Best Beginner Reptiles and Amphibians
Exotic animals like reptiles and amphibians can make great beginning pets for kids or adults. They’re also an option for those with allergies to fur or pet dander. Herps (from the Greek word for creeping thing) may not exactly be cuddly or affectionate creatures, but if you’re a parent whose kids are going through a dinosaur, insect, or crawly creature fascination phase, you will understand the attraction. Parents will also appreciate that reptiles and amphibians can be lower maintenance in some instances.
Before you consider bringing any exotic reptile or amphibian into your home, understand that many of these creatures can live for years and will require varying degrees of specialized care, owner experience, and investment. Many ‘herps’ don’t like being handled – or don’t do well being handled – so there is a risk for bites and scratches. Why? Unlike dogs and cats, reptiles and amphibians are not domesticated animals. Generally speaking, some species that are heavily bred in captivity – like corn snakes – may be milder in temperament than their wild counterparts, but don’t count on it. Choose wisely.
The best beginner reptiles and amphibians include corn snakes, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, tortoises, and frogs. Smaller carnivorous lizards and amphibians need a varied diet that includes insects dusted with supplements, such as calcium and other vitamins. Larger carnivorous reptiles like monitor lizards and snakes will need to eat rodents whether they’re live, freshly killed, or thawed from frozen. Others may need to be fed live crickets, mealworms, cockroaches, or worms, so if you’re not up for the task, choose a different type of pet.
Are There Affectionate Reptiles?
Some reptiles and amphibians like being gently stroked, scratched, or being offered food, but beyond that, most herps just aren’t programmed for hands-on affection. Many species can learn to recognize and bond with their human caretakers, but they’re not the norm, and they are not showing emotion in the truest sense of the word. In fact, reptiles do not show emotion beyond fear, aggression and occasionally, pleasure. In this form, they are not emotions, but basic instincts.
Can You Train Reptiles?
Just like people, some reptiles are smarter than others. Reptiles can be trained in the sense that they can learn to associate cause and effect and will react accordingly. For instance, some species can learn to recognize their owner by scent, so they will eventually be more relaxed when something familiar approaches their habitat as opposed to the reaction to a predator scent. While some types of reptiles may be able to be trained to feed from your hand, others would just as soon take a bite out of you. While you can certainly try to train your pet further, don’t expect too much.
Have more questions about reptiles and amphibians? Check out our blog post.
[DISCLAIMER] Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.