As a responsible lizard owner, you want to make sure your pet is getting all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and happy. Proper nutrition is just as important for reptiles as it is for humans and other animals. Lizards can’t tell you when they’re hungry or what foods they crave, so it’s up to you to figure out their dietary needs. The good news is that with a little planning and effort, you can easily whip up nutritious meals tailored to your specific lizard. This article will walk you through everything you need to know to feed your scaly friend a balanced diet.
Lizards Diet Plan
Lizards are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Lizard’s diet should consist of insects, vegetables, some fruits and proteins. The exact combination depends on the species of lizard. Bearded dragons and blue-tongued skinks, for example, eat mostly vegetables, while leopard geckos and chameleons prefer more insects. Below are some general feeding guidelines for lizards:
- Insects: Crickets, mealworms, waxworms, roaches, grasshoppers, silkworms. Dust insects with calcium/vitamin supplements.
- Vegetables: Dark, leafy greens like kale, collard and mustard greens, green beans, squash, sweet potato, peppers, carrots.
- Fruit: Blueberries, mango, bananas, strawberries, melon. Provide fruits sparingly.
- Protein: Pinky mice, hard boiled eggs, chicken, turkey, lean red meat. Provide proteins occasionally.
- Supplements: Calcium, vitamin D3 and multivitamins. Lightly dust food a few times per week.
The amount of food a lizard needs varies by age, size and activity level. Hatchlings and juveniles should be fed daily. Adults can be fed every other day. Provide vegetables daily and proteins/insects a few times per week. Observe your lizard’s appetite and body condition and adjust amounts accordingly. Do not overfeed.
Lizards Food Chart
Here is a sample food chart that covers the dietary needs for most common pet lizard species:
|Insects||Crickets, worms, roaches||Daily/every other day|
|Vegetables||Kale, squash, green beans||Daily|
|Fruits||Blueberries, bananas||2-3 times per week|
|Proteins||Chicken, egg, pinky mice||2 times per week|
|Supplements||Calcium, multivitamins||Lightly dust food 2-3 times per week|
This chart shows the different food groups lizards need and how often each should be offered. Tailor the specifics to your particular lizard’s needs and preferences. A varied diet will give your lizard all the nutrients it requires.
Meal Frequency and Amounts
Most lizards need to be fed 1-2 times per day. Feed babies and juveniles daily. Adult lizards do fine with less frequent meals. Follow recipe instructions so you don’t over or under feed. Observe your lizard to see if they act hungry or leave food behind, adjusting amounts accordingly.
Sample Lizard Meal Plan
Here’s an example of what a balanced weekly meal plan may look like:
Monday: Finely chopped collard greens, grated carrot, diced mango, 3-4 small crickets gut loaded with carrot. Dust crickets with calcium.
Tuesday: Chopped kale, green beans, blueberries, 4 waxworms. Dust waxworms with multivitamin powder.
Wednesday: Shredded lettuce, diced sweet potato, banana, 3-4 mealworms. No dusting.
Thursday: Mixed greens, diced bell pepper, strawberries, 4 superworms dusted with calcium.
Friday: Collard greens, butternut squash, raspberries, 3-4 crickets dusted with multivitamin powder.
Saturday: Kale, chopped broccoli, mango, 4 roaches. No dusting.
Sunday: Romaine lettuce, carrot, blackberries, 3-4 mealworms dusted with calcium.
This provides a good mix of proteins, fruits, vegetables, and supplements. Adjust as needed to suit your lizard.
Purchasing Feeder Insects and Greens
You can buy feeder insects online or at most pet stores. Try to get a variety, like crickets one week and superworms the next. Gut load feeders with nutritious foods like greens and fruits so your lizard gets more nutrients. Offer vegetables daily. Rotate between nutrient-dense leafy greens, veggies, and small amounts of fruits.
Proper Feeding Techniques
Feed your lizard in a separate enclosure, not its main habitat. This prevents live insects from hiding and allows you to monitor eating. Use shallow dishes your lizard can easily access. Sparingly coat foods with calcium/multivitamin powder as needed. Toss any uneaten fresh foods after a few hours to prevent spoilage.
Follow these tips to make sure your lizard’s food is nutritious:
- Shop for fresh, organic produce whenever possible. Wash all fruits/veggies.
- Chop, shred or blend vegetables to size your lizard can easily eat.
- Cook proteins like chicken, eggs or beef before feeding. Never feed raw.
- Gut-load insects with nutritious foods like carrots, collard greens, before feeding them to your lizard. This boosts their nutritional value.
- Use calcium and vitamin supplements according to product instructions. Do not over-supplement.
- Store insects in escape-proof containers with vegetables for gut loading. Keep refrigerated.
- Variety is key! Rotate different protein, veggie, fruit selections each week.
- Avoid unhealthy foods like avocado, spinach, iceberg lettuce which have little nutritional value.
- Throw away uneaten fresh foods within 24 hours to avoid spoilage.
Preparing nutritious meals for your lizard may seem complicated at first. But following basic guidelines for dietary variety, gut loading feeders, dusting with supplements, and offering the right foods in the proper amounts goes a long way. Observe your pet to ensure it’s eating well and maintaining a healthy weight. A properly fed lizard will be more active, have brighter eyes and skin, and be better able to fight off illness and disease. Your efforts to provide balanced nutrition will be rewarded with a thriving lizard companion.
Q: How often should I feed my lizard?
A: Most lizards need to be fed 1-2 times per day. Feed babies and juveniles daily. Adult lizards do fine with less frequent meals like every other day.
Q: What are the best fruits and vegetables for lizards?
A: Some top choices are kale, collard greens, mustard greens, carrots, butternut squash, bell peppers, blueberries, strawberries, mango, and banana. Avoid iceberg lettuce as it has low nutrients.
Q: Do I need to give supplements?
A: Yes, calcium and multivitamin supplements are crucial, as feeder insects themselves are not enough. Dust insects at most meals, alternating supplements.
Q: Can I feed my lizard meat from the grocery store?
A: You can feed small amounts of cooked lean meat as an occasional protein treat, like chicken, turkey, or fish. Raw meat may contain pathogens, so cook it first.
Q: How much should I feed my lizard per meal?
A: Start with manufacturer recommendations based on lizard age/size. Observe eating habits and adjust amounts so your lizard finishes most food without leftovers.