Having a reptile for a pet in some ways is much easier than having a dog or a cat. You do not have to walk your reptile outdoors in all sorts of weather when he has to go to the bathroom, and while you do have to keep his habitat clean it is easier than scooping a litter box. The real challenge in keeping your reptile safe and happy is by providing an adequate diet. Before you can do that, you have to know what reptiles eat.
Different Diets for Different Reptiles
Something many people do not realise is that not all reptiles follow the same diet. Some reptiles, such as the thick tailed gecko, prefer eating living insects such as crickets. But not just any crickets will do! It is important to gauge the size of the cricket so that it is in proportion to the gecko’s head to prevent choking.
On the other hand the green tree python prefers a diet other than insects. While his first choice is small mammals, like mice and rats, he is not above eating small reptiles if he is hungry enough and no small mammals are about. Green tree pythons prefer to catch their food live, whether in the wild or in captivity. They are clever creatures and boast a prehensile tail, meaning they can use their tail to hold onto things. Once they grab onto a branch with their tail, they strike out at their prey and constrict it.
Freshwater crocodiles, like the one in our Australian Reptiles show, have quite a varied diet of fish, birds, bats, reptiles, and amphibians. In the wild, lager members of the species can take down larger prey though, like the wallaby or other medium sized mammals. Their saltwater cousins are less picky eaters and choose what they eat based on what is available. In fact, they boast the broadest range of prey compared to any other animals in their species!
A Vegetarian Reptile? Absolutely!
Not all reptiles in captivity rely on a diet of live animal prey. Some reptiles are not carnivorous at all, and prefer the life of an herbivore. They eat plant material almost exclusively! One such herbivore is the green sea turtle. Although carnivorous upon hatching, when they feed on tiny organisms like plankton, as they grow they take on a completely vegetarian diet that includes aquatic grasses, like the ones found in seagrass meadows closer to the shore.
Knowing what reptiles eat is the first step in having a happy, healthy reptile for a pet. While they do a great job of fending for themselves in the wild, once they become a pet they rely entirely on humans to give them a well-balanced diet of their favorite foods.