What do lizards eat? Can They Eat Anything?

There is a wide range of lizard species in the world that are densely spread across the globe except in Antarctica. Their diet varies depending on each species and environment. In most cases, lizards feed on what is available in their natural habitat.

However, most lizards are omnivorous and thus feed on vegetables, animals, insects, and fruits. Even so, since there are more than 5000 species in their family, it is impossible to say that they are all omnivorous.

Depending on the species, their habitats vary from rainforests, mountains, backyards, deserts, to rocky places. Some are also very tiny, while others are larger than humans.

The only common thing in all species is that they need water to survive. While some will need to drink water to survive, others absorb water through their skin. 

In this article, we will discuss some of the common lizard’s diet and categories. If you would like to know what the most common lizards such as blue tongue skinks, iguanas, geckos, and tekoy, feed on, keep reading for more.

What Do Lizards Eat Infographic
What Do Lizards Eat Infographic

What Do Lizards Eat?

What Do Lizards Eat?
What Do Lizards Eat?

Lizard’s diets mostly depend on what is available in their natural habitat, and their size.Therefore, it is impossible to categorize more than 5000 species in the same category of omnivorous. For these reasons, in this article, we will discuss most of the common lizard’s pet diet.  

Some of the commonly domesticated lizards include blue tongue skinks, bearded dragons, crested geckos, and leopard geckos.

Most of these domesticated lizards mostly feed on plants and leaves, insects, worms, and fruits. 

Insects 

About 80% of lizard species feed on insects. Some entirely depend on insects for their food, while others eat them as part of their diet.

In the wild, the type of insects that lizards feed on depends on their location. It is because they feed on what is available in their area.

Even so, some of the most common insects that lizards feed on include cockroaches, crickets, flies, grasshoppers, spiders, ants, among others.

Fence lizards and other small skinks are valuable around homes as they eliminate harmful insects such as mosquitoes, termites, and roaches around your home. However, some insects like lightning bugs are poisonous to the fence lizards and small skinks.

It is worth doing your research well before deciding what insects to feed your lizards. It is because some, even though can be your lizards favorite, do not have nutritional values. 

For instance, most lizards love crickets. However, crickets have inferior nutritional value. 

Worms 

Bearded Dragon Eating Worms
Bearded Dragon Eating Worms
(Source: Garrett Rose YouTube)

Worms are also part of what do lizards eat especially the diet in most carnivorous and omnivorous lizards. Some are very nutritious to lizards and should be fed regularly. Some of those worms include earthworms, hornworms, silkworms, butter worms, waxworms, among others. 

To make the worms even more nutritious, lizard breeders tend to gut load the worms. Gut loading is when you feed the worms with high nutrients food a day before offering them to your lizard. 

When worms are a significant part of your lizard diet, you can either buy live worms from pet stores or breed a colony of worms for your lizard.

Whichever way you prefer to obtain your worms from, it is worth noting that worms do not have equal nutritional values to lizards. Thus, it is essential to do your research well before getting those worms for your lizards.

In most cases, one way to know if a worm is suitable for your lizard is to ensure that the warm is smaller than the space between your lizard’s eyes.

Plants and Leafs

First, you should note that not all lizards eat vegetation. Most lizards prefer or live on insects. Such insectivores lizards include spiny lizards, anoles, and geckos. 

Other lizards like European legless are carnivorous, and thus entirely feed on small rodents and insects. Others are herbivorous lizards, and therefore wholly feed on herbs or vegetation.

However, many are omnivorous and thus feed on vegetables, fruits, insects, and meat. Some of the commonly domesticated omnivorous lizards include bearded dragons, skinks, chameleon tegus, iguanas, and Chinese water dragons. 

If you have either a herbivore or omnivore lizards, it is critical to feed them on plants and leaves. Even though lizards can feed on almost all types of plants and leaves, some are poisonous or toxic. Thus, not all plants and leaves are suitable for lizards.  

The amount of food to feed your lizards depends on their size, dietary requirement, and the proportions of other food like insects, and fruits.

Flowers 

Most flowers are edible for plant-eating lizards and people. Some of the safe flowers that lizards can feed include carnations, geraniums, pansies, clovers, dahlia, and hibiscus.

You can get most of these flowers in your backyard if you don’t use pesticides on them. If it’s not easy for you to get some in the garden, you can consider buying mixed flowers for lizards from the nearest pet shop or online stores.

Herbs 

Herbs are yet another significant part of omnivorous and herbivorous lizards. In most cases, omnivorous lizards require large portions of herbs. Some of the best herbs to feed lizards include oregano, peppermint, basil, and thyme leaves.

Common leaves

These include most dark green leaves like kales, cabbage leaves, mulberry leaves, among others. You can try as many leaves as you can until you see what your lizard likes most.

However, it is worth noting that some are poisonous as they contain harmful toxins that can be fatal to your lizard.

Some of these toxic leaves that you should never feed your lizards include Rhubarb, marijuana, lily of the valley, and eggplant.

Fruits 

Herbivorous and omnivorous lizards feed on fruits. However, in omnivorous lizards, they only need a small portion of fruits to complement their meal. 

In most cases, omnivorous lizards only require 10% of fruits in their diet. Therefore, you should only offer fruits to lizards as a treat. 

Lizards can eat a variety of fruits. Luckily, most of the fruits that lizards feed on are available in our homes. They include apples, Fig, Papaya strawberries, mangos, pomegranate, plums, raspberries, and kiwi.

Most of those fruits differ in taste. It is necessary to try feeding them all to your lizard until you know which your lizard likes most.

What do wild lizards eat?

What Do Wild Lizards Eat?
What Do Wild Lizards Eat?

Like we said earlier, lizards feed on different diets depending on the species and what is available in their natural habitat. 

Each species has a different feeding habitat. However, we can divide those species into four different categories. These include:

Herbivorous 

This group only consists of at least 3% species of lizards. In the wild, herbivorous lizards feed on the most available plants in their habitats.

Since most lizards are desert animals, those lizards tend to feed on cactus. Some of those herbivorous lizards include spiny-tailed agamid, chuckwallas, and iguanas.

Insectivorous 

These are lizards that eat 90% of insects. They include geckos, chameleons, alligators, and horned lizards. 

They eat grasshoppers, butter worms, mealworms, crickets, among other small insects. 

Omnivorous lizards 

The largest group of lizards is omnivorous. These are lizards that feed on meat, insects, plants, and fruits. Some of these omnivorous lizards include bearded dragons, blue tongue skinks, race runners, and whiptails. In the wild, they feed on grasshoppers, worms, rodents, fruits, and plants.

Carnivorous lizards 

This group consists of some of the largest species of lizards. They include komodo dragons that can eat massive beasts, snakes, and other small animals.

How Do Lizards Get Their Food?

How Do Lizards Get Their Food?
How Do Lizards Get Their Food?

Lizards use different methods to get their food in the wild. Some of these methods include:

Senses 

Most of the lizards that use sense to acquire food in the wild have large eyes. It is because their reasons come from the eyesight, that they use to spot the potential prey.

An excellent example of those lizards is geckos. Those lizards tend to stay still until they spot the prey. 

Venom

What comes through your mind when you hear the word “venom”? Venom is mostly associated with poison. However, in lizards, they may have poison, to temporarily paralyze their prey, but not to kill.  

Venomous lizards use their venom to attack their prey, but the poison can not kill their prey, and neither can it be harmful to humans. There are about 1000 species of those venomous lizards.

Thermoregulation

Lizards being ectotherms, they rely on ambient temperature to warm their bodies. When they stay still as they bask in their sun, they acquire energy from the sun that helps them attack their prey when it’s time. 

Camouflage

It is another tactic that lizards use to acquire food in the wild. It is the method by which the lizards hide until the prey gets closer enough.

In those cases, their color helps them to hide from the prey. For instance, chameleons can change their colors to match their surroundings, while other lizards resemble their natural habitats.

Now that we have looked at ways that lizards use to hunt their food in the wild let’s now see what lizards eat in captivity.

What Do Lizards Eat in Captivity?

What Do Lizards Eat In Captivity?
What Do Lizards Eat In Captivity?

If you would love to have reptile pets, lizards are probably the most favorable since they require minimum care and attention. 

Even so, not all lizards make good pets. Therefore, it is critical to do your research properly before deciding on the most suitable pet lizard for you.

Some of the most popular lizard pets are blue tongue skinks, iguanas, bearded dragons, geckos, and chameleons. 

When you compare most pet lizard’s diets, it’s natural that most of them have a typical diet which is insects. Crickets are a conventional diet for most lizards in captivity and also in the wild.

Even though not all of them make perfect insectivorous, they all tend to feed on insects as part of their diet. 

In captivity, adding leafy greens to your lizard’s diet is critical to complement their diet. Before deciding on the best food for your pet lizard, it is crucial to research the best daily diet for your specific type of species.

The easiest way to understand lizard’s diet is by concentrating on the commonly known species diet individually.

In this part, we will discuss some of the commonly domesticated pet diets in captivity.

Iguana 

Iguanas comprise a small group of lizards that are sparsely spread around the wild. They are large and have a long tail and a spine along the back.

They belong in the Iguanidae family, and there are about 35 separate species in this family. They are commonly found in areas with high humidity such as South America, the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico. 

Vegetables 

Unlike most other lizards, iguanas are herbivorous animals and tend to feed on plant matters mostly. These include leaves, fruits, flowers, and roots.  

It is wise to feed iguanas 80-90% dark green leafy vegetables and a small portion of about 10-20% fruits in captivity.  

Those dark leafy vegetables include broccoli, parsley, bell peppers, kales, green beans, and alfalfa hay.

Even though so, some green leafy vegetables such as kales and mustard greens contain goitrogens. Thus, you should never feed your iguana excessive amounts of those as they can lead to hypothyroidism. 

Fruits are also part of iguana’s diet in captivity. However, they only require 10-20% of fruits, and thus, you should only offer fruits to iguanas as a treat. 

Some of the most suitable fruits to feed iguanas in captivity include apples, guavas, kiwis, grapes, bananas with leaves, and raspberries.

Vitamins and Minerals 

You should ensure that you offer your iguana more calcium than phosphorus. To be on the safe side with your iguana, you should sprinkle calcium and vitamin minerals in your pet’s food at least 2-3 times a week.

Too much of vitamin D3 can be harmful to iguanas, and thus it is critical to offer the specific recommendation by your vet.

Freshwater

You should always include a clean water bowl in your iguana’s enclosure. It is to ensure that your pet has enough water to drink and soak every time it needs to. Iguanas are tropical animals. Thus, they need to mist their bodies frequently to stay in good health.

Blue Tongue skinks

Blue Tongue skinks are another popularly domesticated lizard. They are large-bodied and have a long tail. 

They belong to the Sciniadiae family.

Blue Tongue skinks are diurnal, and ground-foraging animals. They are widely spread in Australia, New Guinea, and one species in Tasmania. 

They are omnivorous animals that feed on vegetables, insects, meat, and fruits. In captivity, you must ensure that you feed them 50% of the plants, 40% protein, and 10% fruits.

Vegetables 

Some of the food that you can feed your blue tongue skink in captivity includes carrots, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, among other green leafy.

Proteins 

For proteins, you can feed your blue tongue skink with insects, worms, chicken, eggs, dogs, and cat food, among others. 

Fruits 

Blue Tongue skinks require only 10% of fruits. Thus, it is advisable to offer them fruits only as a treat. Some of the best fruits to feed a blue tongue skink include apples, kiwis, guavas, mangos, papayas, and blueberries.

 You should always avoid citrus, avocado, Rhubarb, eggplant, high sodium canned meats, and any other food that has a high phosphorus than calcium food.

Minerals and supplements

It is critical to brush up your blue tongue skink with calcium minerals and vitamin D3 supplements at least once a week. 

However, if you are feeding your blue tongue skink with a balanced diet and offering adequate basking spots, it might not be necessary to add mineral supplements. If you are not sure if they are getting sufficient calcium and vitamins, there’s no harm in brushing up their food with the supplements. 

Water

You should always include a water bowl in your blue tongue skink cage to ensure it has enough to drink and soak in when need be. Blue Tongue skinks tend to soak in the water during the shedding period to ease the shedding process.

What Do House Lizards (Geckos) Eat?

What Do House Lizards (Geckos) Eat?
What Do House Lizards (Geckos) Eat?

Common house lizards are insectivorous. Thus, they will naturally eat insects like spiders, mosquitos, snails, caterpillars, and other crawling insects.

House lizards are useful for controlling harmful insects like flies and mosquitoes around your home.

House lizards tend to eat smaller insects. Even though lizards are harmless to humans, they can sometimes ingest harmful insects that can make their stool contain viruses or diseases. 

Common House Geckos

House geckos are commonly found around human habitation. You can catch them climbing the walls inside your house or even on the fence. Typical house geckos are highly likely to feed on small insects around your home.

Let’s look at what house lizard’s diet consists of while around your house.

Flying insects

Lizards like to hunt flying insects, thanks to their ability to climb the walls. They can catch flies, mosquitoes, and other flying insects that love to fly around the lighting sources. 

Thus, house lizards are useful in your household to prevent insect infestation. But, they can also cause damage if they unexpectedly fall or get into electrical wiring.

They also drop their poop anywhere, and that can cause diseases, especially if they were infected and drop the poop in your food or drinking water.

Fruits and Plants

Lizards feed on plants and fruits as well. Thus, it is very likely for a house lizard to nibble your tomatoes, apples, or any other fruit they may  find around.

When a lizard bites your fruits, they quickly get spoiled, and if you consume them without knowing, sometimes they can cause you food poisoning or be contaminated with salmonella bacteria.

Fruits are vital for nourishing lizards and hydrating them. However, unless you are petting the lizards, I don’t think you would like them to nibble your fruits. Therefore, you should always store your grains in the fridge to prevent those unpleasant moments.

Water

Just like any other reptiles, water is another vital need for house lizards. For most reptiles and amphibians, their body weight consists of at least two-thirds of water. Thus, they must have a source of water to survive.

Therefore, if you want to eradicate house geckos from your home, it is necessary to ensure that there is no available water to drink. However, if you’re going to encourage them into your house, you can leave some water for them to drink.

Tokay Gecko

Tokay geckos are among the largest gecko species. They are widely spread in South and Southeast Asia. They mostly live among humans and eliminate harmful insects.

Tokay gecko’s diet includes invertebrates such as grasshoppers, cockroaches, termites, moths, locusts, crickets, and mosquitos.

Tokay geckos can also eat mice, small rats, and snakes. They are nocturnal hunters who wait for their prey to come around. 

Tokay geckos thrive in captivity. And, humans use them to control harmful insects and pests around their homes.

In captivity, you can feed your Tokay geckos with crickets, cockroaches, mealworms, small rats, and mice.

Even so, it is critical to add calcium and vitamin supplements to their diet. You should feed a Tokay gecko at least once every day for adults and feed babies every day. 

You can brush their food with calcium supplements at least three times a week and vitamins once a week.

You should also add a water bowl in their tank even though Tokay would prefer drinking lap water sprayed onto foliage. 

Conclusion 

Lizards being the largest group with more than 5000 species worldwide, it is difficult to categorize them in one group. However, they fall into four major categories when it comes to their diet. These include herbivorous, carnivorous, insectivorous, and omnivorous.

In the wild, lizard’s diets vary depending on species, size, and what is available in their habitat. Thus, their food revolves around insects, plants, eggs, meat, and fruits.

If you would like to keep a lizard for a pet, it is advisable to do your research correctly individually on the type of lizard you want. Lizards come in different colors, sizes, characteristics, and even temperaments.

Therefore, before hitting the road to purchase yourself a pet lizard, make sure you know what your specific lizard needs to thrive in captivity. 

Lizard Looking for Food

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