Having a free-roaming reptile is almost like having a dog with scales wandering about your home. They can enjoy exploring their surroundings, nuzzling up to their humans on the couch, and even engaging in some playtime.
But while letting your reptile roam freely can be a fun and beneficial experience for both you and your pet, it’s not recommended for all reptile species. It’s important to consider your reptile’s specific behaviors and needs before allowing them to wander around outside of their enclosure.
So, what are some types of reptiles that can free roam?
Iguanas, bearded dragons, Argentine black and white tegus, monitor lizards, chameleons, and certain species of tortoises are some reptiles that can be free-roaming pets. However, there are important factors to consider when letting your reptile out of their enclosure, including their environmental needs, possible risks to their health, and damage to your home and belongings.
Whether roaming inside or outside, it’s important to monitor your reptile and ensure the space where they are free-roaming is safe and secure.
In this article, we’ll talk about some different reptile species that can roam freely around your house or yard, along with ways to provide them with a safe and enjoyable free-roaming experience. Let’s dive right in!
If you’ve ever traveled to the tropics, chances are you’ve seen dozens of iguanas along the roads, on the beaches, or even on resort properties strolling around.
They like to wander, and because they’re such large and active lizards, they need a lot of space to explore.
Allowing your iguana to free roam can be a great way to provide them with the exercise and enrichment they need to thrive.
But be mindful of the time they spend free-roaming because iguanas have tropical environmental needs that must be met to maintain good health.
Most of their time should be spent in their enclosure where they have access to the correct temperatures, where the cooler end of the cage should be around 70-75°F (21-24°C), while the basking area should be 90-100°F (32-38°C). They also require high humidity levels, and proper UVB lighting.
Something else to consider when allowing your iguana to free roam is that iguanas can be very messy and they have extremely sharp claws.
You might want to rethink letting them free roam if you have carpet, upholstery, or other valuable items in your home that you don’t want to get damaged.
2. Bearded Dragons
Before you keep on reading, you might want to watch the video above, where a cute little beardie free roams and goes on all sorts of adventures with her mom!
Bearded dragons are some of the most social lizards and often enjoy spending time out of their enclosures with their humans.
You’ve probably seen cute videos on the internet of bearded dragons sleeping on their owners’ chests, or you may have seen one out in public riding around on its owner’s shoulders as they run errands together.
Taking your beardie out to free roam provides them with mental stimulation and adds a fun element to their otherwise ordinary day.
When let out of their enclosure, bearded dragons often enjoy basking in a sunny window, lounging with their humans on the couch, or even playing with toys.
Cat toys like teaser wands and lightweight rubber balls provide excellent entertainment for bearded dragons. If you wave a wand around them or roll a ball past them, it’s fun to watch them chase it!
Something to keep in mind, however, is that bearded dragons are ectothermic, which means they rely on the temperatures of their surroundings to regulate their body warmth. So, make sure to take the room temperature into consideration when deciding where to allow them to roam.
3. Argentine Black And White Tegus
Argentine Black and White Tegus are larger lizards that are known for their docile nature and dog-like behavior.
They’re highly intelligent and can even be trained to be housebroken or walked on a leash, making them a great choice for a scaly pet to have wandering around.
Since Tegus are inquisitive and curious explorers, allowing them to free roam is a great way to satisfy their need for mental stimulation.
It also provides them with necessary exercise and helps to promote healthy muscle growth.
But while allowing them to roam freely can be very beneficial for their mental and physical health, Tegus also require specific environmental levels to stay healthy.
It’s important to be mindful of their high temperature and humidity needs because these can be difficult to maintain outside of their enclosure.
4. Monitor Lizards
Monitor lizards are some of the largest and most intelligent lizards in the world, and many monitor breeds are kept as pets.
Because of their large size, monitors require a lot of living space. But rather than building an extra-large enclosure, some monitor owners choose to allow their monitors to roam freely in their homes.
While this is not typically recommended for inexperienced owners, every situation is different. Here are some things to consider when allowing your monitor to free roam:
The monitor’s breed and temperament are important factors. Some species of monitors can be trained to be docile and social, while others are more skittish and aggressive.
You probably don’t want a giant lizard with sharp teeth and claws running around your home if it’s not very friendly!
Also, the monitor’s size is something to keep in mind. Some monitors only grow to be 2-3 feet in length, while others can grow to be as large as 7-8 feet!
Smaller monitor breeds, like Ackie monitors, are risky to let loose because they can squeeze themselves through smaller cracks and holes, and you don’t want them to escape or get lost.
Another thing to consider is that it takes a lot of time and patience to tame a monitor lizard and to train it how to behave. You’ll need to teach it where in the house it can go, where its basking spot is, and what it can and can’t climb on, among other things.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider any other pets living in your home. If you have a dog or cat with a predatory drive, it’s probably not a good idea to let them together in the same area.
Similarly, if your lizard shows signs of aggression or defensiveness, it wouldn’t be wise to let them near another animal that they could possibly attack.
Free roaming a monitor lizard takes planning and consideration. But if you take the proper precautions and follow the additional tips listed below, you should be able to have an enjoyable free-roaming experience.
There are many pet tortoises that free-roam, either in their owner’s homes or in their backyard.
Most larger tortoise breeds tend to live freely outside full-time, only coming into an inside enclosure or burrowing underground during extreme cold or heat.
While some owners choose to let their tortoises roam around free inside their homes, it’s not generally recommended due to their messy and destructive nature.
Tortoises are very curious animals, so they might wander their way into a dangerous situation or cause damage to items in your home.
They’re also known to chew on and swallow any small objects that catch their attention, which can cause impaction if not prevented.
If you do decide to let your tortoise roam freely inside, it’s crucial to supervise them as much as possible.
Designate a specific area you want them to roam in and make sure it’s safe and has been cleared of any hazardous objects they could ingest.
You may also want to consider laying down mats or other protective coverings to make cleaning up any messes easier.
If you follow these tips, along with the ones below, you should be able to have a successful free-roaming session with your pet tortoise.
If you’ve ever owned a chameleon, chances are you’ve seen it climbing on the sides of its screened-in cage, looking to escape.
In some cases, this can mean the chameleon’s needs aren’t being met inside of its enclosure, but in others, they’re just being restless. Chameleons like to wander and be on the move – especially males looking for a female to mate with.
If your chameleon is trusting and friendly enough to walk out onto your hand, it might be looking to do some exploring.
Try placing your chameleon in an indoor plant or setting up a free-roaming area with vines and branches for them to climb around on. Just be sure to check that whatever plant they are in is non-toxic to chameleons, should they try to take a bite out of the leaves.
Another way to let your chameleon get some extra roaming time in is to take them outside to soak up some natural sunlight.
Place them atop a bush, on some branches, or in an outdoor enclosure, and watch them admire their new surroundings.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that you must be very careful when doing this and need to keep a close eye on your chameleon when outside.
They can easily get lost or injured and can be a target for any predators in the area. Chameleons can also become hot very easily and overheat if left in the sun.
It’s also important not to keep them out of their home enclosures for too long, because precise lighting, temperature, and humidity conditions are vital to their health.
Should You Allow Your Reptile To Free Roam?
When taking a look at the overall picture, here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding if you should let your pet reptile explore the world outside of their enclosure.
Some of the positive benefits of free-roaming are that it provides your reptile with the exercise, enrichment, and mental stimulation they need for good health.
It also keeps your reptile active which promotes healthy muscle growth and helps to improve your reptile’s metabolism.
And it’s a great way to bond with your pet and spend some quality one-on-one time with them.
Some risks to keep in mind are that each reptile breed has its own specific needs when it comes to temperatures, humidity levels, and UVB lighting. Keeping them out of their necessary environmental conditions for too long could be harmful to your pet.
Reptiles are curious explorers that can find themselves in dangerous situations if not supervised.
They can easily get lost in small cracks or crevices, or escape through a doggy door or cracked window.
They can be injured or even killed if they get into hazardous cleaning materials or chew on unsafe objects like electrical wiring in the home.
They can also cost you a lot of money if they damage any valuable items such as laptops, TVs, curtains, carpeting, etc.
If you have other pets, it’s important to consider each animal’s temperament when deciding if they should be able to hang out together.
Many dogs and cats have prey drives, and some lizards can be very aggressive. Putting either of these two together could lead to a very bad situation.
And lastly, reptiles can be messy, leaving unpleasant trails of urine, feces, and shed skin behind them. They can also spread salmonella bacteria or parasite spores throughout the house. If not cleaned up promptly, this could be hazardous to your health.
Tips For Safe Free-Roaming
If you think your reptile is suitable for a free-roaming lifestyle then my biggest tip is to always keep an eye on your free-roaming reptile as much as possible.
Now let’s check some other tips!
Keep Your Other Pets Away
You also need to make sure the space they are roaming in is clean, “pet safe”, and secure. If you have other pets like a dog or a cat then you need to make sure they’re not in the same room with your reptile.
No matter how friendly your furry friend is accidents can happen and I’m sure the last thing you want is for your lizard to get hurt.
Reptile Proof Your House
Make sure any cracked open doors, windows, or doggy doors that your reptile could escape through are closed and secure.
Keep any hazardous chemicals and cleaning materials out of reach or locked away. Even those under a kitchen sink or cabinet, since these animals, are very curious and use their tongues to explore.
Put away any potentially dangerous objects your reptile could get into around the house. This includes any small and colorful items or children’s toys they could mistakenly eat thinking it’s fruit.
Wrap or tape up any electrical wiring you can, and watch your pet very closely around devices that could electrocute them if scratched or chewed on.
Many reptiles gravitate toward plants, and some indoor houseplants can be toxic to them. Be sure to put any plants that may be toxic to your pet out of reach so they don’t try to munch on the leaves.
It’s recommended to choose a room with tile or wooden flooring so your reptile’s sharp nails don’t get stuck on any rugs or carpeting.
Keep Your Valuables Out Of Reach
Put away any valuable items you don’t want to be damaged such as laptops, iPads, and anything else that could get knocked over, stepped on, or broken.
Small animal playpens are a great way to allow your reptile to walk around safely while keeping them contained in one place.
Free-roaming can be a great way to bond with your reptile and give them the exercise and enrichment they need to thrive.
However, it can also pose certain risks to their health, or lead to unwanted damage to your home and belongings.
If you are considering allowing your reptile to free roam, it’s essential to thoroughly research your reptile species’ specific needs and take all necessary precautions to ensure a smooth free-roaming experience!