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Making Friends With a Reptile

August 1, 2021

Have you ever wondered if reptiles can feel different emotions? It’s probably safe to say that snakes and lizards aren’t as sentimental or affectionate as dogs and cats, but there’s no true way to say for sure. That said, reptiles can and do get quite attached to their owners. Bonding with a reptile will take time and patience, but it’s not impossible. A veterinarian discusses taming reptiles in this article.

Adopt Young

You’ll probably have more luck taming a baby reptile than an older one that’s rarely been handled. Of course, some baby reptiles need a lot of care and they may not be suitable pets for first-time reptile owners. Do plenty of research before adopting one.

Watch Body Language

Pay close attention to your pet’s body language, and how he acts around you. If your reptile is hissing, withdrawing, or acting as though it’s scared or going to strike, just leave him alone.


Offering food and treats is a great way to win any animal’s trust. However, this can be tricky with reptiles, as many of them don’t even eat every day. Others eat things like bugs and mice. You may also be less than thrilled about trying to hold a live cockroach for your pet. Let your reptile get used to your smell and the sound of your voice. He’ll realize on their own that you’re providing dinner.


Lizards actually can be quite affectionate. Many appear to enjoy cuddling or sitting on their humans, and some even become lap lizards. However, some of these tiny dinosaurs only feel comfortable being handled or petted by their owners. Don’t expect too much from a strange reptile.


Many reptiles enjoy a good soak. WIth some, such as iguanas, regular baths are a must. Use this time to bond with your cute pet. Talk to your tiny dinosaur while he’s soaking.

Settling In

Don’t try to handle your pet immediately. Let him adjust to his new  surroundings, and get used to you. Just talk to the little guy, and perhaps hold your hand out for him to investigate. (Note: this isn’t recommended with larger reptiles that may bite.)

Picking Up

Handling reptiles regularly will help keep them tame and docile. Be sure to pick your pet up properly! Never pick a reptile up by the tail! Also, don’t scoop your pet up unexpectedly or when he is eating or sleeping. Ask your vet for more information.

Our Advice on Making Friends With a Reptile in 2024

Does a reptile’s age affect how easily it can be tamed?

Yes, a reptile’s age significantly influences the ease of taming. Younger reptiles, having had less exposure to humans, generally adapt more quickly to handling and can develop a closer bond with their owners. Baby reptiles are more malleable and open to learning, making them easier to tame than older reptiles that might have had limited human interaction. However, it’s important to note that while young reptiles can be easier to tame, they often require more specialized care. Research and preparation are essential before adopting a young reptile.

How can you understand your reptile’s emotions?

Understanding your reptile’s emotions primarily involves observing their body language. Reptiles may not express emotions as mammals do, but they exhibit behaviors indicating comfort, stress, or fear. For example, a relaxed posture and willingness to approach indicate trust and comfort, while hissing, withdrawing, or displaying defensive behaviors suggest fear or stress. Familiarity with your presence, evidenced by calm reactions to your voice or approach, can show attachment. Paying close attention to these signs will help you gauge their emotional state and respond appropriately to their needs.

Do certain types of reptiles bond more easily with humans than others?

Yes, certain types of reptiles bond more easily with humans than others, largely due to their natural behaviors and temperaments. For instance, many species of lizards, such as bearded dragons and leopard geckos, are known for their relatively docile nature and can become quite comfortable with human interaction, showing signs of recognition and even enjoyment of social contact. In contrast, some reptiles, like many snake species, may tolerate handling but don’t necessarily show the same level of bonding or affection. When selecting a reptile pet, considering the species’ known behavior towards humans can guide you towards a companion that is more likely to bond with you. For more personalized advice on reptile care and bonding, we invite you to visit our clinic in Fort Myers, FL.

Are there specific safety measures to take when handling reptiles (especially larger ones) to prevent bites or scratches?

When handling reptiles, especially larger ones, specific safety measures are crucial to prevent bites or scratches. Always approach your reptile calmly and from a direction where they can see you to avoid startling them. Use both hands to support their body adequately, ensuring they feel secure. Never pick up a reptile by its tail, as this can cause injury or stress. For larger reptiles, it’s advisable to have a second person present to assist if needed. Always avoid handling during feeding times or when they’re shedding, as they may be more irritable. Educate yourself on the specific handling preferences of your reptile species and consult with a vet for species-specific advice.

How can you tell if your reptile is starting to feel comfortable with you and enjoys your interactions?

A reptile beginning to feel comfortable with you may show several signs of ease and trust during interactions. These signs include a relaxed body posture, willingness to approach or climb onto you without hesitation, and a decrease in defensive behaviors such as hissing or retreating. Some reptiles might even show curiosity by gently exploring your hands or clothing. Recognizing your presence without displaying stress, such as remaining calm when you’re near their enclosure or during handling, also indicates they’re getting used to you and may enjoy your company.

Do you have questions about reptile care? Contact us, your veterinary clinic in Edison Park, FL, today!

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