First-time reptile owners: four low-maintenance lizards 0 70

Bearded Dragon

Over the last decade, reptiles of all varieties have become ever more popular for pet owners, with the number of pet reptiles reported in the UK exceeding nine million in 2011. While the class of reptiles includes turtles, snakes, crocodilians, amphisbaenians (legless lizards) and tuatara, the humble lizard can make the ideal pet for the first-time owner of unusual pets.

Crested gecko (correlophus ciliatus)

The crested gecko ranks among the most popular reptiles for beginner owners, being friendly little creature that is quite happy to be handled when taken out of its vivarium – although, as with all lizards and reptiles, handling should be kept to a minimum.

Crested geckos don’t normally grow more than eight inches in length and are easy to look after, as far as pet care goes, since they don’t require live food in their diet (although they do still appreciate the occasional live insect).

Leopard gecko (eublepharis macularius)

Like the crested gecko, the leopard gecko is another popular lizard for the newcomer. They are small and non-aggressive, and easy to handle when taking them out of their cage for cleaning.

Leopard geckos subsist on live crickets, with an adult getting through 10 to 15 of the insects every day. Feeding your leopard gecko is pretty easy for the new reptile owner, as they do not overfeed, simply rejecting their food once they are full.

Green iguana (iguana iguana)

By far the most popular breed of pet iguanas, the green iguana is one of the larger domestic reptiles, so will require a suitably sized vivarium to live in. They are tolerant towards being handled and, being totally herbivorous, only eat fruit, flowers, roots and leaves, rather than the live insect diet of many pet lizards. Both these traits make them ideal pets for a beginner.

Bearded dragon (pogona)

There are eight species of bearded dragon, and all make great pets for beginners. They are easy to handle, enjoy the affection they receive from their owners and behave with affection in return. Not only that, bearded dragons are easily controlled and are happy to explore outside of their tanks.

If you’re tempted to try out one of these low-maintenance lizards as your first reptile pet, you can find more great pet care advice on raising reptiles on Niche Pets today.

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A guide to caring for degus 0 28

A degu in the wild

Although degus are one of the more unusual types of rodent pet lovers may decide to adopt, they are also one of the most sociable, playful and active. Indeed, they are great for those who would like to have a number of pets that are on the smaller side, but are still great fun to have around, and are fairly easy to look after with the right know-how and little bit of TLC. Simply follow our simple guidelines, and your degus will live long and happy lives:

Cage and surroundings

Degus love to roam around and have a tendency to get irritable when they are unable to exercise. In this way, you will need to purchase a large cage to make sure they have enough space to undertake their daily activities. A cage with multiple levels is ideal, and kitting it out with play areas will ensure that they have enough stimulation to keep them entertained.

In terms of materials, make sure that the cage is made of wire, not wood or plastic, as degus are notorious for chewing through materials. Similarly, avoid wood-based shavings for bedding and opt for paper, tissues or hay. This will provide a safe and cosy environment and minimise risk.


Degus need a diet which is low in carbohydrates and high in roughage. To make sure they are kept well fed, most degus owners opt for rodent blocks and guinea pig pellets, as these are relatively cheap and will provide the nutrients the animals need to stay healthy.

To mix things up a little, owners may want to offer their degus some fresh vegetables to nibble on, including carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, green beans and leafy greens. It is advisable, however, to avoid feeding your pets large quantities of vegetables which fall under the cabbage family, such as Brussel sprouts and kale. Fruits should also be kept to a minimum as they are high in sugar and degus are highly susceptible to diabetes.

Bathing degus

Water baths are not necessary for degus. Instead, use a shallow bowl filled with chinchilla bath dust, and give your animals a dust bath a couple of times a week.

Amphibians as pets: what you need to know 0 33

Yellow-banded dart frog

Amphibians might not be your first choice when deciding on a new pet, but keeping these mysterious creatures can be a rewarding experience. Children, in particular, are fascinated by amphibians and will be delighted by these unusual pets. Of all the types of pets available, why not consider frogs, newts, salamanders or toads?

Amphibians make great pets as they have virtually no odour and make very little noise. They are easy to care for, requiring a minimum amount of cleaning. A simple semi-aquatic terrarium is ideal for amphibians, supplying their basic needs of light and heat within a natural setting. They require daily feeding with added supplements as necessary.

The top six amphibians to keep as pets

Yellow and black dart frog

This small tropical frog is from South America, typically living in tropical rainforests. They grow to approximately two inches, have a stunning colouration and can live for up to 10 years.

Oriental fire-bellied toad

This semi-aquatic toad is mainly found in China and has a vivid green and orange colouration. They prefer humid conditions with an accessible area above water and can live up to 15 years.

Xenopus clawed frog

This species of frog originated in Africa but has been introduced to North America and Europe. They are entirely aquatic and have no tongue or teeth. Their feet and hands have the unusual appearance of claws.

Pixie frog

This is the largest known frog in South Africa reaching 10 inches in length and weighing up to 2kg. They are known for eating almost anything, mainly insects, fish and mice. The frog is a dull green colour with a yellow throat.

Amazon milk frog

This Brazilian frog originates from the Amazon rainforest and is light grey in colour. As they age, their skin develops an interesting bumpy texture. They can grow up to four inches in length and live from five to ten years.

Tiger salamander

This voracious predator is endemic in North America and is the most prominent land-dwelling salamander in the world. They can achieve an astonishing 14 inches in length and are a blotchy green colour with yellow bands.

Not so keen on amphibians? Check out our other blog posts for more ideas on niche pets.