around and biting like a real alligator, and dropping their tail.

On a positive note, they tame down quickly, and they’re capable of regrowing their tail.

14. African Fire Skink

African Fire Skink

African Fire Skinks are large, personable, attractive lizards that are native to Africa’s tropical forests.

Fire Skinks are named after their bright red bellies. They also have black and white bars on their sides and golden backs. Adults typically measure no more than 15 inches long.

These active lizards will appreciate as big of an enclosure as you can offer them, but a 30” long terrarium is adequate for one adult.

The habitat should be equipped with plenty of rocks, low branches, and driftwood to explore and hide under.

Fire Skinks appreciate substrates they can burrow in, like organic top soil or coconut coir.

Fire Skinks rarely drink from their water dish, so it’s crucial to mist their enclosure twice a day and maintain a humidity level of 60% to 70%.

They thrive with an ambient temperature around 80°F and a UVB-lit basking spot that reaches 94°F.

African Fire Skinks do best on a captive diet of live gut-loaded and calcium-dusted roaches and crickets every three days.

African Fire Skink Cons

While African Fire Skinks grow to enjoy handling and interaction, they are fast-moving and easily spooked.

They should always be handled in a safe location where they can’t escape.

Fire Skinks have a lifespan of up to 20 years, making them a long-term commitment.

13. Sandfish


While the name may imply otherwise, the Sandfish is a small species of lizard that inhabits northern Africa’s deserts.

They’re known for their ability to quickly disappear by swimming into the sand – like fish!

Growing to only 6 to 8 inches long, Sandfish are perfectly content living in a 20-gallon long aquarium or any 30″ long enclosure.

Their hardiness and simple husbandry requirements make them great, interesting pets for beginners, but they’re best left in their enclosure – where they’re usually buried out of sight.

Being fossorial, they must have a sandy substrate that they can burrow into, at least 4 inches deep.

Sandfish skinks will come out into the open to bask during the day, so they need UVB lighting on a basking spot that reaches scorching temperatures of 95°F to 110°F.

The ambient temperature should be between 75°F and 90°F.

While the humidity should be kept below 25%, Sandfish still require a water bowl and a humid microclimate of moist substrate within their enclosure.

Sandfish Cons

Sandfish don’t tolerate handling very well, so they are better suited as a display pet.

Luckily, they are diurnal, so they will come out to bask and hunt during the day, and you can observe them display these behaviors.

12. Chuckwalla


The Chuckwalla is a small member of the Iguanidae family, making them an excellent pet for someone who’s interested in iguanas but not ready to invest in the giant, room-sized enclosure that most species require.

Reaching anywhere from 15 to 30 inches long, they’re the perfect size and sturdiness for handling.

Adults require an enclosure that is at least 4 feet long and 2 feet deep.

This species is exclusively vegetarian, a perfect fit for new keepers that are squeamish about bugs. They enjoy vegetables, fruits, flowers, and succulents supplemented with calcium and multivitamin powders.

Your Chuckwalla’s enclosure should mimic its wild desert environment.

They enjoy the opportunity to climb rocks and hide in caves

Their basking spot needs to reach 100 to 120, and they need UVB lighting. The ambient temperature should hover between 70 and 90, and the humidity should stay under 50%.

Chuckwalla Cons

These prehistoric-looking lizards live well over 25 years in captivity, making them one of the longest-living creatures on our list.

While their enclosure size requirements are modest enough for a dedicated beginner, the 4 foot by 2-foot footprint needs to be considered.

Surprisingly, these friendly animals are still rare in captivity, so many individuals are wild-caught, and they all demand a hefty price (over $100).

11. Green Anole

Green Anole

Green anoles are small, 5 to 8-inch long lizards native to the Southeastern United States. They are bright green, with males also featuring a bright red dewlap.

Being the smallest lizard species on our list, a single green anole only requires a 10-gallon aquarium. Multiple lizards may be housed together in a larger terrarium. 

These little guys love to climb, so height should take priority over width and length.

The habitat should be furnished with many branches and plants since green anoles are shy and arboreal.

Aim for ambient temperatures in the enclosure to hover between 80°F and 85°F, while the basking spot should reach a temperature of 93°F to 95°F. Full-spectrum UVA/UVB lighting needs to be provided for at least eight hours a day.

These lizards are entirely insectivorous, requiring a steady diet of small, live insects. Their water will need to be misted onto leaves and other surfaces in the enclosure at least twice a day. We have a detailed care sheet about diet, habitat, and great tips for new owners ready for you to read

This anole species typically only live to be around 6 years old, making it a great choice if you’re not ready for a long-term reptilian commitment.

Green Anole Cons

Given their petite size and fragility, green anoles are best left unhandled. However, they do enjoy being hand-fed once they’re accustomed to their owner.

10. Veiled Chameleon

Veiled Chameleon

While chameleons, in general, don’t typically make great pets for beginners, veiled chameleons are the best choice if your heart is set on owning a chameleon.

Veiled chameleons grow to 10 to 24 inches long. They’re typically green with multi-colored bands.

The typical guideline for veiled chameleon enclosures is a 36inches long by 24 inches wide by at least 36 inches tall, mesh enclosure.

Be sure to decorate the habitat with numerous branches, plants, and other climbing and cover opportunities.

Veiled chameleons prefer a temperature range in the enclosure between 72°F and 95°F. Their enclosure should be misted at least twice a day because they like to drink water droplets off plants.

Chameleons are entirely insectivorous, so they’ll need a steady diet of live insects with supplement dusting, as well as a UVA/UVB basking light.

Compared to other reptiles, veiled chameleons have a short lifespan of 5 to 7 years, making them an excellent opportunity to test your skill and interest level without making an extremely long-term commitment.

Veiled Chameleon Cons

Veiled chameleons can become quite stressed by frequent handling. They are a pet that is better suited for display and observation, like fish or amphibians.

9. Cuban False Chameleon

Cuban False Chameleon

Cuban false chameleons are interesting-looking anoles that are easier to care for and hardier than true chameleons.

While they aren’t as brightly colored, they share many other similarities with chameleons: independently moving eyes, arboreal habits, and the ability to change colors.

This species grows to a reasonable size of about 12 inches long or less.

They can live in an enclosure roughly 24 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 24 inches high or larger.

Being arboreal, height is the most crucial factor. Their habitat should be equipped with plenty of branches and perches at varying angles and heights.

Plants, live or fake, offer them the cover that they need to feel secure.

UVB lighting is also essential. Like chameleons, they prefer to drink droplets of water, so you should mist their habitat at least twice a day.

Cuban False Chameleon Cons

One unique and considerable con to owning a Cuban false chameleon is that, since they are specialized snail eaters, you will need a steady and reliable source for live, pesticide-free snails once or twice a week.

The rest of their diet can consist of more commonly found feeder insects.

8. Uromastyx


Uromastyx lizards, also known as spiny-tailed lizards or dabb lizards, are a species of agama that hail from Africa and Asia.

These hardy, friendly, and docile reptiles are named after their spiky, armored tails, which they use for self-defense in the wild.

Depending on the species and locality that you purchase, uromastyx can grow from 10 to 36 inches long. The most common species, Uromastyx geyri, averages around 13 inches as an adult.

Most uromastyx need a 4-foot or even a 6-foot long enclosure, despite their modest size, because they are active lizards that enjoy exploring, foraging, and digging.

Their habitat should include enriching decor like rocks to climb on, substrate to burrow in, at least two hide boxes, and a dish for food.

Being native to desert environments, these lizards may develop respiratory diseases if their humidity creeps above 40%.

Additionally, they require high-UVI lighting and a basking spot that attains a temperature of around 115-120°F.

Uromastyx Cons

The high temperature and space requirements of uromastyx are potentially negative aspects that need to be considered carefully.

They are also a species that may be considered a longterm commitment since they’re believed to live anywhere between 15 and 30 years old in captivity.

7. Ackie Monitor

Ackie Monitor

While not as popular as other monitor species, these spunky little guys fill a relatively prominent gap in the hobby for keepers who want to own a monitor but don’t have copious amounts of space.

Ackie monitors grow to about 16-28 inches total, including their long tail.

When it comes to the size of their enclosure, height is important, but not for climbing. You’ll need to keep their substrate 6-12” deep so that your ackie can dig, dig, dig!

As far as square footage, 4 feet by 2 feet is typically considered the minimum footprint for an ackie enclosure.

This species also originates in Australia’s hot deserts, so they need a basking spot at around 115 to 120°F with UVB lighting.

Finally, as typical for all monitor lizards, Ackies eat an entirely carnivorous diet, including insects, rodents, commercial canned carnivorous reptile diets, and eggs.

Ackie Monitor Cons

While their needs may not match up with what’s required by finicky arboreal monitors and behemoth savannah and water monitors, ackies do still require:

  • A large enclosure
  • Specialized heating and lighting
  • An expensive diet

6. Jeweled Lacerta

Jeweled Lacerta

The jeweled lacerta, also known as the ocellated lizard, is a species of wall lizard native to Europe.

While not particularly common in the pet trade, their care is relatively simple, and they make for beautiful, personable companions.

Jeweled lacertas can attain lengths of up 3 feet, with 1 to 2 feet being more typical.

They’re named after the intricate blue and yellow jewel-like pattern on their bright-green background color.

Smaller animals can comfortably live in a 3 foot by 2-foot enclosure, while larger individuals will need an upgrade to at least a 4-foot long habitat.

Being burrowers, height and climbing opportunities aren’t necessary, but substrate to burrow in is essential.

Unlike many lizard species, jeweled lacertas require a basking spot of only 90-95°F. Being diurnal, they also need a UVB light to bask under.

Their diet consists of insects and can be supplemented with sweet fruits.

They have a modest lifespan of 12 to 20 years.

Jeweled Lacerta Cons

Being a rare species in captivity, captive-bred jeweled lacertas can be challenging to procure.

There isn’t an abundance of available information about their care.

Many generalist reptile professionals, like veterinarians, may not be exceptionally knowledgeable about this species.

5. Gold Dust Day Gecko

Gold Dust Day Gecko Cons
One of the cons of owning a God Dust Day Gecko is having to abide by strict humidity regulations within their enclosure. These geckos need high humidity and live plants (ideally) to thrive.

This little guy is not as commonly known as the previous two lizards. He’s a little more obscure, just enough to raise curiosity, but those that know him, know him for his bright colors.

He is from Madagascar, an omnivore, active during the day, lives up to 10 years, and dislikes being handled.

This gecko will only grow to be four to six inches long. He can be housed in an aquarium with other gold dust geckos as long as there is not more than one male.

Despite their small size, these geckos still appreciate a moderately sized habitat, with a 10 to 20-gallon aquarium being ideal. Like the bearded dragon they are diurnal so need UVB lighting with a temperature of  75F to 80F with a basking spot (under a lamp) around 90F.

The gold dust gecko eats an omnivore diet with a mix of insects and gecko mix. Insects should be dusted with calcium and they will need a vitamin supplement.

The MOST important thing to remember about the gold dust gecko is that he is just for show. He is not to be handled except in an emergency and should stay in his aquarium at all times.

From here you and your visitors can watch his antics and he will feel safe and secure in his habitat.

⭐️ Buyers Tip: The gold dust gecko is for the beginner that loves to observe their lizard in his habitat. He is a showpiece all on his own. He is small, hardy, and very colorful with bright green skin and a “dusting” of gold down his back.

Gold Dust Day Gecko Cons

These guys LOVE their humidity to be high and stable. This means that they need a daily misting, a hygrometer in the aquarium, and live plants to help balance and maintain the humidity.

The Gold Dust Day Gecko is unique in that he can get his water through the humidity in the air, and while he may not always need a water dish, he won’t mind having one.

If live plants seem overwhelming it is possible to keep synthetic plants, BUT you’d be missing out on the natural beauty of the vibrant gold dust gecko enjoying the natural plants.

They also improve the habitat so significantly it’s almost preferable that you pick a different lizard if you don’t want to keep live plants with your gold dust gecko.

4. Crested Gecko

crested gecko
The perfect suggestion for those squeamish at the thought of offering live food or insects, Crested Geckos are an extremely beginner friendly reptile. And although not 100% a vegetarian reptile,

Crested geckos, or “cresties,” are another extremely popular, small lizard in the gecko family.

These New Caledonia-native geckos, also known as eyelash geckos, were named after the spiky-looking projections above their eyelids.

They only grow to be around six to ten inches long, and there is a plethora of color and pattern morphs available.

A single animal can comfortably live in a 20-gallon aquarium or an 18-inch terrarium.

Like many other geckos, cresties are nocturnal, and they don’t require UVB lighting. Being arboreal, their enclosure will need to be at least twelve inches tall with plenty of climbing opportunities.

Their low-temperature preference of 74-78°F and simple dietary requirements are why the crested gecko can arguably be considered the EASIEST lizard species to care for.

Most keepers feed their pet a commercially-made crested gecko powdered diet that’s mixed with water.

Avoiding live insects AND fresh produce preparation is one of the biggest perks of crested gecko ownership.

⭐️ Fun Fact: The Crested Gecko was rediscovered in the early 90s on an island in the south pacific. Unfortunately, not a whole lot is known about their numbers in the wild, which is why they are actually considered a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. 

Crested Gecko Cons

The small size of crested geckos can be considered a positive aspect when it comes to the size of their habitat, but it also, unfortunately, makes them quite fragile.

Cresties can be flighty and jumpy until they get used to handling, and it’s hard to securely hold onto something so small without hurting it.

This makes them prone to falls and escaping into tight places. They SHOULDN’T be handled at all until they’re ten to twelve months old.

Crested geckos are also rather long-lived, requiring a fifteen-to-twenty-year long commitment if everything goes well.

 3. Blue Tongue Skink

blue tongue skink
Blue tongue skinks are amongst some of the easiest to handle and friendliest reptiles out there. If you can handle their larger side, they’re a joy to interact with, even for children!

Native to Australia, Blue Tongue Skinks are named after their bright blue tongue, which they use in their defensive displays to ward off predators.

Growing up to about twenty inches long, or just under two feet, they’re on the smaller side of the spectrum of medium-sized pet lizards.

Typical of all skinks, their body is built low and close to the ground. They look somewhat like snakes that grew stubby legs, ears, and eyelids.

Their stout body makes it difficult for them to move with much grace or agility. Their deliberate and predictable movements may help nervous new handlers become comfortable with lizards.

Blue-tongued skinks are ground-dwellers and burrowers, so they’ll appreciate things to hide under and substrate to burrow in, but probably won’t climb very much.

Unlike many other lizard species, blue-tongued skinks do not require UVB lighting, but they’ll need dietary Vitamin D3. However, they require heat to digest their meals, with a basking spot at around 95°F.

Being omnivores, blue-tongued skinks will eat a wide variety of food, including vegetables, fruit, and protein from sources like insects, mice, and canned dog food.

Expert Tip: Blue tongue skinks are notoriously skittish when you first bring them home. As such, you’d be wise to give them at least 10 days to acclimate to their new surroundings before trying to handle them. Also, you MUST provide them with multiple hides so they will feel secure. 

Blue-Tongued Skink Cons

Since blue-tongued skinks grow to be almost two feet long, an adult blue tongue skink will require a minimum of a four-foot-long enclosure.

As such, make sure you have the space for such a significant habitat!

These lizards are also long-lived, with well-cared-for individuals easily living over twenty years in captivity. They’re more of a long-term commitment than other lizard species.

 2. Leopard Gecko

Best pet lizard for beginners leopard gecko
Leopard Geckos make wonderful pets especially for those looking to handle their pet. They’re especially great for kids because of their gentle and calm disposition. 

The leopard gecko is another lizard that regularly rates high in the beginner pet lizard charts. This status is well-earned. The leopard gecko is an easy-going fellow who needs a simple habitat and simple diet.

And unlike the bearded dragon? The leopard gecko does NOT need extra lighting!

One of the most enticing things about the leopard gecko is that you can house two of them in a 10- or 20-gallon aquarium. This is one instance where bigger is not better.

With too much space the gecko may wander away from his primary heat source and get chilled.

Their hide box should be 88F to 90F at all times and the ambient temperature of the habitat should be 73F. Their substrate options are flexible and may include pea gravel, artificial turf, or newspaper.

Leopard geckos ONLY eat live insects and meal worms. They do not eat vegetables or fruit. The insects should be fed a nutrient-dense powder for 12 hours before giving them to the gecko.

This type of “gut loading” is key to optimum health. They eat about two insects for every inch of the gecko’s length with feedings every second day.

Leopard Gecko Cons

A major drawback for new gecko owners is if your gecko feels he is under extreme duress he may drop his tail. What he feels is extreme duress is at his personal discretion.

This can be terrifying for a new owner, who didn’t think that would happen and doesn’t know how to manage the situation.

If this happens, give the gecko up to 30 minutes to calm down, unless there is a high risk of the wound being contaminated by a dirty environment or the gecko is not safe.

When he is calm enough to handle, flush the wound if it has become contaminated with substrate or other debris.

House the gecko separately if it previously shared a habitat. Keep it in a clean habitat and feed as usual, offering a meal shortly after he loses his tail to help aid in recovery. The gecko is likely to be just fine.

⭐️ Fun Fact: Tail dropping is a natural mechanism that happens in the wild and sometimes captivity. As long as there aren’t any signs of infection, the wound will heal on its own. The gecko may even grow a new tail within a few months as long stress is minimized and he feels like he still needs a tail. 

1. Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragon Pet Lizard

Over and over again you’ll see the bearded dragon (or “beardie”) recommended as one of the best pet lizards for new reptile owners. They’ve earned this reputation by being good-natured and easy to care for.

This Australian native, LOVES to interact with its human.

They are omnivores which are active during the day (diurnal) and like to climb on branches and bask under their UVB lamp. They like to be handled, although in short stretches until they get used to their new surroundings.

While this may seem ideal, they do have their challenges. They grow to be between 12 and 24 inches, so are not one of the smallest lizards available.

Their home should be a 55 to 60 gallon aquarium with a lid at minimum once they are full grown. Ideally, you’d have them in a 75 gallon tank or larger.

They need a simple and easy-to-clean flooring like layered newspaper. Please make sure the branches are as wide as the bearded dragon and that they have a place to hide like a box or cardboard tube.

The beardie diet is quite particular and changes as they grow older. They eat live insects, meal worms, Dubia roaches, and vegetables.

When they are younger, their diet is heavier on protein, but by the time they reach adulthood they are eating a diet of 20 per cent protein and 80 per cent vegetables.

They need a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1 and are at risk of metabolic bone disease (MBD) if their diet isn’t on target.

When it comes to designing their habitat? Feel free to get creative and introduce approved non-toxic plants for a more naturalistic element. Additionally, rope bridges, rocks for basking, and other decor can be added to your beardie’s delight! 

Temperatures and UVB MUST be taken very seriously. As such, you’ll need to invest in the proper UVB bulb and heat lamp.

And should temperatures dip down below 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night? You’ll also need to purchase a Ceramic Heat Emitter or “CHE”.

Every day the tank needs to be scooped of feces, leftover food and uneaten insects. The food and water dishes need to be washed and when the substrate is changed all the décor items will also need to be cleaned.

Good hygiene with all lizards helps prevent bacteria growth and keeps them healthy.

Fair warning, these guys like to poop and will go one to seven times a week, which means a lot more work cleaning than you may have anticipated.

With proper care, this beginner-friendly lizard lives to be at least 10 years old and is bordering on being for intermediate reptile owners.

 ⭐️ Buyers Tip: If someone is interested in putting in the time and energy to set up a proper habitat, follow a species appropriate feeding regime, and keep their pet’s environment clean, then the bearded dragon will be a rewarding pet.

Bearded Dragon Cons:

This lizard must have a nearly impeccable diet in order to maintain optimal health and avoid conditions like metabolic bone disease. On top of this, they’re also prone to other health concerns that can arise due to negligent care. 

The bearded dragon ALSO needs a lot of space.

Expect to pay more upfront for setting up the larger habitat, procuring the bearded dragon, and for the higher food costs associated with larger lizards.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pet Lizard

When considering the best pet lizard, there are several factors you’ll want to consider above all else.

Sure, you might have your heart set on a cute little lizard because of its bright colors or pattern but is it actually a practical choice for you?

Before jumping into our picks for the best pet lizards before beginners, let’s briefly discuss the 3 most critical components to consider when adding a new pet into your dynamic. 

Consideration #1: Size and Care

Why Iguanas Aren't Good for Beginners
As a beginner, it is crucial you consider the size of both the reptile you’re looking to adopt and their enclosure. Some lizards require extremely large cage setups, such as the iguana above. Bottom line? Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

How much space do you have? And how much space do you see yourself having in the coming years?

You see, some lizards, like the green iguana, will reach over 6 ft and will need an enclosure that gives him plenty of room to climb and crawl.

Other lizards, like the green anole, only grow up to about eight inches. As such, these little guys only need a habitat big enough for exploration.

Habitat size coordinates with the lizard’s size. For example, a green iguana will need a habitat that is at least 12 feet, by six feet, by six feet.

This means that a good portion of a room in your house, or even a whole room, will be dedicated just to housing your iguana.

Expert Tip: Beginners should not take on a lizard with such expansive housing needs until they know they love lizard husbandry. You MUST be willing to give up part of your home to a large lizard’s habitat.

Along with the habitat, feeding and general care requirements are also magnified with larger lizard species.

For example, the Savannah Monitor is often idolized by those dreaming of their own, giant lizard. The Savannah Monitor is a magnificent lizard with a broad, stocky body and voracious appetite.

For example, at first, you may find the amount that the Savannah Monitor eats to be a fantastic reason to get one. But creating a balanced, healthy diet with these lizards is very tricky and the unwitting owner often allows them to become overweight – a dangerous predicament for them.

It’s not only size that dictates how much care a lizard needs. Some lizards are more tolerable of imperfect environments, whereas others will not thrive in a habitat that does not mimic its natural environment.

Feeding requirements, lighting, heating, humidity, and adult size are ALL critical when evaluating which lizard is right for you.

Consideration #2: Lifespan

One of the hardest parts about owning a pet is having to say goodbye to it when it ultimately passes before you do.

You may think that getting a lizard with a long lifespan will provide you with companionship and delay the inevitable.

However, one of the reasons so many lizards are relinquished to reptile rescues is because the owners housing or lifestyle situation has changed.

At any stage of a person’s life, it’s hard to imagine what the next twenty years will look like, but that’s how long many lizards may live, with a few living even longer.

⭐️ Fun Fact: The oldest known pet green iguana lived to be 29 years old. This just goes to show it is just as important to consider lifespan with reptiles as it is with any other pet, be they furry, feathered, or scaly. 

When considering a lizard, it’s best to lean toward a species with a lifespan of years instead of decades.

Of course, if you find yourself completely enthralled with herpetoculture you can start branching out and trying different species, but in the beginning? Try to give yourself the freedom of a lesser commitment.

The smaller lizards live an average of 5 to 10 years, which a good commitment level for beginner reptile keepers.

 Consideration #3: Temperament

tokay gecko worst pet lizard for beginners
Don’t let their cute little body and colorful spotted pattern fool you… the Tokay Gecko can be a nightmare to deal with especially for new owners.

To be perfectly honest, it can be hard to distinguish temperament between reptile species…

At first contact, they may all appear aloof and indifferent. However, there are some variations between lizard species that will allow you to increase the odds so that you get the temperament you want in a lizard.

The green iguana can have a personality that is laid-back and relaxed, but it can also be aggressive and dominating. That, coupled with their large size and sharp teeth can overwhelm the inexperienced pet owner.

Similarly, the Tokay Gecko, while much smaller, is almost guaranteed to have an aggressive personality. This is NOT fun for the beginner lizard owner who wants to interact with their pet without feeling put on the defensive.

The Tokay Gecko will bite when it’s afraid, threatened, angry, or stressed out.

An unwitting lizard owner may not know how to interpret these interactions and assume that the gecko was “bad,” unwell, or that they were doing something wrong.

If your lizard is aloof, distant or aggressive, you are less likely to want to spend time with him.

Even worse? You may not be able to recognize whether a lizard’s behavior is typical for that species, or if he is feeling unwell.  

Wrapping Up the Best Pet Lizards for Beginners 

It is impossible to pick one ideal lizard for the first-time lizard owner…

Whereas a bearded dragon may be a deal breaker for someone who doesn’t want to pressure of maintaining a pristine diet whereas a gold dust gecko may not work for someone who doesn’t to manage humidity or grow live plants.

When picking amongst a list of the best pet lizards for you… it’s crucial to prioritize what you want from the experience, your budget, time, and dedication.

Consider the initial habitat set-up, cost, longevity, maintenance, and feeding schedules. Whatever you decide, the options are plentiful and your first lizard is bound to be a delightful companion for many years.

And if you want to see how a reptile looks like that needs an expert owner, check out our care sheet on the Caiman lizard.


I’m Stacey, the owner of this website and lifelong reptile lover, caretaker, and educator. Here you will find everything from information on how to care for reptiles, to even how to give your reptiles the best fighting chances against a range of common reptile diseases and illnesses, and everything in between!

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