How do I Keep Lizards As Pets?

N. Madison

In order to keep lizards as pets and ensure their health and comfort, a person has to provide the basics of a suitable habitat and healthy food. Depending on the lizard, the habitat may include a small terrarium or a larger specially-built area — in any case, the environment will need a source of heat, as lizards are cold-blooded. A new owner also has to provide appropriate care and maintain the home he makes for his pets. He may do well to estimate the cost of the necessary equipment, the cost of food and how those costs may increase, especially in the case of larger lizards. This may sound simple but can require a good deal of preparation.


A person who is interested in keeping lizards as pets may do well to prepare by researching the various types of lizards that make good pets. This will help him to compare what different types of lizards need in terms of a habit, food, and care. He’ll also learn approximately how large different types of lizards are expected to grow. With this information in mind, he can choose lizards that he can make a commitment to keeping and caring for. He can also make sure that he’ll be able to keep up with the costs of caring for them for the duration of their expected lifespans, which can range from a few years to more than 20.

Iguanas are a popular breed of lizard that people have as pets.
Iguanas are a popular breed of lizard that people have as pets.

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It’s important to note that there can be significant costs involved with keeping lizards as pets. Many people consider only the cost of the lizards. It’s also important, however, to consider the cost of the equipment needed to maintain the lizards as well as any regular care expenses the owner will have. Likewise, a potential owner may consider whether or not he will have the expense of upgrading their habit as they grow older and larger. Additionally, it’s important to consider the fact that lizards can carry bacteria called salmonella and figure out how to minimize the risk of spreading it to humans.

Preparing the right habitat is one of the most important considerations for a person who wants to keep lizards as pets. An individual can learn about habitat requirements by reading books and websites about the type of lizards he’s chosen or even by inquiring at a pet store. In most cases, however, lizards will need room to move about and grow as well as a source of heat. Since lizards are cold-blooded, they rely on environmental warmth for body temperature regulation. Typically, owners use heat lamps, special heating elements, or pads to maintain the temperatures their lizards need, without making the habitat too hot.

Providing the proper food is another important part of keeping lizards as pets. Many lizards eat insects. As such, lizard owners may have to buy insects from their local pet stores, trap insects, or commit to raising them to provide food for their pets. Often, lizard owners are advised against trapping insects to feed to their pets, however, as it's possible that such insects have been exposed to pesticides that could harm a lizard’s health. Additionally, lizards owners are advised to avoid feeding their pets fireflies from any source, as the chemical that creates their light is toxic for lizards.

Another important consideration for someone who wants to keep lizards as pets is species mixing. If a prospective lizard owner wants to keep different species in the same habitat, he may do well to ask for advice at a local pet store or spend some time researching the issue. Often lizard owners are advised against mixing species, as members of different species may have different environmental needs. Additionally, a large lizard may attempt to eat a smaller pet that is kept in the same enclosure, regardless of its species.

Lizards are cold-blooded, so they usually need a heated area to survive.
Lizards are cold-blooded, so they usually need a heated area to survive.

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Discussion Comments


@Fa5t3r - Another important point is that it is a bad idea, not to mention illegal for some types, to take lizards from the wild. They are not likely to adapt to even ideal captive environments. You are much better off, and the lizards are much better off, if you get them from a pet store instead.


@irontoenail - Lizards aren't without their challenges, and I wouldn't recommend that you get a difficult one right off the bat, but they aren't any more difficult to keep than, say, birds or even fish. You just have to make sure you set up the enclosure properly and feed them the right kind of food.

Kids will just put a lizard into a cardboard and expect it to survive, but it isn't going to be able to do that. They might seem hardy in the wild, but they can completely control where they get to go and what they get to do there. Pet lizards are at your mercy.


When I was a kid I was fascinated by these little lizards that lived in our backyard and I would catch them all the time and try to make pets out of them. But I had no idea how to keep them properly and, unfortunately, it took a while for me to learn my lesson, so I managed to kill several of them before I gave up.

I'd love to have a lizard as an adult and I would do all the research and set it up properly, as I know keeping lizards as pets is a responsibility, not just a game. But I can't help worrying that I'll managed to kill another one by accident.

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