Lizards are a vast group of reptiles that includes over 6,000 species. These species can differ quite a lot in size and they are found in lots of different areas of the world. They also vary greatly from harmless, as in the case with a simple chameleon, to quite dangerous like the Komodo dragon with its venomous bite.
Despite their huge differences, they mostly share the same appetite. They are mainly carnivorous and most of them eat small species like insects. These creatures can also vary a lot in size. Lizards can range everything from a few centimeters to up to 3 meters in size which also affects the amount of food they need to consume.
Lizards are also often kept in captivity as pets or in reptile farms. The most popular species kept as pets include species like the Tokay gecko, the Leopard Gecko, Bearded Dragons, Red Ackie and many more. People love to keep these creatures as pets because they can be quite interesting and they are relatively easy to care for.
Lizards are mostly carnivorous but there are some species like bearded dragons that are omnivores and these might choose to consume plant foods in addition to insects or even small animals.
The type of food a lizard eats usually depends on its size. Small lizard species can only consume small insects and larger lizards may even choose to consume small animals. It is important to research your lizard species so you can find out whether it is carnivorous or omnivorous so you can offer the right foods to keep your little buddy happy and healthy.
Here is a quick look at the main diet of lizards;
This is the most common prey item for lizards. Most lizards are sit-and-wait predators. These will sit around waiting for insects to pass by before they will catch these insects with lightning-fast movements. Some do however hunt for food.
Lizards pray on numerous insect species such as beetles, grasshoppers, termites, spiders, moths, flies, crickets, ants, snails and more. Be sure to do research on your lizard before offering him these foods as some species might not be able to break the hard shells of beetles or snails.
Most lizard species avoid dangerous or venomous insects. Some do however have the speed and agility as well as the stomach to handle poisonous insects like spiders and centipedes.
There are many lizard species that may choose to consume flesh. Larger species may choose to consume small animals like fish, frogs, birds, mice, other mammals, and even other reptiles. Komodo dragons, the biggest of lizard species, can also scavenge on carcasses.
An adult Komodo dragon can consume up to 31kg of a carcass in 17minutes. These animals can also catch larger mammals like lambs.
Eggs are a very popular food source for many lizard species. Species like Gila monsters and bearded lizards will climb to great heights to reach birds’ nests so they can feed off eggs or even small hatchlings.
Some lizard species are omnivores and will consume a mix of insects and plant materials. About 2% of the lizard species are also herbivores when they grow up and may choose to consume only plant parts like flowers, stems, leaves, and fruits. A good example of an herbivore lizard is the iguana.
Omnivorous lizards can consume a vast range of plant types. They often love consuming fruits and veggies like apples, lettuce, melon, celery, strawberries, yellow squash, blueberries, collard greens, grapes, turnip greens and more.
Most lizards don’t consume too much water but they do require water to stay hydrated and some species love an occasional swim. It is important to offer fresh water to your lizard and to have a small dunking pool if you are keeping lizards who love to swim.
Omnivorous lizards usually have the biggest diet variations. Carnivorous lizards will only consume insects or small animals and many of these creatures prefer their food live and running and may choose to avoid insects that are already dead.
Omnivorous lizards are happy to consume plant materials. Many omnivorous lizard owners will offer foods like baby food to species like iguanas to keep them healthy. Some pet owners also choose to offer supplements to keep these animals in good condition.
Omnivorous lizards will choose to consume plant matter in addition to insects. They will munch on leafy greens, fruits and veggies you offer.
To feed these creatures simply add the food to the lizard’s pen and remove these foods as soon as they go off.
Carnivorous lizards usually love a good chase and may choose to reject food that is dead. It is best to offer your lizard live foods like crickets and worms. This will give your lizard something exciting to do and will activate those hunting instincts to promote healthy feeding.
Some carnivorous lizards like bearded dragons may choose to feed on carcasses. They consume a lot of meat and are all too happy to feed off dead mammals when you add these to their cage.
The amount of food your lizard requires depends on its species and size. Baby lizards and smaller species consume much less food than adults or larger species. Most lizards will only consume what they need and will stop catching insects when they feel full. There are a few who might become slightly obese but in most cases, you can add lots of extra food rather than offer too little.
Lizards are independent since the moment they hatch from their eggs. They don’t require any milk or assistance to hunt. Most baby lizards will consume the same foods as adults from the start. They usually focus on smaller insect species like ants, flies, non-poisonous spiders, small worms and more. Pet owners usually choose to offer small worms to small lizard species when they are still young.
Wild lizards will consume the foods that are available to them. They often choose to hide out in areas that are likely to attract insects like fruit and flowering trees. This is also why you so often see lizards roaming about your patio lights.
Wild lizards, depending on their species, will catch and devour insects, small mammals and plant material they find in their natural habitat.
Most wild lizard species choose to sit and wait for their bait while there are a few species who may choose to go and hunt or scavenge for food.
If you keep pet lizards outside, they will consume insects that surround their environment.
Many pet owners love to keep their lizards in areas with lots of natural insect life. This can be in the garden around flower beds or near a flycatcher.
If you are keeping your lizard outside then it is still important to offer lots of freshwater and additional foods like worms or crickets to ensure that your pet has plentiful to eat.
Common house lizards are mostly insectivores. They will consume spiders, caterpillars, moths, flies, beetles, ants and just about any other type of insect they find crawling about the house. If you are keeping these common reptiles as a pet then simply have a look around the house for commonly found bugs or buy live crickets or worms from your local pet store.
It is, however, important to offer your common lizard foods live. They will likely reject dead foods and can starve if they do not have access to live insects.
Some lizard species are omnivorous and will consume vegetables. Species like the bearded dragons enjoy consuming leafy vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, turnips, kale, parsley, beet greens, mustard greens and much more.
Small lizards can only consume foods that can fit into their mouths. The type of food you offer these reptiles depends on the species you have.
Herbivore – Herbivore lizard species like the green iguana or desert iguana may consume plants as adults but still consume insects when they are still young. These reptiles will consume insects like small crickets, worms, flies and others until they make the transition to adulthood where after they will consume only plant matter.
Carnivore – Carnivore lizard species will consume the same foods they normally would as adults only in a smaller size. You can offer carnivore lizards any type of insect and some species like the Komodo Dragon will even consume flesh from a tender age.
Omnivore – Omnivorous lizards consume both plant and insect life. These creatures do have a preference for insects at a young age.
Most species prefer insects until they are old enough to consume plant matter like fruits and veggies.
If you want to successfully keep a lizard as a pet then it is crucial to find out more about the species you have before you offer food. When you know exactly what your lizard’s nutritional needs are, you can offer the right combination of foods and your beloved pet so this animal will be happy and healthy.