7 Reptiles That are Easy to Handle as Pets

Reptiles are intriguing creatures and if you’re new to keeping them, you’ll want to know which ones are the easiest to handle. Let’s look at the best reptiles for beginners.

Aug 6, 2023By Lisa Szymanski
reptiles easy to handle as pets

Choosing reptiles as pets can be incredibly rewarding, but only if you know how to handle them. There are many cold-blooded creatures that are difficult for new keepers to manage based on their level of care. Fortunately, reptiles such as bearded dragons and crested geckos make excellent choices as exotic pets because they are interactive and can be tamed. If you’re interested in keeping exotic animals for the first time, the following guide looks at the top 7 reptiles that are easy to handle as pets.

1. Bearded Dragon

bearded dragon sitting on log
A bearded dragon relaxes on a log

Fondly known as “beardies,” bearded dragons are much-loved pets because they are intelligent, interactive, and friendly. These cold-blooded animals are very affectionate with their keepers and enjoy spending their time snuggling on your chest or resting on your lap. They are not demanding reptiles and tend to bond quickly when their basic needs are met. These loyal lizards enjoy being interacted with in a gentle manner when they are socialized at a few weeks old. They do well in a vivarium with UVB lighting, a rockery, or logs to rest on, and a diet packed with insects and vegetables.

2. Leopard Gecko

leopard gecko sitting on a branch
A leopard gecko in a terrarium

If you enjoy lizards and want a low-maintenance reptile that doesn’t grow too big, then a leopard gecko is an excellent choice of pet. These large-eyed geckos with brightly patterned skin have tame personalities and don’t mind climbing over your hands or resting quietly on your shoulder. Handle them very gently and increase your interaction with them over time so they become accustomed to getting picked up. They need a clean terrarium with a few plants and caves to hide in during the day because they are nocturnal creatures.

3. Crested Gecko

crested gecko licking its eye
The crested gecko makes a friendly pet

Crested geckos look like miniature dragons with bulging eyes and tiny spikes above their eyes and tails. Growing to a mere 10 inches, these charming geckos are ideal for beginners who want a beautiful lizard as a pet. They have a placid nature, which makes interacting with them easy, but doesn’t stress or scare them, as they will quickly drop their tails. To bond with your crested gecko, place a few insects on a flat hand and lower your hand into their enclosure. Allow them to walk onto your palm to take the treat, and over time they should wilfully crawl onto your hand. This form of positive reinforcement is a great way to tame geckos and larger lizards.

4. The Common Blue Tongued Skink

blue tongue skink climbing over a rock
The blue-tongued skink displays its impressive tongue

The blue-tongued skink is a relaxed lizard that enjoys spending time with its human. They must be socialized from a young age to prevent them from biting, but once tamed, these large lizards will spend hours interacting with you. These skinks have a prehistoric appearance with a distinct bright blue tongue, hence their name. They do need a fairly spacious habitat owing to their size, but they aren’t hard to care for, making them good reptiles for new keepers. Mature skinks are heavy (averaging 22 inches) and should be held with both hands or by using your hand and arm to balance their bodies.

5. Chinese Water Dragon

green chinese water lizard
Chinese water dragons have beautiful skin colors

The Chinese water dragon will provide many years of joy when properly cared for and frequently handled. These bright green lizards have a gentle disposition and require regular interaction to remain calm and friendly. A lack of petting makes them restless and temperamental, with the possibility of biting their keepers. Water dragons are adventurous reptiles and require a stimulating environment with branches they can climb and natural plants to hide under. To prevent biting and nipping, provide them with enrichment in the form of handling and large areas to roam.

6. Corn Snake

orange and red corn snake coiled
A brightly colored corn snake relaxes in its tank

Snakes are unique pets and can be challenging to care for if you have little experience in reptile keeping. If you are looking for a pet snake with a passive temperament that does not require much maintenance, then consider a corn snake. They make a great addition to a reptile tank with their orange and red markings and don’t mind being held, provided they are not grabbed or pinched. Corn snakes need a tank with shelter in the form of branches and rocks to improve their friendliness and minimize stress.

7. Green Anole

green anole lizard displaying pink throat
A green anole rests on grass

Green anoles are small and modest lizards that like to hide, but with delicate interactions, they can be tamed. When you handle a green anole, be very patient, as they will flee from sudden movements. They prefer moving along your hand or perching on your shoulder at their own pace, making it easier for them to trust their handler. To keep them healthy and happy, add a UVB and UVA light to their tank, along with branches and plants for cover. They require a clean environment but are not difficult to care for, making them one of the best reptiles that are easy to handle as pets.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.