A lizard can be one of the most rewarding pets to live long—some can even live to over 20 years old. Other than habitat requirements, the second most important factor that contributes to a long healthy life for our lizard friends is nutrition. For many lizards, a healthy diet includes offering an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Can Lizards Eat Fruits and Vegetables?
Numerous vegetables and some fruits can be staple foods in the diet of many lizard species. It’s important to understand the life history of your lizard and what they typically eat in the wild to determine the best feeding strategy for your pet.
Lizards can be classified into four different categories that describes their nutritional life history:
Herbivores and omnivores typically consume more vegetables and some fruits in their diets compared to insectivores and carnivores. Only a limited number of lizards, about 50 species, are strictly herbivorous. Most fall into the omnivore category.
It’s also important to understand how different ages of pet lizards will determine their diet. In some species, young animals may be strict insectivores but then later switch to a more omnivorous life. Sometimes even strict carnivores will eat plant matter in the wild. Although this is rare, high protein food items should be offered to carnivorous lizards.
For many lizards, a healthy diet includes offering an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables.
It's important to provide safe and appropriately prepared vegetables and fruits to feed to your lizard. Always prepare the food items just as you would eat them, like washing vegetables to ensure there are no pesticides on their surfaces. Some pesticides could lead to medical issues in lizards. Food items should be chopped up and measure to be approximately half the size of your lizard’s head. This will make it easier for them to eat.
Fruits and Vegetables for Lizards
The best types of lettuce to feed lizards, especially those who are herbivorous, include:
Do not offer iceberg lettuce to any lizard. This type of lettuce does not provide any substantial nutrition to captive reptiles. Reptiles offered iceberg lettuce frequently develop nutritional disorders.
- Yellow Squash
Fresh yellow squash can be fed readily to many herbivorous and omnivorous lizards, it contains a moderate amount of protein. Yellow squash can be provided in many different forms including slices, cubes, and strings of squash.
- Collard Greens
Collards are an excellent food item to offer as part of a complete diet for herbivorous and omnivorous lizards, collard greens have a high protein content which can help with growth. Additionally, collards have a higher calcium to phosphorus ratio than many vegetables. Feeding diets with a positive calcium to phosphorus ratio helps ensure that lizards eat enough calcium to grow.
- Turnip Greens
Turnip greens like collard greens is an excellent food item to offer to you lizards as a leafy vegetable and should be considered a primary food item for a complete diet for herbivorous and omnivorous lizards.
Apples should be fed to lizards in a limited amount; they do not provide much nutritional value to lizards. Apple seeds can be toxic to animals if too many are consumed. Make sure to feed apple slices, without any seeds.
- Honeydew Melon
Melon is a great treat for lizards as it can provide extra hydration to a lizard. This fruit should be offered in limited quantities as part of a complete nutritious diet.
Berries are a favorite of many lizard species. Lizards can often be ravenous at the sight of a strawberry, the vibrant red color they often associate with this treat.
Blueberries are often loved by lizards, however nutritionally they are a source of sugar and provide limited nutrition to your lizard. These should be fed in a limited amount.
Similar to blueberries, grapes provide a high amount of sugar and limited nutritional content as diet items. These should be limited as treats only. In other species of animals such as dogs, grapes can be toxic. There have been no reports of grapes leading to a toxicity in reptiles, but it’s important to not overfeed grapes to any lizards.
Celery isn’t a commonly recommended food item for reptiles, as it doesn’t provide much nutritional content to reptiles. The leafy portions of celery can be used in combination with other greens as a diet item, however this should not be the only food item offered.
All fruit items should be fed to lizards in limited amounts; feeding too many fruits to even herbivorous reptiles can lead to nutritional disorders. They should be used primarily as treats rather and a primary food item.
To ensure a complete diet for your lizard friend, even if they are mainly herbivorous, it’s necessary to supplement oral calcium and vitamin powders. Developing a balanced diet for your lizard is paramount in ensuring they thrive in captivity.
If you need help developing a complete diet for your lizard, reach out to a reptile veterinarian for assistance. Local reptile veterinarians can be found on the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians website.
Featured Image: iStock.com/Kameleon007
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