Can You Kiss A Pet Lizard?

can you kiss a pet lizard

Reptile owners are a special breed of people.  Usually, we get involved to the point of obsession with our animals and their habitats.  We love our pets and we hope they love us back.  Sometimes we love our pets so much that we just want to kiss them!  It’s an understandable urge, and something you wouldn’t second guess with a cat or a dog  But, what about lizards?

Can you kiss a pet lizard?

You can kiss a pet lizard, but there are a few reasons why it’s not the best idea.  Your kiss puts you at risk of a lizard bite, or of contracting salmonella.  While a lizard bite won’t kill you, salmonella could.  We recommend showing your love in a different way!

Let’s talk more about just how risky it is to kiss a pet lizard, and whether or not you should ever do this!

Is It Safe To Kiss A Pet Lizard?

Cute Bearded Dragon

When you have a pet, they can quickly start to feel like family.  That bearded dragon that you adopted as a stranger is now showing its personality and winning over your heart.

Sadly, no matter how much you love your pet lizard, it’s just not safe to kiss them.  Instead of kissing your lizard, you can show them love in other more creative ways.  Getting your lizard some of its favorite treats of something new to play with in its enclosure are great ways to spoil your pet.  Taking them outside for supervised sun time can also be a great way to tell them you love them, as opposed to kissing them!

What Are The Risks Of Kissing a Pet Lizard?

So, what are the risks of kissing a lizard?  Why is it different than kissing a cat or dog?  There are two main reasons that you don’t want to put your mouth on your pet lizard.  Number one, your pet might bite you.  Number two, you might get salmonella from your pet lizard.

Let’s talk about these risks a little more in detail.

You Might Get Bit.

Even kissing a cat or dog can be dangerous, trust me!  As a veterinary technician, the only bite I’ve ever received was from a dog that I kissed on the head in the clinic.  Although I thought I was reading this dog’s body language correctly, clearly he didn’t want me to get so close to him.

Lizards’ body language can be even more difficult to read.  Even if you hold your pet very close to your face, going in for a kiss might scare them and cause them to bite you- even if they’re a species that’s unlikely to bite.

Luckily, lizard bites aren’t especially painful.  Most pet lizards like leopard geckos and bearded dragons might not even draw blood from a bite!  However, if you are bitten by your pet lizard, you should make sure to wash and clean the bite thoroughly, as their teeth might carry harmful bacteria that could lead to infection.

Are Lizards Venomous?

In the past, it was believed that most lizard species were not venomous.  New studies have started to prove that fact wrong.

Most pet lizards are not venomous.  Iguanas are one type of pet lizard that are actually venomous.  Luckily, Iguana venom is weak and harmless.  Even so, iguanas do have sharp serrated teeth that will cause nasty bite wounds if you’re not careful!

Monitor lizards are another species of venomous pet lizard.  Monitor lizards use thier venom to kill small prey animals.  Again for humans, this venom is mild and not lethal.

That being said you should still do your best to keep from getting a lizard bite, especially on your mouth!

You Could Get Salmonella.

What is the second reason that you shouldn’t kiss your lizard?

Well, you could become infected with salmonella, just from your mouth touching your pet!

What Is Salmonella?

Salmonella is basically a group of bacteria that can make humans very sick.  Salmonella bacteria cause a person to get salmonellosis, which is an infection of salmonella bacteria.

Salmonella symptoms usually show up about 6 hours to 6 days after contraction.   Symptoms usually consist of a fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea but can also become more severe symptoms and cause a person to become very diseased.

Treatment can be provided through antibiotics.

How Do You Get Salmonella?

So why can your pet lizard give you salmonella?

Well, almost all reptiles carry some variation of salmonella in their intestines.  This is completely normal for a reptile and salmonella bacteria will often be shed in their poop.  This means that your lizard’s poop must be treated like it’s full of harmful bacteria.

Anything that touches a pet lizard’s feces has the potential to transmit salmonella.  So, if your lizard got some feces on their head of face and you didn’t know, kissing them may just be giving the salmonella an opportunity to get into your system!

Recently, the CDC identified that a multi-state Salmonella outbreak was caused by bearded dragons!  Salmonella spreads fast so not only should you avoid mouth-to-lizard contact but you should also be careful with where and how you clean your pet lizard’s tank.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered the basics but let’s look into the specifics of certain species.

Can You Kiss A Pet Lizard On The Head?

Kissing a pet lizard on the head as opposed to thier mouth is still dangerous!  Unfortunately, you would still be at risk of getting bitten or of contracting salmonella.  Even though you can kiss your lizard on the head, you really shouldn’t.

Can You Kiss A Leopard Gecko?

Leopard geckos are a common species of pet lizard.  Leopard geckos are not venomous and have a pretty harmless bite.  But, like all lizards, leopard geckos shed salmonella often, unless you’re 100% sure your gecko is clean, don’t give them a kiss.  Instead, why not try teaching your leopard gecko its name or explore some other way to build a bond with your leopard gecko.

Can You Kiss A Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragons are notoriously adorable pets.  They are great for first-time owners and don’t have dangerous teeth or venom.  But, these lizards were responsible for a multi-state salmonella outbreak and you should keep your mouth away from them!  And please, if your bearded dragon is one who flips on its back, don’t be tempted to give its tummy a kiss!

Can You Kiss A Crested Gecko?

Crested geckos are a common and affordable option for lizard lovers. We don’t love this video because it shows some improper handling techniques, but it does show that a crested gecko bite is essentially harmless to human skin!

Even so, you still won’t want to kiss a crested gecko and risk a bite or an infection.

Can You Kiss A Veiled Chameleon?

Just like with these other common pet lizards, veiled chameleons shouldn’t be kissed!  Actually, due to the shape and size of a veiled chameleon, it would be difficult to give them a kiss anywhere besides on their mouth!  Please, don’t do that!

Final Thoughts

Can you kiss a pet lizard?  Yes.

Should you kiss a pet lizard?  No.

Kisses put your face a little too close to your pet’s mouth.  Even if you trust your pet completely, there is always the possibility that they might decide to turn and bite you.

Additionally, all lizards carry some form of salmonella in their gut, and then pass that bacteria on and out through their poop- and many reptiles will lick their vent/bum to keep clean.  They can carry salmonella on their bodies, heads, and mouths.  You don’t want your mouth and salmonella to ever make contact.  Beyond that, it’s even good practice to wash your hands after handling your lizard, just to be on the safe side.

Instead of kisses try and give your pet its favorite treats and some time outside in the sun, to show them that you love them!