Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a low-maintenance pet. But you won’t find it in dogs, cats, or other mainstream animal companions. The easiest pets to care for will likely be those found in the exotic pet trade: reptiles. Despite snakes, lizards, turtles, and tortoises being wildly different from traditional pets, these cold-blooded creatures are quite independent and make for surprisingly easy to keep pets. Reptiles are a great fit for those whose schedules are normally too busy or too irregular to own a mammal or bird. If you find yourself in this camp, here are five easy reptiles to own as well as our ultimate pick of the easiest reptiles to take care of.
The Easiest Reptiles To Take Care Of (For Beginners)
The champion of beginner-friendly reptile pets, the corn snake is meek, mild, and stunning. Their telltale patches of fiery red and orange might make them look fierce but they’re remarkably docile and completely harmless. Moving them around for transport, feeding, or cleaning is a task that will cause minimal fuss and hassle.
A type of rat snake, corns are thin-bodied snakes that can grow to a sizeable length, between 3 and 4 feet. They’re a very manageable species when it comes to handling and another reason why they’re perfect for beginners. However, this is a handy characteristic when it comes to providing accommodations for your snake. Smaller snakes take up a smaller footprint in your home and adult corn snakes only need a 40-gallon terrarium.
Native to North America, corn snakes are hardy and adapt easily to a variety of climates. This means they’re more forgiving than most other reptiles if it takes a few tries to get their tank setup correct.
Slow and steady, tortoises might not be what first comes to mind when it comes to “easy” pets. This reptile class is known for being rather large but the Greek tortoise is notably less cumbersome, maxing out at 6 to 8 inches in length. Size isn’t an issue with this species. Owners are left to enjoy a sweet, mild, and intelligent reptile. Tortoises are one of the few reptile species that are affectionate towards their owners. They are known to follow their humans around wanting to play or looking for food.
Feeding pets is often the biggest hassle of pet ownership. Not the case with tortoises! These gentle giants are vegetarians that can be fed from the scraps from your latest farmer’s market haul. No need to deal with bugs or dead rodents. However, bear in mind that your tortoises will need quite a bit of produce to sate their appetite. A rule of thumb is to provide an amount of food equivalent to the size of their shell, five days a week.
Tiny and cute, the leopard gecko is one of the most popular pet reptiles for beginners. In addition to being adorable, these spotted little lizards are remarkably low maintenance. Native to the dry climates of Southwestern Asia, leopard geckos prefer semi-arid environments. This allows tank set up to be relatively easy with minimal fuss over humidity and straightforward heating requirements.
Further, this gecko species is unique in that they don’t have sticky toe pads. This means they’re not much for climbing, which means owners don’t have to worry about buying an extra tall tank or their lizard trying to escape.
The leopard gecko personality is as sparkling as its appearance. Docile and tame, they’re well-suited for beginners and experts alike. They rarely raise a fuss about being handled or fed. They primarily use their tails to communicate and occasionally vocalize with chirps and squeaks, which is fairly unusual for reptiles. The benefit of this is that leopard gecko owners have a rare insight into how their reptiles are feeling.
No list of the easiest reptiles to take care of would be complete without mentioning this fan favorite. The bearded dragon may not be king of the lizards in size, but it certainly is in terms of popularity. One of the larger beginner-friendly lizards, bearded dragons grow to be around two feet long. They’re rather sedentary creatures so they don’t need much by way of space. And since bearded dragons come from the hot deserts of Australia, they simply like things hot and dry.
Bearded dragons also have winning temperaments and above-average intelligence. This allows beardies to do things most other pet reptiles can’t such as learning tricks, bonding with their owners, and even recognizing other people and animals. They boast superior sociability that makes them really fun to own no matter a person’s experience level.
The most popular pet snake of them all, the ball python is a breeze in terms of temperament and pet care. Balls are naturally non-aggressive that prefer to hide rather than confront a threat. You’ll never have to worry about an unpleasant interaction with these sweet serpents. Ball pythons are moderately sized. They rarely grow more than five feet in length (the males are positively teeny, averaging between 3-4 feet). They can be housed in standard reptile tanks without taking up much room.
One of the more social snake species, these have a greater tolerance for handling–up to a daily basis. These snakes do well with humans due to multiple decades of captive breeding. Reptiles are technically considered exotic pets as they are not (yet) domesticated like dogs, cats, horses, or cows. But ball pythons are one of the closest things to a domesticated reptile. They are extremely comfortable around humans, and that is why they’re ideal for first-time snake handlers.
In terms of actual pet care itself, ball pythons are easy as pie. These snakes are native to the sub-Saharan deserts of West Africa. As primarily terrestrial (ground-dwelling) snakes, they’re not much for climbing and means their tank decor is wonderfully simple. Ideal humidity levels are a moderate 65%, and temperatures are warm with little variation between the warm, cool, and basking sides.
Finding The Easiest Reptiles to Take Care Of
No matter what you look for in an animal, you can’t go wrong with choosing the easy route. Find the easiest reptile to take care of so that you can maintain your busy schedule while caring for an animal. You may also be insterested in our article on the best snake breeds for beginners if you are leaning towards getting a friendly danger noodle.