Congratulations! You’re now the new owner of a super cute pet lizard.
The next step is to figure out what to feed them.
What do pet lizards eat, though?
Pet lizards eat small insects, fruits, and vegetables. Some lizard species eat eggs, mice, other lizards, and algae! The size and type of lizard you own dictate how often to feed it. Small lizards can eat a half-dozen crickets and be satisfied for the day. Large lizards require multiple feedings every day.
This article will explore what wild and pet lizards eat when to feed them, and how to ensure their diets include everything they need to thrive.
Table of Contents
What Do Pet Lizards Eat?
What your pet lizard eats is dependent on what type of lizard you have. For example, a Komodo dragon eats significantly more than a tiny gecko, iguana, or chameleon, which are the types of lizards we will look at.
These smaller lizard species eat what they would in the wild. So, what do wild lizards eat? Many lizards eat insects in the wild, and they’ll do the same when living comfortably in your chosen cage.
A captive lizard’s diet typically consists of crickets, dubia roaches, mealworms, and wingless fruit flies. You can also add variety to their diet with any insects you catch. However, it’s best to double-check what you’re feeding them to ensure it’s a suitable meal.
You may also need to feed larger lizards small mice, but you won’t be able to give them live rodents since pet stores don’t sell them. Convincing your lizard to eat a frozen mouse could be tricky, so keep that in mind.
Another option is to offer fruits and plants, but don’t use these as a substitute for hearty protein-based meals.
Do you hate the idea of feeding adult lizards frozen rodents? Then consider adopting a different type of pet lizard that eats plants and fruit primarily. These lizard breeds include Solomon Island skinks, Uromastyx, and green iguanas. Lizards in these species groups happily chow down on yellow squash, bananas, peaches, and leafy green veggies.
What Do Small Lizards Eat?
First, let’s establish what a small lizard is. Most small lizards are between 3–10 inches long. However, a few lizards are smaller than the tip of your finger. This means crickets are entirely too big to be in their diet. So, what should you feed small lizards? Let’s look at the diets of the world’s smallest lizards.
Native to the Virgin Islands, the dwarf sphaero lizard is less than an inch long and lives off mites and tiny insects.
The nano-chameleon is the world’s smallest lizard and reptile. It lives deep in the heart of northern Madagascar and is just over half an inch long. Females are a bit bigger than males, but both sexes eat mites as their main food source.
Other Small Lizards
The most common types of small lizards and their favorite meals include:
Leopard gecko–This species enjoys grasshoppers, mealworms, baby mice, other small lizards, and crickets.
Green anole–This lizard enjoys eating grasshoppers, flies, butterflies, moths, crickets, beetles, spiders, seeds, and cockroaches.
Texas Horned Lizard–This breed specifically loves harvester ants and eats about 1,000 of them every single day!
Crested gecko–Fruit, nectar, pollen, crickets, and grasshoppers are the favorite foods of the crested gecko.
Long-tailed gecko–Smaller lizards, crickets, flies, and grasshoppers are the ideal meals for the long-tailed gecko.
What Do Wild Lizards Eat?
A lizard you bought at a local pet store and a lizard that lives in the wild have different diets. A lizard’s diet is dictated by its natural habitat in the wild. They’ll eat what’s available to them.
And what’s available to wild lizards?
For the most part, what’s available is insects. Tons of them! Some large lizards are also known to steal eggs, if possible, and eat scorpions and spiders. But smaller lizards eat locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, and other bugs in the wild.
Some large lizards are also known to eat injured birds and cannibalize lizards. But not every lizard loves meat. They’ll eat smaller berries, fruit, vegetables, or algae if they live in an aquatic environment.
What About Small Pet Lizards?
If you’ve adopted a smaller pet lizard, you may wonder what to feed it. Small pet lizards should be given crickets, ants, flies, mealworms, earthworms, and grasshoppers in captivity.
Don’t feed your lizard anything bigger than its head; don’t let uneaten bugs sit in their cage overnight. If your small lizard likes mice, you can even feed them baby mice, aka ‘pinkies’.
Feeding Tips for Small Lizards
- Feed your new lizard half a dozen crickets and see how many they consume.
- Give baby lizards insect larvae like mealworms and waxworms before their jaw fully forms.
- Feed them “shake and bake” feeders. Dust their insects with a vitamin/mineral supplement with calcium and vitamin D3–calcium is critical for preventing metabolic bone disease.
- Give herbivorous lizards finely chopped fruits and vegetables. This should include avocado, okra, dandelion greens, cantaloupe, broccoli, cabbage, and so much more.
- Understand the nocturnal cycle of some lizards like the tokay gecko.
- Keep a clean environment with fresh water and balanced humidity.
What Do Garden Lizards Eat?
A big beautiful garden or backyard attracts many creatures, including garden lizards. While it’s up to you to decide whether or not having a garden lizard is a good thing or a bad thing, their diets are varied.
Most garden lizards are insectivorous but eat snails, spiders, and worms. They’ll also consume plants, including leafy green plants and flowers.
In the summer, garden lizards will bask in the sun and raise their body temperatures until they’re ready to go hunting. For this reason, you’ll find them more active during the day. In the winter season, they hibernate, so you won’t see them in your garden during colder months.
Lizards find food through visual movement. If they feel threatened while hunting, they’ll drop their detachable tail, which will continue to wiggle to distract you and run away fast. Their tail will regrow over time.
How Often Do Lizards Need to Eat?
Now that you know the basic foods lizards eat, the next step is to figure out how often to feed your pet!
Most lizards have high metabolic rates, so they must eat more frequently, typically five to seven weekly feedings. Depending on the type of lizard you have, whether insectivorous or omnivorous, that rate will change. Consider the following breakdown.
Diets high in crickets, roaches, and wild-caught insects dusted with supplements are the best for insect-loving lizards. They are super easy to feed to your insect, too. You’ll find live insects at most pet shops. Toss in insect larvae for a healthy diet. Feed them daily if they are medium to small or up to three times per day if they are larger lizards.
Feed your omnivore a mix of chopped vegetables and insects for the healthiest diet. You’ll need to feed them daily to maintain their energy or at least every other day.
These lizards should be fed a plant-based diet to ensure their gut stays healthy. Vegetable mixes and commercially prepared lizard food for herbivorous lizards are acceptable for their diets.
Track your lizard’s growth rate to see if you need to adjust how much you feed them. As they grow in weight and size, increase their feedings accordingly. Once their growth slows down, reduce feedings to three times weekly for the best results.
Reptiles are cold-blooded, which means their metabolism is determined by their environment. The warmer their surroundings are, the faster their metabolism works and the more food they need to survive. In extreme environments, lizards will stop eating and have trouble processing food.
Keep your lizard’s home around 85 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid digestive problems. This ensures your lizard can leverage the given nutrients.
Also, if several lizards live together in the same cage, remove the dominant lizard during feedings.
Finally, use smaller food items and animals instead of big ones. This makes it easier for your lizard to digest it and reduces the likelihood of choking.
Can Lizards Eat Fruit?
We briefly covered which lizards eat fruit, but your pet lizard’s diet will generally include fruit. But, as we all know, some fruits are healthier than others.
Baby lizards eat almost the same foods as adult lizards. So, it’s not uncommon to see them eat insects, including fruit flies, fruits like peaches and kiwis, and vegetables like bell peppers or carrots.
Here is our recommended list of the best fruits and vegetables for lizards.
- Honeydew Melon
Feed your lizard honeydew melon, but finely chop and discard any remaining core and rinds.
Lizards love apples, but make sure they are chopped up into bite-sized slices and throw out any seeds that can be toxic to lizards.
- Dark Green Lettuce
Don’t give your pet lizard iceberg lettuce because it has virtually no nutritional value. Instead, give them dark green lettuce like romaine and red leaf lettuce.
Celery stalks and leaves are great for most lizards. Again, chop it up finely or even shred it because it could cause your lizard to choke on their dinner.
- Yellow Squash
Shred yellow squash and then feed it to your pet lizard.
Grapes are a great special treat for your lizard. They are high in oxalates and are best served crushed or chopped.
Strawberries have loads of oxalates and goitrogens, which are great for lizards. Simply chop off the strawberry’s top and cut them up for the best way to serve.
- Turnip Greens
Turnip greens have lots of calcium (great for lizards!) and oxalates, which are great for your pet. Shred or chop them up finely and serve them for dinner.
A Full Lizard is A Happy Lizard
Lucky for you as a lizard owner, most pet lizards aren’t picky about what they eat. However, if you feed your lizard a steady diet of the right-sized insects, your pet will be happy. Add fruits and vegetables for more variety, and use supplements for their dinner if needed.
A varied diet is the best solution for your pet. However, the eating habits of pet lizards make them easy to keep happy. Some people enjoy watching them eat, whether stalking crickets or chowing down on fruits and vegetables.
Keep your house lizards happy with a rich diet full of their favorite foods, and you’ll have yourself an entertaining companion for years to come.
Learn more about your pet lizards by following the OddlyCute blog!
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