The Cheapest Pet Reptiles – The 12 Most Affordable Options

Written by Kaylee Keech
Published: September 18, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Many species of affordable reptiles include snakes, lizards, and tortoises.
  • Cheaper reptiles tend to be low-maintenance and don’t tend to have a lot of specific needs.

Reptiles are notorious for being expensive and challenging to care for, but they aren’t all that way. Many reptiles are beginner-friendly and won’t break the bank. Some of the cheapest pet reptiles are also the friendliest and easiest to care for.

Below are 12 of the most popular and affordable reptiles that make great pets.

1. Ball Python

Ball python coiled on rock

“Royal pythons,” aka ball pythons, get their name because of their bold patterns.

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Ball pythons also go by the name “royal pythons.” Most adults grow 3.3-5 feet long and have dark brown bodies with irregular light brown splotches.

In the wild, these snakes live in West and Central Africa. They make their homes in open grasslands and forests.

Ball pythons are mostly out and about during the day. They also spend lots of time hiding underground in their burrows.

Ball pythons are the most popular pet snakes. They are docile and have impressive, bright patterns. Their patterns are incredibly unique, each as different as a fingerprint.

2. Bearded Dragon

Pogona vitticeps, the central (or inland) bearded dragon, is a species of agamid lizard occurring in a wide range of arid to semiarid regions of Australia.

These hardy, easy-going reptiles are great for beginners.

©Lutsenko_Oleksandr/Shutterstock.com

Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet reptiles. They have curious personalities and enjoy interacting with their caretakers.

These lizards are one of the best species for beginners, as they are easy to care for.

While it’s fun to interact with bearded dragons, only handle them for less than 5 minutes at a time. Longer periods of “gentle handling” (5-15 minutes) increase stress in these reptiles.

Bearded dragons get their name from the expandable pouches on their necks. The pouches resemble beards when they flare them.

3. Blue-Tongued Skink

blue-tongued lizard

©Lutsenko_Oleksandr/Shutterstock.com

Blue-tongued skinks get their name from their long, blue tongues.

They display their tongues to defend themselves when they feel threatened. These skinks puff up their bodies to look bigger, hiss, and show their tongues to scare off their enemies.

Blue-tongued skinks are more sensitive to short wavelengths of light. Other (diurnal) lizards (those active during the day) are not as sensitive.

As a result, blue-tongued skinks might see more colors than others.

4. California King Snake

A California kingsnake in a defensive position is ready to attack

Their bright, contrasting colors make California king snakes highly popular.

©MattiaATH/Shutterstock.com

California king snakes are beautiful animals. They have contrasting light and dark bands down the length of their bodies.

Most California king snakes grow to about 3.5 feet long, though some in Mexico are nearly twice as long.

These snakes are constrictors that squeeze their prey to death before eating.

Fortunately, they are not venomous and are not dangerous to humans. They might give their owner a painful bite if they scare them, but these bites are harmless.

5. Corn Snake

corn snake

©Kurit afshen/Shutterstock.com

Corn snakes are famous for their colors and come in many morphs.

One of the most popular snakes, breeders have created dozens of corn snake morphs. They are now the most widely bred pet snake.

Corn snakes are nonvenomous and are safe to handle.

They make great beginner pets. They are highly adaptable and known for living in forests, deserts, and urban areas.

Interestingly, corn snakes are great climbers and spend a lot of time in trees.

6. Crested Gecko

These lizards are also known as “eyelash geckos” because of the spikes that resemble eyelashes.

©iStock.com/MattiaATH

Crested geckos get their name from their calcareous crests. The crests run down each side of the animals’ backs, above the eyes, and on the legs. The crests are beneficial for keeping the dust out of the lizards’ eyes.

Some also call these geckos “eyelash geckos.” The crest that covers their eyes has spines that resemble eyelashes.

The scansors and lamellae on geckos’ digits are adhesive and help them stick to surfaces. Twenty-one kinds of geckos — including the crested gecko — also have adhesive tail pads.

7. Green Anole

green anole

Male green anoles display their dewlaps to attract mates.

©victoria.schell/Shutterstock.com

Small, tropical lizards, green anoles get their name for their bright green color. Not all green anoles are green, though; some are brown, gray, or a combination of all three colors.

Green anoles are infamous for dropping their tails when they feel threatened. They are not a good pet to handle.

After losing them, they begin to regrow their tails rapidly. The experience is still very stressful.

8. Leopard Gecko

Tangerine leopard gecko

Bright orange bodies and dark spots make these lizards look like leopards.

©Nana Margono/Shutterstock.com

Leopard geckos have light bodies covered in irregular dark spots. The dark markings resemble leopard spots, which is where they got their name.

These lizards are popular in the pet industry; many morphs have emerged as a result. Some of the most popular morphs include “chocolate,” “albino,” “high color,” and “yellow phase.”

Unlike most geckos, leopard geckos have a vertical slit pupil and eyelids that move.

9. Long-Tailed Grass Lizard

The long-tailed grass lizard basking on the eggplant leaf. Its body is long and slender. This lizard is widespread in tropical Southeast Asia. Sundanese people call it Orong-orong.

Long-tailed grass lizards’ tails make up most of their bodies.

©Diaz_01/Shutterstock.com

These lizards have exceptionally long, slender tails, which is where they get their name, “long-tailed.” Their tails are nearly four times the length of their bodies.

The lizard’s body and tail are hues of green and brown, making their body resemble a long stick.

Long-tailed grass lizards live at the edges of forests. They make their homes in the grasslands of Southeast Asia, southern Russia, and China.

Their long tails are excellent for balance. They allow the animals to move quickly through the grass.

These lizards are so light and quick that they can move across the tops of the grass blades. The way they move across the grass makes them look like they’re swimming.

10. Rosy Boa

rosy boa

These small snakes have light-colored bodies and beautiful patterns.

©Jason Mintzer/Shutterstock.com

Rosy boas have thick bodies but are one of the smallest animals in the Boidae family. They only grow to about 17-44 inches in length.

Their tapered tails are short and blunt. The tails are also slightly prehensile, making them ideal for movement.

Rosy boas are shy animals, and their activity depends on the weather. During the winter, they tend to be more active during the day. They are more active at night during the hot summer months.

11. Russian Tortoise

Russian tortoise eating strawberries in the garden.

These small tortoises can live for a long time, up to 100 years.

©Elena M. Tarasova/Shutterstock.com

Russian tortoises are small to medium in size, growing about 5-10 inches long.

These tortoises are more social than other tortoise species. They spend much time in burrows where it is cooler and will visit each other’s burrows.

While cheap, prospective owners shouldn’t jump to buying a Russian tortoise. They can live 50 to 100 years, meaning they are a big responsibility.

12. Western Hognose Snake

Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus) has a strongly upturned, pointed snout.

Western Hognose Snakes have large, upturned snouts for digging.

©Mark_Kostich/Shutterstock.com

These pig-like snakes are small animals that only grow to an average of 20 inches long. The base of their body is gray-brown to light green. About 40 dark, olive-green spots cover their backs.

Hognoses are most famous for their large, upturned noses resembling a hog’s nose. They use their noses for digging and burrowing under the ground, where they hide when they are not active.

Summary of the 10 Most Affordable Pet Reptiles 

RankReptileScientific NameSize (Length)Cost
#1Ball PythonPython regius6 feet $100-350
#2Bearded DragonPogona vitticeps 20-24 inches $40-150
#3Blue-Tongued SkinkTiliqua scincoides 17 inches $100-300
#4California King SnakeLampropeltis californiae3.5 feet $150-350
#5Corn SnakePantherophis guttatus Up to 6 feet $30-300
#6Crested Gecko Correlophus ciliatus 6-10 inches $50-400
#7Green Anole Anolis carolinensis1.5-3 inches$5-10
#8Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius7-11 inches$15-100
#9Long-Tailed Grass LizardTakydromus sexlineatus10-12 inches (⅘ of that is their tail)$10-30
#10Rosy BoaLichanura trivirgata, Lichanura orcutti Up to 44 inches $25-200
#11Russian TortoiseAgrionemys horsfieldii5-10 inches $75-400
#12Western Hognose Snake Heteredon nasicus2-3 feet $100-350

FAQs 

What is the friendliest reptile?

Leopard geckos are one of the friendliest lizards that you can keep as a pet. They are docile, calm, and simple to care for and handle.

What is a cuddly reptile?

Bearded dragons are famous for their friendly and cuddly personalities. They are one of the few reptiles that enjoy handling and cuddling.

Bearded dragons become very affectionate with their caretakers. Many enjoy climbing on their humans and hanging out on their shoulders.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Claudia Nass/iStock via Getty Images


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About the Author

I am a content writer who focuses on pets, wildlife, sustainability, and the environment. I specialize in blogs and love showing my readers how fascinating everything can be! I graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Concentration in Marine Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Science Writing. I volunteered at Raven Ridge Wildlife Center for five years, where I helped care for injured and orphaned Pennsylvania wildlife. I love all animals, wild and domestic. I've had all kinds of pets, including dogs, cats, birds, fish, a lizard, a snake, and a guinea pig. I may be curled up with a good book or my crochet when I'm not writing. I also enjoy exploring new places, especially by hiking or kayaking.

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