Reptile Nutrition

Reptilian Nurtition


Reptiles belong to the class Reptilia of kingdom Animalia, according to the 5 kingdom classification given by Robert H Whittaker. Reptiles are cold-blooded poikilothermic vertebrates. They include snakes, crocodiles (an exception to the three-heart chamber), turtles, geckos, lizards, and the list goes on, with a species count of eleven thousand five hundred seventy all over the globe.

In this article, I have enlisted the nutritional requirement of the Snakes, Lizard, and Turtles kept in ex-situ conservation (Zoos), in captivity, or as pets.

  • Snakes

Beautiful yet deadly organisms, which crawl all over the earth. Limbless, elongated body and tail, in wild they are predator, while in captivity they tend to get obese, and requires to check on nutrition now and then.

Different species of snakes have different prey, some are specialized egg prey, while some feed on mice, hamsters, rats, chickens, ducks, or rabbits. Frozen thawed prey are fed to the zoo snakes. King Cobra prefers poikilothermic prey (in the wild), homeothermic prey can be fed to it in captivity, which are easily available and less expensive.

Minced Prey is fed with agar, gel, or sausage form, mineral mixture, vitamins, antibiotics, and coccidiostat are added. Preferred feed is rubbed off over the sausage, before feeding it to the snake. Sausage form is mainly fed to captive snakes.

Most species are fed every 1 to 2 weeks, while some less active may typically go up to 6 weeks. Force-feeding should be used when necessary.

  • Turtles
Turtle in the wild

Turtles belong to the Testudines order of reptilia, the only vertebrates with a complete shell.

Freshwater turtles are the primary meat consumers in the wild, but some also consume plant-based material. The feeding pattern changes from species to species, and from age to age. A carnivorous or omnivorous turtle gel food is prepared. Commercially turtle feed which is in pellet form and has 30-45% of protein, is also fed to the carnivorous species, fruits and vegetables are added to the feed of omnivorous species.

Ingredients Quantity
Corn Oil11g
Cooked Sweet Potato23g
Trout pellets50g
Vitamin-mineral Supplements6g
Gel Food for Turtle

On Dry-matter basis, this food contains 47% protein, 14% fat, 1.5% calcium, 0-55% phosphorus, Retinol 10,000IU/kg, Calciferol 1000IU/kg.

Crayfish, shrimp are added to the tank for stimulation of turtles to hunt or exercise.

  • Lizard

Lizards have diverse feeding patterns. Insectivorous like Leopard gecko, Whiptail lizard, chameleon, while Monitor lizard, Gila monster, Mexican bearded lizard are carnivorous and Iguinids and Agamid species are either herbivores or omnivorous.

Insectivorous lizards kept in captivity are usually fed with mealworm larvae or crickets, because of the calcium concentration in these insects is extremely low (0.03-0.3% calcium with 0.8-0.9% of phosphorus). The inverse calcium-phosphorus ratio must be corrected before feeding the insects. Calcium Carbonate is fed to these insects 3 days prior to feeding insects to the lizards. A ratio of ~1.2:1 should be maintained.

Large insectivorous lizards consume earthworms and mouse pups.

Wheat middlings29%
Corn Meal10%
Grounded Dog/Cat Food40%
Ground Oyster Shell21%
High Calcium diet for Crickets

Carnivorous lizards are offered with mice, rats, rodents, birds, chickens, and eggs. The size of prey should be appropriate for the lizard species, while omnivores are fed a combination of various insects and chopped vegetables.

Herbivore species are adapted to ferment plant fiber in enlarged hindguts, microbes in the cecum, and colon digest plant fibers. they should be fed a plant-based diet to ensure healthy gut function. Most lizards are fed daily or at least every other day, large carnivores are fed once or twice a week.

Photoperiod, temperature, humidity, substrate, stress, and cage furniture can affect the behavior and nutritional intake

Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.


Published by TheGeekVeterinarian

Veterinarian by Profession, Blogger by Passion

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