There are over 2000 species of lizards but only a few make good pets. There is little doubt that Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) and Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) make suitable pets that are relatively easy to care for. Others, particularly the Green iguana (Iguana iguana) and monitors (Varanus spp) can grow very large and can be aggressive, while chameleons (Chameleo spp) can be very delicate and require more specialised care.
Keeping reptiles in captivity over a long period of time is much easier if you start with a healthy animal and arm yourself with the best information possible about it's care and maintenance. Following are some ideas to help you find your "perfect" pet! Choose an animal with a plump, well-rounded body. Hips or backbone that are protruding are signs of several underlying problems.
Also check the eyes to see that they are bright and alert, have no "crusty" appearance, and are not sunken into the animal's head. Make sure your animal looks active, rather than lethargic. Ask a qualified, knowledgeable staff person or expert. If you are a beginning herpkeeper, seek the advice of others with more experience. Take them with you to help you choose your animal.You want your animal to appear alert when disturbed, but not one that darts into the sides of it's enclosure in panic.
Find and purchase captive-bred or hatched animals whenever possible. They are much more resistant to disease and stress and are generally healthier than wild-caught animals. Remember that not all species will react in the same way. Learn what to expect and make your choice based on what you have researched. If you are a beginner, you might want to start with a hardy species that is easily kept and maintained. With proper care, reptiles can live quite a normal lifespan in captivity, which can range from 10-15 years or longer. By choosing your animal wisely, and offer them the proper care, the chances are good that you and your pet will spend many happy years together!
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