What Kind of Reptiles Are Good Pets for Children?

Written by christine lafleur
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What Kind of Reptiles Are Good Pets for Children?
Reptiles can make good pets for kids who are willing to care for them. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

It is common for a child to beg his parents for a kitten or a puppy, but there are some children who prefer pets without fur. If you have been wondering whether getting your child a reptile for a pet is a good idea, you can rest assured that there are a few reptiles that make good pets for kids.

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Snakes

It may be a surprise, but snakes actually make excellent pets for children. The corn snake, the rat snake and the kingsnake are the best types of snakes for children. Pythons that were bred in captivity are kept as pets, but it is important to note that large pythons and boa constrictors have been known to escape their cages and kill children. If they are hungry, they will go after any warm-blooded creature they can find, so it is best to not keep large snakes in the same home as small children. The reason snakes make good pets for children is that they are easier to care for than other reptiles. They do not require a lot of room, they eat about once a week, they need fresh water several times a week and their temperature needs to be monitored. The one drawback to caring for a snake is feeding it. Many snakes will need to eat live mice, so you may need to look for a snake that was raised on dead prey.

What Kind of Reptiles Are Good Pets for Children?
Snakes make excellent pets for children because they are easy to care for. (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Turtles

The Exotic Pet Vet recommends the box turtle and the Asian box turtle for children. Tortoises such as the red-footed tortoise and leopard tortoise are fine choices as well. These animals are usually gentle, but they do not need to be handled much. Injuries to a turtle's shell or internal organs can result from being dropped. If your child is over the age of 5, a turtle can make a very good pet. You should be aware that turtles need large aquariums with land and water areas, as well as basking lamps. A turtle can easily die in captivity if it is not cared for properly.

What Kind of Reptiles Are Good Pets for Children?
Turtles should be pets of older children who will handle them carefully. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Lizards

The Green Iguana Society recommends the leopard gecko, the bearded dragon and the skink for children. The leopard gecko is relatively easy to care for. They are common household pets that will reach up to 8 inches in size. The leopard gecko's diet consists of insects. Kids may be frustrated with the fact that leopard geckos are nocturnal and will sleep during the day. The bearded dragon will reach approximately 2 feet as an adult. Their personalities are relaxed, so kids can easily handle them. A bearded dragon will eat a diet of insects and plants. Some skinks such as the bluetongue skink and the Berber/Schneider skink can make good pets for children. The bluetongue skink can grow to be 30 inches long, while the Berber/Schneider skink will be approximately 18 inches long. They eat insects and plants.

What Kind of Reptiles Are Good Pets for Children?
Children are often fascinated with lizards. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Adjusting to a Pet Reptile

You should teach your child to wash his hands immediately after handling his pet reptile. Some reptiles carry salmonella and you or your child could become ill if you don't practice proper hygiene. Your child should be taught to refrain from kissing his pet reptile. Your child needs to understand that owning a pet reptile is a big responsibility. Each reptile has specific needs that must be met. As a parent, you should supervise your child with his pet reptile and be willing to take over responsibility if your child is not properly caring for his pet.

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