Are reptiles good pets?
Exotic pets such as reptiles and amphibians are fast becoming popular in the UK. Of course, the most popular pets remain dogs and cats, but pet reptiles are becoming more and more popular as time progresses. Many reptiles can be kept as pets, but some of the most popular pet reptile species include Bearded dragons, Crested or Leopard geckos, Corn snakes and Tortoises.
Why are pet reptiles becoming more popular?
Most reptiles are quiet, calm and low maintenance. In contrast with dogs and cats, they are unlikely to create much commotion around the house and often do not need to be fed daily. The wide variety of reptiles available as in pet stores is also attractive to many owners. Whether you're looking for a cute, docile gecko, a prehistoric-looking lizard, a slow, gentle tortoise or a strikingly beautiful snake, there is sure to be a reptile species for anyone.
On top of this, exotic pets are wild animals with individual personalities, so when kept in the right environment they will exhibit many interesting natural behaviours. This makes owning reptiles a fascinating experience and you will soon find that they make extremely entertaining pets.
Are there any drawbacks to keeping reptiles as pets?
Most reptiles require specialized care to keep them happy and healthy for the duration of their usually quite long lives. Almost all reptiles require some form of UVB source to allow them to properly metabolise vitamin D3 and avoid serious health issues such as metabolic bone disease. Most reptiles also require a heat source to create a temperature gradient along their enclosure, allowing them to regulate their internal body temperature.
This often means that setting up for pet reptiles can cost hundreds of pounds, as not only will you need to purchase lighting and heating, you will need your vivarium or terrarium, substrates and decor to create the most natural habitat possible for your new pet.
However, it is worth remembering that once your set-up is complete and in place, reptile care is much cheaper than that of other animals, their food is generally uncostly and with many reptiles not requiring feeding every day, the food can last a while.
What are some of the most popular reptile pets?
One of the most popular reptiles commonly found in UK homes is the Bearded dragon. Bearded dragons are large, Australian lizards that make great pets. Reaching around 60cm (24") in length, they need quite a bit of space and have high UVB and heat requirements. Despite this, they are generally easily tamed and are quite intelligent, so make an amazing pet that will soon become part of the family.
For more detailed information on keeping Bearded dragons as pets, take a look through our Bearded dragon care sheet.
Another popular reptile species is the Crested gecko. These cute little guys make great pets due to their generally docile nature and adorable appearance. They also tend to require less space than other popular choices, being arboreal, they require a taller enclosure with a smaller footprint, meaning their enclosure can fit in smaller spaces. Their care is also quite easy, only requiring a low-level UVB and heat, although they do have higher humidity requirements than other popular choices, this is still very easy to manage.
If you want to learn more about keeping Crested geckos as pets, take a look through our Crested gecko care sheet.
In keeping with the theme of geckos, another popular choice is the Leopard gecko. A small, desert lizard with a happy-looking face that makes them very lovable. These guys need slightly less space than a Bearded dragon, have low-level UVB requirements, low humidity requirements and moderate heating requirements, making them quite easy to care for.
To learn more about keeping lovely Leopard geckos as pets, take a look through our Leopard gecko care sheet.
Another, arguably more popular choice of pet reptile is the Tortoise (a few of the most popular species include Horsfield and Hermann's tortoises). Pet Tortoises need quite a lot of space to roam and have high UVB requirements coupled with moderate heating requirements. They are, however, the reptile most commonly kept incorrectly, with many owners allowing their Tortoise to free-roam with no access to heat or UVB.
If you're interested in keeping a pet Tortoise and want to know more about how to care for them, take a look through our Horsfield tortoise care sheet.
Last but not least, the most popular pet snake kept in the UK is the corn snake. Corn snakes are an American species of snake that is usually quite easily tamed. They have the same space requirements as a Bearded dragon, but require only a low-level UVB and moderate heat. Corn snakes make very interesting and fun pets, but must be fed on frozen-thawed rodents, which for many can be a drawback.
For more information on keeping Corn snakes as pets, take a look through our Corn snake care sheet.
So do reptiles make good pets?
To summarise, reptiles make great pets, keeping a pet reptile is like having a slice of nature in your home, allowing you to create a unique and naturalistic enclosure and watch a practically wild animal exhibit interesting and entertaining behaviours.
The wide variety available means that there is a reptile out there for everyone, depending on what it is that you want from your new pet - this leads many owners to keeping multiple pet reptiles.
While you're thinking about getting yourself a pet reptile, why not take a look through our wide range of Reptile Starter Kits? These are the perfect way to get everything you need to get started with your new pet, at a discounted price!