Carnivores and Insectivores
Some common examples of carnivores include: Mata mata and snapping turtles, most snakes and monitors lizards. Insectivores are a special type of carnivore that eat mostly insects. Some common examples include: most skinks, geckos and chameleons, green snakes and anoles.
Prey items for your reptile should be as healthy and well fed as possible. This will ensure that your reptile gets proper amounts of vitamins and minerals from the prey animal or insect. Keeping your insects well fed is called gut loading and this should be done at least 24 hours before feeding them to your reptile.
If your reptile eats mice, rats or chicks, then we recommend buying these frozen and thawing them in warm water prior to feeding. Making sure the prey item is warm and dry will encourage most reptiles to feed, even if it is not alive. We do not recommend feeding live prey as they can bite your reptile and cause severe injuries. Insects are the exception to this rule. Many insectivorous reptiles are stimulated by the movement of the insect to feed. If you decide to feed live prey, it should only be left in the cage with your reptile for 20-30 minutes with careful monitoring so that the prey can be removed if it attacks your reptile. There are many cases of rats severely biting snakes and crickets feeding on the eyes of geckos and bearded dragons when left in that cage too long.
The carnivorous turtles eat mostly fish and some other mammals or birds in the wild. A variety of fish should be fed alive or freshly killed. Fish fillets do not contain complete nutrition so whole fish should be fed. Frozen fish are lower in key enzymes as are fish that have been dead for a while. These can cause deficiencies in your reptile if fed long term.
Savannah Monitors: These can be fed mice, chicks and occasional eggs. In the wild, they eat mostly large insects. Therefore, locusts, roaches, snails and other large insects should be fed as a major component of the diet. These prey items can be found through online distributors. Please take care not to over feed your monitor. They are very prone to obesity. In the wild, they often fast for up to 6 months at a time. Therefore, 2-3 months of fasting and feeding once every 1-2 weeks will help prevent obesity in your monitor.
Insectivorous Lizards: These should be fed a variety of appropriately sized, gut loaded insects. In general, an appropriate size can be determined by using insects as large as or smaller than the distance between your reptile’s eyes. A variety is important to ensure vitamin and mineral needs are being met. Additionally, they should be dusted with a calcium supplement 2-3 times per week and a multivitamin supplement once a week.
Day Geckos can be fed a small amount of soft fruits to make up about 10% of the diet.
Most snakes are carnivores and eat mice, rats and birds. Some of the large snakes can be fed rabbits or piglets. These should be fed as described in the General Tips section above. The size of the prey item is based on the maximum width of the snake. The widest part of the prey should be no larger than the maximum width of the snake.
The frequency of feeding depends on the type of snake. The corn and king snakes should be feed approximately once every 1-2 weeks. Adult pythons and boas in the wild only feed once a month, so owners should attempt to mimic this interval. Many snakes will brumate, which is like hibernation, in the winter. During this time they may not eat and will be less active.
Some snakes are specialists in what they eat. For example, green snakes eat insects and should be fed similar to insectivorous lizards. Some snakes eat eggs. These can be fed chicken eggs of an appropriate size, but they should have additional biotin supplements.
Like all reptiles, it is important to research the proper diet for your species and strive to mimic the wild diet.