Reptile Experts - Good first pet for a 12yo boy?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by mom2jedi, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Songster

    Aug 12, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Hi all, my son has decided he would like a pet for his 12th birthday in a couple weeks. He wants to be able to keep it in his room and he was thinking frog or lizard. I am experienced with some reptiles and amphibians but as I never had them that young thought I would see what people thought a good intro pet to them would be. I asked him today if he wanted to be able to hold it or just look at it. He said look at it but I have a feeling he might want to handle it once he has it.

    So, here are my requirements - must be small enough to live comfortably (at least for a while) in a 10 gal terrarium as that is what we currently have available (I don't want to have to buy a new tank). Getting all the stuff for inside is not an issue but since I already have an empty one, may as well use what we have.

    I would prefer something that eats crickets or goldfish or even salad - something other than mice (I'm not set up for feeders yet so no snakes right now).

    Lastly, since this is going to be in his room, something that has little to no heat requirements other than what naturally happens out here in San Diego (his room is hot enough as it is).

    So, I was thinking we could do a leopard gecko, maybe a skink, anole or other grass lizard, tree gecko, firebelly toads, tree frogs. What if anything am I missing considering?

    Thanks so much guys! And of course, if anyone has pictures they want to share, that might help us decide!

    Edited to fix a typo!
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2010

  2. gordonburrito

    gordonburrito Songster

    Apr 4, 2010
    By far the easiest would be good old Bufo americanus, the American Toad. Only thing is you'll have to catch one because they're so common that stores don't bother selling them. My wife had one in her office for a while and they can be a good pets. If they are going to stay in a bedroom I recommend getting a female since the males sing at night. This can be very relaxing or very irritating depending on the person. They accept handling fairly well (hers seemed to enjoy it), has no special heat requirements, and is a voracious eater of small insects but will try eating anything that moves and they think they can get their mouths around. Lizards can be skittish and often bite. I've had a few different species growing up and don't recommend them for kids. Here's an example, I had a leopard gecko. I got him from an owner who "didn't want him anymore", so it was not the best adjusted lizard on the planet. That thing would FREAK out when ever I got near it to clean its cage and it would bite and would not let go if it got a hold of you. Getting it back into the cage after a few daring escapes was a real joy [​IMG] It was a very pretty lizard to look at especially after it shed. But, other than that it was an ungrateful prisoner.

    The other pet that crossed my mind was a corn snake. There is a ton of information online about their care, but in generally they're a lot easier to care for than other snakes and there are enough breeders you don't have to worry you're giving money to some shady exotic pet trade operation.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2010
  3. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    Forget the aquarium. At 12 years old, the boy needs....... A PONY!!![​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. Skyesrocket

    Skyesrocket Songster

    Mar 20, 2008
    Geckos! I love mine. Not a lot of cage cleaning. They eat mealworms and crickets. They are nocternal so no special lighting.
  5. Kanchii

    Kanchii Songster

    Leopard geckos are the easiest! Only need a 10 gallon, an under the take heater on one side, a hide, a water dish, and eat crickets and some mealworms. They're also very mellow and easy to hold for that age.
  6. PureFluff

    PureFluff In the Brooder

    Jul 10, 2010
    Otis, ORE
    I suppose it depends on what your boy is like, be honest with yourself on how responsible he is. My brother that's also going on 12, I got him a goldfish and had him clean out the tank weekly with vinegar and stuff when he was 7. He's super responsible and can take of anything now. Our brother, a year older than that, I wouldn't trust with a pet rock, lol!!

    I think a good pet for that age is a red ear slider turtle, box turtles or another pet turtle as far reptiles go. You can take them out and they can crawl around outside without not being trusted to run off (fast enough to actually get away, anyways!)

    If I were to get Bradly a new pet, however, I'd probably get him a ferret, but our mom would never allow it! Not that she's allowed me to give them any of the animals before... LOL!
  7. x2 on the leopard gecko. Super easy to care for.

    1 not really picky about temp like some others, get a heat mat under one end.
    2 not really picky about humidity like some others.
    3 you can use newspaper as your substrate, replace weekly.
    4 fold a paper towel and put in the corner the lizard likes and that's your potty, replace daily.
    5 home is a tub with a hole cut in it.
    6 easy to feed.
    7 not feisty biters, so handling is possible, depends on the lizard.
    8 not escape artists.

    Only sort of picky thing is that in the hide box you need moss or vermiculite that's moist so that when they shed the skin doesn't snag on toes. REALLY easy critters.

    That's just to name a few reasons why if I got MY 12yo a reptile that'd be the one... already researched it so may as well share.

  8. Tinted

    Tinted Songster

    Apr 17, 2010
    Honestly, I would invest in a larger tank (Hint Hint big Rubbermaid’s and wire tops work great and cost about $25 to set up) and buy something your kid is going to be able to interact with. I find that with new reptile owners the bigger the “baby” the longer the relationship. If it’s small and flighty as most small lizards are, 90% of times the owner will simply loose interest. The calmer and generally larger the subject the better received the reptile will be. My #1 choice for first reptiles for kids is the Blue Tongue Skink.

    The BTS is a medium sized lizard that grows to around two feet long, they are natural scavengers and will eat just about anything. Personally I NEVER feed mice, rats or anything living in general to my BTS. I don’t like it and it is definitely NOT a requirement with this reptile. They also dislike crickets in general so that swipes out the other end of the more common feeder animals. (yay!)

    The lizard is basically a giant bratwurst on toothpick legs that stick out horizontally, so they are not all threatening and feeding is a breeze. I feed mine “leftovers” so to speak, whatever I make for dinner one or two nights a week I will make an extra piece for the lizards (unseasoned of course) and mix in a plethora of veggies and fruits which is what makes up their weekly meal. Simple, sweet, easy. In the winter I feed canned wet dog food and frozen veggies, which is the diet used by most of the large scale keeper’s year round. For adults a weekly meal is all they need food wise.

    I own four BTS, three of which are WC (Wild Caught) imports and I have never had an aggression issue with any of them. The neighborhood kids adore my big Merauke (like a breed of BTS) male and quite literally beg me to bring him out for them. They are the greatest pets. The size makes the easy to handle, the care is simplistic, and the caging is a onetime purchase.

    I house my BTS in the large 50 gal Rubbermaid’s; at Big Lots they cost about $12. I have chicken wire lids on the tops of the “tanks” which cost about $0.50 each to make with zip ties. I use the heat lamps from Lowes/Home Depot $3.95 each. I buy the 75-100WT “daylight” bulbs from Lowes $7.50 for four of them. I use A grade cypress mulch from the local nursery $4.50 a bag which fills two “tanks.” The set up for this reptile is simple and cheap if you don’t mind that it looks cheap. [​IMG] The reptile itself however IS quite expensive at $100-$250 each on average.

    I own 4 Blue Tongue Skinks of my own, have had all kinds of Geckos Turtles, Torts, and Monitors and I can honestly say I like the Blue Tongue Skinks the best.

    Hope I helped a bit.

    Some of my Skinks:

    Indo Female:

    My Buddy Merauke Male climbing up my leg:

    In the Christmas Tree:

    Told you they were tolerant, Wardo with candy stacked on his head:

    Looking at his momma:

    In my hoodie:

    They really do have BLUE TONGUES!
  9. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Songster

    Aug 12, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Wow, thanks for the replies, keep 'em coming! I love all your pictures Twisted, and I do like BTS but that's a little more than we wanted to spend on the critter. It does make sense about the size of the baby though. Little lizards are usually pretty flighty.
  10. hollyclyff

    hollyclyff Songster

    May 18, 2007
    When I first saw this topic I was going to suggest a bearded dragon, but they certainly don't meet your space requirements - nor do red ear sliders or box turtles.

    If he really and truly only wants to look at his pets, firebellies are really easy and inexpensive.

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