What Do Lizards Eat? Best Foods to Feed Your Pet Reptile

Pets come in all shapes and sizes, and regardless of whether they are furry, scaly, aquatic, large or small, they all need proper care.

A key element of that is ensuring that your pet is fed adequately and correctly. For those who have pet lizards or reptiles, knowing which is the best food to provide them can sometimes be a bit tricky.

Newsweek spoke to experts and herpetologists to learn about how to build a healthy diet for your pet lizard.

What Do Lizards Eat?

Laura-Ashley Huckerby, Social Media Coordinator and Editor at the International Herpetological Society in London, told Newsweek: "As a rule of thumb the best thing to feed is a varied nutritional diet."

This is especially true in the case of lizards and reptiles as different species have different diets, some feed exclusively on plants while others can be insectivores.

For those house lizards known to enjoy insects, such as bearded dragons, a varied diet of critters is recommended according to Huckerby.

"That can include things such as crickets, locusts, various cockroach species, wax worms, mealworms, calci worms and such. Which are all available from pet shops, but reptile specific shops tend to have better variety," she explained.

Leopard geckos, a popular pet, are carnivorous and greatly enjoy an insect-heavy diet, though tend to reject eating dead insects as they prefer to be fed live food.

However, you must be mindful and refrain from feeding your pet lizard any old insect you may find out in the wild,

Emily Taylor, President of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists told Newsweek: "You should generally avoid this because some wild insects could carry parasites or pesticides."

Bearded Dragon
A male bearded dragon perched on a branch. Bearded dragons eat a diet of live insects and vegetables. Claudia Nass/Getty Images

Additionally, the nutritional value of wild insects can also be questionable as "you have no control over what the insects have been ingesting, like you do with ones raised for feeder food in controlled and monitored environments," Huckerby said.

Age also plays a part in each lizard's consumption and need for protein-heavy food such as insects. Younger bearded dragons, for example, require more protein than adult ones as they are still in a stage of growth and development.

However, it's important to keep in mind that domesticated lizards often get considerably lower exercise than their counterparts in the wild, who may spend longer running around in search of food.

Therefore you must refrain from feeding your lizard too often or in too large a quantity, as it might develop obesity if it relies on an insect-rich diet.

leopard gecko
A Leopard Gecko on a branch. Leopard Geckos enjoy an insect-heavy diet and prefer to eat live insects. LeitnerR/Getty Images

What Human Foods Can Lizards Eat?

Pet lizards also enjoy certain types of everyday human food, Huckerby added.

"Some lizards can, do and should eat a variety of vegetation as well as insects. This can be store bought veg such as spring greens, butternut squash, zucchini and kale.

"Fruits like apples and peaches can be safely fed. A great thing is also dandelion leaves which you can pick from outside but avoid picking from road sides or areas that are known to be sprayed with pesticides," she added.

However, there are also household foods that do not sit well with lizards, or can cause disease and malaise.

"Generally should avoid citrus and iceberg lettuce as it doesn't really hold any nutritional value, due to mostly being made up of water. Spinach is also to be avoided as it contains chemicals that can cause calcium deficiency, which can lead to metabolic bone disease," Huckerby warned.

gecko smiles
Gecko's are a common house pet for reptile lovers, though need a varied diet. CathyKeifer/Getty Images