Owning a lizard can be a lot of fun. Kids can learn responsibility via caring for an animal, and although lizards do require quite a lot of care, they are less demanding than dogs and maybe even cats. However, not every species of lizard is a good choice for kids. Some are far too particular when it comes to temperature, diet, and hydration. If you are thinking of buying your child a lizard as a pet, here are the three top species to consider.
Leopard geckos are a good medium-sized lizard; they reach about 7 to 10 inches long at maturity. They are named for their spotted skin. These lizards are pretty easy to find at most pet stores that carry reptiles.
Leopard geckos can live well in a terrarium with a heat lamp on one side. The lamp should ensure part of the enclosure is between 85 and 95 degrees. The other end will be cooler, and that's okay; the gecko will move around the cage and moderate its own temperature. Leopard geckos prefer less-humid climates, so there's no need to add a humidifier to the tank like you might with other lizards.
Since leopard geckos cannot climb, you don't have to worry about them escaping if your child accidentally leaves the lid off the cage. They are also easy to feed, as they can mostly live on mealworms and crickets and only need a meal every other day.
Crested geckos are a little smaller than leopard geckos. Most are only about 4 to 5 inches long (not including the tail) when mature; males may be a little longer. They are typically candy brown in color, and they're named for the soft crests that rise along their head, neck, and back.
Crested geckos do best in an evenly heated tank that you keep around 75 degrees. You can go a little warmer in the day and a little cooler at night. Since they prefer over 50% humidity, you will need a tank with a mister, too.
Feeding crested geckos is really easy. They do just fine on a pelleted gecko food with a few occasional mealworms or waxworms. This makes your child should be able to feed the lizard themselves on most days.
Crested geckos are a little harder to find than leopard geckos. Most pet stores do not stock them; you may need to find a specialty reptile breeder.
If your child wants a lizard that's a bit more unique, consider buying a blue-tongued skink. These long-bodied lizards are named for their blue tongues. Their bodies are a pleasant brown color, and they can reach up to 24 inches long when mature.
Blue-tongued skinks need a pretty large enclosure. A 30-gallon aquarium with a screen top works well. These lizards do require a heating device. The device should bring part of the tank up to 95 degrees. The lizard will periodically visit the hot spot to "sun" and spend most of its time in the cooler portion of the tank.
Blue-tongued skinks are a bit more demanding to feed than the other lizards on this list, which makes them a more suitable choice for older kids. They need to be given a mixture of proteins and plant foods. Protein-rich foods include cooked chicken, ground turkey, and mealworms. Plant foods can include squash, some greens, and carrots.
Blue-tongued skinks are a little tricky to breed and are typically only available in the spring.
Lizards can make great pets for kids. Depending on the space you have available and how responsible your child is, you can choose from the three species above.
To learn more, contact a pet store that has reptiles for sale.