The 8 Largest Lizards You Can Keep As Pets (With Videos)

Largest Lizards You Can Keep As Pets

If you’re considering getting a new pet, you might be thinking of those precious moments when you’ll be snuggled up on the couch, going out for a stroll, or teaching fun new tricks to your… lizard?!

Yes, you read that right.

Dogs and cats may be the most popular choices for a four-legged companion, but lizards can be entertaining and affectionate too! Not only can some lizards grow to be the size of a dog or cat, but they can also be trained to be housebroken or walk on a leash!

So, whether you’re a seasoned reptile keeper up for a unique challenge, or you’re just looking to add a scaly friend to your family, you might want to know:

What are the largest lizards you can keep as pets?

The Asian water monitor, black-throated monitor, Nile monitor, and Savannah monitor are some of the largest lizards you can keep as pets. The green iguana, rhino iguana, and Cuban rock iguana are also popular pets, as well as the Argentine Black and White Tegu. All these lizards can grow to be anywhere from 4-8 feet in length!

Keep reading as we explore the largest lizards that can be owned as pets. We’ll discuss some of their unique characteristics, temperaments, and care requirements, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of owning them.

The 8 Largest Lizards You Can Keep As Pets

Before we get into this list, it’s important to note that owning one of these animals will require specialized knowledge, care, and commitment. They need a lot of space (like a whole room!), proper lighting and humidity setups, and can be very expensive to feed over time.

Also, some species of large lizards may be regulated or prohibited in certain areas. So, it’s always recommended to do extensive research and check local laws and regulations before acquiring one as a pet.

Now, let’s get into it!

1. Asian Water Monitor

Coming in as the largest lizard on our list is the Asian water monitor lizard. These guys are among the largest lizards on the planet, with males growing up to more than 8 feet in length!

Water monitors, also known as Varanus salvator, are native to the tropical regions of South and Southeast Asia. They are semi-aquatic reptiles known for their excellent swimming abilities and need a semi-aquatic environment to thrive.

If you’re thinking about getting one of these giant lizards as a pet, you’ll need to provide them with an extra-large enclosure or a spare room to accommodate their size. At a minimum, the enclosure should be twice the size of your lizard when it is fully grown.

Make sure your water monitor has both a dry area and a wet area with a water feature or pool, as well as lighting, temperature, and humidity levels that mimic their tropical origins.

They are also quite active creatures so they’ll need plenty of space to climb, roam, and explore.

When it comes to feeding these lizards, they’re carnivorous and will eat almost anything they can find in the wild. In captivity, they will need to be fed a varied diet of insects, rodents, fish, eggs, birds, and other small mammals.

Despite their massive size, water monitors are some of the least aggressive of the monitor lizard family and tame pretty easily. They’re intelligent and curious, and with frequent handling, they can learn to enjoy and even seek out human interaction!

2. Black-Throated Monitor

Black-throated monitors, or Varanus albigularis microstictus,  are the next lizard on our list. While they might look big and intimidating, they can actually make really great pets!

These African lizards got their name due to the distinctive black coloration on their throats. They are some of the largest lizards on their continent, reaching lengths of up to 6-7 feet and weighing more than 60 lbs.

This means they’ll need a very large enclosure (the size of a large bedroom) with tons of extra space for them to roam around.

Some owners forgo an enclosure altogether and let their black throat roam freely in their house like a giant, scaly dog!

Of course, if you were to do this, you would still need to provide your black throat with a warm basking spot or two, as well as UVB lighting, to keep them happy and healthy.

Black throats have a mild temperament and playful personality compared to some other monitor lizards. This makes them a popular choice for a pet within the monitor lizard communities.

If socialized from a young age, they can become quite docile and enjoy hanging out with their humans. They can even be litter box trained and taught tricks, just like a dog or a cat!

Black throats are very large lizards with an appetite to match – so be ready to serve up a wide variety of meats, eggs, rodents, birds, and more.

3. Nile Monitor

Nile monitors, or Varanus niloticus, are one of the world’s largest lizards, measuring in at over 7 feet long. They are native to Africa and can be found living south of the Sahara Desert and along the Nile River.

If you’re considering getting a Nile monitor as a pet, you’ll need to have a lot of space available to build them an enclosure. Like the other monitors on this list, the enclosure should be the size of a large bedroom.

Nile monitors love to climb and swim, so they’ll also need plenty of logs and branches to climb on, and a large water source for them to splash around in.

When it comes to their diet, Nile monitors are basically bottomless pits. They will eat anything and everything, and they will want to eat often.

Be careful when feeding them, however, because if you don’t watch their intake and if they’re not getting enough exercise, they could eat themselves into obesity.

One of the most important things to consider about Nile monitors, though, is that they are not for everyone. They’re beautiful and quite intelligent lizards, but it’s widely recommended that only experienced reptile keepers handle them.

While it is possible to tame a Nile monitor lizard, it’s much more difficult than some of the other monitor lizards mentioned on this list.

Nile monitors possess more of a moody temperament, and can sometimes show aggression even after years of dedicated handling and socialization.

4. Savannah Monitor

Another monitor lizard that’s on the large side but not as massive as the others on this list is the Savannah monitor.

Savannahs, also known as Bosc monitors or Varanus exanthematicus, are native to Africa and can grow to be more than 4 feet long. They have broad, muscular bodies and can range from light tan to brown in color.

In general, Savannah monitors are a good choice for beginner monitor lizard owners due to their manageable size and easy-going personalities. With frequent handling from a young age, they have been known to become quite docile and tame.

If you plan to welcome a Savannah monitor into the family, you’ll need a big enclosure. A full-grown Savannah monitor needs a living area of at least 6-7 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 3-4 feet tall.

This will give them plenty of space to move around, climb on things like rocks and logs, and lounge under their basking spot.

Savannahs also love to dig burrows, so it’s recommended that they have at least 1-2 feet of a suitable substrate in their enclosure for them to tunnel through.

Just like the other monitor lizards on this list, Savannah monitors are carnivores and will happily chow down on insects, worms, smaller lizards, rodents, birds, and eggs. They are also prone to obesity, though, so keep that in mind when feeding.

5. Green Iguana

The green iguana lands on this list as one of the most popular pets in the reptile world. They’re not the easiest reptiles to care for or tame, but they make for beautiful and fascinating pets.

These giant lizards originated in Central and South America, and live in the Caribbean and parts of the U.S. as well. They’re primarily green in color but can have different variations and colors depending on their morphs.

Male green iguanas can reach up to 7 feet in length including their tail. So like the other large lizards on this list, they will need a large and spacious enclosure to live comfortably.

Ideally, a green iguana’s habitat should be at least 12 feet long and 6-8 feet high. They are arboreal creatures by nature, so they need plenty of room to explore and climb.

Since they live in the tropics, iguanas need a warm environment with UVB lighting and high humidity to survive. For this reason, the humidity levels in your iguana’s enclosure should always be maintained at around 70-80%.

Iguanas also love digging, so it’s a good idea to provide them with a deep layer of substrate on the bottom of their enclosure for them to burrow through. Just be sure it’s secured around the edges and even below ground (if outside) so your iguana doesn’t dig their way out.

Another option for housing is to allow your iguana to free roam around your house, although it is not recommended, especially if you don’t have high humidity in your home.

Some keepers will allow this, but it takes planning and preparation. Iguanas are very messy creatures and are known to cause all sorts of damage when free-roaming.

In regard to their diet, green iguanas are primarily herbivorous. This means they feed heavily on leafy greens, plants, flowers, fruit, and some vegetables, which makes feeding them pretty easy; all you need to do is whip them up an iguana salad!

6. Rhino Iguana & Rock Iguana

These two iguana species are pretty similar, so I put them together for the sake of avoiding repetition.

Rhino and rock iguanas are stocky, hard-bodied lizards that belong to the Iguanidae family and are of the genus Cyclura. They are native to the Caribbean Islands and can grow to be over 5 feet long and weigh more than 20 pounds.

But don’t let their size intimidate you – these big guys are actually pretty chill if socialized from an early age. They’re known to be less aggressive and easier to tame than other iguana species, which makes them popular pets among reptile enthusiasts.

Now, if you’re considering getting one of these lizards, there are a few things to keep in mind.

These iguanas are endangered species that are protected on their native islands and in the exotic pet trade. Therefore, it’s essential to do some research to make sure that any potential purchase of these guys is legal and ethical.

Because of their large and sturdy size, these lizards need a secure enclosure with enough room to climb, roam around, and bask.

They also require high heat and humidity, so be prepared to provide them with that as well as plenty of UVB lighting.

Like the green iguana, rhino and rock iguanas are mostly herbivorous, but occasionally eat insects and other proteins too. So, they’ll need a diet rich in leafy greens, flowers, berries, fruits, and other plant matter, with some insects and snails occasionally added in.

7. Argentine Black And White Tegu

Last but certainly not least is the Argentine black and white tegu. This beautiful dog-like reptile is perhaps the most beginner-friendly and easily tamable lizard on our list.

Argentine black and white tegus are native to South America and get their name from their mottled black and white coloration. They can grow to nearly 5 feet in length and weigh more than 20 pounds.

Tegus are active reptiles that like to explore their surroundings, so they’ll need a spacious enclosure with room to move about.

It’s also good to provide them with numerous hiding spots and climbing structures to keep them mentally stimulated and happy.

If you live in an area with low humidity, caring for a tegu can be a challenge. These guys thrive in warm, humid environments, so you will need to invest in the proper humidity, UVB lighting, and heating products to ensure their continued health.

Despite their large and sturdy size, Argentine tegus have a docile temperament and can become quite affectionate with their owners over time. They are also highly intelligent and can learn to be housebroken, do tricks, or even walk on a leash!

Argentine Tegus are omnivores and require a varied diet that includes protein-rich foods like insects and rodents as well as fruits and vegetables. It’s also important to ensure that they are supplemented with any vitamins or minerals they may need.

Benefits Of Owning A Large Lizard

Lizards, especially large ones, are fascinating and unique pets. They can be intriguing and fun to care for, and are sure to spark interest among family and friends.

The large lizards on this list are highly intelligent, which makes them rewarding pets to interact with.

Large lizards are much hardier than smaller ones, so you won’t have to worry too much about harming them during handling (once they’re older – still be cautious when they’re young).

Many lizard species on this list have long lifespans, anywhere from 15-20 years with proper care. This means you don’t have to stress about them aging in dog years since they can be long-term companions.

Unlike dogs and cats, lizards don’t shed fur. This is beneficial for anyone who might be allergic to certain animals.

Developing a bond with a lizard can be a unique and rewarding experience. While lizards may not be as expressive as other pets, they can still show affection and respond to their owner’s presence and attention in their own quirky ways.

Keeping a large lizard as a pet can be a great way to learn about their behavior, biology, and natural habitat. It can also be an educational experience for anyone with children to learn about responsible pet ownership and the importance of conservation.

Drawbacks Of Owning A Large Lizard

You will need to have a lot of space or even an extra room available to house your large lizard. If building a custom enclosure, know that it takes quite a bit of planning and hard work.

These reptiles are high maintenance and will require special attention and daily upkeep.

It can be very expensive to own a large lizard. Aside from the cost to purchase one, you will need money to build them an enclosure and set it up with all of the lighting, temperature, and humidity requirements they will need.

It will also cost a good amount of money to feed them over time and supplement any vitamins and minerals they may need.

It requires presence and dedication to care for these animals – you won’t be able to leave or travel for extended periods of time unless you have someone else at home or a pet sitter willing to care for them while you’re gone.

Large lizards can be tamed but are still wild animals that can show signs of aggression. It’s not safe to have these large lizards around small children due to their ability to bite or scratch with their sharp teeth and claws.

They can be very messy and will require constant cleaning, especially if free-roaming around your house.

As mentioned above, some species of large lizards may be regulated or prohibited in certain areas. So, there may be a chance the lizard you want is unavailable or illegal to own where you live.

Should You Worry About Being Harmed By Your Large Lizard?

There are definitely some risks that come with owning a prehistoric-sized lizard, and one of them is being able to safely handle them without being harmed.

While most of the lizards on this list are tamable and can become used to human interaction, they are still wild and unpredictable animals with sharp teeth and powerful claws.

If not properly cared for, they could become stressed or agitated and attack when they feel threatened.

This is especially important to consider if you have young children or other animals around who might wander into the lizard’s space.

Not only do these lizards have high prey drives, but they can be very dangerous and cause a lot of damage when they go into defensive mode.

Final Thoughts

Massively large lizards can make impressive and fascinating pets, but welcoming any of these lizards into your home is definitely not a decision to be made lightly.

Each of the lizards on this list requires a lot of space, dedication, specialized care, and money to thrive in captivity.

Before making a commitment, take the time to consider the responsibility and risks that come with owning an animal of that size.

By researching and understanding everything involved with owning one of these majestic creatures, you’ll be able to give your lizard the best life possible, while ensuring both you and your lizard stay safe.