One of the many appeals of owning a reptile is how low maintenance they are. Unlike dogs or cats that need training, lots of attention, and a significant amount of upkeep, reptiles keep things simple. Content to live solitary lives in relatively small spaces, reptiles offer animal companionship with minimal hassle. There are differences in care requirements amongst different kinds of reptiles, however, making certain types of reptiles easier to care for than others.
Qualities of an Easy Pet Reptile
Here are the factors to consider when determining whether a reptile is easy to care for (or not).
Typically, the larger the reptile, the more challenging it will be to care for. A bigger animal needs a bigger enclosure. Not only does that mean it will take up more square footage in your house, but also means a greater area that you’ll need to keep clean and maintain. In addition to housing is the matter of actually picking up the animal–something you’ll need to do regularly in order to clean their tank or to transport to the vet. A large reptile could be unwieldy and make it difficult to accomplish basic pet care tasks.
Looks certainly aren’t everything when it comes to a pet as a reptile’s disposition can drastically affect the ownership experience. An easygoing reptile can make pet care a lot more pleasant– and safer as well. Many of the same aspects of pet ownership that size might affect (interacting with your reptile for feeding, handling to keep tame, or moving for the cleanings) will also be made easier or difficult depending on the animal’s temperament. Speaking of size, a helpful rule of thumb is that the larger the animal, the more feisty it is likely to be.
Certain species are known to be naturally more docile than others or more easily tamed. In a less than coincidental overlap, many of these species tend to be considered beginner-friendly reptiles as well. When in search of an easy pet reptile, let the reputation of a species’ temperament guide you. Keep in mind, however, that like humans, each animal has its own personality and might differ from what you expected.
Housing & Care Requirements
The most labor-intensive aspect of owning a snake is likely the setup of when you’re first preparing for its arrival. Setting up the proper reptile environment means researching its natural habitat and recreating that on a smaller scale. At the bare minimum, this will include heating elements (bulbs, lamps, mats, etc.), water dishes, hide boxes, and substrate. It might also include enrichment in the form of rocks or branches to climb and scour or special ultraviolet light bulbs.
Depending on where your reptile pet originated from, their preferred climate could be easy or difficult to replicate. One of the more challenging conditions to control for is humidity. Reptiles that come from tropical climates will need a higher percentage of moisture in the air, which usually requires a daily misting. Drier climate reptiles, on the other hand, will typically be just fine with a simple water bowl as their primary source of moisture.
Last but not least, food is one of the most challenging chores of caring for a pet. The reptile species you choose could affect how often it eats, how easy it is to acquire its food and the preparation that would be involved. For example, snakes eat about once every 10-14 days, much less frequently than lizards, turtles, and tortoises (who need to eat daily). While they certainly win in the frequency department, their primary food source, frozen rodents, can require up to an hour of preparation to thaw and must be monitored when they eat, which some might consider too cumbersome. Lizards, on the other hand, though they have to be fed daily, have a much simpler feeding process, and are primarily fed pre-packaged insects and the easy to acquire piece of produce.
Types of Reptiles Ranked From Most Difficult To Easiest
No one type of reptile has it all and meets the criteria of ‘easiest’ in each of the above-mentioned categories. All things considering, here’s how the different types of reptiles stack up when compared to one another as a whole.
Although turtles are frequently thought of as an appropriate pet for a child, aquatic animals are inherently the most difficult to care for. Water means bacteria, which means that turtle tanks need to be cleaned deeply and frequently–far from the hands-off lifestyle you probably think of when you imagine owning a reptile.
Lizards are one of the most diverse of reptile families, running the gamut from small to large, docile to aggressive. While some species like the bearded dragon are some of the all-time easiest reptile pets, others like monitor lizards or blue-tongued skinks are considerably more challenging. This, in addition to their need to be fed daily, makes lizards as a whole, a potentially challenging reptile pet.
Tortoises are gentle giants that grow to be quite large and live a long time. While this makes them a considerable commitment, they are one of the most intelligent of reptiles and also have a wonderful temperament. Calm and curious, they are capable of forming loving bonds with their owners, and also being quite independent.
As long as you don’t mind preparing a potentially large amount of food on a near-daily basis, tortoises are fun to have around and pretty low maintenance. Their vegetarian diet is straightforward: 80% fresh produce including fruits, veggies, leafy greens, and even some flowers. The rule of thumb is to give them the amount of food that’s the same size as their shell.
The most independent and low-maintenance of all reptiles, snakes are a set-and-forget type of pet. As mentioned earlier, adult snakes only need to eat once every two weeks or so. They’re the perfect pet for the person who’s always on the go or has an irregular schedule. Having no need for social interaction or entertainment, snakes are a companion you can leave alone for days without feeling guilty. You can find the best selection of snakes and other reptiles for sale at online pet shops that specialize in all things cold-blooded.