Herps and Diet

24 05 2011

Herps and Diet

Species of Herps that usually accept prepared diets:

  1. Crested geckos
  2. Day geckos
  3. Bearded dragons
  4. Green Iguanas
  5. Many species of turtles and tortoises
  6. African Clawed Frogs
  7. Many species of newts
  8. Monitor Lizards
  9.  Schneider’s (or Berber’s) skinks
  10. Legless lizards
  11. Blue-tongued skinks

Leopard geckos may survive for years on a store brought mealworm and cricket diet.  Unfortunately this is not a balanced diet.  Without vitamin and mineral supplementation these animals will certainly develop heath problems.

In the wild leopard geckos would eat a wide variety of nutritious invertebrates and not just one source of insect.  In captivity the gecko is denyed a change to balance its own diet.  It is however a trade off since the pet is not subjected to drought conditions, overcrowding and no shortage of prey.  These animals do not have to worry about becoming prey themselves.

Calcium supplementation is necessary for most domestically kept herps and will increase the nutritional value of their captive diet.  The most commonly treated disease in herps is metabolic bone disease.

Insectivores (animals that specialize in eating insects) are the most popular pet herps.  Most will flourish on a diet of crickets and various other commercially available bugs.  Schneider’s skinks, crested geckos and day geckos will also accept mashed-up fruit and baby food.

Green iguanas and most tortoises are true herbivores (plant eaters) and will do well on commercial diets.

All snakes are carnivorous.  Most monitor lizards and some turtles are also carnivors.  Some of these species will do well or commercial diets, although it is sometimes hare to get them adjusted to the food to begin with.

Omnivores will eat both meat and plant matter.  Box turtles and blue-tongued skinks fall into this category.

Some species are food generalists and will make a meal out of anything available.  Bearded dragons have been known for trying anything that resembles food, even plastic plants.

Commercial diets may not be appealing initially to herps that previously hunted live prey.  To encourage feeding on a prepared diet add live prey with the packaged diet and usually the pet will begin to recognize the commercial diet as a food source.

To prevent bite wound from occurring reptiles should be feed prekilled or stunned prey.  Reptiles that refuse to eat prekilled prey may be trained to accept prekilled by offering a live followed by a stunned prey.  Gradually the reptile should be moved to prekilled prey as the reptile becomes more accepting of the prey being offered.

For owners that have trouble feeding furry creatures to their pets, new raw meat sausages are available for carnivorous reptiles.  These products are now available in pinky mouse, fuzzy mouse, adult mouse and rat sizes.


Boyd, Darren.  “To Each Its Own, Species-Specific Diets Benefit Captive Herps.” Pet Product News. October 2007. Pp. 109-110.

Mader, Douglas, MS.,DVM and Stephen Barten. “Bites from Prey”.  Reptile Medicine and Surgery.  W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia. Pp. 353-355.

Lichtenberger, Marla DVM, Editor.  Veterinary Clinics of North America, Exotic Animal Practice, Emergency and Critical Care.  Volume 10. No. 2. May 2007. pp. 579-580.

Boyd, Darren.  “2007 Exciting for Herp Industry.”  Pet Product News.  November 2007. Pp. 47-48.




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