Blue belly lizards, also known as western fence lizards or swifts, are fascinating reptiles that inhabit various regions of North America. If you’re considering owning a blue belly lizard as a pet or simply want to learn more about their dietary requirements in the wild, this article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of their diet and nutritional needs.
Blue Belly Lizards Diet Basics
Blue belly lizards are primarily insectivorous creatures, meaning they predominantly consume insects as a major part of their diet. However, their dietary preferences evolve as they grow from hatchlings to adults. Here are some key points to consider regarding their insect-to-plant food ratio and feeding frequency at different stages of their life:
- Hatchlings (up to 3 months): Hatchling blue belly lizards require a high-protein diet consisting mainly of small insects such as pinhead crickets, fruit flies, and tiny mealworms. Feed them once or twice a day, offering an amount they can consume within 15 minutes.
- Juveniles (3 to 9 months): As they transition into juveniles, blue belly lizards continue to rely heavily on insects but gradually introduce plant matter into their diet. Provide them with a mix of small insects (such as small crickets and mealworms) and finely chopped leafy greens like dandelion greens, collard greens, and kale. Feed them once or twice a day.
- Adults (9 months and older): Adult blue belly lizards have a balanced diet comprising approximately 60-70% insects and 30-40% plant matter. Offer them larger-sized insects like crickets, waxworms, and dubia roaches alongside a variety of vegetables and fruits. Feed them every other day, adjusting portion sizes based on their appetite.
It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and the specific dietary requirements may vary slightly for individual lizards.
Essential Foods for Blue Belly Lizards Diet
Preferred Live Food Options
- Crickets: A staple food source rich in protein and easily available in various sizes.
- Mealworms: Another protein-rich option suitable for blue belly lizards of all ages.
- Dubia Roaches: Highly nutritious and easy to digest, these roaches are suitable for adult lizards.
- Waxworms: A high-fat treat that should be fed sparingly due to its high caloric content.
- Silkworms: Known for their soft bodies and high protein content, silkworms are an occasional delicacy for blue belly lizards.
Safe Vegetables for Regular Intake
Introducing plant matter into a blue belly lizard’s diet is crucial for their overall health. Here are some safe vegetables that can be regularly offered to blue belly lizards:
- Dandelion greens: A nutritional powerhouse packed with vitamins and minerals.
- Collard greens: Rich in calcium and vitamin A, these leafy greens contribute to a balanced diet.
- Mustard greens: Provide essential nutrients and add variety to their vegetable intake.
- Kale: A nutrient-dense vegetable that can be included sparingly in their diet.
Recommended Fruits for Blue Belly Lizards Diet
While fruits should only constitute a small portion of a blue belly lizard’s diet, they can serve as a tasty treat. Here are some fruits that can be safely incorporated into their diet:
- Papaya: Provides digestive enzymes and acts as a natural dewormer.
- Blueberries: Rich in antioxidants, they can be offered occasionally as a small treat.
- Apples: Nutrient-dense and can be sliced into small pieces for consumption.
Essential Vitamins & Minerals
Certain vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in maintaining the health of blue belly lizards. Calcium, vitamin D3, and multivitamin supplements are often recommended to ensure their dietary needs are met. These supplements can be dusted onto insects or sprinkled over vegetables to provide the necessary nutrients.
Foods to Avoid for Blue Belly Lizards
Although blue belly lizards have diverse dietary preferences, there are certain foods that should be avoided due to potential health risks. Here is a list of live food, greens, and fruits that should not be offered to blue belly lizards:
- Fireflies: Never feed blue belly lizards fireflies as they contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful or fatal.
- Avocado: This fruit contains a substance called persin, which is toxic to many reptiles, including blue belly lizards.
- Lettuce: While it may seem like a safe option, iceberg lettuce lacks nutritional value and can cause digestive issues if consumed in excess.
It is essential to research any new food items before offering them to your blue belly lizard, ensuring they are safe and suitable fortheir consumption.
Feeding Guidelines for Blue Belly Lizard Owners
Feeding blue belly lizards requires careful consideration of their unique needs. Here are some practical guidelines, tips, and rules to follow when feeding these fascinating reptiles:
- Provide a variety of food: Offer a diverse range of insects, vegetables, and fruits to ensure a well-rounded diet that meets their nutritional requirements.
- Gut-load insects: If you choose to feed your blue belly lizard insects, it’s important to gut-load them beforehand. Gut-loading involves feeding the insects with nutritious foods (such as leafy greens or commercial gut-load products) to enhance their nutritional value before being consumed by the lizard.
- Dust insects with supplements: To ensure that your blue belly lizard receives adequate calcium and vitamin D3, dust their live insects with reptile-specific supplements at least once or twice a week. This helps prevent calcium deficiencies and promotes healthy bone development.
- Monitor portion sizes: Pay attention to the size of the food items you offer. The prey should be small enough for the lizard to consume comfortably without causing any choking hazards or digestive issues.
- Remove uneaten food: Blue belly lizards may not always finish their meal in one sitting. If there is leftover food after 15 minutes, remove it from the enclosure to prevent spoilage or attracting pests.
- Observe feeding behavior: Take note of how your blue belly lizard responds to different food items. Some lizards may have individual preferences, and observing their eating habits can help you tailor their diet accordingly.
- Provide fresh water: Alongside their diet, ensure that your blue belly lizard has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Use a shallow dish that they can easily access and replace the water daily.
Understanding Blue Belly Lizards’ Hydration Needs
Blue belly lizards require proper hydration to maintain their overall health. While they obtain most of their water from the food they consume, providing access to fresh water is still essential. Here are some key points to understand about their hydration needs:
- Provide a shallow water dish: Place a shallow dish filled with clean, fresh water in the enclosure. Make sure the dish is not too deep, as blue belly lizards are not proficient swimmers and may accidentally drown if the water level is too high.
- Mist the enclosure: Blue belly lizards also enjoy getting water from droplets present on leaves or other surfaces. Regularly misting the enclosure helps provide additional hydration and mimics natural conditions.
- Observe drinking behavior: Pay attention to whether your blue belly lizard actively drinks from the water dish. If you notice a decrease in their activity or signs of dehydration (such as sunken eyes or wrinkled skin), consult a reptile veterinarian for further guidance.
Proper nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining the health and well-being of blue belly lizards. Understanding their dietary requirements, including the ideal insect-to-plant food ratio, essential foods, feeding guidelines, and hydration needs, is crucial for responsible ownership. By providing a balanced diet and ensuring they have access to fresh water, you can help your blue belly lizard thrive and lead a healthy life.