Reptile Diet

Reptiles are classified as herbivores (eating only plant matter), insectivores (eating insects), carnivores (eating larger prey than insects), or omnivores (eating plants and insects).

Herbivorous species: (Green iguanas, spiny-tailed lizard, tortoises). These reptiles should be offered fresh food daily. The majority of their diet should consist of fresh, leafy greens and then supplement with other vegetables. Fruits cans also be fed to your pet, but do so in moderation as most of their diet should consist of greens. The “salad” should be supplemented with calcium/vitamins daily for juveniles and bi-weekly for adults. Avoid vitamin-deficient, fiber-rich foods such as lettuce and celery. Cabbage, broccoli, spinach can be offered to increase variety in the diet but should be offered sparingly. Never feed dog or cat food to your herbivorous reptiles as this is too high in protein and vitamins, which will harm their kidneys. Herbivorous reptiles generally should not be fed insects or prey items.

  • Greens: Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, kale, parsley, dandelion greens, carrot tops
  • Vegetables: Bell peppers, shredded sweet potatoes, shredded carrots, various squash, zucchini, green beans, peas, tomatoes. The vegetables can be fed raw or cooked.
  • Fruits: Kiwi, apples, pears, bananas, melons (honey dew and cantaloupe), figs, papaya, berries

Omnivorous species: (Bearded dragon, many skinks, box turtles, semi-aquatic turtles). These reptiles should be provided with leafy greens, vegetables and fruits (as listed above for herbivorous reptiles) and insects (as listed for insectivorous species). Generally they are fed insects and greens daily as juveniles. However, as they age they will consume more greens, vegetable and fruits and less insects. As adults they typically should be fed insects once or twice weekly, but provided with fresh greens, vegetables +/- fruit daily.

Insectivorous species: (Geckos, young Chinese Water Dragons, young monitors, Chameleons). These reptiles should be fed gut loaded or dusted insects with appropriate supplements. Acceptable insects include brown crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, and occasional wax worm. They should NEVER be fed fireflies as they are toxic and could kill your pet. These lizards may be given an occasional frozen newborn pinkie mouse that has been warmed to room temperature.

Carnivorous species: (Adult water dragons, adult monitors, Tegus, most aquatic turtles, snakes, crocodilians). Juvenile carnivorous lizards should be fed daily; however, adult lizards and turtles should be fed only once or twice weekly. Generally, snakes should be fed every 7-14 days. These reptiles eat small mammals, such as mice or rats. Cedar Creek Veterinary Clinic recommends pre-killed or thawed frozen rodents. Certain reptiles can also be fed a specialized commercial pelleted diet formulated for your species of pet. Some animals will also eat smaller reptiles so it is very important not to house smaller reptiles within their cage.

Water: Different types of water sources are required for different reptile species. Reptiles from dry regions, such as bearded dragons, should be provided with a bowl of fresh water daily. In contrast, tree-climbing reptiles, such as chameleons, require running water from a drip system. Water dragons require a bowl for drinking water along with a larger container for swimming or soaking.

Cricket care: In order to have a healthy insect eating reptile you must take care of the crickets which make up a large staple of your pet’s diet. The crickets should be kept in their own container without any substrate along with paper towel rolls or a section of an egg carton. The crickets should be fed commercial cricket food, dry reptile food, or powdered juvenile bird diet for approximately 48 hours prior to feeding your pet reptile. Water should be provided as commercial cricket water dispenser, moistened small sponge, or folded, moistened paper towel in one area of the cage (the paper towel needs to be replaced daily to prevent mold). Uneaten crickets should not be left in your reptile’s cage. Any uneaten crickets should be removed after 30-60 minutes as they may bite your reptile and the powder supplement will fall off the insect in time. Crickets also need calcium supplement dusting. Prior to feeding your reptile, place crickets in a container or bag, put supplement on the crickets, gently shake it until the crickets are coated with powder. A general guideline is to use calcium/vitamin D3 supplement each feeding in juveniles, every other feeding in young adults and twice weekly for adults. Crickets should be coated in a separate multivitamin supplement (including pre-formed vitamin A) and feed once weekly in juveniles and every other week in adults. Follow specific directions as instructed by Dr. Beasley or Dr. Nolan for your particular pet.

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