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Dogs and cats may be more standard as family pets, but for the family looking for a new friend that is a little more interesting, reptiles can be a terrific option. You just have to know how to pick the right animal for you and your kids. What goes into selecting a family-friendly exotic? Take a look at The Tye-Dyed Iguana’s top reptile pets for families.

Corn snake

If your kid is interested in snakes, the corn snake makes a perfect first reptile pet. It tends to be calm and easy to handle, and that makes care and feeding time less difficult. Corn snakes do not require much specialized care. Like other snakes, they do require a heated enclosure. These snakes eat mice or small rats, which you would only need to feed to them once or twice per week. In addition to being a non-venomous snake (a feature you definitely want if your children would like to handle the pet), corn snakes can come in a range of colors and patterns. You should be aware that this pet can live for more than two decades when properly cared for.

Ball python

This snake is immensely popular with families looking for a first pet reptile. Its name comes from the fact that it will curl up in a ball, a distinctive characteristic that makes it stand apart from other types of snakes. Ball pythons are relatively small snakes that only need to be fed mice or rats once every week or two. Like the corn snake, a ball python has relatively few maintenance requirements, but it should have a heated enclosure. This snake can live up to thirty years, so be prepared for a long-term relationship.

Leopard gecko

If you’re not up for feeding mice or rats to your reptile, a lizard may be a better option for your family. Leopard geckos are small with an attractive skin pattern, and they eat a variety of live insects, including crickets and mealworms. That being said, a lizard must typically be fed daily, unlike snakes. The leopard gecko can be kept in a relatively small enclosure—perfect for homes or apartments without large amounts of space for pets to roam. This lizard is also fairly good about being handled, though younger children should not pick up the leopard gecko because its tail could come off. The tail will grow back, but this is stressful for your pet, and the new tail will not look the same as the original.

Bearded dragon

If space is not an issue for your family, the bearded dragon is another easy to handle option for lizard pets. These lizards do well being handled, and it can be quite entertaining to watch them eat as they snatch the food with their tongue. Their diet differs somewhat from the leopard gecko because they are omnivores, eating both insects and plants. However, they do require a larger enclosure than the leopard gecko since they can grow up to two feet long. The bearded dragon has the shortest life span of the reptile pets listed here, living up to about ten years.

Our team at The Tye-Dyed Iguana is happy to help you discuss the characteristics that fit best in a reptile pet for your family. Come in and take a look around.