Basic Reptile Nutrition

Reptile nutrition isn’t as easy as “reptiles need X, so give them plenty of X.” Different types of reptilian pets will require different types of food, depending on their natural environment and prey. Here, an Indianapolis veterinarian breaks down reptiles into a few basic categories and discusses what sort of foods and nutrients each will require.


Snakes are probably the most common carnivorous reptile pet. They require warm-blooded food like mice or rats. Some snakes will accept freshly-killed food—ask your Indianapolis vet about your pet’s preference. One upside of a snake’s dietary requirements is that they don’t need fed as frequently as other reptiles. Ask your veterinarian for more information on your snake’s nutritional needs.


The common iguana is a herbivore that will eat green veggies, fruit, flowers, and commercially-available pellet-type food. If you’re considering buying a reptilian pet and are uncomfortable feeding it live food, an iguana may be a good choice. Remember to consult your veterinarian before feeding your pet any exotic or foreign vegetables, fruits, or plants.

Also remember that iguanas, along with other lizards, need to get additional nutrition from ultraviolet lamps since they absorb vitamins through the skin. Your vet can help you choose the proper UV or heat lamp for your pet.

Geckos, Anoles, Skinks

These types of reptiles feed on insects. The movement of insect prey such as crickets stimulates the reptile’s feeding instincts. Remember, though, that many of these lizards won’t get all their nutritional requirements from insects alone—they may need special lights or lamps just like iguanas. Your veterinarian can fill you in on all the health requirements for your lizard.


Turtles are the common omnivores of the reptile world. They may eat insects, vegetables, fruit, small animals, or plants—it’s up to you to decide what your turtle likes best! Talk to your Indianapolis veterinarian to discover the options for feeding your omnivorous turtle.


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