Did you know that lizards can be herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores? Read more to know about what these animals prefer on their menu!
Lizards can be very interesting creatures with a wide range of tastes. You have probably seen quite a few of them in your garden or maybe even inside your house! If you are wondering what these reptiles feed on, we have got you covered. But before that, you have to understand that the lizard family is broad—some are the size of your thumb while others can be even bigger than you!
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Before we move on to what lizards eat, it is important to know that some species are carnivores, some are omnivores, and others are herbivores. So obviously, their food preferences vary widely.
Most lizards are insectivorous, in other words, carnivores. They feed on other small insects. Some lizards are omnivores, that is, they feed both on meat and greens. However, the ratio of meat to veggies would be around 80:20. Only about 3 percent of lizards are herbivores, feeding on plants only.
The most common types, such as anoles, tokay geckos, and leopard geckos, are carnivores. They feed on various types of smaller insects. While the smaller species are quite active and hunt down their prey, larger species are usually sit-and-wait predators.
Usually, people prefer keeping small lizard species as pets as they are easier to maintain. They are fed with roaches, crickets, and mealworms. These insects can be found canned from pet shops or if you are brave enough, you can even collect them from your yard! Before feeding pet lizards, the insects to be fed are often gut loaded, that is dusting them with calcium and vitamin supplements so that they can provide full nutrition to your pet.
In the wild, they feed on a broader variety of insects like grasshoppers, ants, moths, flies, crickets, and many more.
Bearded dragons, water dragons, and plated lizards are some of the omnivorous lizards. When young, these lizards are more partial to meat, but as they grow up, they start to incorporate vegetables and plants into their diet for a different source of protein. Insects like crickets, grasshoppers, roaches, and even small rodents are their sources of meaty protein. Different fresh leafy greens, yellow squash, carrots, and green beans are great sources of vegetable protein. They even like fruits such as berries, papaya, melons, oranges, and bananas.
You can also feed your lizard insects and give them small vegetables or fruits two or three times a week.
In the wild, these lizards will hunt their prey, like small rodents and insects, and feed on the leafy part of plants and fruits.
Herbivorous lizards can be a great choice as pets for people who do not want to handle insects or animals for feeding. Green iguanas feed on a 100 percent vegetarian diet. Animal-based foods can cause kidney problems. The perfect food is leafy greens and flowers. Root vegetables and fruits can be fed in small quantities.
The rhinoceros iguana, in captivity, should be fed only plants. But since they are terrestrial animals, in the wild they might hunt down small insects for food too.
Lesser Antillean iguanas are rarely kept as pets. In the wild, they consume greens, and just like green iguanas, an animal-based diet can be harmful to them.
Some lizards, such as the cyclura iguana and Cuban rock iguana, can sometimes feed on insects, but plant-based diets are preferred, and removing meat from their diet can be beneficial for them.
Have a bearded dragon as a pet? Click here to see how to care for them.
Diet of Baby Lizards
Like all juveniles, baby lizards also need help with feeding themselves. Since they are still very small in size and cannot hunt their food, if you have one as a pet, you must provide them food in a small bowl where catching the food would not be difficult for them. As they are babies and in their ultimate growth period, they need to eat more frequently than adults. After three months of age, their number of meals can be decreased. One of the things to be concerned about is the size of their prey. The size should be smaller than the space between their eyes to prevent the lizard from choking.
The first step to feeding them is to understand their species. Their diet varies greatly with their size and species. Also, know if your pet is a herbivore, a carnivore, or an omnivore. Feed them accordingly.
There are some common feeding mistakes when it comes to feeding reptiles. The most common one is probably not providing enough variety in their diets. They must get different nutrients from different foods. Otherwise, various deficiency diseases and metabolic bone diseases can occur.
If your lizard is a carnivore, feed it mealworms and crickets one week and grasshoppers and roaches the following week. Sometimes, pet lizards can also require vitamin supplements. That is why it is important to gut load or dust the feeding insects with proper nutrition such as vitamin D.
Some Food to Avoid
Although what food a lizard can or cannot eat depends greatly on its species, below are a few foods that should be avoided.
- Broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce: contain ingredients that prevent lizards from properly absorbing calcium and cause metabolic bone disease.
- Iceberg lettuce: does not have any significant nutrition.
- Fireflies are toxic and can even kill your pet.
- Avocado: contains a high concentration of oxalic acids that can be fatal in high doses.
- Eggplant: is acidic and can cause loose motion in lizards, especially the skin.
For carnivorous lizards, it is important to note that meat can contain parasites. So before you feed your pet, always wash the food properly. The healthiest food for them is pre-killed food that has been stored in the refrigerator for 30 days.
Did you feed your pet the wrong food? Take them to your nearest vet! Visit here to see the top animal hospitals around the world.
Lizards come in a wide range of different species and each has different preferences and requirements when it comes to diet. In the wild, they can hunt their prey or eat greens depending on their species. If you own one, attention has to be given to their diet, otherwise, they can suffer from various diseases. A lot of species are endangered. So if you own an endangered species as a pet, it becomes a responsibility to take more care than you would normally with other pets.