Principles for the nutrition of reptiles in the Pet care


It is true that reptiles have a slower metabolism than e.g. Birds or mammals, which should also be considered in the diet. Small carnivorous reptiles, also need their food adapted to their size. They get smaller portions or fodder animals and have to be fed more often. Large carnivorous reptiles, also adapted to their size their feed or feed animals. They are then fed at a greater distance and not quite as frequently as the smaller species, or young animals. Insect-eating lizards, must be fed daily. Babies have no rationed feeding, they should eat so much until they are full. Some Adult reptiles are fed 1 or 2 times a week. (Genus Elaphe, Vipera, Lampropeltis, Nerodia). Larger species are fed only 2 or 3 times a month, depending on the size of the fodder, e.g. (Boa, Pythons, Eunectes, Corallus).                                                            *


Replacement food- or masking

Some reptiles orient themselves in hunting, on the smell of their prey. In order to get young animals to feed, small mice are rubbed with fish or one rubs these babymuses over the skin of frogs. In addition, one can use the skin of lizards or snakes to prepare mice with it to give them a different smell. Mice, especially lizards or snakes, are much better tolerated by snake-eatings or by  lizard-eatings, and the conversion to a substitute food is easier. The use of protected species e.g. Amphibians or other reptiles as feed animals for exotic species is completely unacceptable.                                                        



Young crocodiles can also be fed with inverted feed animals, as well as cockroaches, beetles, grasshoppers, cockchafer. Or you can take rodents, chickens or fish. Adult crocodiles are fed with rodents, chickens and fish. The risk of obesity requires high attention. The reptiles are kept far too often, in enclosed spaces with minimal active movement, which often leads to the animals becoming overweight. Therefore, the diet should be adjusted to about 8 to 10% of the body weight per week. Fish has all the necessary nutrients, including minerals and vitamins. If, at times, rodents and chickens are still fed, a deficiency of vitamin B1 is also prevented. Precautionary, if only fish is fed, can also be administered between thiamine (B1).



Water turtles (aquatic turtles) are best fed with small creatures, insects and worms, depending on their age. Later, fish and small rodents are added and then gradually increased. It is important to always provide fresh food, which should also be absorbed quickly. Small pieces are best served. The Aquaterrarium should be divided so that you have a part where you can feed seperat, so you can pay attention to the cleanliness, the water. This method is also suitable for older animals. Water plants and snails also belong to the feed. Water plants and snails introduced by nature can lead to infection and should therefore be omitted. If yunnge turtles learn not to go to the water plants, they can get used to lettuce, cabbage, carrots or leaves. For hygienic reasons, only as much food is offered as is immediately eaten.


Land turtles (terrestrial turtles) are mostly omnivore (Omnivores)

Therefore they get fruits and vegetables, which is supplemented with animal protein (especially in young animals). The food should be provided so that it can not be contaminated with feces or urine. As a dietary supplement, calcium should be added to the diet (whether with a solution or powdered).


Replacement food for turtles

There are different types of grained and preserved feed (Mainly for turtles and iguanas). These reptiles can be accustomed gradually, but it should only be understood as a dietary supplement. It is not a complete substitute for natural fresh feed and should not be used as a main feed. From the point of view of veterinary practice, turtles are good patients, not so shy and also willing to take the necessary medication without problems.



The basic food of the snakes in private households / breeders consist of rodents and chickens. Through the food , the snake takes up the entire body and gets everything it needs. A snake therefore does not need any additional preparations such as vitamins or minerals. Many snakes are selective about the hunted animal, and what they eat and what is not, although no significant difference can be seen in size or color, but all these animals do not eat. It is not only the smell, also the sight plays a significant role in hunting. Tests have shown that the snakes attack their prey in the terrarium, separated by a glass wall, specifically. The animals lack the naturalness and the necessity of complex hunting. The risk of obesity is great and can also involve great problems, e.g. Reduced reproductive activity, deterioration of the immune system. They may also suffer from liver and circulatory disorders. Some authors report that the feeding of reptiles with vertebrate animals occurs in a manner that is inconsistent with the principle of animal welfare and its elimination in this context with the legal restrictions. Dead beasts would reduce the risk of injury to reptiles. If some snakes accept freshly killed food, there is no reason not to use this method. There are arguments against the proposition and also efforts based on the natural needs of the reptiles:

* Many reptiles do not eat their offered food because the visual  Perception and reception, of specific smell signals

   Irreplaceable role.


* Pray fishing is an alternative, for natural reptile activity.   It is not yet known what role the individual phases of hunting in the

   Preparation for digestion (neuroendocrine regulation).


Frozen food for snakes

Preserved killed rodents and birds in a frozen state, has many disadvantages. On the one hand, the nutritional value decreases and the risk of food contamination is increased. Frostfutter, can only be an emergency solution if fresh food is not available.


Wild living vertebrates as feed animals for snakes

The reasons which lead us to immediately reject this practice are the hygienic reasons. The danger of an infection would be much too great.


Lizards carnivores

Larger species of lizards e.g. The Varan, are fed with rodents or chickens.


Lizards insectivor

Worms, centipedes, spiders, butterflies, beetles and grasshoppers are very tasty for lizards. In the summer there is therefore the best and the best food. Rice beetles, cockroaches, flies, etc. can be breeded all year round. A good calcium ratio of the phosphorus in the diet is important and should provide a good ratio of 1.5: 1 to 2: 1 in the blood of healthy reptiles. The most prevalent claims are the eggs of the pregnant females. The dose of the feed of insectivorous lizards must be supplemented with minerals. Without this measure the lizards would suffer from calcium deficiency and develop serious metabolic disorders. The situation is complicated by the lack of active vitamin D (D3). The unfavorable situation can be treated by indirect nutritional improvement, e.g. By feeding invertebrate animals, or by adding Reptiles Directly. For some groups such as geckos, it is recommended to give the feed insects with mineral supplements at each feeding. Some species, including smaller lizards (skink, chamelion, iguana, geckos, etc.) also take small rodents. But, too much of this food can cause liver and kidney problems.


Herbivore and Omnivore

Terristic species of turtles and the green iguanas (Iguana Iguana) are the most common patients with mineral metabolic disorders. The reason for this is the one-sided feeding of inappropriate food. In the diet of these reptiles we attach importance to calcium and trace elements. Iguanas like to eat flowers, fruits and juicy leaves. It is always advisable that the feed offered is varied. (Strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, melons, apricots, peaches, grapes, bananas, hibiscus, meadows). Animal proteins are obtained by boiled eggs, insects and intestines of rodents. Adult Iguanas should not be received by the young rodents more than once a month, taking into account their movement and propagation cycles. The young animals are fed in the attitude ad libitum (they can eat until they are fed up), adults three times a week. There is special food for the genus Brachylophus, Conoluphus, Ctenosaurus, Cyclura, Dipsosaurus, Iguana and Sauromalus.



The fluid requirements vary according to the type of fluid used (Environmental temperature, animal activity) and water content in the diet. Turkeys fed apples, tomatoes and fresh cabbage drink much less Water than when feeding oatmeal, granules and hay. The water has to be fresh and clean and also in clean containers. It should not be too cold either. The best is to take a slightly stagnant water.

Higher chlorine content can be removed by holding the water in the tank (it can also be ventilated). The gift of drugs and Supplements in drinking water can adversely affect the taste of water (vitamin A). Reptiles receive water mainly through the feed. Reptiles that feed on juicy fruits, fruits and vegetables hardly need drinking water. Snakes, turtles and some lizards drink from bowls, Small lizards take the water by taking the dew clouds and the walls Of the terrarium. The drinking bowls shall be shaped in such a way that: The water in the bowl is easily accessible (to make life-threatening Drowning). In the genus Phrynosoma the water intake between the scales on the back was repeatedly observed, from where it flows through the small canals in the skin and on the mouths. Higher demands on the fluid balance have sick reptiles, especially dehydrated ones. Patients with severe respiratory or intestinal infections. We offer this patient at least 25 ml / kg daily. In addition to the pen feed, fluids can be supplied via a sheath. An effective form of fluid balancing is also a regular bath.

Zdeněk Knotek  Prof. MVDr., CSc., Dipl. ECZM

Translation Heike Krüger,  graphic adaptation