Lizards and Turtles and Bugs, Oh My!

As Dorothy, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow once said in the film The Wizard of Oz, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”

Fast-forward over 80 years, and if there’s one thing we all learned from Netflix’s insane smash-hit documentary series Tiger King, it’s that lions, tigers, and bears—plus a whole host of other exotic animals—don’t actually make very good pets.

However, not all exotic animals are created equal, and some species lend themselves quite nicely to sharing our living spaces with us. What’s more, it’s not all creatures with sharp teeth, nasty attitudes, and fearsome reputations, nor does the list extend solely to slithery snakes and suchlike, as one might expect.

Instead, it’s less a case of lions and tigers and bears, and more a matter of lizards and turtles and bugs. “Oh my!” indeed, you might say.

Yet, as those already in charge of their own lizards, turtles, and bugs will likely attest, these increasingly popular pets make for an interesting alternative to the cats, dogs, hamsters, and rabbits to which we’ve all become accustomed.

For those ready to take a walk on the wild side, could your next pet be a bearded dragon? An Egyptian tortoise? How about a Honduran curly-haired tarantula? Let’s find out…

Lovely Lizards

While some lizards, such as many varieties of chameleons, are more suited to expert reptile owners, leopard geckos, bearded dragons, and numerous others make great pets, even for those new to the world of exotic animals.

As long as their care requirements are met—chief among which are heating, lighting, and diet—geckos and lizards often make quite charming pets, too, with many boasting a cheeky ‘smile’ thanks to their wide mouths and large eyes.

Top Turtles (Well, Tortoises, Actually)

So, ‘turtle’ is something of a misnomer in this instance. No, we’re not talking about giant sea turtles, but rather terrapins and tortoises.

While terrapins are technically turtles, and experienced aquarists successfully keep various other weird and wonderful, smaller species, terrapins, specifically, are often the go-to as far as pet turtles go.

It’s their non-aquatic cousins, however, which make the best pets. Most tortoises require similar care to geckos and lizards but without a diet of insects, making them a popular choice for those squeamish about feeding crickets, locusts, and other bugs to the family pet.

Popular species include Egyptian, Russian, and Greek tortoises. Some require important paperwork to prevent the illegal trade in endangered species, but this is straightforward when all is above board.

Remember, though, that many species can live for several decades, so a tortoise is potentially a lifelong pet, not just a short-term commitment.

…And Bizarre Bugs, Oh My!

Finally, bugs. Yes, yes, “bugs aren’t pets”, you may cry. However, for many people, creatures such as tarantulas, scorpions, and millipedes make fascinating little friends.

Less demanding tarantula species make a good starting point for those keen to explore bugs as pets, including Mexican red-knee, Chilean rose, and Honduran curly-haired varieties.

Emperor scorpions, praying mantises, giant millipedes, stick and leaf insects, and more also make fascinating pets for those happy to do their research and commit to one or more decidedly unusual housemates…