Reptile Nutrition

The diet of reptiles is very important, and this and husbandry are the two main issues for longevity of your pet. Insurance is also recommended for all pet animals to enable treatment to be performed easily.

Water requirements – the way in which water is presented to a reptile is important, some (most) species will prefer to be able to partly submerge in water to drink, others may have a need to lick up droplets from surfaces such as plants or the sides of the vivarium. As a result daily misting is vital in these species.

Food sources – Reptiles will be broadly vegetarian, omnivorous or carnivorous in nature. It is important to avoid feeding animal protein to vegetarian species. Variation in the diet is important and the use of commercially available diets is advised as part of the food intake. It is important to realise that albino mutations of rodents will not be recognised as food by reptiles and should not be offered. Snakes must not be fed live prey. This causes suffering on the prey species and can lead to significant injury to the snake if bitten. We also see bite wounds from hungry crickets.

Supplementation – all captive reptiles will require supplementation especially with Calcium and vitamin D3. It is important not to overdo supplementation. Getting the supplement into the reptile can be difficult. Dusting vegetables and insects with a powder is one way. Larger prey items can have the powder placed inside the mouth. Pre-loading livefood is a good option. In the wild the reptile ingests the entire insect including its bowel contents. So loading the gut of a cricket with calcium and vegetable matter can help balance the diet of your pet. Fish eating reptiles may become deficient in Thiamine due to the activity of enzymes in fish; in these cases supplementation with vitamin B1 will be needed.

Presenting the diet – carnivorous snakes may need to feel ‘confident’ before they will strike at prey. In these cases a dark box will be needed. Raising the temperature of defrosted carnivorous diets to 380C will also help. All uneaten food should be removed quickly as it will go off, but in the case of livefood may start to ingest the reptile overnight (crickets do get hungry!).

As a general rule Lizards will need to be fed small amounts twice a day to every other day. Obesity in carnivorous species is common due to overfeeding.

Snakes can be fed twice a week to once every 14 days depending on size. Obesity in larger snakes is also common.

Tortoises will need feeding small quantities once every other day.

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