Properly feeding your pet is the cornerstone to keeping them healthy and happy. Figuring out how to feed your reptile pets, however, can be a bit of a challenge. As cold-blooded animals, their appetite and feeding preferences are about as different as they can be, both from ourselves and what we’re accustomed to from our traditional pets like dogs and cats. This short and handy guide is here to take the mystery out of what, how, and when to feed your reptile pets.
Most of the commonly kept lizard species are omnivores or insectivores, meaning they pretty much eat anything: worms, spiders, flies, fruit and veggies, eggs, and other animals. Smaller lizards primarily eat insects, while larger lizards are more likely to eat things like birds, rodents, or even other lizards and snakes. If money is a factor in deciding which lizard species to pick, keep in mind that smaller ones are likely to be far more affordable.
Lizards need to be fed daily. Most are fed a diet of crickets, mealworms, or wax worms as well as produce and the occasional vitamin supplement. Don’t worry about having to figure out an exact amount to feed them as lizards are experts in self-control and are known to eat enough to sate themselves and not gorge themselves sick.
Turtles & Tortoises
Turtles and tortoises are mostly vegetarians, with aquatic Testudines eating fish and insects. They eat many of the things that can be in a garden or your salad: lettuce and other leafy greens, all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and even flowers. These animals eat daily, which in the case of tortoises (most of which grow to be extremely large), can mean they would need a lot of food to satisfy their appetite. Many owners also use vitamin supplements in addition to their meals.
The vast majority of snakes are pure carnivores that only eat meat, no plant-based foods. In the wild, they find food in many forms such as birds, other reptiles, and in rare cases, eggs or insects. The diet of snakes kept as domestic pets primarily consist of frozen rodents. Pre-killed mice and rats are overwhelmingly preferred by reptile lovers as they are affordable, convenient, and most importantly, a far safer way to feed a pet snake.
Snakes eat rather infrequently, with juveniles eating every few days and adults only doing so once every week or so. It’s important to use appropriately sized frozen rodents to prevent choking or indigestion. Once you’ve picked out the right-sized feeder mouse or rat, be sure to thaw them completely and warm them up to a temperature that mimics live prey.
Where To Buy Pet Reptile Food & Supplements
Just like humans, reptiles can have a preference for one kind of food over others. For the best selection of insects, pellets, frozen mice and rats, or dietary supplements, look to reptile pet shops. These specialty retailers are dedicated to all things reptile and will have the greatest variety for herpers to choose from. They’ll also be able to provide valuable insight on the best options for particular species, when to feed them, and how much.