In some ways, having a reptile as a pet is much easier than getting a dog or a cat. When your reptile needs to go to the bathroom, you don’t have to walk him outside in all kinds of weather, and keeping his habitat clean is easier than scooping a litter box. The real challenge in maintaining your reptile safety and happiness is to feed it properly. Before you can do that, you must first understand what reptiles eat.
Reptiles, which include alligators, lizards, and snakes, are vertebrates, which means they have backbones. Scales or boney plates typically cover their skin. Except for Antarctica, they can be found on every continent.
When it comes to reptile feeding strategies, some reptiles don’t always follow the rules, and some have very strange diets. Yellow Foot Tortoises, for example, are primarily herbivores but will consume meat products such as crayfish or other invertebrates. Sea turtles enjoy eating sea plants, but they will also eat jellyfish. Kingsnakes are primarily a rodent-eating snake, but they will occasionally consume young birds and sometimes even rattlesnakes! Pythons and Boas will usually eat any animal that appears in their mouth, but some will regularly eat birds and large lizards. There is even a snake named the Blunthead Tree Snake that only eats snails. There are many animals that focus in eating plants and animals that also live in their habitat, so some reptiles have very peculiar diets.
Reptiles consume a wide variety of foods. Some reptiles eat plants, while others eat meat. Reptiles primarily consume the following foods:
- Larger mammals
- Plants, fruits and vegetables
- Other reptiles
What do Alligators Eat?
Alligators are carnivorous reptiles who spend most of their time in the rivers of America and China. They hunt within and on the banks of these rivers and sometimes ponds or lakes. Baby alligators are very small and can only hunt worms, shrimp and tiny fish. Later, they grow to be over 1000 pounds and eat razorback boars, black bears, panthers and deer that they ambush from the water.
Alligators lay in wait just below the surface of the water for an unsuspecting victim to come by for a drink. Then, while the animal is vulnerable, the alligator launches itself from the water, grabs the animal and drags it underwater to be drowned. Smaller prey include fish like catfish and gar turtles, and birds. Alligators are less likely to attack humans than their cousin the crocodile, but anyone swimming in alligator territory must be very cautious, particularly children.
Lizards are a diverse group. The majority of smaller lizards are insectivores. Other lizard species, on the other hand, can be herbivorous (vegetarian) or omnivorous (both meat and veggies). Some large lizards are true predators, easily devouring larger mammals—but these aren’t commonly kept as pets.
If you’re okay with killing crickets but not rats, insectivorous lizards are probably a better option. The lizard’s diet varies greatly depending on the species. Most people feed crickets, mealworms, or waxworms to their lizards. read more
What do Iguanas eat?
Iguanas are large lizards known for their size and ability to swim. They are also one of the few lizard species to be entirely vegetarian, making them popular pets among reptile enthusiasts. In the wild, iguanas consume tropical plants and fruits, using their strong limbs and claws to climb up into the branches of trees.
They eat over 100 varieties of plants, including wild plums, orchids, figs, vines, mangoes, bananas, rosemary and tomatoes. There have been some reports of iguanas eating dead fish and insects like grasshoppers, but many enthusiasts believe that too much protein can harm an iguana.
Captive iguanas are fed many different fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. Besides the plants listed above, popular foods include leafy greens like spinach and kale; fruits like mangoes, strawberries and grapes; turnip, mustard and collard greens; squash; and occasionally even bread.
What do snakes eat?
Snakes are almost entirely carnivores. They require protein in the form of rodents, fertilized eggs, or small mammals, such as mice and rats, as well as large cockroaches. Fruits and vegetables are not required, desired, or tolerated by snakes. They require fresh, clean water on a daily basis. Snakes will eat rodents and insects in the wild, as well as birds, rabbits, hares, any mammal that can fit between their jaws, and the scarce raw egg for the protein-rich components a snake craves.
Although turtles and tortoises are not exclusively vegetarian reptiles, many species are. These semi-aquatic or slower-moving pets prefer easy-to-eat foods like dark-leafed lettuces, beet greens, and other leafy greens like dandelion greens. Tortoises and turtles will also eat species-approved fruits and flowers that have been grown and certified organically to confirm that no pesticides or chemicals that could harm your pet were used. Some aquatic or semi-aquatic turtles consume feeder fish, such as comet goldfish, or bugs. A nutrient-balanced, species-specific diet is required. read more
Recognizing what reptiles eat is the very first step toward having a happy, healthy pet reptile. While they are able to fend for themselves in the wild, once they become pets, they are completely reliant on humans to provide them with a well-balanced diet of their favorite foods.