3 lizards that are great for first-time owners 0 125


Unusual pets have become more popular and accessible in recent years, with many more people considering exotic pets than before. Reptiles have become particularly popular, with the range of lizards available in the UK wider than ever. Here, we’ll list a few of the best lizards for beginners in terms of pet care.

Bearded Dragons

The single most popular reptile on the market today, bearded dragons are docile and friendly, and have no problem being handled by humans. Aside from this quality, bearded dragons are also a manageable size when fully grown, with the largest species reaching around 60cm tip to tip. This means they’ll be large enough to handle with ease and safety, but not so large that caring for them becomes a burden.

Leopard Geckos

Geckos are another type of lizard that has become exceedingly popular with first-time reptile owners. There are many owners and dealers who strive to own as many different species of gecko as possible. Most geckos are fast, and the sticky pads on their toes mean they can scale walls and escape from handlers fairly easily. However, leopard geckos are slow, docile, and lack the sticky toe pads. This makes them an easy and beautiful addition to your first vivarium. Furthermore, leopard geckos are quite hardy, and not as susceptible to diseases. They’re also smaller than bearded dragons and other common domestic lizards, with adults typically reaching a maximum of 25cm. This makes it easy to set them up with a comfortable and compact vivarium while you get used to reptile care.


Like bearded dragons, uromastyx enjoy human contact, which makes them perfect for owners who have only ever cared for mammals before. Furthermore, unlike many other reptiles, they feed almost exclusively on plants. This makes them easy to shop for, and a no-brainer for anyone who’s squeamish about insects. Having said that, uromastyx can be a strain on your energy bill, requiring a basking spot kept at 35 degrees Celsius to stay happy and healthy. Still, if you can afford this and love the look of these distinctive lizards, a uromastyx can make a great introductory pet lizard.

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Five snakes that are good for beginner reptile keepers 0 52

Pet Ball Python pet

Snakes are the most popular reptile pet to keep, but are they easy to look after? They do make unusual pets, but with good pet care – the right equipment, food and environment – they will thrive.

If you’re a beginner, what snake should you get to start you off? Here’s our rundown of five snakes that will make a great pet for first time snake keepers.

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are one of the most popular first time snakes to buy. They don’t grow too big – an adult corn snake needs a 20 gallon tank. They will live for around 20 years.

They’re easy to handle and to look after. They feed on mice. Corn snakes are quite active, so will need time outside their tank for exercise.

Royal or Ball Python

The royal python (also known as the ball python) can live for up to 30 years, and grow up to five feet.

Royal pythons are a timid species, so don’t appreciate much handling – they need somewhere to hide within their tank. For tank size allow 1 square foot to each foot of snake in length.

Royals eat mice or rats, depending on the size of their mouth.

King Snake

King snakes live for about 15 years. There are lots of different types, with some growing up to six feet.

King snakes are active, so will need time out of their tank, and can bite when cornered, but with careful and regular handling should settle.

They feed on mice and rats, and need the same sized tank proportions as a royal python.

Rosy Boa

Rosy boas are fairly docile, but can bite if caught unaware. Rosy boas grow to about four feet in length and will live for about 30 years. They need a reasonable size tank, and places to hide as well. Rosy boas feed on mice.

Garter snake

Garter snakes grow up to three foot long, and live to about 10 years.

They need around a 29 gallon tank to be comfortable. Garter snakes do eat mice, but prefer fish, and food like frogs, so it’s best to give them a varied diet.

5 must-know tips for keeping llamas and alpacas 0 55

Llamas and alpacas are unusual pets, but they are becoming more popular with homeowners who have adequate land and time to care for them. These gentle giants are obviously adorable, but they do require a lot of hard work and know-how. Below we share 5 pieces of pet care advice for keeping llamas and alpacas.

1. Outdoor space

Llamas and alpacas need outdoor space that is safe and fenced off. They need enough space to roam and the rule of thumb here is that for every four llamas, you should have an acre of land. Your choice of land is also important as they need to be able to graze. Therefore, if you live in an urban area, keeping llamas and alpacas really isn’t an option unless you have access to somewhere out of town.

2. The importance of specialist vet care

You need to have good links with your vet and they need to be knowledgeable in caring for these type of animals. It’s also important to know that they need regular monthly check-ups as they are prone to parasites. There is obviously a big cost implication to keeping llamas and alpacas, so you should be sure that you have adequate finances to care for them.

3. Stress relief

These animals make great pets as they are fantastic for helping to treat stress. Many individuals choose to keep llamas because they make wonderful therapy pets, especially for children with special needs and individuals with dementia. What’s important to know is that you do need more than one to cater for their own well-being.

4. Diet, fluids and vitamins

Llamas and alpacas forage for food and you need to allow them to do this on your property. You do need to watch their weight as they will eat pretty much anything. Ideally, their foods should consist of 10 to 12 percent protein, so it makes sense to test your grass hay. These animals also need additional minerals, which are easily bought and placed info feeders. Fresh water is also vital to help in the prevention of fungal and bacterial infections.

5. Shelter

These animals do need adequate outdoor shelter to keep them warm and dry. A three-sided shelter should suffice as long as it is deep enough. Alpacas and llamas are conditioned for cold weather, but they will need somewhere to keep them dry and out of the harsh sun.

Photo: Alpaca by TrotterFechan licensed under Creative commons 2