We've had a lot of questions from parents lately wondering what reptile would be appropriate for their kids. That isn't exactly an easy question for us to answer because the truth is it depends. We usually encourage parents and kids alike to think beyond just the purchase of an animal. We encourage them to consider the cost of the initial set up, the amount of care the animal will need, the food they eat and how much the materials to sustain the animal through their lifetime will cost.
We do not want to deter any parent or child from owning these amazing animals, we do however want them to have a basic understanding on the cost that goes into the care of these creatures and the amount of dedication it will take to own one. We wanted to take a moment to highlight the pros and cons of owning several popular beginner animals that are great for kids.
Bearded Dragons: Bearded dragons are a popular reptile to keep especially amongst kids. They are very hardy, have a great temperament and are easily handled. They grow to the size of the enclosure they are kept in, so you may need to anticipate upgrading your beardie to a larger enclosure when it has begun to outgrow it's initial home. With homing a bearded dragon families also must consider the light and heat requirements to keep these babies happy, healthy and MBD free. What is MBD you might ask? In reptiles MBD or metabolic bone disease which is caused by an imbalance in the levels of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D in their bodies. The great thing is it is completely preventable with proper care and lighting. Beardies are mid day baskers so we would suggest a 10-12% UVB full spectrum ultra violet light bulb. They will also need a diet of bugs and veggies such as dubia roaches, crickets, meal worms and super worms. With a fairly long lifespan you can expect a beardie to stay in the family anywhere from 8-10 years plus.
Crested Geckos: Crested Gekos are one of the easiest critters to keep if you are looking to add a new pet to your family. They are easy to handle and fun to watch jump through the air. These little guys stay fairly small, reaching only 4-5 inches in length. They can be housed in a variety of enclosures depending on your preference. You can easily build their home in a standard 20 inch tupperware container with a screen top or include the kids in customizing a 20 gallon terrarium. In the wild cresties live in the trees so they appreciate high places to climb and explore. Cresties require a temperature 78-82 degrees so they do well in warm places of the house with no additional equipment needed to sustain them. We feed our cresties mixable food that comes in powder form, usually available at most pet stores. We prefer Repashy Superfoods “Crested Gecko” Diet because it excludes the need to feed live insects and it is quick and easy to mix up by adding two parts water to one part mix (plus it lasts forever). These little guys do require high so spraying them down with a garden mister or spray bottle every so often will do just fine.
Along with these two lizards, several other easy beginner pets include corn snakes and other colubrids, ball pythons and so many more. We encourage anyone looking to add to their family to plan ahead, do research and find the right match before adopting a reptile. While owing a reptile is fun, it does requirer work and commitment, we encourage parents to consider the possibility of the child losing interest in their pet, which puts the responsibility of maintaining the animal falls on the parents. If there is ever a point where the reptile is no longer wanted, please contact your local reptile rescue or re-home the animal to a loving home. We do not want anyone to think keeping reptiles en-masse as we do is a walk in the park. It takes full dedication and long hours to keep our babies heathy and happy. We want the keeping experience to be fun for all tiny humans and their adults alike.
Cheers to the young keeps and the ones who support them,
Paul & Andi