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What food do reptile pets eat?

reptile pets food
food do reptile pets eat
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There can be a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to caring for a pet reptile for the first time. That doesn’t have to be the case when it comes to feeding, however. Once you understand the basics of what your reptile pet eats, it’s only a matter of time until you master the “how” and “when” of chow-time. Whether you own a snake, lizard, turtle, or tortoise, this easy-to-follow guide will break down the basics of what your pet reptile eats and how to feed them.

What Do Pet Snakes Eat?

Snakes are carnivores. In the wild, their diets might consist of birds, small mammals, eggs, and even other snakes! Most pet snakes, however, live on a diet of rodents. Because live mice and rats can cause major injury to a snake, most snake owners prefer to use frozen rodents instead. In addition to being a much safer way to satisfy their snake’s appetite, it doesn’t hurt that frozen rodents are convenient to store and economical.

Using frozen rodents is very straightforward and requires very simple preparation. Thaw the frozen mouse or rat and then bring it to a warmer temperature (to mimic the body heat of freshly killed prey). Although planning is necessary when it comes to feeding snakes, their infrequent eating schedule more than makes up for any slight inconveniences. Adult snakes only eat once every 10 to 14 days, while juveniles eat once a week.

Tips for Feeding Snakes

  • Dip a thawed rodent in chicken broth to make it more appealing
  • Use feeding tongs to prevent your finger from being nipped or worse, becoming associated as “food”
  • Feed your snake during the time of day when they’re most active, which will depend on whether it’s nocturnal, diurnal, or crepuscular
  • Don’t attempt to feed snakes during a shed
  • Don’t pick up or otherwise handle a snake 48 hours after it’s eaten.
  • Never thaw a frozen rodent in the microwave. It can end up cooking it and making it too hot

What Do Pet Lizards Eat?

Lizards are one of the most diverse classes of reptile. As a result, their preferred diet will vary greatly depending on the particular species you own. A few types of lizards are carnivorous, and even fewer are herbivores that only eat fruit and vegetables. Instead, the majority of lizards tend to be omnivores or insectivores that can eat just about everything: worms, crickets, vegetables, fruits, and even flowers. 

Most lizards eat on a daily basis. The exact amount will vary depending on whether they’re older or younger. Fortunately, there’s little risk of overfeeding a lizard as they naturally limit themselves once their appetite has been satisfied. Start with a half-dozen crickets or other insects and go from there. 

What Do Pet Turtles Eat?

Turtles are omnivores that eat a wide variety of meats (including insects) and plants. The general rule is that their diet should be half plant-based and the other half animal-based, with the majority of the plant-based portion being vegetables or flowers, not fruit. While there are many dinner food scraps your pet turtle might be able to eat from your plate.

There are a few food items that are healthy to us, but actually quite dangerous to them, such as iceberg lettuce and spinach. Be sure to do your research before assuming that everything from your latest farmer’s market haul is suitable for them. 

It’s important to note that a turtle’s diet is likely to change as it matures. Growing juveniles will usually require more animal-based foods, but then slowly phase into herbivores once they’ve reached maturity. Meat sources can include insects like crickets, mealworms, and wax worms, or even fish.

A turtle’s maturity will also affect how frequently it needs to eat. Younger turtles will need to eat more often, usually on a daily basis. Adult turtles, on the other hand, might only need to eat every other day.

Tips for Feeding Turtles

  • Dandelion leaves And other leafy plants are staple foods that are high in vitamin A and calcium, two crucial nutrients for these aquatic animals. 
  • Snails are a favorite amongst many of the most popular types of pet turtles—just be sure they’re pesticide-free. 
  • Any insects given should be purchased from a breeder rather than caught in your yard where pesticides or fertilizers could cause them to be toxic
  • Both raw and cooked produce is okay to feed them

What Do Pet Tortoises Eat?

Tortoises are a rarity amongst reptiles in that all of them are herbivores and only eat plant-based foods. Because of this, turtle or other general reptile pellets (which often contain freeze-dried fish) should not be given to them. The majority of a tortoises diet should consist of leafy greens such as dandelion leaves, kale, mustard greens, and collard greens. Other types of products such as bell peppers, squashes, and cauliflower are also welcome.

Tortoises can eat all sorts of berries, melons, and citrus, but these are less nutritious and should only be given on occasion. Similar to turtles, Vitamin A and calcium are crucial to tortoise nutrition. Sprinkle their food with calcium powder up to twice a week, and a multivitamin powder up to twice a month.

As one could imagine for a reptile that can grow to be well over one hundred pounds, tortoises eat a lot. An easy rule of thumb for how much to feed your pet tortoise is to feed them an amount of food that’s the same size as their shell. Fortunately, this is not a daily task as tortoises only need to be fed five days a week.

There are no hard and fast rules as to whether the days need to be consecutive or broken up in any particular way nor on a consistent basis, so use this to your advantage and to feed your pet tortoise when it’s most convenient for you. 

Where to Find Pet Reptile Food?

Just as humans have their taste preferences, so too do reptiles. Whether you’re looking for pellets, supplements, insects, or frozen rats for sale, you’ll find the best selection at specialty reptile shops.