Don't judge a creature by its scaly cover: Plenty of reptiles make great pets, especially if you've got allergies. Jim Nesci, reptile expert and educator, recommends these cold-blooded cuties.


Tortoises & Turtles

For an easy intro to the reptile kingdom, get a Russian tortoise, Nesci says. This 8-inch-long (max) landlubber is super low maintenance, from his easy-to-clean habitat to his vegetarian diet. Want a water dweller? Opt for a red-eared slider turtle. It's semiaquatic, so equipping its tank (perhaps a swimming pool and sunbathing deck?) can be a fun DIY project.


From the Garden of Eden to Harry Potter, snakes have gotten a bad rap-- but they can actually be great buddies. Take the bright corn snake: He stays under 5 feet, is docile and needs to be fed only about once a week. The similarly sized and also sweet ball python is another great starter slitherer: He's slow moving and perfectly happy just curling up in your hand.


Don't be thrown by their likeness to creatures with names ending in "-saurus Rex." Many a lizard is laid back and affection loving. Consider the bearded dragon, a sociable lizard who, despite his spiky exterior, loves attention and perching his 20-inch frame on your shoulder. Or what about a blue-tongue skink? He's the same size as his bearded pal, but his short legs and snakelike body make him extra easy to handle. Both breeds are omnivores, content to subsist on insect-garnished salads. Yum!

By Romy Zipken

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