While most people prefer domestic pets, some of them love the thrill of having exotic animals for a pet. Other than the growing curiosity for insects, reptiles have also piqued the interest of some pet owners.
There are over 9,500 different species of reptiles on the planet, and each of them have different diets. So, if you are going to take a reptile as a pet, you have to remember that there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to its diet. You should make sure that your pet is eating the right amount of food and is getting the nutrients it needs from its diet.
As a pet owner, you should know everything about your reptile. Take a good amount of time to research about its wild diet, so you can find the appropriate mix of food, pellets, and supplements to help it stay healthy and live a long life.
Here’s a guide from Reptile Direct on how you can ensure that your reptile is getting the most out of its diet:
- Know What Your Reptile Likes To Eat
Reptiles have different diets because they differ in their food and energy requirements. Most of them are carnivorous while others are herbivorous and omnivorous.
So, before you get a reptile as a pet, you have to be certain that you’re able to provide for its dietary needs. Also, keep in mind that most reptiles have high metabolic rates, which means they’ll need 5-7 feedings per week.
Most of the carnivorous reptiles that are ideal as house pets will thrive on a diet of insects. If you’re going to take a lizard as a pet, you can feed it with a mix of crickets, roaches, and other wild insects to go along with a vitamin supplement. Insects are very easy to feed to your reptile and are also readily available. Start with giving it about a dozen insects and see just how much it can eat.
As for herbivorous reptiles, such as tortoises and iguana, their dietary requirements can be easily met even if you’re living in the city. You can give them finely chopped salads and fruits and vegetables with high nutritional values such as avocados, broccoli, cabbage, okra, dandelion greens, blueberries, bokchoy, celery, cauliflower, etc.
For omnivorous species, you can feed them canned pet foods. You can then supplement this diet with insects and mice.
- Record Its Usual Feeding Time
The next thing you need to know is when is the right time to feed your reptile. Failure to feed your reptile timely and regularly can lead to malnutrition or starvation.
There are reptiles that prefer to feed at night while others like to eat around sunset and will not feed during daylight hours. Moreover, some reptiles only eat during the day.
So, you have to know when is the right time to feed your reptile because offering food outside of their optimal feeding times can lead to reduced food intake or completely missing the meal. You also have to remember that there are some species that are unwilling to feed if you are watching them.
The best thing to do is to research the eating habits of your reptile and when do they prefer to eat their meal.
- Know The Feeding Frequency
As mentioned earlier, there’s no “one size fits all” rule when it comes to feeding reptiles. Each species has different dietary needs. This is why the right amount of food and the feeding frequency must be based on your reptile’s dietary needs and metabolic size.
If you have a small reptile, like a young lizard, you must feed it more frequently. You also need to give it food every day. If you have a snake, giving it food twice a week is usually enough.
Keep in mind that reptiles eat more than a healthy adult reptile does when they’re preparing for the breeding season. They tend to increase their food intake depending on the season. If it’s spring or summer in your region, expect them to eat more than they do during cold or dry seasons.
If all else fails and your reptile has not been feeding the right way and starts losing weight or mass, talk to your reptile veterinarian immediately. Even though there are reptiles that can go for several days without eating, it doesn’t mean that you have to be complacent.
If your reptile is still not eating after providing its environmental needs and diet in the most appropriate way, it may indicate that your reptile has a problem or is sick.