Lizards are fascinating animals and make great pets. Not many people are familiar with how to care for them, though. If you’re in the market for a new scaly friend, you may be wondering: What do baby lizards eat?
Lizards fall into four main categories: insectivores, herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores. The species of lizard your pet falls into will determine what category they belong to. For example, green iguanas are strict herbivores; leopard geckos are insectivores; savannah monitors are carnivores; and bearded dragons are omnivores.
Even though they are a fraction of the size, baby lizards have similar dietary requirements and eat a similar diet to their adult counterparts. Understanding their dietary requirements is key to ensuring they develop properly and live a long, healthy life.
Today we’ll discuss what dietary requirements baby lizards have so you can be an informed scaly pet parent! Read on to find out what food items are safe for your baby lizard depending on what category they belong to.
Find our top three bonus care tips at the end of this article!
A Baby Lizard’s Nutritional Requirements
All baby lizards need a carefully balanced diet that includes key nutritional components. Regardless of the species of lizard they are or what category they fall into, they’ll need to consume the following nutrients:
Baby lizards need calcium for their developing bones. A lack of calcium will lead to soft bones or even metabolic bone disease, which can be irreversible, painful, and fatal.
It’s important to identify food sources high in calcium but low in phosphorus. This is because phosphorus prevents the absorption of calcium into the system.
In order to boost the amount of calcium your baby lizard gets, it’s recommended that you add calcium to their diet with a powder or liquid calcium supplement.
Protein forms the building blocks upon which every single tissue is made, grown, and repaired. Without sufficient protein, your baby lizard will have stunted growth and suffer from health issues throughout their lives.
Vitamins are essential for the growth and maintenance of your baby lizard’s body. Vitamin D3, A, and K are all essential vitamins your baby lizard needs to be healthy.
A vitamin spray is an excellent addition to your baby lizard’s diet to ensure they’re getting the correct nutrition. Vitamin deficiencies can be difficult to correct if they lead to organ damage. Therefore, it’s essential your baby lizard gets the proper nutrition from day one.
Categories Of Lizards
Your pet lizard will fall into one of the following categories: insectivore, herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.
As the name suggests, insectivores eat insects. They are able to gain all the vitamins and nutrients they need from receiving a varied diet of worms, larvae, and crickets.
Popular insectivorous pet lizards:
Herbivores eat plant matter. Even though we don’t think of “protein” when we think of vegetables, lizards are able to get all the protein and calcium they need from receiving a diverse diet of leafy greens, berries, and root vegetables.
Popular herbivorous pet lizards:
- Green iguanas
- Lesser antillean iguanas
- Uromastyx (spiny-tailed lizards)
Carnivores eat animal products as well as insects. Carnivorous lizards eat eggs, frogs, fish, mice, and insects such as grasshoppers, and can be fed pieces of chicken too.
Popular carnivorous pet lizards:
- Savannah monitors
- Ackie monitors
- Black and white Argentine tegus
- Crocodile skinks
Omnivores eat a balanced diet of insects and plant matter to get all the nutrients they need. Baby omnivorous lizards need a diet higher in insects as they need a large amount of calcium and protein to grow. However, as they get older, they eat fewer insects and more plant material.
Popular omnivorous pet lizards:
- Bearded dragons
- Blue-tongue skinks
- Plated lizards
- Pink-tongue skinks
- Water dragons
Suitable Food For Your Baby Lizard
The following are four safe insect options for your baby lizard. However, their nutritional content should be carefully considered when you’re making the choice on what to offer them.
Safe insects include:
|Insect||Protein(per 100 grams)||Fat(per 100 grams)||Calcium(per 100 grams)||Phosphorus(per 100 grams)||Vitamin A(per 100 grams)|
|Crickets||20 to 25 grams||5 to 10 grams||75 to 100 mg||250 to 350 mg||1,500 UI|
|Waxworms||15 to 20 grams||20 to 25 grams||20 to 30 mg||250 to 300 mg||200 UI|
|Black Soldier Fly Larvae||35 to 40 grams||30 to 35 grams||20 to 25 mg||750 to 800 mg||500 UI|
|Grasshoppers||12 to 25 grams||5 to 20 grams||30 to 60 mg||180 to 300 mg||1,000 to 2,000 UI|
As we can see in the above table, crickets are the best insect in terms of being well-rounded in nutrition. Waxworms and black soldier fly larvae are nice treat options only, as they are high in fat and have a poor phosphorus-to-calcium ratio.
Safe Plant Matter
Not all plant matter is safe for baby lizards. This is because it can contain dangerous chemical components, such as citric acid, or have very poor phosphorus ratios, such as kale and spinach.
Before offering your baby lizard any plant material, do some research to find out if it’s safe.
Here is a list of safe and healthy plants to offer your baby lizard:
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Turnip greens
- Zucchini (vegetable and blossoms)
- Bell peppers
- Carrots (only as a treat – high in sugar)
- Hibiscus flowers
- Nasturtium (leave sand flowers)
|Plant matter||Protein(per 100 grams)||Calcium(per 100 grams)||Phosphorus(per 100 grams)|
|Collard greens||3 grams||232 mg||30 mg|
|Zucchini||1.2 grams||16 mg||38 mg|
|Bell peppers||0.9 grams||10 mg||20 mg|
|Blueberries||0.7 grams||6 mg||12 mg|
From this table, we can see collard greens are the ideal plant matter as they are high in protein and have a very beneficial calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.
Unsafe plant material includes:
- Citrus fruit
- House plants
Safe Animal Products
Species of larger carnivorous lizards will eat animal products. Always make sure animal products are fresh or freshly defrosted, not rotten, and of a food grade before feeding them to your baby lizard. Never offer cooked or processed meat.
Safe animal products include:
- Eggs (break the shell open and let your lizard eat the yolk and chomp on the shell for extra calcium)
- Pieces of chicken or turkey
- Mice (or small pinky mice for small baby lizards)
3 Bonus Care Tips On How To Feed Your Baby Lizard Safely
Knowing what your baby lizard can eat is only half the solution to what can feel like a very complicated puzzle. The other half is knowing how to safely give the food to your little pet.
1. Frequency Of Feeding
Baby lizards have a lot of growing to do and should be offered food five times a day when they are freshly hatched. As they start growing, the frequency of feeding can be reduced to three times a day. Once your baby lizard reaches adulthood, they can be fed once a day or three times a week depending on the species they are.
2. Quantity Of Food
Food should never be allowed to sit in your lizard’s enclosure for any length of time, especially if the food consists of meat or fresh insects.
Allow your baby lizard 15 minutes to eat what they want and then remove what’s left. This is an excellent way to monitor your lizard’s appetite and weight.
3. Size Of Pieces Of Food
Baby lizards are not the smartest creatures in the world and will try to fit any piece of food in their mouth, regardless if they think they can swallow it!
This means it’s up to you, their caring owner, to cut up their food as you would do for a toddler to ensure they don’t choke.
A good rule of thumb is: no piece of food (animal, plant, or insect) should be larger than the space between your baby lizard’s eyes.
FAQs About What Baby Lizards Eat
Does my baby lizard need water?
The majority of lizards need water in their diet to remain properly hydrated. Your pet lizard will get a lot of its hydration from its food. However, they will still need additional water in their enclosure.
If your lizard is fed a steady diet of dried insects, additional water is essential to their survival.
Place a shallow water dish in your baby lizard’s enclosure and replace the water daily. Some lizards do not recognize standing water as what it is and can actually die of dehydration right next to their full water dish.
If you notice your baby lizard is not drinking, try out a drip system.
Should I feed my baby lizard live or dead insects?
There is always a risk to your baby lizard when feeding them live prey. Insects are small but can still cause damage to your small friend.
Additionally, insects like to set up camp in all of the nooks and crannies of your baby lizard’s enclosure. They can hide very well and then make a noise while your lizard is trying to sleep. This constant presence is stressful for your baby lizard and can cause health issues.
We suggest always feeding freshly killed or freeze-dried insects to your baby lizards.
What do baby lizards eat in the wild?
Baby lizards eat whatever they can get their teeth into in the wild. Any insect careless enough to come into the chomping distance of a baby lizard is lunch. With that being said, baby lizards are not very good hunters and generally go for slower insects or worms that are easy to catch and gobble up.
What happens if my baby lizard eats something it isn’t supposed to?
If your baby green iguana eats a worm that was hiding in its salad, it’s not the end of the world. Herbivorous lizards occasionally eat insects, mostly by accident, in the wild. As long as they are not fed insects intentionally, there should be no harm done.
Insectivores and carnivores generally won’t eat plant matter as they dont recognize it as food. If they somehow do eat some plant matter, they may have a bit of an upset stomach and gas while the plant matter passes.
Wrapping Up On What Baby Lizards Eat
Baby lizards eat a variety of food depending on whether they are insectivores, herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. From their varied diet, your baby lizard will get all the nutrition they need. Always research the species of baby lizard you have before offering it food to avoid intestinal complications from feeding it the incorrect diet.
Baby lizards need a diet high in protein and calcium to aid their growing bodies. Without proper nutrition, baby lizards get sick and can develop serious health issues later in life. To enhance their nutritional intake, use a calcium powder or liquid as well as a vitamin spray.
Let’s take a look at the most important things to remember when feeding your baby lizard:
- Ensure your baby lizard is on the correct diet.
- Ensure they’re getting enough calcium.
- Avoid foods high in phosphorus to prevent metabolic bone disease.
- Always remove leftover food from the enclosure.
- Cut up your baby lizard’s food to the correct size to avoid choking hazards.