Are you looking for a larger, more robust lizard than leopard geckos or bearded dragons? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
These are some of the most common big lizard pets:
- Jeweled Lacerta
- Egyptian Uromastyx
- Frilled Lizard
- Blue Tongue Skink
- Savannah Monitor
- Chinese Water Dragon
- Ackie Monitor
- Green Basilisk
In this article, I will go over the top ten large reptile breeds that are kept as pets. I will discuss husbandry requirements, personality traits, and any special considerations for the reptiles listed. I will cover their temperament, handleability, and diet requirements. It should be noted that although UVB is not mentioned in this article, every reptile will need a UVB light. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive profile of 10 large reptiles, and will be able to make an informed decision on which lizard will make the best pet for you!
1. Black and White Argentine Tegu
These gentle giants require ambient temperatures that range from 75-95 and a basking surface temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit. They require humidity of about 80% and will live to 15 years old. They will grow to be 5 feet in length and require a cage that is 8 by 4 by 3 feet. These omnivores can be fed with many of the same foods in your kitchen cabinet. This varied diet includes lean meats, veggies, rodents, fruit, fish, and eggs. These intelligent reptiles can be taught to come when called and be housetrained. They grow into docile adults with frequent handling. Tegus are an excellent choice for anyone looking for a large, docile companion.
2. Jeweled Lacerta
This insectivore is perfect for someone looking for an extremely intelligent, colorful pet. Males can reach 3 feet, with ¾ of their length being tail. They require a tank size of about 4 by 4 by 4 feet and are very active. These semi-arboreal lizards love to climb and will use every inch of their enclosure. These beauties are burrowing lizards and require at least 6 inches of substrate to build tunnels. Jeweled Lacertas require humidity levels of 60% and a temperature gradient of 115 to 75 degrees. With regular handling, these fast lizards will form a close bond with their owners. They will live 8 to 12 years in captivity. These excellent lizards are perfect for someone looking for an intelligent, active, and beautiful reptile.
3. Egyptian Uromastyx
These gentle herbivores are docile and slower than some of the other reptiles on this list, making them great for beginners. They can live up to 20 years and reach about 35 inches. This desert reptile needs a humidity level of 30% and thrives in temperatures that range from 85 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. They will require a tank that is 5 by 2 by 2 feet with plenty of hiding spots to burrow. These reptiles will be moderately active for the morning and then retreat to their burrows for the remainder of the day. Egyptian Uromastyx is the perfect spiny-tailed lizard for someone who does not want to keep insects and wants an easier-to-handle reptile.
4. Frilled Lizard
These unique lizards have a frilled neckline that will extend defensively when threatened. When stressed, their health can deteriorate so it is important to respect your reptile’s boundaries and prevent this stress display. They will live about 10 years and can grow 3 feet in length. These arboreal lizards need a cage that’s 5 by 3 by 6 feet to accommodate their active lifestyle. They should have plenty of branches and ledges to climb on as well. They thrive with temperatures of 115 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels of about 70%. These diurnal reptiles are hardy eaters and benefit from a varied diet of insects and vegetables. Frilled Lizards would be a great reptile for an intermediate keeper who is looking for a rewarding pet with specific care requirements.
5. Blue Tongue Skink
Blue Tongue Skinks are great introductory reptiles as they are known for their hardiness and docile nature. They have a long, snake-like body and prefer slowly moving over ground cover. They will live for about 15 years and grow to be 24 inches. These gentle ground dwellers are known for their bright blue tongue, visible when feeding. These hardy lizards do best on a varied omnivore diet and are easy to feed. They can even be fed certain dog foods, eggs, and cooked turkey. They will require a tank size of 4 by 2 by 2 feet and thrive on temperatures that range from 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A humidity level of about 50% is best. Floor space will be more important than providing vertical climbing areas. These diurnal reptiles are great as an introduction to reptiles and are known for their handleability and bold personalities.
6. Savannah Monitor
Savannah monitors are for advanced herp keepers who are familiar with their particular needs. These burrowing lizards can reach 4 feet in length and can live to about 10 years with proper care. They thrive in a vivarium that is 8 by 4 by 3 feet with a humidity level of 10-60%. The basking area should be the driest. They need at least 24 inches of substrate to allow them to dig. These robust reptiles like their vivarium temperatures to vary from 88 to 130 degrees. Adults are prone to obesity and should be fed about twice a week. Their diet should consist of insects, raw turkey, eggs, and captive-bred rodents. Savannah monitors are the easiest monitor to keep as pets, but they are still challenging. They are known as intelligent escape artists and have a bite powerful enough to break a bone. These monitors are known for being docile lizards that respond well to frequent handling. It is important to socialize and tame your Savannah monitor at a young age to avoid potential problems down the line. Savannah monitors are best for the intermediate or advanced reptile keeper who is looking for an intelligent companion who enjoys being handled regularly.
7. Chinese Water Dragon
Chinese Water Dragons are fragile but active lizards who require advanced care. They can reach up to 3 feet in length and live for 15 years with proper husbandry. These arboreal lizards require a tank of 6 by 4 by 6 feet and a large pool of water at the base to swim in. The pool of water must be changed every few days, as they are susceptible to diseases from dirty enclosures. These intelligent reptiles are known for retreating to the water when scared and can hold their breath for up to 90 minutes! Tall branches must be available for this active lizard to climb. They require humidity levels of 80 % and a temperature gradient of degrees 84 to 95 degrees. These picky eaters thrive on insects, veggies, feeder fish, and some fruit. They are social and thrive on interaction. Chinese Water Dragons are considered an advanced breed due to their husbandry requirements and fragility. This would be a great companion for an advanced keeper looking for a challenging but rewarding companion.
8. Ackie Monitor
Ackie Monitors are known for their intelligence and friendly demeanor. They are considered advanced lizards due to their active nature, intelligence, and heating requirements. They require stimulation to maintain their happiness while in captivity. They thrive under temperatures that range from 150 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of 65%.
These diurnal reptiles can live for 20 years and can reach 30 inches in length. These burrowing lizards are active and need a tank that is 4 by 3 by 3 feet with at least 6 inches of substrate.
They are also semi-arboreal and will benefit from climbing ledges and plenty of branches. Ackies are insectivores that benefit from the occasionally scrambled egg or cooked turkey. Ackie monitors make amazing pets for keepers that are ready to create a stimulating environment and lasting bond.
9. Green Basilisk
Green Basilisks are active reptiles who enjoy climbing as well as bolting around their enclosure. They are easily startled, making them difficult to handle regularly. This lizard is a good choice for someone who wants a companion that does not need to come out of their vivarium frequently.
These spectacularly colored reptiles will reach 3 feet and require a tank size of 3 feet by 3 feet by 4 feet with a water component. They require a humidity of 60% and temperatures that range from 80 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit. These crested lizards will live around 8 years with proper husbandry. These reptiles have a hard time understanding glass barriers and can be injured running into the glass. It is best to have a wooden vivarium to prevent this.
These green beauties can be ferocious eaters and thrive on an omnivore diet that consists of insects, vegetables, and occasionally fruit or frozen rodents. Green Basilisks are great for someone who is looking for an active roommate that does not want to be bothered by frequent handling.
10. Caiman Lizards
Caiman Lizards are an advanced-level pet and not recommended for those who do not have the time or space to properly care for them. These intelligent lizards can grow 5 feet in length and can live for 10 years. Due to their robust size, these semi-aquatic lizards need a vivarium that is 6 by 3 by 4 feet with a prominent water feature that allows for swimming and full submersion.
Their water feature should be at least 12 inches deep, cleaned daily, and heated to 80 degrees. These stunning lizards are considered active climbers, so their vivariums need lots of climbing opportunities. They require humidity levels around 70% and a temperature gradient of 80 to 100 degrees.
These reptiles can eat insects, captive-bred snails, crawfish, shrimp, eggs, and whole fish. Due to their unique diet, advanced husbandry, and large size, Caiman lizards are only suggested for advanced reptile keepers. They make a great pet for someone who is looking for a rewarding challenge and has the time and space to commit.
Large reptiles can be a rewarding pet for those who are looking for something less common and more intelligent than the standard gecko or bearded dragon. Larger reptiles can be easier to handle and they are harder to lose. They will require a larger cage and more frequent maintenance. However, larger reptiles do not necessarily mean that they are difficult to care for. When someone chooses a larger lizard, they are opening up the doors to a lasting, meaningful companionship with an intelligent reptile.
There is a wide range of lizards on this list that vary in size and lifespan. The Jeweled Lacerta or Blue Tongue Skink is an excellent choice for someone who wants a larger, more personable reptile but does not want to commit to an 8-foot cage. Chinese Water Dragons, Caimans, and Green Basilisks are great for experienced herp keepers who are looking for a rewarding challenge. These lizards have specific care requirements, such as built-in water features, or very large enclosures. Savannah Monitors, Black and White Tegus, Jeweled Lacertas, and Ackie monitors will make great pets for a handler who wants to form a bond with an exceptionally intellectual reptile. Egyptian Uromastyx are vegetarians who are a great alternative for keepers who are hesitant about keeping insects in their hours. This list has something for everyone.
All of the reptiles listed will grow to be 2 feet or larger and require significantly large enclosures. Once you have the vivarium set up to the optimal temperature, humidity, and decor, many of these lizards are fairly easy to manage. Bigger lizards don’t necessarily need more care than their smaller counterparts. Larger reptiles are often more intelligent and more active, making them ideal pets to watch and handle. You should now have a better understanding of the top ten large lizard breeds and their specific requirements to choose what breed suits your specific needs!
Hi! My name is Janelle and I am a reptile keeper from the United States. I’ve been raising reptiles for ten years. I love creating custom vivariums. I currently keep a Jeweled Lacerta, Sprout.