9 Worst Pet Reptiles for Beginners

Becky works as a biological science technician in endangered species conservation, and has a passion for biology and wildlife conservation.

Which Reptiles Are the Most Difficult to Keep as Pets

Reptiles are wonderful pets to have be a part of the family. However, some species are more difficult to care for than others, and some fail to thrive when kept in the common household.

Reptile rescues everywhere are completely full and countless more reptiles die every year simply because people don’t do research before choosing a pet reptile. Some of the most popular species in the pet trade are actually the worst for beginners, but cheap price tags and unknowledgeable sales clerks at pet stores lure people into the trap of having a pet that grows too big, takes too much time or money, or is dangerous and too aggressive.

Before choosing any type of pet, you must be willing to do hours and hours, week upon weeks of careful research. Don’t trust any one source for information because it could be wrong or outdated. Read books and multiple care articles from several different sources. Ask people who have experience with the species you’re interested in for stories, tips, etc. And remember to plan ahead… Reptiles live a long time and life circumstances can change suddenly. Are you truly committed to preparing your reptile’s food several times a week for the next 20 long years? Do you really see yourself being able to complete weekly water changes once a week for an aquatic turtle for the rest of your life? Be honest with yourself when choosing the correct pet.

1. Chameleon

Chameleons are unique, interesting reptiles that fascinate people. They can change color to blend in with their environment, have bizarre habits/behavior, and have an alien-like body shape. It’s easy to understand why folks looking to add their first reptile to the family would want a chameleon. However, these animals are not at all hardy. They need their habitat conditions (temperature, humidity, ventilation) to be perfectly correct or they will get sick and eventually wither away. They stress very easily and can actually die from stress alone, and they should never be handled. Chameleons should strictly be a look-don’t-touch pet. It’s important to note that keeping chameleons can be challenging even for experienced keepers, so beginner hobbyists should avoid them as their first reptile.

2. Chinese Water Dragon

Baby Chinese water dragons (CWDs) are unfortunately sold for a relatively cheap price in pet stores. As babies they resemble cute little green dragons and as adults they look like mini dinosaurs. Because CWDs are usually purchased as babies, a new hobbyist may not realize what they’re signing up for. Water dragons grow very quickly; by one year of age it will be a foot long and by two years of age it will be two or three feet long. Being an arboreal species, a full-grown adult requires a custom-built enclosure that is at least six feet tall and at least four feet wide, which is an endeavor requiring hundreds of dollars. Additionally, a growing lizard needs quite a bit of expensive food quite often, and an adult never loses its big, hearty appetite!

3. Tokay Gecko

Tokay geckos are widely available in pet stores for a cheap price. Their beautiful coloration makes them a desirable species by many hobbyists, especially if the prospective pet owner happens to be a NFL Broncos fan. But these little lizards are incredibly aggressive and speedy animals who won't hesitate to lunge towards you, deliver a nasty and powerful bite, and then zip past you and escape down the hallway. A new reptile keeper should get a crested gecko or leopard gecko instead as these two species have many gorgeous color varieties without the aggressiveness of the tokay.

4. Iguana

Iguanas get huge and mean. A six-foot long iguana needs a cage that is twice-as-long (12 feet) as its body. Being semi-arboreal, they also need very tall enclosures. Their claws and powerful tails are perfectly equipped to cause you great injury whenever the lizard is feeling in a particularly feisty or aggressive mood. During breeding season they can get hormonal and become downright crazy. They also need extreme amounts of UVB in order to stay healthy and need to be fed a complicated diet of harder-to-find vegetables (more than just lettuce and kale). If you’re caring for an iguana properly, you’re spending thousands of dollars.

An iguana's bite is much worse than his bark. I cannot stress enough how important it is to socialize your iguana, spend time with him everyday and get to know his body language. Without this knowledge you have a danger in your house.

5. Caimans & Alligators

One would hope it’d be common sense to avoid getting a caiman or alligator as a pet, but it’s important to talk about why. Alligators grow to monstrous sizes and are dangerous and unpredictable. Caimans don’t grow to be quite as large as alligators, but they still get BIG and are still able to cause severe injury. Both alligators and caimans will require large pond-sized enclosures as adults, and the cost of feeding one of these reptiles would be enough to break some people’s bank accounts. Most pet alligators/caimans end up dying due to neglect or improper care, or they are destroyed or euthanized because they have no home to go to once they’ve grown too large. The only way to care for an alligator or caiman correctly is to, again, spend thousands of dollars.

6. Monitors

No species of monitor lizard should be kept by a beginner reptile keeper. Do you really want a mini pet Tyrannosaurus rex running around your home when you don’t really know what you’re doing? I don’t think so. Savannah monitors, for example, can be bought at a pet store for $40-$50 as a baby, but within only a couple years it grows to be a five foot-long hissing, biting, tail-whipping carnivorous monster. Granted, if you spend massive amounts of time and energy raising it correctly, it may be tamer than that. But it’ll still be a huge, powerful lizard that can injure you with a simple flick of its tail. Risk of injury aside, these giant reptiles require a diet of tiny insects like crickets, and buying massive amounts of insects get expensive very quickly. Don't forget the money you'll need to spend building a massive, monumental enclosure! Or you'll need to pay to have someone build it for you.

Tree monitors are just as complicated. They still get big and they require perfect temperature and humidity. They’re not very hardy towards improper conditions and they’re also little hunger machines who will eat all your money.

7. Any Giant Snake Species

Pythons that get large, such as rock pythons, reticulated pythons, and Burmese pythons, should be avoided by all but the most experienced and financially-stable snake keepers. These species do not tame well and are usually still quite aggressive as adults. They require enclosures the size of an entire small room in your house and are incredibly expensive to feed. The owner must also always take care around these massive snakes because they can use their 22-foot-long, heavily-muscled bodies to kill people.

8. Turtles

Turtles are very popular and sought-after pets. However, they are stubborn, hardy animals that do not reveal or show when they are unhealthy until it’s too late. For this and many other reasons, they are not good for beginners.

The #1 homeless and sick reptile out there is probably the red ear slider, a cheap and easily-obtainable aquatic turtle. When folks buy these turtles they don’t realize just how much poop turtles can produce. People are also surprised when their turtle outgrows its aquarium and needs an enclosure the size of a small pond.

Other care requirements are often very misunderstood as well. Turtles may attempt to eat the live fish you feed them but it’s not what they should be fed. And even though a turtle is an aquatic species, it still requires a land area where they can leave the water and bask under a heat lamp.

Box turtles are also incredibly misunderstood. The popular species found in the hobby include the ornate box turtle, eastern box turtle, and three-toed box turtle. All three species, unless they are labelled as captive-bred by a breeder, are wild-caught and the wild populations are suffering for it. Wild-caught individuals spend their first few years in captivity stressed, and the majority of them die in captivity due to improper care. A healthy box turtle is constantly active during the day and has a huge, healthy appetite. They are very difficult to maintain, and the best way to house them is in large outdoor turtle pens. Even though they are small animals, a single turtle requires a minimum enclosure size of about eight square feet. They need an incredibly varied diet but box turtles are notorious for going on hunger strikes and holding out until they are fed their favorite “dessert foods” like strawberries… this is not healthy for them and an experienced keeper will know how to properly regulate their turtle’s diet to prevent hunger strikes.

9. Tortoises

Tortoises present many of the same predicaments as turtles. They need to be provided with much more space than they are usually given, and even the smaller species found in the hobby, the Russian tortoise, requires a large enclosure called a “tortoise table” in order to thrive. Even desert species require access to humidity via deep substrate and burrows, and some species, such as the red foot tortoise, need a perfect mix of fruit, vegetable, and protein in their diet or they will begin to grow unhealthy shells (called “pyramiding”).

Sulcata tortoises (also called African spurred tortoises) are widely available as babies and are sold for very cheap prices. However, this fast-growing species requires an entire giant backyard as an adult, and they never actually stop growing (good luck getting that 300-pound tortoise to do what you want it to do). And say goodbye to that lovely backyard you’ll be keeping it in, because sulcatas dig massive burrows and tear up any landscaping or plants that get in their way. If they decide to dig under the fence, you'll have a giant escaped tortoise running through the streets!

Their diets are much more complicated than giving them some lettuce and hay, and when raised incorrectly, the resulting shell deformities are debilitating and completely irreversible. Also, these tortoises live for more than 100 years, so what will happen to it when you’re no longer able to care for it? There are not enough zoos, sanctuaries, or rescues to help the numerous homeless sulcatas out there. Please be responsible.

If I Want a Pet Reptile, Where Should I Start?

Read: Best Pet Reptiles for Beginners.

wyatt on September 02, 2020:

all of those are wrong you probably didnt handle them enough and you have a bad experience with those specific reptiles I own a monitor and he is a big dog

AmyP32123 on May 29, 2020:

Okay, bottom line. Before you attack someone ask yourself one serious question? Would you honestly recommend any of these reptiles to a beginner? No? Thats what she was trying to get across. She even said don't trust one article, but read many.

So many times derpy parents go into pet shops with little Jimmy or Joan who just HAS to have that cute lizard or snake... cool scorp or spider... without any knowledge what so ever as to how to care for them. Lets said pet shop employee sale them usless stuff that will not help at all.

A week goes by and the animal is in terrible shape because the kid has lost interest because it's too much responsibility and derp parents weren't interested in the first place. The animal dies from poor husbandry, diet, and negligence. The saddest part is all of this could have been prevented in the first place if someone had told said derp parents to do their research. This is what she is attempting to do.

She might be wrong about a few things, but she is right about a lot more. None of these animals are good for a beginner. If even one person is forced to do the research before an innocent animal suffers then I want to thank her. Not attack her.

E.Z on May 16, 2020:

"Savannah monitors, for example, can be bought at a pet store for $40-$50 as a baby, but within only a couple years it grows to be a five foot-long hissing, biting, tail-whipping carnivorous monster." bruh, when a pet gets angry its normally because the owner pissed it of somehow and they are not often violent. I have a 2 metre lace monitor and he has only hissed once when he was a baby.

colton hunt on May 07, 2020:

This is amazing advice.

Karen on March 01, 2020:

Oh my gosh this very nice lady is trying to give you guys some information on these reptiles and your juust attacking her and I will tell your parents

moby on June 26, 2019:

These notes about Chameleons are wrong.

A) Chameleons do not change colour to blend in.

B) Chameleons CAN be handled, some almost seem to like it.

Greg on May 05, 2019:

Uh, Liz the picture at the beginning of the article is in fact a Green Tree python (Morelia Virdis) and not an Emerald Tree Boa ( Corralus Caninus). Speaking as a breeder and keeper of both species for many years, I know the difference. Apparently you don't.

Karen on May 03, 2019:

Wow you guys are mean on here! she’s trying to teach people that these are living creatures with basic instincts and that they aren’t play things that you pick up from a pet store because they’re “cute”. This entire page is for people that don’t know mich, beginners, you all sound like “experts”, so maybe instead of tearing this woman down (who sounds like she knows a thing or two) and go write your own little page about the things you “know”!

Val E on December 13, 2018:

"they can use their 22 foot long bodies to kill people"

There have been less than a handful of confirmed snakes that size, most large pythons don't get anywhere near 20 let alone 22 feet and those would be exclusively female.

"They require enclosures the size of an entire small room in your house"

No, a large python will do fine in a 7 or 8 foot custom enclosure, much smaller in diameter than your average small room.

Crazy idea but maybe don't have someone who doesn't know what they're talking about write about large snakes, yes large snakes are challenging to keep and not recommended for beginners but at least do a fact check before writing nonsense.

James on December 09, 2018:

I am just a kid, and my dad used to be one of the top chameleon breeders in the U.S. I tried raising my own, but they didn't even make it for a whole year. Tough critters. I'm hoping for an iguana for Christmas, and I hope it lives strong.( If I get one)

Liza on December 01, 2018:

Im looking to get a madagascan day gecko Im a comete beginner a d have a friend who ow s a reptile shop and he breeds them. He is giving all the advice i need about rhe vivarium and what type of plants to have in it. The rrazon behind my cgoice is because i am at home all day and theze are not nicturnal lizzards. Does anyone have a y more advice for me about this breed of gecko that i should know all is welcome. In advance Thanks

Candypantsx on September 28, 2018:

I think Liz makes some very good points. Whilst it is important to stress the commitment, care, husbandry needs, money, space and time that reptiles require, it is better to educate people than to scare them. Fear is another reason lots of animals end up neglected or even killed and especially misunderstood reptiles. Any animal can injure you, large dogs are capable of killing a human, just as a large snake may be- but to say that usually retics, carpets and Burmese pythons are aggressive is a huge mistake imo. I personally wouldn’t recommend them to a begginer either, but not at all for this reason, there are lots of other things to consider when buying a reptile of this size, who eats this much and this regularly.

I get where you are coming from, too many reptiles end up abandoned or neglected, but I think the attitude of reptile hobbyists don’t help at all in helping people instead of trying to stop them completely.

Liz on August 23, 2018:

Your opening photo is not of a green tree python, it is an emerald tree boa.

You make a FEW good points in this artical but not many. Why is it that everyone that thinks negatively about reptiles try to instill fear in others rather than teach a healthy respect for these animals. Why dont you just stick to the amount of maintance some of these animals require rather than them being furcious man eaters?

Lets start with the monitors... Out of all the different types of monitors you could possible single out, you choose the Savannah! The reptile is not purchased because it is cheap it is purchased because of their docile temperament - yes they might hiss when cornered and strikes the ground with its tail to ward off the predator. If nothing else works they play dead NOT viciously try to take your hand off. Stick the facts - they get big (usually 3.5 ft - rarely ever 5) so owning one of these lizards can and will be very expensive - building a custom enclosure to house them and feeding could deffinetly set a person back.

And, while on monitors.. Ackie Monitors grow to reach an average length of 24 – 28 inches. Given the proper requirements, ackies will flourish in captivity. In fact, they adjust so well to captive situations that they are commonly coined "the perfect beginner monitor." Rarely exceeding 30 inches (76.2 centimeters) total length in captivity, a pair of adult acanthurus can safely and comfortably be housed in terraria measuring 24 by 36 inches.

Snakes - tame down with age and regular handling - burms especially. They are the one snake used all over the states in snake shows and educational demonstrations because of their docile nature and undemanding requirements (not a room sized enclosure) . Again, instead of labeling the snake a man eater and getting people to fear it - Educate them. The snake gets big, the bigger the snake the larger the meal, im talking cute little bunnies and fluffy chickens, and dont forget the bigger the meal the bigger the poop. They are a lot of maintance, can you see yourself pulling a 200lb snake out of an enclose everyday just to clean some poop? Wow, i probably just convinced your readers that the burm may not a good starter snake.

blagh blagh on June 02, 2018:

it is just every reptile

Jupiter on April 30, 2018:

Crasila, just so you know, bearded dragons make AMAZING pets. I have one at home!

Jupiter on April 29, 2018:

Yeah! You’re right Kim! But to be fair, they ARE easily mixed up. Btw, please don’t judge my name. I know it’s not the best name, but it’ll do.

Crasila on April 16, 2018:

Are bearded dragons good for beginners?

amolas on March 27, 2018:

nice info

check Non-venomous Snakes

Rose on February 05, 2018:

What are good turtles to get as a beginner?

A reader on February 15, 2017:

Hi I love what you wrote I would have never guessed that tortoises could grow new shells! I want a reptile and I thought a "mini Tyrannosaurus Rex" would a great until I read your artical. I've never owned a reptile berfore and I think a Carolina anole would be a good pet what do you think?

Becky (author) on November 15, 2016:

Thanks Kim! I've updated the photo.

Kim on November 13, 2016:

The photo at the top of your page is not a green tree python. It is an emerald tree boa. Very common misidentification.

9 Worst Pet Reptiles for Beginners - pets

by Petra Spiess

This article appeared in the June 1997 issue of Reptile Hobbyist Magazine

With all of the reptile species available today has come some misconceptions about which reptiles are best for beginning hobbyists. The cheapest species are very often not the easiest or most suitable for the beginner. Several species have in fact, been traditionally sold as "starter" reptile pets, when in fact, they are far from suitable. Many of these "starter" reptile species should only be kept by experienced herpetocultuists.

What Makes a Reptile Species Difficult?

Just with the best reptile species, there are several factors that contribute to making a reptile the "worst" species for beginners. Aggressive reptile species should not be kept by beginning hobbyists, these animals can be difficult to handle and can cause injury to an inexperienced keeper. Reptile species that are heavily parasitized, as is the case with the majority of imported species, are difficult to maintain for the beginner and should be avoided. Large species that are potentially dangerous, or that are expensive to feed, house, and maintain should be left to experienced keepers. Reptiles that require demanding environmental conditions, or reptiles that stress in captivity easily are difficult to maintain for everyone, not just beginners. Unfortunately, there is rather a long list of difficult reptile species, but it is important to know which commonly seen species to avoid.

9 Worst Pet Reptiles for Beginners - pets

by Petra Spiess

This article appeared in the June 1997 issue of Reptile Hobbyist Magazine

The Tokay Gecko

There are few other reptile species of any genera more aggressive than the tokay gecko. This species is very common on the market, and is subsequently very low priced. Most tokays are imported animals and have all the problems that go with this process. Tokay geckos, with very few exceptions, do not become docile and do not tolerate handling well. In addition, they are extremely quick and, as with all arboreal geckos, can climb even slick surfaces with ease. The first thing a tokay geckos does when it feels threatened (which seems to be anytime anything comes near one) is to gape its prodigious mouth as a warning, which is why most close photographs of the tokay geckos show the animal in this position. The second course of action for a threatened tokay is a load barking noise followed by a lunge at the threatening object (if you are keeping one, this is usually your hand). The last course of action is biting, and boy, can they bite! Tokay geckos have very strong jaws, capable of causing serious injury to anyone fool enough to be bitten by one of these animals. This beautiful and interesting gecko can make a good captive for those who are experienced in handling aggressive, fast moving reptile species. Beginners generally do not fall into this category, so should pass this species by when looking for a new purchase.

Caimans or Alligators

There are many reasons not to keep these two species, among them is the fact that many states ban the private sector from owning these animals. Baby alligators are produced heavily in the East and South, a determined person will be able to purchase one, legal or not. Caimans can be found in almost every state that does not ban their sale. Baby caimans and baby alligators are undeniable cute, they make cute sounds, and are extremely soft to the touch. Most people who purchase these animals as babies have never seen an adult animal or do not plan on caring for the animal for its entire life. I will never forget speaking with a person who had just purchased a baby alligator and asking,

"What will you do with this animal when it gets anywhere near the adult size?" The answer I received was,

"I Dunno know", which is the typical response of a person who purchases one of these completely inappropriate reptiles. Many alligators purchased by people such as this die or are killed long before they reach an "inconvenient" size. Alligators are extremely unsuitable to just about all reptile keepers, experienced or not. Their huge size, demanding housing and feeding requirements, and aggressive nature makes this species one of the worst reptile species to maintain in captivity. Caimans are much smaller than alligators, but size is relative considering alligators are beyond HUGE. Caimans are also aggressive, and require very large aquatic enclosures most people cannot provide.

With so many reptile choices on the market today, it is sometimes difficult for a beginning hobbyist to choose an appropriate reptile pet. There are many reptile species that are wonderful for beginners, but there are many commonly available and cheap species that are not. It is important that beginning hobbyists have good experiences with the reptiles they choose to purchase, as this encourages them to become more involved in a fascinating hobby that will last a lifetime.

Best Pet Reptiles for Beginners

Leopard Gecko

Leopard geckos are terrestrial geckos, which means that unlike most commonly encountered geckos, they live on land. They are quite hardy, and don’t mind being handled by humans (some individuals may actually enjoy it). They survive on an easily manageable diet of vegetables and small insects. They grow to more than 20 cm in length and weigh up to 60 grams. The only problem with leopard geckos is that they are nocturnal, which means they will sleep for much of the time their guardian is awake.

Ball Python

Ball pythons are renowned for their temperate behavior. They tolerate handling quite well, and are one of the smallest pythons (though still large by normal standards). These pythons can be great pets for relatively older children. Ball pythons’ name comes from their habit of curling into a ball when threatened/distressed. So, if a ball python actually suits its action to its name, it’s time to back off. They are also known as the royal python. They grow to about 4 to 5 feet.

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are the ideal pet if you are set on adopting a snake. They grow up to 6 feet, but are slimmer than the aforementioned ball pythons. They are naturally docile and reluctant to bite, an ideal trait for an urban pet. They are found in various attractive color variations, called morphs. Their longevity in secure captivity (c. 20 years) also means that your children will not have to encounter their beloved pet’s death in their formative years. These factors make corn snakes the ideal pet reptile.

Blue-tongued Skink

These striking reptiles, colloquially called blue-tongued lizards, are quite intelligent for reptiles, and can make great pets. Like most lizards, they feed on greens, insects, fruits, flowers, etc. These are one of the few reptiles that may actively seek out their owner’s attention. These can grow up to 1.5 feet in length.

Painted Turtle

Despite appearances and conventional wisdom, some turtles can be troublesome pets. They can get severely distressed after relocating to different environs, and may reject food and aimlessly wander around their new surroundings. Painted turtles are less likely to suffer from such psychological trauma. They are hardy, but do not enjoy being handled. Children taught to be respectful of these turtles’ temperament can keep painted turtles for a long time. They can grow to 25 cm, but the norm is much lower.

King Snakes and Milk Snakes

King snakes are very mildly venomous snakes. Their method of delivering the venom, combined with the very weak toxicity of the venom itself, makes them harmless to humans. They are very docile and curious when calm, and only get distressed in extreme circumstances. In the wild, they feed on various items, including other snakes, but in captivity, they need to be fed dead rats―pinky mice would suffice. Kingsnakes, and especially milk snakes, have appealing, attractive patterns.

Argentine Black and White Tegu

Tegus are reptiles similar to monitor lizards. They fill similar ecological niches, and live on a similar diet. Like monitor lizards, tegus can grow big, and are not, as a rule, recommended for beginners. However, the Argentine black and white tegu is remarkably docile, and even seeks out its owner’s attention if handled from a young age. Of all the animals on this list, tegus are the most high-maintenance. They need cages suitable for their size (at least 5-6 feet long), at least occasional UV lighting, and water to soak themselves in. They feed on insects (primarily crickets), pinky mice, and occasional treats such as fruits and vegetables, and eggs.

Crested Gecko

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For a pet owner, crested geckos are rather akin to leopard geckos. Crested geckos, like leopard geckos, don’t mind handling, and actually seem to enjoy it in many cases. They eat a similar diet of fruits, greens, and insects. Crested geckos, unlike leopard geckos, are largely arboreal they live in rainforest canopies in the wild.

Bearded Dragon

These Australian lizards are one of the most popular pet lizards. They are not aggressive, and the spines on their head are not sharp enough to cause any injury. Once settled into their new surroundings, they are rarely flustered. Though this is dependent on individual dragons, tamed individuals enjoy sitting on their owner’s shoulders, possibly because of the warmth they get from their owner’s body heat. They can grow up to 2 feet, considerably larger than the other lizards in this list, and consequently need a larger cage. They survive on a diet of greens, occasional fruits, and insects.

Leopard Tortoise

Like the leopard gecko, this tortoise is named after the superficially pantherine color pattern on its shell. They can grow to lengths of about 2 feet, and can weigh as much as 18 kg. They are largely herbivorous, and feed on leaves, fruits, etc. An important point to remember when buying a pet turtle/tortoise is that while the rest of the animals in this list can be satisfied within the environs of your home, turtles and tortoises need a moderately large area (a backyard should do just fine) to roam, and a freshwater source.

These hardy, low-maintenance, attractive, and docile creatures are the best options if you are looking to buy your first pet reptile.

List of Worst lizards for beginners

While reptiles, especially lizards, are commonly available in pet stores and inexpensive, it does not make them the ideal pets for beginners. The majority of reptiles are not suited for captivity life.

Furthermore, everyone has to consider their size, temperaments, and aggressiveness.

They also have difficult care requirements and other considerations to take into account.

However, in the list created for the worst starter pet lizards, we do not say that they cannot be pets. They are just more difficult to keep, especially for starter pet owners.


iguana is worst for beginner

The green iguanas are some of the most common and cheap pets in the market.

They are also sociable and intelligent, but they grow into large monitors. They can grow to 5-6 feet and have razor sharp spikes, talons and also have large teeth.

As such, this creates a hazard for the handler where even the tame iguanas can accidentally cause nasty cuts or slashes, which necessitates handling with care.

Furthermore, their caging requirements can reach up to half the size of an average bedroom, as well as, special lighting and heating.

The babies grow fast and thus require space planning to be in place up front. They can live up to 15 – 20+ years. They grow up to 5-6 feet.


  • At a minimum, they need a 6 x 6 x 6 feet cage as adults
  • Vegetable diet
  • Controlled lighting and heating


  • Cheap
  • Easy to find


  • Aggressive animals
  • Their large size requires large space
  • They are high maintenance and a big commitment

Savannah Monitor

The second species of worst lizards for beginners is Savannah Monitor. It is not suited for starters, not because of the cost.

The savannah monitor is a cheap lizard. A baby can cost below $25, but they grow into large monsters that can inflict injury through bites or break bones using their tail whip. As a result, they are victims of abandonment as adults by impulse buyers.

They are good pet monitors, but not ideal for beginner keepers. They require experience handling and lager cage spaces.

Savannah monitors also eat a lot and thus require cleaning after every day, which increases the tasks involved.

Their intelligence is high making them great escape artists and can result in extensive property damage.

They live from 10 to more than 15 years and can grow to 3-4 feet.


  • The cages needed for the adults must be minimum 4 x 8 x 4 feet
  • They need special controlled heating, humidity and lighting


  • They are easy to find and cheap
  • Evenly tempered compared to other monitors


  • Savannah Monitor‘s size is large
  • Quite messy
  • They require intensive resource investment

Green Anole

The green anole is a common and a cheap lizard as well. However, whereas they are cheap to acquire, their maintenance is expensive.

They require expensive lighting and controlled environment whose cost is numerous times the initial cost.

Although the anoles look pretty, they are easily stressed and should not be handled regularly.

They are also carnivorous, which increases their need for daily insect diet supply for the juveniles and every other day for the adults.

It is easy to keep them with a proper setup, but due to their flighty nature and specific care needs, one needs to think and decide wisely before buying them.

Green anoles live from 3 to 5 years and can grow up to 5 to 8 inches.


  • They require a 10-20 gallon tank or equivalent
  • They need controlled heating, UVA and UVB lighting


  • Easy to find and cheap
  • They are small in size


  • Their set up is expensive
  • They are easily stressed


Whereas chameleons can do well while in captivity, they are very specific on their needs and are generally unforgiving.

They need specialized care as most of those found in stores are caught from the wild making them difficult to handle and care for.

The wild-caught chameleons also carry diseases and parasites, thus one must ensure that they are captive bred.

Even though they are beautiful, chameleons are best not being handled unless it is extremely necessary as they are easily hurt or stressed.

They also need high humidity and a special terrarium with fake or natural plants. Ideally, they should have automated misting systems.

Chameleons are fascinating but need extra research and commitment to keep as pets. They live up to 2 – 5 years and their size is variable.

In other word, Chameleons is one of the worst lizards for beginners


  • Their cage size is dependent on the species size
  • They need controlled lighting and specific humidity


  • They are unique and fascinating


  • Expensive set up needs
  • Easily stressed
  • They are not handling-friendly

Other Monitors

There are numerous commonly available monitor species that include Asian water monitors, Nile monitors, and green tree monitors among others.

Most of these animals make poor captives as they grow to large sizes and have extremely delicate environmental needs.

As such, it is important to conduct in depth research before buying one of these monitors.

While babies might be intelligent and inexpensive, the maintenance costs can rise into thousands of dollars.

In addition, it is important to consider that they may be wild-caught and could be harbouring pests and parasites.

The lifespan varies with the species and most are large in size.


  • Most require large cages
  • They also need controlled lighting, humidity and heating


  • High intelligence
  • Attractive


  • Expensive to maintain
  • Difficult to care for especially for first time keepers
  • Aggressiveness

1 thought on “Top 04 Worst lizards for beginners”

hey, not all monitors are bad for beginners, ackie, dumeril’s, timor, argus, black-throated, peach-throated, storr’s pygmy, and even asian water monitors make great pets, even for begginers

Watch the video: 25 Popular Pet Reptiles - Which One Is Right For You? (July 2021).