You may think these reptilian friends look familiar, and you would definitely be justified. African fat-tailed geckos are closely related and look extremely similar to their very common cousin, the leopard gecko. However, there are a few key differences. Appearance-wise, they are all-around just a tad bit stubbier. A short, wide head, stubby arms and legs, their fat tail and their big, dark eyes contribute to a cuteness that sets them apart from leopard geckos — not that leopard geckos aren’t adorable, it’s just different from them. Temperament-wise, African fat-tails are a tad more shy compared to leopard geckos. However, they are still very tolerant of being handled.
You most likely won’t find one at your local pet store and definitely not at any large chain store. Reptile conventions will likely have them, and they are sometimes available captive-bred online. The price for a wild-type morph is around $60. Of course, the fancy morphs can be anywhere from $150 to $800, but the majority you will find will be wild-type anyways.
Why do African fat-tailed geckos make great pets, especially when they’re so similar to something that’s much easier to find? A large reason is simply because they’re less common. You’ll find that goes for all of the animals on this list. Many reptile hobbyists love keeping things that are uncommon to see, and in a smaller town like Texarkana, you’ll definitely be one of less than a handful of people to have something like these little guys. Additionally, females can be housed safely together in groups, which can make for a very enriching and rewarding experience that just isn’t possible with many exotic pets. Practically speaking, they are very hardy and easy to take care of, given that you just do the proper research. Overall, african fat-tails make excellent pets for beginners and experts alike so long as you can find them.
Also known as the clown agama, painted agamas make a great alternative to the common bearded dragon. Some reptile enthusiasts even consider them to be better than a bearded dragon because they’re so similar yet very unique and uncommon.
The biggest downside to painted agama is the fact that they are, for the large majority, wild-caught and imported rather than captive-bred. This means that they may have injuries or diseases they gained from being in the wild before they were caught and brought into the pet trade. On top of that, you are indirectly affecting wild populations by purchasing from and supporting a business that takes these animals from the wild, and there are ethical and ecological concerns over that. However, it is still possible to find them captive-bred, you’ll just have to do a considerable amount of digging. Field-collected painted agamas are around $40, so they’re very affordable. In fact, the most you’ll have to spend will be on its enclosure, which are the same expenses you would be paying for a bearded dragon anyways.
Despite being largely wild animals, these agamids are very handleable, chill and calm pets, much like the bearded dragon. If you know how to care for a bearded dragon, which are largely considered to be one of the best beginner reptiles, then you are mostly able to care for a painted agama as well. That’s what makes these lizards such wonderful pets.
The uromastyx is a very unique pet reptile. There’s not much you could compare them to aside from maybe a bearded dragon for their size. There’s a lot that makes the uromastyx really special. For one, their appearance is so distinctive, they look like fun-sized dinosaurs. Their colors are often very striking, even wild-type individuals are remarkable. They’re available from $60 to $300 depending on what morph you desire. Unfortunately, a large number of them are field-collected, but thankfully they are becoming more widely available as captive-bred as they grow in popularity.
A uromastyx would make a great pet for many people. In fact, the most difficult aspect of keeping a uromastyx would be the setup of its enclosure, and even that is still doable. They have a friendly personality, curious attitude, they’re very handleable and on top of that they don’t even require any live feeder insects for their diet. They can live healthily on solely plant matter, and that can be a great quality for anyone who wants a pet reptile but is squeamish when it comes to bugs! Overall, if what you want is a beautiful, gentle, tiny dinosaur that only eats leafy greens, then a uromastyx would make a great addition to your family.
Right off the bat, pink-tongued skinks are just all-around awesome pets. The only reason these skinks are uncommon is because they’re unfortunately overshadowed by their blue-tongued cousins. If more people knew about them, they would be very popular within the pet trade. There’s not even that much to say about them because they’re so great in all the ways a reptile can be.
The reason that I so eagerly say they are incredible is because they’re handleable, hardy, easy to care for, fun to watch and a very manageable size. Even better, despite being rare, the vast majority of pink-tongued skinks available for sale are captive-bred! They are, however, a little on the expensive side, but it’s still the same amount you would most likely pay for a blue-tongued skink anyways. If you’re considering a blue-tongued skink but would prefer something a little smaller and more unique, the pink-tongued skink would be perfect for you.
First off, yes, I’m referring to the jumping spiders you find everywhere in the house and outside. I know they’re not exactly rare. They’re the farthest thing from it, in fact. However, it’s unlikely that you ever considered keeping them as pets. Yeah, neither do most people, which is why I consider them uncommon. Turns out, they make awesome little low-maintenance friends if you aren’t afraid of spiders! And unlike most things on this list, they’re very widely available everywhere — and free! You just have to actually find one. If you’re looking into keeping unusual pets, but on an extremely limited budget, setting up a little jar or Beanie Baby box for a jumping spider is very low-cost, if not outright free. Not only that, but they’re adorable, harmless and interesting. Despite being an extremely common arachnid, they can make for a very rewarding, easy and enriching pet.
Although she may appear threatening, the vinegaroon is truly a docile and gentle arachnid. Also known as the whipscorpion, the vinegaroon gets its name from the acetic acid it secretes when threatened which smells like vinegar. Even though they have this ability, along with their pincers, they are incredibly unlikely to be defensive, and there are so very few reported cases of bites, secretions or pinches on owners.
Vinegaroons are inexpensive and easy to keep. Only getting to about 5 inches in length, they can live their whole lives in a 5 or 10 gallon enclosure, and it’s important to house them separately. Give them tons of substrate, as they are burrowing creatures, and you can keep them at room temperature. You’ll see most of their activity at night. These passive, hardy, animals make amazing pets to show off and keep so long as you aren’t deterred by their menacing appearance.