Guide to Healthy Diets for Lizards, From Fruit & Greens to Flies & Mice
We have put together the following nutrition guides for some of the most popular pet lizards, which are organized by whether your animal is a plant eater (herbivore), or eats both plants and animal matter (omnivore). But since there are hundreds of different lizard species that are suitable to keep as pets, it would be difficult to provide nutritional recommendations that cover all species. Be sure to contact us or your regular veterinarian if you have questions about your lizard’s diet and nutrition.
In addition to keeping your lizard in a clean and spacious tank, good nutrition is the most vital thing your pet lizard needs to live a long and healthy life. And while you can find a lot of great recommendations elsewhere on the internet, be aware that there is a fair amount of questionable advice out there, too.
This guide emphasizes mimicking your lizard’s natural, or wild, diet as closely as possible. Since biologists have not yet determined the exact nutritional needs of various pet lizards, we also recommend supplementing your lizard’s diet with commercially available vitamins and minerals. Your lizard will benefit from a sprinkle of multivitamin once a week, and a sprinkle of calcium supplement three times per week.
Remember that your lizard’s living environment and diet go hand in hand. Most reptiles cannot properly absorb necessary calcium without UVB light exposure. The best source of UVB light is unfiltered sunlight, but if your lizard lives indoors, a UVB producing light can be used. Most anything that you need to keep your lizard happy and healthy can be purchased at a local pet store or local grocery store, farmer’s market, or garden.
Iguanas and Prehensile-tailed Skinks
Approximately 75% of the diet for iguanas and prehensile-tailed skinks should be “Iguana Salad.” We have included a basic recipe below, though you can modify it to fit your lizard’s needs by searching for salad mixtures suited to its species on the internet. In general, the salad should be chopped and mixed to prevent your pet from only eating the “tastiest” parts. Your lizard’s salad should contain large amounts of high Vitamin A foods, like winter squash, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and parsnips. Round out the rest of the salad with other yummy veggies such as green beans, peas in the pod, and carrots. Add some dried alfalfa for a calcium boost, and if you cannot find dried alfalfa, it is okay to use alfalfa-based rabbit pellets. For an extra special treat, toss in a small amount of fruit, like berries. The salad mixture can be separated into individual portions and frozen. Thaw overnight and serve to your lizard the next day. Any unused frozen portions should be discarded after a month, as the nutrients will degrade in the freezer over time.
The remaining 25% of your lizard’s diet should be comprised of dark, leafy greens, such as dandelions, spring greens, kale, and broccoli. Don’t forget the sprinkles of multivitamins (once a week) and calcium (three times a week)!
Basic Iguana Salad
- 1 large pumpkin, butternut squash, or pepper squash
- 2 large parsnips
- 3 cups fresh green beans
- 1 cup alfalfa pellets
- 10 dried figs
- 1 cantaloupe
Chinese Water Dragons, Bearded Dragons, Veiled Chameleons, and Blue-tongued Skinks
Most omnivorous lizards can be fed a mixture of the basic iguana salad (recipe above) along with some percentage of meat or insects.
Chinese Water Dragons: Adults eat mostly insects with an occasional (about every 3 days) pinkie mouse, which is a live or frozen mouse raised for feeding pet reptiles. Adult lizards should also have a small amount of “iguana salad” every 3 days, and pregnant or growing pets should have a daily portion of insects.
Bearded Dragons: Diet should include 60-70% “iguana salad” with a variety of insects 3 times a week.
Veiled Chameleons: Diet should include insects once or twice a day, fresh greens about 3 times a week, and a piece of fruit once a week.
Blue-tongued Skinks: 50% “iguana salad” and dark leafy greens, 25% appropriately sized rodents and 25% soft fruits.
If you have questions about your lizard’s nutrition, contact us to schedule a consultation.
CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet’s life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia’s most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you’re away. We’re located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville.