7 Best Reptile Pets For Kids (Care Requirements Included)

If you’re looking into reptiles as a pet for your child, you’re in the right place. They’re great learning experiences and provide the need for responsibility as they grow without the need for constant attention and maintenance.

In this article, I am going to give you a breakdown of the 7 best reptiles to own for kids and mini care reviews to help you get started.

What To Consider Before Owning A Reptile

Care Requirements

Reptiles are typically one of the easiest pets to care for, however, you’ll still need to consider their specific requirements. For example, reptiles are cold-blooded and require certain temperature levels, humidity levels, and UV exposure to thrive, and these differ depending on the reptile you’ve chosen.

Before choosing which reptile you’ll want for you and your family, I recommend you research them in-depth to understand these beautiful creatures fully.

Lifespan

Reptiles have a wide variety of lifespans, Bearded Dragons can live for up to 15 years in captivity, whereas a Common Musk Turtle can live up to a whopping 50 years. So it’s safe to say, these pets aren’t just for Christmas and require a home for life.

Health & Safety

At the end of the day, reptiles are animals and have minds of their own, so I always recommend having good health and safety practices in place when owning one. 

Different reptiles react in different ways when they’re stressed or startled and can potentially bite, scratch, or even simply hide away.

Although the reptiles I have listed below are among the most docile and child friendly, I strongly recommend supervising your child’s interaction with their new pet until you and they’re confident the correct handling and safety practices are in place.

The Benefits Of Owning Pet Reptiles For Kids

They’re Resilient Animals

Some reptiles are more resilient than others when it comes to being cared for, typically once the initial setup is completed they’re quite happy to be handled, played with, and spoken to for hours. 

However, as I said some are better than others, this is why I have created this list of the 7 best reptiles for kids to own.

They Encourage Responsibility

Like any pet, reptiles are an animal the owner needs to take responsibility for, they’ll need to be cleaned, fed, and, interacted with. These pets will teach your child to take responsibility and care for another living thing as they grow together.

Builds Confidence

When I was younger, I had quite the fear of animals, but when I got my first Common Musk Turtle called Tiziano (3 guesses as to why I named him that) I fell in love and my fear of animals was more or less instantly gone.

Instead of avoiding the cats, dogs, and sometimes even fluffy bunny rabbits I found myself wanting to interact with and care for them and make them a part of my family.

Reptiles are mostly small and not intimidating, they’re actually quite loving creatures once given the chance to show it.

Make For A Good Show And Tell Project

Now, I could never take Tiziano in for show and tell, but I was able to take pictures and brag about my exotic pet to the other kids, and this made for great opportunities to make friends.

7 Best Reptiles For Kids

#1 Bearded Dragon

Classic Bearded Dragon morph basking on rock
Species Overview
Natural HabitatSemi-arid areas of Australia
Lifespan8 – 15 Years
Adult Size16” – 24”
DietInsects and Vegetation

Bearded Dragons have risen in popularity over the years, and I think they’re one of the best pet reptiles for kids, they’re calm, friendly, and easy to care for once you get the initial setup completed.

Your child will be able to hold and even play with a Bearded Dragon once they’re comfortable with each other. Although due to the temperature requirements beardies have, I recommend playing to be kept between 15-30 minutes.

Below are the 5 requirements needed for owning a Bearded Dragon.

Terrarium Size

As Bearded Dragons age, you’ll need to upgrade their enclosure to accommodate their increasing size and weight.

AgeBearded Dragon SizeEnclosure Size
Baby (1-4 Months)3” – 12”40 – 55 Gallons
Juvenile (5-10 Months)11” – 16”55 – 75 Gallons
Adult (11-12+ Months)16” – 24”75 – 120 Gallons

Temperature Requirements

Bearded Dragons require a temperature gradient throughout their enclosure to help replicate their natural environment.

Bearded Dragon Temperature Gradient Graph

This article talks in-depth about Bearded Dragon Temperatures

You can monitor temperature and humidity levels by using digital thermometers and humidity gauges.

UV Lighting

UV lighting is one of the most essential parts of a Bearded Dragon’s habitat to ensure they’re thriving. It can seem quite daunting, but I have written an in-depth and easy-to-follow article on Bearded Dragon Lighting.

Substrate

Substrate is usually missed when considering purchasing reptiles, but for Bearded Dragons substrate is very important to know what to use and what to avoid.

Decoration

Ensuring you’ve decorated the enclosure appropriately isn’t just for the enclosure to look nice when being observed but it’s also to make your Bearded Dragon feel comfortable. They’ll need hide spots, basking rocks, and enrichment opportunities such as climbing or burrowing.

#2 Leopard Gecko

Leopard Gecko Next To Cactus Mouth Open
Species Overview
Natural HabitatDry and Semi-desert areas of the Middle East
Lifespan10 – 20 Years
Adult Size7” – 11”
DietInsects

Leopard Geckos are really fun and interesting pet reptiles for kids, they come in a variety of colors, remain at only a small and manageable size, and have one of the coolest looks resembling a Leopard, hence the name.

The only concern is ensuring when handling Leopard Geckos, it’s done correctly because when startled Leo’s have the tendency to “drop” their tail, meaning it falls off as a defense mechanism. It does grow back, but I feel this may startle a child if they don’t understand fully why it’s happened.

When handling Leos, you’ll need to build a bond with them, this can be really fun for children as a great way to do this is to get them to know you by feeding by hand, and placing your hand in the enclosure so they can sniff and crawl around you to get used to your scent.

Protip: Always support all 4 feet and tail, approach and pick up from the side and not above Leopard Geckos.

Below are the 5 requirements for owning a Leopard Gecko

Terrarium Size

Leopard Geckos don’t require huge enclosures to be housed in, the only thing to consider is the size and age of your Leopard Gecko as this will determine the size required.

  • Baby/Juvenile: 20 gallons (30”x12”x12”)
  • Adult: 40 gallons (36”x18”x18”)

Temperature Requirements

Your Leopard Gecko requires its habitat to replicate the wild as best you can. This helps ensure a natural and consistent growth period. The right temperatures for their environment are;

  • Basking Area: 94°F-97°F (34°C-36°C)
  • Warm Area: 90°F-92°F (32°C-33°C)
  • Cool Area: 70°F-77°F (21°C-25°C)
  • Nighttime: 64°F-68°F (18°C-20°C)
  • Humidity Levels: 30%-40%

You can monitor temperature and humidity levels by using digital thermometers and humidity gauges.

Fun Fact: The sex of your Leopard Gecko can be chosen during the egg phase by altering the incubation temperature.

UV Lighting

Leopard Geckos are nocturnal reptiles, but this doesn’t mean they don’t require light within their habitat. They still require a lighting schedule to regulate their day/night schedule.

I recommend having a split of 14 hours of light during the day. UVA exposure benefits their eyesight and UVB is for a healthy metabolism, calcium metabolism, and vitamin D synthesis.

Substrate

When choosing a substrate for your Leopard Gecko, I recommend using reptile carpet, tiles, flat stone, and even paper towels. These are better than loose-particle substrates such as sand because it prevents impaction.

Decoration

The main piece of decoration you’ll need to provide your Leopard Gecko is a hide spot. They are solitary reptiles and will spend a lot of their time sleeping and making themselves comfortable there.

#3 Crested Gecko

Species Overview
Natural HabitatSemi-arboreal areas of New Caledonia
Lifespan15 – 20 Years
Adult Size7.5” – 8”
DietInsects and Vegetation

Crested Geckos are similar to Leopard Geckos, however, they’re a bit more hardy and are more forgiving in care mistakes. This is a great learning curve when trying to teach your children how to care for them. 

They come in a variety of colors and have a unique crest on their head. They’re quiet, and gentle and remain at a small size making them easy for a child to handle and care for them. 

Below are the 5 requirements for owning a Crested Gecko

Terrarium Size

Crested Geckos require only a small enclosure to thrive, which means they won’t take up a lot of space wherever you decide to place them in your home.

  • Baby: 10 Gallon (20”x10”x12”)
  • Juvenile/Adult: 20 Gallon (24”x12”x16”)

Temperature Requirements

Unlike Leopard Geckos, the Crested Gecko doesn’t require temperatures too hot in their enclosure. They prefer a more humid environment.

  • Temperature gradient: 72°F – 75°F (22°C – 24°C)
  • Humidity levels: 50% – 70%

You can monitor temperature and humidity levels by using digital thermometers and humidity gauges.

UV Lighting

Crested Geckos are nocturnal reptiles like the Leopard Gecko, and similarly, this doesn’t mean they don’t require light within their habitat. They still require a lighting schedule to regulate their day/night schedule.

I recommend having a split of 12 hours of light during the day. UVA exposure benefits their eyesight and UVB is for a healthy metabolism, calcium metabolism, and vitamin D synthesis.

Substrate

The risk of impaction is high with Crested Geckos because of their eating habits. Because of this, I recommend using tiles, sphagnum moss, and paper towels as a substrate for them.

Decoration

The main piece of decoration you’ll need to provide your Crested Gecko is a hide spot. They’re solitary reptiles and will spend a lot of their time sleeping and making themselves comfortable there.

#4 Ball Python

Ball Python Coiled Up On Loose Substrate
Species Overview
Natural HabitatWestern and Central Africa
Lifespan30 – 30 Years
Adult Size42” – 79.2”
DietRats and Mice

Moving onto snakes, Ball Pythons are a great pet for children, they’re the smallest of the African Pythons, are non-venomous, they’re docile, and are quite comfortable with being handled for periods of time. They’re quickly becoming the most used reptiles as a pet in schools.

Below are the 5 requirements for owning a Ball Python

Terrarium Size

You’ll need to consider the size of your Ball Python will become, they’re quite thick and heavy.  

Here is a chart to reference what size tank you’ll need;

Size and Growth Chart
AgeMale Ball PythonFemale Ball Python
Hatchling: 0-2 Months10” – 16”10” – 16”
Juvenile: 2-36 Months16” – 42”16” – 48”
Adult: 3 Years and Over42” – 50.4”48” – 79.2”
  • Hatchlings: 10-20 Gallon Terrarium (20” x 11” x 13”)
  • Juveniles: 20-40 Gallon Terrarium (36” x 18” x 18”)
  • Adult: 40-75 Gallon Terrarium (48” x 18” x 21”)

Learn how to identify your Ball Pythons Gender in this article.

Temperature Requirements

There temperature gradient needs to be as follows;

  • Cool Side: 76°F – 80°F (24°C – 26°C)
  • Ambient Temperature: 80°F – 85°F (26°C – 29°C)
  • Warm Side: 88°F – 92°F (31°C – 33°C)
  • Humidity Levels: 50% – 60%

You can monitor temperature and humidity levels by using digital thermometers and humidity gauges.

UV Lighting

Unlike other reptiles, Ball Pythons don’t require UVB exposure in their enclosure. However, they do need a light source to mimic the day/night schedule of Western and Central Africa. I recommend a schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off.

Substrate

When choosing a substrate for your Ball Python, you’ll need to consider the quality of the material and the amount of cleaning and replacing you and your child are willing to do as an owner.

You don’t want your child to make more of a mess when cleaning out their pet’s enclosure, but at the same time, you also want your Ball Python to be comfortable in their habitat.

I recommend using cypress mulch, reptichip, and reptisoil because they provide great humidity retention and odor absorption, and are easy to replace and clean.

Decoration

The decoration in a Ball Python enclosure isn’t just for the aesthetic look, they actually prefer being in cramped spaces. As a rule of thumb, the more you put into their habitat, the happier they’ll be.

#5 Corn Snake

Species Overview
Natural HabitatSouthern and Central America
Lifespan10 – 25 Years
Adult Size48” – 66”
DietRats and Mice

Corn Snakes really are one of the best reptiles for kids, they’re docile, don’t require a lot of attention in terms of care, and aren’t fussy when being handled.

They don’t get as thick and heavy as Ball Pythons, however, they can grow to quite long lengths. Corn Snakes come in a range of morphs offering different colorations and patterns.

Fun Fact: The image below is the only known captive two-headed Corn Snake due to the long gap length between its heads. This has a chance of 1 in 100,000 occurring.

Photo taken in Reptasia – North Camp

Terrarium Size

Corn Snakes are good climbers, so you can change the enclosure’s dimensions to allow for climbing on branches you provide.

Size and Growth Chart
AgeMale Corn SnakeFemale Corn Snake
Hatchling: 0-2 Months8” – 12”8” – 12”
Juvenile: 2-36 Months20” – 60”20” – 50”
Adult: 3 Years and Over48” – 66”48” – 59”
  • Hatchlings: 10-20 Gallon Terrarium (20” x 11” x 13”)
  • Juveniles: 20-40 Gallon Terrarium (36” x 18” x 18”)
  • Adult: 120 Gallon Terrarium (48” x 24” x 24”)

Temperature Requirements

The temperature gradient for Corn Snakes is as follows;

  • Cool side: 75°F – 82°F (24°C – 27°)
  • Ambient Temperature:  80°F – 85°F (26°C – 29°C)
  • Basking Area: 90°F (32°C)
  • Humidity Levels: 40% – 50%

You can monitor temperature and humidity levels by using digital thermometers and humidity gauges.

UV Lighting

Although Corn Snakes don’t require UVB to survive, Frances M Baines Veterinary Surgeon has put together this list of studies detailing the effects of UVB greatly increase Corn Snakes’ physical and mental well-being. 

Substrate

The substrate for Corn Snakes greatly imitates that of a Ball Python, as long as you provide enrichment activities that promote humidity, odor absorption, and, heat retention you can’t really go wrong.

Decoration

The main decoration I recommend for Corn Snakes are branches, lots and lots of branches. Although they live in fields in the wild, they’re great climbers and enjoy the opportunity to do so.

Check out our Complete Corn Snake Care Sheet

#6 Blue-Tongued Skink

Species Overview
Natural HabitatNorth Western Coastal Less-Arid Australia
Lifespan20 – 30 Years
Adult Size18” – 24”
DietOmnivores

Blue-Tongued Skinks are great pets for children, they’re sturdy, docile, and very easy to handle, a great bonus is their tongue is blue, which is quirky and unique.

Their diet consists of proteins, vegetation, and greens and they’re not particularly fussy when it comes to eating so the need to provide a strict diet routine isn’t necessary. But like any diet, it needs to be well-balanced to promote healthy living.

Although Blue-Tongued Skinks are well-mannered and have a calm temperament, they can still bite and as they’re bigger and stronger than other reptiles on this list, it can hurt a child more than a Bearded Dragon or Leopard Gecko bite.

If this is something that concerns you, I recommend using gloves and supervising interaction.

Terrarium Size

These reptiles require a large enclosure, it’s always good to remember the bigger the better with Blue-Tongued Skinks. I recommend purchasing the larger enclosures to save money on upgrades as they grow.

  • Juveniles: 20-40 Gallon Terrarium (36” x 18” x 18”)
  • Adult: 75-120 Gallon Terrarium (48” x 24” x 24”)

Temperature Requirements

As all reptiles do, Blue-Tongues need a temperature gradient throughout their enclosure to assist them in thermoregulation. The ectothermic properties of reptiles mean they’re unable to regulate their own body temperature and use external sources of heat to warm up and cool down.

  • Ambient Temperature: 72°F – 80°F (22°C – 27°C)
  • Basking Spot: 90°F – 100°F (32°C – 37°C)

UV Lighting

There are instances around Blue-Tongues not needing UVB to thrive, however, I don’t recommend running a habitat without UVB. It promotes healthy living, aiding in the prevention of metabolic bone disease.

Substrate

Blue-Tongues are pretty easy when it comes to the substrate, they will thrive with any of the substrates I’ve listed above. I do recommend, however, a bioactive substrate but this is not for beginners and so may not be great for kids in the beginning.

Decoration

The need for climbing apparatus isn’t necessary, Blue-Tongues are not the best climbers and will likely ignore any branches you provide them. They like their space on the floor, so little rocks, burrowing opportunities and tunnels are the best choices.

#7 Common Musk Turtle

Species Overview
Natural HabitatSemi-Aquatic
Lifespan30-50 Years
Adult Size3” – 5”
DietOmnivores

Terrarium Size

The minimum size aquarium recommended for housing a Common Musk Turtle is 20 gallons, this provides them with optimum space to explore whilst providing space for rocks and branches for them to rest on whilst basking.

If you own two Common Musk Turtles, you’ll need to increase the aquarium size to a minimum of 40 gallons to provide both pets enough space to roam around and exercise.

Temperature Requirements

You may be thinking how can you set up a basking spot with an enclosure filled with water, but it’s easily done by providing overhead basking bulbs above rocks placed in the enclosure.

You’ll need basking and water temperatures reflecting;

  • Basking Area: 90°F-95°F (32°C – 35°C)
  • Water Temperature: 75°F-80°F (24°C – 27°C)

Heat sources must be turned off overnight to replicate the natural temperature drop they would experience in the wild.

UV Lighting

Common Musk Turtles are among the better reptiles at synthesizing Vitamin D3, however, I still recommend using a UVB bulb to assist in the metabolization of calcium.

Your UVB bulb can be placed alongside your heat bulb.

Filtration

Filters are a big thing for Common Musk Turtles, they’re quite messy so a high-quality filter and a regular cleaning schedule are recommended to keep their habitat clean and bacteria-free.

Here is an article on the 10 Best Filters For Turtles.

Decoration

Providing decoration within the enclosure is an important part of environmental enrichment for your Common Musk Turtle, they’ll require plenty of plants, rocks, and branches to rest on whilst swimming around their aquarium.

Closing Thoughts

Now we’ve got to the end, I hope you’ve managed to make a decision as to what pet reptile you want to get for your child. 

I have a soft spot for the Common Musk Turtle as Tiziano was my first pet.

The best reptiles for kids are;

  • Bearded Dragon
  • Leopard Gecko
  • Crested Gecko
  • Ball Python
  • Corn Snake
  • Blue-Tongued Skink
  • Common Musk Turtle

Let me know in the comments which one you’ve decided to go for.