The Biggest Pet Lizards

What are the biggest pet lizards in the world? We aim to answer that question in the below article, based upon our experience with some of the largest reptiles in the world.

Big pet lizards are not for everyone, just like big pet dogs are not for everyone. It takes a specific personality and certain commitments in order to care for such a large pet, whether it’s a mammal or a reptile.

In this article, we’ll list the best biggest pet lizards sold at Backwater Reptiles as well as why we think they make great pets for the right people.

The Biggest Pet Lizards

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Green iguanas are probably the most common large lizard sold at Backwater Reptiles. They are very recognizable with their large dewlaps, spiky spines, and brilliant green coloration.

Most people will purchase their green iguana as a hatchling and raise it to adulthood. We recommend this process as it gives your iguana time to get used to you. Many hatchling iguanas can be flighty, so the more time your pet iguana has to acclimate to you, the better.

biggest pet lizards
Green iguana hatchlings can fit in your hand, but don’t be fooled. They grow fast!

Iguanas are the only true herbivores on this list. They will thrive on a diet of leafy greens, fruit, and small amounts of protein. We recommend chopped squash, kale, spinach, collard greens, and carrots. Fruit in moderation is also acceptable – apples, strawberries, and blueberries are all examples of fruit that iguanas are known to enjoy. You can also give your iguana small amounts of protein, but keep this to a minimum as it can cause renal damage in large amounts.

Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus)

No list of the biggest pet lizards would be complete without mentioning monitors. Although it’s not the biggest species of monitor lizard, we do think Savannah monitors are one of the best choices as far as pet monitor lizards are concerned.

Hatchlings are only a few inches long, but mature Savannahs will usually grow to be around three feet long, give or take, and live anywhere between fifteen to twenty years. This makes them moderately-sized monitors that are more suited to living a domestic life with human beings as companions than some of their larger monitor cousins.

baby savannah monitor
This baby Savannah monitor is only a few inches long and will be fine in a ten gallon tank for now. However, it will require more space as it grows.

The minimum size cage we recommend for an adult Savannah is six feet long by four feet tall. If you keep a breeding pair, you should have a slightly larger enclosure.

Savannahs are carnivores and very voracious eaters with no lack of appetite. Hatchlings should be fed a diet of various insects that are gut-loaded and vitamin dusted.

Once they are larger, we’ve found that ground turkey or other lean meat mixed with raw egg and vitamin powder is an appropriate staple diet. It’s also just fine to feed rodents, but because they are prone to obesity, we recommend keeping the rodents to a minimum.

Their cousins, the Blackthroat monitors, are even larger and can become wonderful pet lizards if you’ve got the space.

Argentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merianae)

With proper husbandry and care, an Argentine black and white tegu can grow to be four and a half feet long. Males are considerably larger both in terms of length and body mass. Most females won’t surpass three feet long.

baby argentine black and white tegu
Baby Argentine tegus have emerald green heads and upper torsos.

When they are babies, Argentine black and white tegus have emerald green heads and upper torsos, but after several sheds, this green color fades away. At maturity, they are black and white with beaded markings.

Although they require lots of room to roam, Argentine black and white tegus are popular pets because they are highly intelligent. Many people liken them to dogs or cats because they can be house-trained and will become very docile with regular human interaction.

Parson’s Chameleon (Calumma parsonii)

Compared to the other lizards on this list, the Parson’s chameleon is actually relatively small. However, when compared with other chameleons, the Parson’s is a giant! Rather than calling it one of the biggest pet lizards, it’s probably more accurate to say “easily the most massive chameleon in the world.”

We also want to say that although Parson’s chameleons are the smallest of the lizards on this list, that doesn’t mean they are the easiest to care for. In fact, we might say that the opposite is true.

parsons chameleon adult male
As you can see, an adult male Parson’s chameleon takes up an entire forearm! The largest specimens have been said to be the size of a house cat.

Parson’s chameleons might require less space to thrive, but the other conditions required to keep them happy and healthy are tougher to maintain. Like nearly all chameleon species, Parson’s are finicky. They can be tough to feed and if their natural environment is not replicated well enough, they can easily become ill.

If you are interested in a pet Parson’s chameleon, we highly recommend that you research the animal extensively and make sure that you can provide proper lighting, plant life, humidity and water, and a balanced diet.

Conclusion: The biggest pet lizards

Sure, big lizards aren’t for everyone. It takes someone who has the available space and time to devote to such a large pet reptile.

If you think you’re ready to take on one of these large lizards, Backwater Reptiles sells green iguanas, Argentine black and white tegus, Savannah monitors, and Parson’s chameleons.

Most Popular Pet Monitor Lizards

Which monitor lizards make the best pets? We ship out a lot of monitor lizards here at Backwater Reptiles – they’re popular reptile pets! Because monitor lizards can grow to a large size quite quickly, we wanted to make sure potential new owners get as much info as possible and know exactly what they are in for long term. That’s why this blog entry is all about our most popular monitor lizards.

Black Throat Monitors (Varanus albigularis ionidesi)

Overall, Black Throat Monitors are docile lizards. With proper handling and care, they will overcome most aggressive behaviors and make excellent pet lizards. In fact, many people enjoy taking their Black Throat out for a stroll on a leash (always do so responsibly and securely). It’s healthy for the lizard to get exercise and natural sunshine, plus we guarantee people will stop and ask you questions! Remember, you’re a representative of the reptile community, so propagating a positive view of our hobby is hugely important.

popular pet monitor lizards

Like most pet monitors, when full-grown, these guys will require a very large, spacious enclosure. In addition to invertebrates, they will eat whole rodents and other small mammals, including thawed mice and chicks (rodents are always better–their bones contain more calcium than bird bones), so make sure you don’t have a queasy stomach if you want a monitor of any kind.

black throat monitor eating roach

Black Throats are not avid climbers nor particularly good at swimming, so it’s not necessary to give them climbing or swimming equipment like some monitors would require. However, a clean water dish is still a must.

All monitor species are very intelligent as far as lizards are concerned. However, Black Throats have been known to be able to internally count to seven! They can also recognize their keepers/owners, and can solve fairly involved food tests.

At our facility, we have a nearly five-foot long Blackthroat that is not only tame, but will walk to us when we slap the ground with our hand. We raised him from a baby that fit on our index finger, to a four-footer, inside one year. This should give you an idea of how quickly they can grow if provided with quality foods and heat.

pet monitor lizards

Currently, Backwater Reptiles has hatchling and 14 to 18 inch long Black Throat Monitors ready to go. We get them in regularly, and cannot recommend them more highly if you are prepared for a large reptile pet.

White Throat Monitors (Varanus albigularis)

Also known as Cape Monitors, White Throats have larger, more bulbous noses than most other monitor species, particularly when they are mature. They have raised, almost cone-shaped neck scales and can be accented with yellowish-colored stripes, bands, or splotches. As suggested by their common name, their throats tend to be lighter in color than the rest of their body.

white throat monitor lizard
White throats can become very tame, albeit very large, pet monitor lizards.

White Throats grow anywhere from three to six feet long and will live around 12 to 20 years. Males are longer and heavier than females.

Although they are mostly diurnal, grund-dwelling lizards, it is not unheard of for White Throats to climb trees. This means that in addition to supplying a very large, spacious enclosure to keep your adult monitor, you should also provide some type of branch or safely secured climbing apparatus.

varanus albigularis pet
All monitors flick their tongues in and out to retrieve sensory data. They then place their tongue against something called a “Jacobsen’s organ” to interpret the data.

White Throats love to drink water, so be sure there is always a fresh supply in their enclosure. Keep the dish clean and remove any feces or food that might collect inside of it. Also be aware of how often your White Throat soaks in his/her water dish as this could be an indicator that there is not enough humidity present in his/her environment (this is true for most lizard species).

Backwater Reptiles currently has hatchling White Throat Monitors available. This species is not available nearly as often as the Black throat monitors. These little guys won’t need a gigantic enclosure for a while yet, although they do grow quickly!

Savannah Monitors (Varanus exanthematicus)

The highly intelligent Savannah Monitor requires stimulation and activity outside of its enclosure. Like all adult monitors, they will require a large habitat to live in, but they should also be given time outside their enclosure to exercise. They will thrive if their lifestyle is “exciting” – at least for a lizard.

Savannahs are probably the most manageable of the monitor lizards as far as size and enclosure size is concerned. Savannahs will grow to be an average of two and a half to three and a half feet in length and will live around twenty years if properly cared for.

savannah monitors
A baby anerythristic Savannah Monitor. It has since grown and has an overall lighter coloration.

If there is enough space, food, hiding space, and all other requirements are met, Savannah Monitors can even be kept communally, although it is not advisable to keep multiple males together.

Because Savannahs are avid burrowers, it is absolutely essential that their enclosure have a substrate that fosters this natural behavior. Cage decor should be minimal because burrowing will topple things and you don’t want anything to fall and harm the lizard.

Savannah Monitor hatchling - Varanus exanthematicus

The Savannah Monitor’s diet is very similar to that of all other monitor lizard species. Whole rodents and large insects should be the staples of a Savannah’s diet and fresh water should always be available.

Backwater Reptiles has hatchling and juvenile Savannah Monitors in stock and ready to ship. We’ve even got an anerythristic morph!

Nile Monitors (Varanus niloticus)

Of all the monitor lizards, Nile Monitors are probably the toughest to keep. They often times have aggressive temperaments (for the most part) and unless you’re an experienced herper, it’s best if they’re not handled. They tend to hiss, bite, and whip their tails at their keepers, even when handled consistently from a young age. They’re are always exceptions to every rule, but they generally make better display pets.

Hatchling Nile Monitor

As their name suggests, Nile Monitors are excellent swimmers and even have flattened out rudder-like tails to assist them while in the water. This means that in order to keep a healthy, happy Nile Monitor, it should have an enclosure large enough to hold the six foot long adult lizard complete with an area for soaking and swimming. Make sure to keep the water container clean as these monitors will often defecate in the water.

varanus niloticus

Like all other monitors, the Nile Monitor’s diet should be as varied as possible, but include lots of large insects and whole rodents. These guys sure do have appetites!

Backwater Reptiles has very affordable hatchling Nile Monitors nearly year round.

pet nile monitor
Nile monitors can become tame, but generally they are a little more skittish. Starting with a baby is your best option for a pet monitor.

We hope we’ve taught you a thing or two about the most popular pet monitor lizards. What do you think the best pet monitor lizard is?

Baby Nile Monitor Care

Are you wondering how to care for a baby Nile Monitor? We will detail all of the information you need in the below article!

Nile Monitors are beautiful and interesting lizards, but due to their occasional distrust of humans, can be tough pets for people who like to be hands on with their herps, unless you’re willing to spend some time gaining their trust.

baby varanus niloticus


As adaptable, hardy, and gorgeous as these lizards are, potential owners should assess their circumstances and make sure the proper care can be given before purchasing.

Nile Monitor Size

Because Nile Monitors grow to be around five to six feet in length, they will require a large habitat. This can mean anything from a custom-built enclosure to a dedicated room where the lizard can roam around. Because they are not known to be the friendliest of lizards, it is safe to assume that the monitor will spend much, if not all, of its time in its enclosure, so it needs to be a spacious, clean, and safe space where the lizard can live out its ten-year-plus life.

baby nile monitor care



Nile Monitors very much enjoy swimming, so they need to have a pool of water large enough to completely submerge themselves in. It’s also common for them to defecate in the water, so it should be given fresh as needed.

Backwater’s hatchlings are approximately seven to nine inches long (including their rather long tails), but keep in mind that these monitors eat voraciously and grow very fast. The younger ones eat mostly dusted insects of various kinds, but they can be given thawed rodents and ground meats as they get larger. The important thing to know is that Nile Monitors must be fed a varied diet in order to stay healthy.

raising nile monitors


Our Nile Monitor hatchlings for sale are very reasonably priced, and if our photo shoot with the little guy pictured in this blog is any indication of their temperament, we suggest ordering your’s now. The little guy was skittish but not at all snappy or bitey.