From turtles to snakes, reptiles are surprisingly magnetic and a lot of fun to look after. Making sure your scaly friend has the right food on hand is just as important as looking after your own diet.
There are currently estimated to be over 10,000 different species of reptiles on the planet, from the flesh-eating crocodile to the lettuce-loving tortoise. There is no such thing as an “exclusive” reptile diet.
So if you have a reptile at home, it’s important to know what food is best for it – let’s see what reptiles can eat according to their kind!
Different diets for different reptiles
Each species of reptile eats a slightly different diet. Let’s take a look at some of the foods commonly eaten by each group of reptiles.
What do snakes eat?
Most snakes are carnivorous or insectivorous. They need to eat meat and do not eat fruits or vegetables for the most part. Because of this, most snakes eat a combination of:
- Insects of all shapes and sizes.
- Other reptiles.
- Larger mammals.
- Eggs, although this is not very common.
You will probably feed your snake rodents because they are by far the easiest way to feed a captive reptile. These can be frozen, freshly hunted or live. Be careful when feeding live prey; live prey may attack or injure snakes. If you wish to feed live prey to your snake, make sure the snake can eat the prey; otherwise, remove the live animal from your snake’s environment if it shows no interest after 10 to 15 minutes.
Other snakes will not eat food unless it is moving, which means there are no options for avoiding rodents if you have a carnivorous reptile. If you are afraid to feed frozen or live mice, consider not having a carnivorous snake as a companion.
What do lizards eat?
Lizards are a diverse group. Most of the smaller lizards are mostly insectivorous. However, other lizard species can be herbivorous or omnivorous (both meat and vegetables). Some large lizards are true predators and eat larger mammals readily, but are not common in households.
Insectivorous lizards are probably a better choice if you are comfortable feeding crickets but not rats to your reptile.
In the wild, lizards can eat:
- A wide variety of worms, spiders, beetles, flies and other insects.
- Other small animals such as small birds, baby mice or small lizards.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Larger prey, depending on the size of the lizard.
Examples of pet insectivorous lizards include leopard geckos and long-tailed skinks. Iguanas, another common household lizard, are mostly herbivorous.
What do tortoises eat?
The pacifists of the reptile world, tortoises and turtles generally do not eat meat or insects. These animals prefer to eat things they can’t escape, such as:
- Lettuce, beet greens and other green leafy vegetables.
- A variety of fruits, including apples, melons and mangoes.
- A wide variety of other vegetables.
- Some aquatic turtles eat fish or insects.
Turtles are an excellent choice if you are not comfortable with the idea of other animals dying to feed your pet. Land and water turtles often have complex nutritional needs because they evolved to eat such a variety. Many omnivorous reptiles are better off taking a vitamin supplement or pellets to augment their fresh meals.
Some common examples of tortoises in homes are the Russian tortoise and the omnivorous red-eared slider.
We hope these tips have helped you to know what to feed, and what not to feed your reptile. And remember, at our Glòries Veterinary Hospital we have specialists in exotic animals ready to take care of your pet’s health. Call us!