There are dozens of reptile species commonly available in the pet trade and so making a suitable selection is essential.
In this article then I would like to examine some of the best species to consider for the beginner, together with my reasons for making these choices. Please be aware that this list isn’t exhaustive but provides guidance on species which are not only ideal for the beginner but are also easily found and frequently encountered in the reptile trade.
Corn Snakes – The corn snake is, in many ways, the perfect pet snake. It achieves a reasonable size making it easy enough to handle without requiring unreasonably large housing. It is a good feeder unlike some other species which may go off their food for long periods of time, and is generally easy to care for. Corn snakes are also available in a wide variety of colour forms which means there are lots of choices when it comes to the appearance of your snake.
King Snakes – Perhaps slightly more shy than corn snakes, the king snakes can still make excellent pets. There are a number of different king snake species which grow to a wide range of sizes though all are within reasonable boundaries. Whilst some may grow to the size of a corn snake, some other species are even smaller an adulthood meaning they can be even easier to house.
Milk Snakes – Milk snakes can be harder to handle than either corn snakes or king snakes and are more likely to struggle than glide smoothly though with patience they will normally calm down enough to be held safely. Once again these are a reasonable-sized snake and what really sets them apart from me are the amazing colours of bands of red, black and yellow or white making these, to my eyes, one of the most stunning snakes of all.
Leopard Geckos – Leopard geckos, like corn snakes, are now available in a wide variety of different colour forms so you have a wide choice of potential pets in the form of leopard geckos. These lizards are attractive, docile and slow moving making them easy to care for and handle. They will typically require to be fed on live insects like most lizards so please be aware of this before investing in one.
Bearded Dragons– Hailing from Australia these are arguably the perfect beginners lizard. Once again, a range of colour forms are available and these personable lizards are one of the few that seem to enjoy being handled.
They grow quite a bit larger than the leopard gecko and so require larger housing, and they also like it very hot so powerful heating is ideally required, but bearded dragons, particularly in later life, are happy to take plenty of fruit and vegetables to eat – livefood really only being essential to younger specimens – which can make feeding far easier.