Exotis ISSN 2398-2985


Nutritional requirements

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Lesa Thompson

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  • Reptiles may be classified in a number of different ways, one of which is according to their diet.
  • Of the commonly seen species there are four main categories as defined by the diet. These are the following:
    • Carnivores are predominantly members of the snake family Snake nutrition, which will eat whole avian, amphibian or mammalian prey. To do this they have powerful crushing jaws. Some have poison fangs while others, such as the boa and the python species, rely on suffocating their prey.
    • Herbivores come from a variety of species, from the tortoise family Chelonia nutrition, eg the Greek or spur-thighed tortoises, to the lizard family, eg the green iguana.
    • Insectivores are predominantly from the lizard family Lizard nutrition, eg the leopard geckos, collared lizards, etc.
    • Omnivores are from a variety of reptile species, and the term may be used to refer to reptiles which change their eating habits during the course of their life. For example, bearded dragons start as insectivores, but become more and more dependent on fruit and vegetable matter as they mature.
  • In all these cases, individual species have become highly evolved to cope with certain types of food. We also know that many of these creatures have a changing food supply throughout the year in the wild, so what may form a staple diet in the summer does not necessarily apply come the winter.
Print off the Owner Factsheets on Feeding your chameleon, Feeding your gecko, Feeding your lizard, Feeding your snake, Feeding your terrapin and/or Feeding your tortoise to give to your clients.

General nutritional requirements

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Environmental temperature and its effects on nutrition

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Girling S J (2013) Reptile and Amphibian Nutrition. In: Veterinary Nursing of Exotic Pets. 2nd edn. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 286-298.
  • Rossi J V (2006) General Husbandry and Management. In: Reptile Medicine and Surgery. 2nd edn. Ed: Mader D R. Saunders-Elsevier, USA. pp 25-41.

Reproduced with permission from Simon J Girling: Veterinary Nursing of Exotic Pets © 2013, published by John Wiley & Sons.