Starter Reptile Pets

Some good starter reptile pets for beginners are geckos, tortoises, bearded dragons, chameleons, ball python and dumpy’s treefrog.

It’s here! This is a compilation of the 8 best beginner reptiles/amphibians as voted by the Madison Area Herpetological Society Board! There are many species of amphibians and reptiles that can be kept as pets. Many of these species can make great pets.

However, this list is intended to help beginners and new reptile enthusiasts narrow down their options. This list considers many factors that should be considered when deciding which species make great pets.

These include the eventual adult size, longevity and cost, availability and temperament, ease of handling, care costs, care requirements, care instructions, and how easy it is to care for them. These top 7 guides will help you choose your next reptile or amphibian.

If you know of a species that is not on this list but think it should be, please let us know and we will evaluate it for inclusion on another top 7 list.

1. Ball/Royal Python (Python regius)
2. Inland, or Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)
3. Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)
4. Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus)
5. White’s, or Dumpy’s Treefrog (Litoria caerulea)
6. Russian/Hermann’s/Greek, and Other Small European Tortoises (Testudo/Agrionemys spp.)
7. Blue Tongued Skink (Tiliqua spp.)
Top 10 Pet Invertebrates! 1. Mexican Redknee Tarantula (Brachypelma smithi)
2. Chilean Rosehair Tarantula (Grammostola rosea)
3. Brazilian Black Tarantula (Grammostola pulchra)
4. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)
5. Walkingsticks/Stick Insects (Phasmatodea)*Native, North American species.
6. Mantids (Chinese, Giant Asian, African, or Ghost), (Mantodea)
7. Millipedes (Spirostreptida)
8. Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator)*Relative to scorpions.
9. Asian Forest Scorpion (Heterometrus spp.)*Relative to scorpions. 10 . Death Feigning and Other Desert Beetles (Family Tenebrionidae)
Honorable Invertebrate Mentions:
-Moon and Halloween Crabs (Gecarcinidae)
-Curly Haired Tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum)
-North American Desert Tarantulas (Aphonopelma spp.)
Top 10 Pet Amphibians! 1. White’s, or Dumpy’s Treefrog (Litoria caerulea)
2. Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) and (Ambystoma mavortium)*Depending on where sourced.
3. Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)
4. Argentine Horned Frog/Pacman Frog (Ceratophrys spp.)
5. Tomato Frogs (Dyscophus spp.)
6. Oriental Fire bellied Toads (Bombina orientalis)
7. African Clawed Frogs (Xenopus spp.)
8. Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)
9. African Dwarf Frogs (Hymenochirus spp.)
10. North American Toads (Anaxyrus spp.)*Depending on where sourced.
Top 10 Pet Turtles and Tortoises!
1. Russian/Hermann’s/Greek, and Other Small European Tortoises (Testudo/Agrionemys spp.)
2. Mud and Musk Turtles (Kinosternidae)
3. Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)
4. Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)
5. Red Footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria)
6. Common Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina ssp.)*With the proper education, sourcing, and care.
7. Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta ssp.)*Depending on sourcing.
8. Central American Wood Turtles (Rhinoclemmys spp.)
9. Some smaller species of Map Turtles (Graptemys spp.)*Depending on species and sourcing.
10. Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri)
Top 10 Pet Lizards!
1. Inland, or Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)
2. Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)
3. Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus)
4. Blue Tongued Skink (Tiliqua spp.)
5. Spiny Tailed Lizards/Uromastyx (Uromastyx spp.)
6. Spiny Tailed Monitors/Ackies (Varanus acanthurus ssp).
7. African Fat Tailed Gecko (Hemitheconyx caudicinctus)
8. Gargoyle Gecko (Rhacodactylus auriculatus)
9. Chuckwallas (Sauromalus spp.)
10. Long Tailed Grass Lizards (Takydromus sexlineatus)
Honorable Lizard Mentions:
-Sudan Plated Lizard (Gerrhosaurus major)
-African Fire Skink (Lepidothyris fernandi)
-Steppe Runner (Eremias arguta)
-Italian Wall Lizards (Podarcis sicula) -Jeweled Lacerta (Timon/Lacerta lepidus)
-Gidgee’s Skink (Egernia stokesii)
Top 10 Pet Snakes!
1. Ball/Royal Python (Python regius)
2. Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata)
3. Corn/Red Ratsnake (Pantherophis guttatus)
4. Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum ssp. complex)
5. Common Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula ssp. complex)
6. Garter Snakes and Ribbon Snakes (Thamnophis spp.)
7. Kenyan/East African Sand Boa (Gongylophis colubrinus)
8. African House Snakes (Lamprophis spp.) and (Boaedon spp.)
9. Most North American Ratsnakes (Pantherophis spp.)
10. Spotted, Children’s, and Anthill Pythons (Antaresia spp.)
Other, And/Or Snake Honorable Mentions:
-Gray Banded and Mexican Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis alterna) and (Lampropeltis mexicana)
-Carpet Pythons (Morelia spilota ssp.)*For Medium to Larger Snake
-Boa Constrictors (Boa imperator) and (Boa spp.)* For Medium to Larger Snake
-Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus)

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