When you start considering reptiles for kids what species crosses your mind first? Is it Iguanas, Monitors, Turtles, or some other form of reptile?
While Iguanas are one of the most common and inexpensive reptiles you can choose, they are one of the worst reptiles you could ever buy when you have children. To start off with they are large, growing to be over 6 feet long. They grow long sharp claws which are great for their climbing, but are equally great for inflicting severe scratches. Iguanas have a mouth full of sharp teeth and will use them to defend themselves. Their bite can be quite severe. The Iguana can whip their tail and inflict a nasty welt on your child, also.
It is not just Iguanas which should make you hesitate about many lizards. Many species of lizards have a high density of salmonella in their mouths and their bite can inflict you with salmonella poisoning rapidly. While this is bad enough for an adult, it is even more severe for children.
Turtles are one of the most commonly purchased reptiles for kids, but it does not make them the best. Many turtles are notorious biters. Since they are accustomed to tearing chunks out of their food, they can also tear a chunk out of your child’s finger.
Now you are probably beginning to wonder where this is taking you. The surprising answer is snakes are often the best reptiles for kids. The best snakes are the Corn Snake, Ball Python, or the King Snake. These snakes are relatively docile, rarely bite, do not carry salmonella, and are easy to handle and care for. The biggest trouble with snakes is overcoming the fear many people have of them. They are a great choice for most families and should be at the top of your list.
If you are stuck on the idea of having lizards, not snakes, then the best reptiles for kids are going to come down to a couple very common species. The Bearded Dragon is one of the best choices with a relatively small size, great disposition and easy care. The other good option is the Leopard Gecko. The reason these two species still fall behind the snakes is due to ease of care. Both of these lizards require more care in their diet and in their lighting to remain healthy.
Whether you choose for this group of snakes or lizards the most important element in reptiles for kids is you. Your children must be educated and supervised as they deal with reptiles. Reptiles are no more dangerous than a dog which can bite, or cats which can scratch, but they are not safer either. Use common sense and teach your children the proper handling techniques and then make sure you keep a close eye on them.
Reptiles for kids are a great choice in pets requiring reasonable amounts of care and being very hardy, durable pets. They are a little out of the ordinary, but that is why you were considering reptiles in the first place.