If you have no experience in herpetology, you are far more likely to succeed if you keep lizards suitable for beginners. Make no mistake, all reptiles need daily care and attention to detail, to ensure the conditions in their terrarium resemble those in the wild. However, some types are less sensitive to variations from ideal conditions than others. You should definitely look for a species that is quite common in the hobby, and whose requirements are well understood.
Below are the top three species for beginner herpetologists. They are hardy, relatively easy to keep, and yet look great and have tons of personality. They are very popular in the hobby, so there should be no problem finding captive-bred juveniles. All this makes them the perfect lizards suitable for beginners
The Leopard Gecko, Eublepharis macularius, is probably the most common reptile in captivity. Since they are a relatively small lizard, they need a small, simple terrarium. A ten gallon tank is sufficient for an individual. Since they don’t climb, they don’t need a tall terrarium, or an elaborate setup. They will live happily in a very simple tank with an artificial substrate and a few hides. Since leopard geckos are a desert species, native to Pakistan, they do not require high humidity.
Although individuals vary, they tend to have a docile temperament, and will generally allow handling. There is a large number of color morphs available, although, for a first project, a wild type gecko will be cheaper and hardier.
The Crested Gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus, is also recommended as a beginner species. These lizards from New Caledonia were thought to be extinct until an individual was sighted in 1994. Now thousands of them are kept as pets. They are great looking reptiles, the fringes of skin over their eyes resemble eyelashes.
They are arboreal and need a tank that is taller than it is long. a 15 gallon terrarium is enough to house one gecko. The tank can easily be furnished with real or artificial branches and plants, which provide climbing spots. They need a higher humidity level than leopard geckos, and their enclosure must be sprayed with water 2-4 times a day. They are also one of the few omnivorous reptiles that can be kept exclusively on a commercial powder diet, an important consideration if you don’t want to have to keep live crickets in your house.
The Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps, is a great choice for people looking for a bigger lizard. Males can reach a head-to-tail length of 24”, so they needed a large terrarium, at least 48” long. In the wild they are found in arid, rocky terrains, therefore maintaining a suitable humidity is not a problem. However, a heating lamp is necessary to provide a basking spot. These lizards also require full spectrum light for their long-term health.
As long as their requirements are met, any of the lizards above will make great reptile pets for a beginner herpetologist. In fact, if they are kept in compatible pairs, they will probably reward their keeper with eggs and juveniles.