14 Pet Reptiles That Are Awake And Active During The Day

corn snake one of many reptiles that is active during the day

One of the reasons you probably want a pet reptile is to watch and observe them.  Reptiles are fascinating creatures that make entertaining and adorable pets.  Unfortunately, many reptiles don’t run on the same schedule as we do.  Some of them spend most of their days sleeping or hiding.  If you want a reptile that you can observe and interact with during the day, keep reading.

In this article, we’ll list 14 pet reptiles that are awake and active during the day.

Diurnal reptiles or reptiles that are awake during the day aren’t so common.  Many reptiles are naturally more active during the evening.  Luckily there are plenty of pets like corn snakes, bearded dragons, and anoles, that you can count on to keep you entertained while the sun is up.  

Let’s talk about what it means for a reptile to be diurnal, and figure out which one is the best pick for you!

What Does It Mean If A Reptile Is Diurnal?

An animal that’s active during the day and rests at night is considered diurnal.  Diurnal animals roam, hunt, and forage during the daytime.  Many reptiles, mammals, and birds are diurnal.  Diurnal animals follow a circadian rhythm that is set by light and helps them to wake and sleep at a similar time each day.

Because diurnal animals spend time outside in the sun, they usually have adaptations to deal with it.  They have smaller eyes and pupils than nocturnal animals.  They have a way to shade and protect themselves from the sun.  Diurnal animals also have a safe place to hide away in the evening during their period of inactivity.

If you have a diurnal pet reptile, you’ll notice they’re busy during the daylight hours.  They’ll do most of their eating, cleaning, and drinking while the sun is still up.

Are Reptiles Nocturnal?

Even though we have a list today of diurnal reptiles, plenty of reptiles are nocturnal.

As opposed to animals that are awake and active during the day, nocturnal animals do all of their business at night.  Nocturnal reptiles will spend most of their days hunkered down in a burrow.  Some nocturnal reptiles that live with humans will adopt a more diurnal schedule but it’s always good to keep in mind what your pet’s schedule would look like in the wild.

If you think about it, some strange reptile behaviors might be able to be explained due to nocturnality.  If you have a pet snake that doesn’t come out during the day, one of the biggest reasons might be that they’re nocturnal!  Similarly, some nocturnal animals won’t eat during the day, so you might need to adjust your feeding schedules to help them out.

How To Care For Diurnal Reptiles

Caring for diurnal reptiles is a little bit different than caring for nocturnal reptiles.

Although every species of reptile has different care guidelines, there are a few that are true for all reptiles that are awake during the day.  Any reptiles that are awake during the day absolutely need UVB lighting in their tanks.  These animals are accustomed to getting sun throughout the day and their bodies need UVB rays to synthesize important vitamins and minerals.  If you’re looking for a pet that doesn’t have a special lighting requirement, check out our list of 8 pets that don’t need UVB lighting here.

For the most part, many diurnal reptiles will also need a place to bask underneath a heat lamp.  This is how they would usually thermoregulate and rely on the sun to retain warmth in their cold reptilian bodies.

Diurnal reptiles should be fed during the day.  If you’re doing any enrichment or handling that should also occur during the day.  These reptiles don’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night.  During the night, they’ll usually tuck away and get some sleep.  If you have a schedule that doesn’t match up with this diurnal pattern, you should consider getting a nocturnal pet reptile.

14 Diurnal Reptiles That Are Active During The Day

Now that you know a little bit more about what it would mean to have a diurnal reptile, we’ll get to our list.  Each of these reptiles is unique and individual as far as care instructions go.  Despite this, they’ll still have the same activity habits.

1. Day Gecko

Day geckos are a group of reptiles made up of many vibrantly colored lizards.  These geckos get their name from a trait they all have in common.  You guessed it, these pet reptiles are all awake and active during the day.

Day geckos are beautiful pets.  They come in a wide variety of sizes and colors.  Day geckos are great pets to watch during the day because they’re pretty active.  However, these lizards aren’t great for handling.  They’re quick and flighty and seem to enjoy being left in their enclosures more than anything.  A setup for a day gecko will include plenty of beautiful climbing options and synthetic or live plants.

2. King Snake

Some snakes are nocturnal, but a king snake isn’t one of them.

King snakes are one species of snake that is awake and active during the day.   Interestingly enough, king snake schedules shift seasonally in the wild.  During spring and summer months, king snakes are strictly diurnal.  As things heat up in the summer, they may become more nocturnal to stay cool.  In captivity, these snakes can be encouraged to stay on a diurnal schedule.  If you keep the tank at the cooler end of the spectrum, these snakes will come out during the day.

King snakes are hardy and thrive in captivity.  These snakes might make a great pet for a first-time snake owner.

3. Corn Snake

Corn snakes are another snake species that are very active during the day.

These reptiles like to move around and need plenty of space to do so.  Even though snake housing requirements might recommend a smaller tank for some snakes, corn snakes need room.  Corn snakes won’t disappoint you during the day, you’ll often see them slithering around throughout their enclosure.  Corn snakes are known to have docile personalities and are great snakes to handle.

4. Blue-Tongued Skink

Have you ever heard of a skink before?  Blue-tongued skinks are a popular pet that looks really cool and are pretty easy to care for.

Of course, these lizards are awake and active during the day.  Even though they may look a little intimidating, these pets are very easy to handle.  They’re one of the pets on our list of reptiles that don’t bite.  When these animals act definitely, they just make noise and stand their ground, they don’t chomp on their owners.  Although blue-tongued skinks are awake during the day, they may be prone to lying around and basking more than anything else!

5. Bull Snake

Bull snakes are a relative of pine and gopher snakes and do really well in captivity.

These diurnal snakes aren’t sensitive to environmental factors and thrive in a “room temperature” setting.  These snakes can be aggressive and should be handled with caution.  Bull snakes are awake during the day, and should have lights that reflect that.  A 12-hour on / 12 hours off schedule is ideal for a snake like this.  Even though the enclosure setup for these reptiles is easy, we don’t recommend getting a bullsnake unless you’re an experienced handler!

6. Collared Lizard

Although not your typical reptile, collared lizards can make great daytime pets.

Collared lizards are a species of lizard endemic to the U.S.  These reptiles come from the South and live in rocky mountainous areas.  A collared lizard setup looks similar to that of bearded dragons!  Pretty warm, with plenty of horizontal climbing opportunities.  If they have the space, these lizards will reward you by showing bursts of activity throughout the day.

Plus, if you want to see more action, you can give this lizard live bugs.  They’ll use their strong hind legs to pounce on unsuspecting prey.

7. Garter Snake

Garter snakes are one of the coolest species of snakes!

These snakes stay relatively small throughout their life.  They have one of the most colorful diets of captive snakes and will eat all sorts of things.  Because of their exciting diet, these snakes can be fed more often than many snakes.  These snakes will eat snails, bugs, and mammals.  You can feed these animals during the day and watch them hunt live bugs or even dead bugs.

If you’re looking for a snake that will eat something other than rats and mice, garter snakes are a great option!

8. Mud Turtle

Mud turtles are interesting reptiles that are active during the day.

These turtles are semi-aquatic and if you like to put a lot of time into enclosure setup and care, these are a great choice for you.  Mud turtles swim and dig in the mud.  These turtles can be really fun to watch if you can catch them digging.

However, there are two downsides to these pets!  Mud turtles are a close relative of musk turtles.  When threatened, these turtles are known to emit a foul-smelling “musk” that can make an entire room stinky for days on end.  Additionally, these turtles are biters.  If you have small children, they’re probably not the safest pet reptile to keep around.

9. Hognose Snake

Hognose snakes are cute snakes that have a sort of smashed-face look to them.

These diurnal snakes are pretty active and love to roam their territories while the sun is up.  These snakes also enjoy basking and burrowing into the sand.  You’ll be able to observe all of the hognose snake behaviors during a normal day as they spend the nighttime asleep in a burrow.

10. Veiled Chameleon

Chameleons are great reptiles to watch and observe.

Although veiled chameleons seem to move very slowly, they’re constantly moving.  These reptiles move up and down branches all day long in search of food, water, and a comfortable place to rest.  Chameleons are finicky animals that require an advanced knowledge of husbandry.  Without proper lighting and nutrients, they’re prone to metabolic bone disease.  They’re also one of many reptiles that need a high level of humidity which might be hard to achieve if you live in a dry area.

11. Panther Chameleon

Panther chameleons are a very underrated species of chameleon!

They’re more colorful than most chameleons and possibly more active.  Just like veiled chameleons, panther chameleons are active throughout the day and love to climb.  As you provide a climbing area for these animals, you’ll simultaneously provide a water dish!  These reptiles only drink water as droplets found on leaves or water dripping from the top of their enclosure.

These lizards love to eat live food and will hunt continuously throughout the day.  Even though they’re hard to care for and handle, panther chameleons will keep you entertained throughout the day!

12. Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are one of the most common pets on the market!

Bearded dragons are fun pets that are moderately easy to care for and have a varied diet that can keep things interesting.  These lizards are desert animals that love to bask in the sun during the day.  Because they’re diurnal these dragons need UVB lights during the day and no lighting in the evening.

If you have two beardies, you’ll notice that they interact with each other a lot during the day!  These dragons eat every day and will need to be fed while it’s still light outside.

13. Green Anole

Green anoles are tiny lizards that are one of the best pets that stay small forever!

Like chameleons, you’ll notice that anoles are active climbers during the day.  They still need plenty of room to climb, but because of their size can be kept in space-restricted areas.  Green anoles are not a pet that should you get if you want to handle your pet.  They’re so small that they’re easy to lose hold of and can get lost quickly in a room.

14. Russian Tortoise

Russian tortoises are our last animals that are active during the day.

These tortoises are one of the “smaller” herptile species that don’t get too big!  Russian tortoises are desert dwellers and love to walk around slowly throughout the day.  But, don’t forget that being active for these reptiles still means moving very slowly.  But, if you have time to sit around and watch, you’ll probably fall in love with one of these animals!

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of reptiles that are active during the day.  Diurnal animals come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s up to you to decide which one is your perfect match.  Hopefully, this list helped you to narrow down your choices and help you on your path to getting a new pet reptile!