Snake on a tree branch

Many new reptile or amphibian owners often worry about feeding their reptile or amphibian correctly. When adopting a reptile or amphibian it is good practice to consider what they eat in the wild when preparing their meal plans. In the wild, both reptiles and amphibians are usually “wanderers” who travel during their active time to find a place to warm up or cool down to thermoregulate their bodies, or to find food. Make sure to plan meal times around 

 

Food Preferences

 

What type of food your reptile or amphibian will need depends on what type of animal diet that particular breed is. 

  • Carnivore (eats flesh or meat) – snakes, tegu lizards, monitors, and crocodilians. A diet for them consists of raw fish, insects, insects, birds’ eggs, mice, or rats.
    • Insectivore (eats insects) – Chameleons only eat crickets and mealworms.
    • Piscivore (eats fish) – Crocodiles and some turtles have a diet of almost all fish.
  • Herbivore (eats primarily plants) – green iguanas and some tortoises. Their diet should be bananas, lettuce, and chopped squash and collard greens.
    • Folivore (easts leaves). Iguanas specifically eat only leaves in the wild since their preferred food in the wild is treetop leaves. 
  • Omnivore (eats both meat and plants) – bearded dragons and aquatic turtles. Usually, they eat crickets, mealworms, earthworms, chopped veggies, and romaine lettuce. 

 

How Much and How Often

 

Account for the size of your reptile amphibian when determining meal sizes. 

  • Insectivores should be fed twice per day with as many insects as they are capable of eating in 30 minute period. If you are feeding your reptile or amphibian live insects you do not have to feed them one by one, your pet will enjoy hunting them in their enclosure.
  • Herbivores will need to eat a lot of veggies since they do not contain much protein per pound. Your pile of veggies should as long as your pet and twice as wide. 
  • Carnivores can be fed pre-killed or live meat no larger than your pet’s head. If the meat is eaten right away, offer a second serving. 

 

Live vs. Prekilled Prey

 

Before you consider which type of prey you will offer your pet, you’ll need to consider the dangers that come with larger live prey, such as mice or rats. Since reptiles and amphibians catch live prey in the wild, you may think that live prey is the best option for feeding your pet. 

However, since the environmental conditions of where you’re feeding your pet is very different from a wild feeding experience, this can create problems. If your pet is not ready to hunt, a defensive rodent could cause your pet to shy away from eating. Leaving a rodent in an enclosed space with your pet could cause the prey to begin pecking at your pet. If those injuries go untreated, it can cause serious health problems later on.

When feeding your pet live prey, you’ll want to be prepared to supervise their feedings. If your pet does not eat the live prey within 15 minutes you’ll want to remove it from your pet’s enclosure. 

Prekilled prey is just as nutritious, easy to store, and often easier to find in stores. When feeding prekilled prey to your pet, you’ll want to wear gloves in case your reptile or amphibian is extra hungry and lunges towards the food. If you’re storing prekilled prey in bulk in your freezer, you’ll want to dethaw the meat in a bowl of warm water until soft and then blot dry before giving it to your pet. 

 

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