6 of The Best Reptiles To Own As A Pet


We are all about enriching the lives of senior pets and their owners at Sweet Goodbye and often the discussion centres around traditional pets like cats and dogs. But last week we were asked if our Cloud would be suitable for a Crested Ghecko, and that got us talking about reptiles as pets.

What we found out was that some reptile pets can live up to 30 years! And while we all want our pets to live full, long lives, this could see the pet python your children so desperately needed still be at home long after your kids have left! 

With that in mind, we thought it timely to give you some pointers about what to consider when buying a reptile for a pet. 

If you're ready to commit to this long term relationship - we've looked at the top 6 reptile pets, their lifespans and any particular needs to help you make an informed decision. 

Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macalarius)

The Lepoard gecko is a popular starter reptile. They are easy to handle and require minimal care compared to other reptiles. They are relatively small and don't need any specialised equipment or lighting.

  • They can grow to around 15 to 20 centimetres and live for 10 to 20 years in captivity. 
  • They prefer to live alone, but don't mind being handled if done carefully.
  • They prefer a diet of live insects.
  • They have perky personalities and make movements that are interesting to watch.

Downside: they have an odour that some people find off-putting and their primary prey are crickets, which are smelly and loud; if you have an issue with bugs this is not the reptile for you.

Ball Python (Python regius)

These pythons are popular due to their manageable size however, they are not permitted to be kept as pets in some countries. For someone that hasn't owned a snake before, this is a good beginners option.

  • They don't usually bite and are very docile.
  • They may get irritable during shedding.
  • They can grow up to 120cm - 150 cm and with correct care will live up to 30 years. 
  • They are carnivores and like to eat thawed frozen rodents. 

Downside - They are not very active and require specific temperatures and humidity levels - setting up and maintaining an enclosure can be costly. 

Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)

Bearded dragons love being around humans and are quick to adapt to new environments. They love to climb and are fun to watch, making them a popular pet choice.

  • Bearded dragons often display fascinating behaviours such as arm waving.
  • They grow between 30cm to 60 cm and can live for 10 years.
  • They love being handled and over time will even look forward to a pat.
  • You'll need to feed them a diet of 60 to 65 percent plant foods and 30 to 40 percent insects, including crickets.

Downside: owning a bearded dragon requires diligent upkeep. You must be prepared to clean their tank regularly - more often if you own more than one!

Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus)

Corn Snakes come in a variety of colours and patterns - they are easy to handle, easy to care for and rarely bite. They are safe around children if handled correctly.

  • They are an attractive pet - coming in a variety of morphs.
  • They can live up to 8 years and grow between 90 -185 centimetres.
  • They don't mind being handled - so if you want to be holding your pet, this is the one for you.
  • Corn snakes need a specious enclosure that allows for growth.

Downside: Corn Snakes typically eat pre-killed mice, so unless you are ready to kill some mice yourself, you are going to need to purchase pre-killed mice and store them in your freezer. 

Crested Gecko ( Correlophus ciliatus) 

Crested geckos are one of the most popular lizard pets . They are  super cute,  come in a variety of colours and have amazing personalities. They don't have eyelids, instead using their tongue to clear away debris and once they lose their tails, they do not regenerate!

  • Possibly the easiest reptile to have as a pet. 
  • They are relatively small, growing 20 - 25 cm long and live for 10- 15 years.
  • Don’t require any specialised lighting or heating. 
  • Crested geckos are arboreal, meaning that they live off the ground, in branches. They eat both fruit and insects. 

Downside: They are nocturnal so you need to leave them alone during the day. Because they are so chilled, they are not very active and can be skittish if handled. They usually don't like to be held.

Blue-Tongue skink (Tiliqua spp)

Known for their distinctive blue tongues, Blue-Tongue skinks have a relatively calm demeanour and make fantastic family pets. 

  • They are omnivores and eat different types of foods making them easy to feed  - however garden snails are their favourite food.
  • They can live for 10 -20 years and grow up to 55 cm.
  • They are solitary, territorial lizards and prefer to be on their own.
  • Can be housed in an indoor or outdoor home. 

These unique creatures require a lot of care and attention to ensure they live a long and healthy life. They require a generous size enclosure, climate control, temperature control and are expensive to purchase.

Rules around reptile ownership vary from country to country. When you are considering purchasing, find out what applies to where you live. Australia have very strict rules around reptile ownership and hefty fines if you don't abide by them.

Buying, transporting and keeping wild caught reptiles can be illegal. Be sure you buy from reputable sources and that you know what you are looking for

Most importantly, ensure there is a Reptilian and Amphibian Vet near you for regular pet check ups and ongoing advice.