Pet lizards have different needs compared to your regular, non-exotic pets, including in terms of feeding. If you didn’t know already, baby lizards also have slightly different eating habits and needs than adults, which is what we will discuss today.
In today’s article, we will discuss the most popular lizards in the industry and assess their nutritional needs and eating habits before reaching adulthood. So, let’s get to it.
Diet of Popular Pet Baby Lizards
Pet baby lizards consume the same foods as adults, with slight differences depending on the species and the animal’s age. In essence, baby lizards have faster metabolic rates, so they require more frequent feeding. They also need a more diverse diet, given their predisposition towards nutrient deficiencies which are common in young lizards.
With this in mind, let’s see how you should feed your baby lizards properly based on species:
Baby leopard geckos demand a variety of insects and worms for proper nutrient intake. Good options include crickets, isopods, roaches, silkworms, black soldier fly larvae, etc. These should be a normal part of your baby gecko’s diet thanks to their high calcium content.
However, some of them need to be gut-loaded due to not containing sufficient calcium. Such is the case with crickets and mealworms. Waxworms, butterworms, superworms, and chopped giant mealworms are only recommended if your baby gecko is sick and requires to gain size fast. These worms are more fat-rich, so only feed them to your baby reptiles sparingly.
Bearded dragon babies have voracious appetites, which is why they generally eat at least 2-3 times per day. Crickets are the food of choice, although they also consume a variety of other insects and worms. However, all these insects need to be gut-loaded and dusted. Bearded dragons are notorious for calcium deficiency in the early phases of their lives.
You may need to supplement your dragon’s diet with calcium and vitamin D3 and make sure you introduce fresh greens and other veggies early on. These will provide the dragon with the necessary nutrients it needs to grow fast and healthy.
Keep in mind that the normal diet of an adult bearded dragon consists of 30% animal protein and fat and 70% veggies, primarily greens. Baby dragons need to eat more animal protein overall and require more frequent feeding than adults. This is appropriate because bearded dragons typically reach their adult size within a year or slightly more.
Crested gecko babies require approximately 1-2 meals per day during their juvenile phase. They consume primarily insects and fruits and require more animal protein and fat during their first months of life. Fruits are also necessary for the plus of fibers to ease digestion.
Crested geckos are particularly sensitive to calcium deficiency because they often display weak bone density. Gut loading and dusting their live food with calcium and D3 is necessary to prevent calcium deficiency and Metabolic Bone Disease.
Also, keep your crested gecko babies active by feeding them live insects. Feeder insects are great choices, as they allow the geckos to hunt them.
Please note that geckos are particularly prone to compaction due to ingesting food items larger than their esophagus. To prevent this, always consider the size of the feeder insects. The ideal insect should be no larger than the distance between the gecko’s eyes. The same metric applies to adult geckos as well.
Iguanas are herbivorous animals, so they only consume veggies, greens, and some fruits, no meat. Fortunately, iguana babies have similar dietary requirements to adults. Diversity is key, as you need to provide your exotic lizards with multiple types of veggies. These include celery, green beans, turnip tops, coriander, and pumpkin, to name a few.
Some good fruits include pears, apples, tomatoes, cantaloupe, figs, and papaya. Avoid foods like carrots, bananas, grapes, or lettuce. These are either too poor in nutrients or don’t contain sufficient calcium. Your iguana will fill its belly, but it’s of no use if the food doesn’t contain the proper nutrients.
Fat-tailed geckos require a diverse diet consisting of insects and worms for the most part. Crickets are a must, along with mealworms, silkworms, pinkie mice, and a variety of other insects, depending on the reptile’s preferences.
Baby geckos require crickets daily, between 4 and 5, depending on the cricket’s size and the reptile’s appetite. Juveniles past the 5-month mark need twice the amount of crickets per meal, but only 3 meals per week. Always gut load and dust the live food with calcium and other vitamins and minerals, depending on the gecko’s needs.
How to Feed Baby Lizards?
There are 3 factors to consider when feeding baby lizards:
- Meal size – Baby lizards have healthy appetites due to their faster metabolisms. So, it’s easy to overfeed them, which can lead to digestive problems and weight gain. Always learn your lizard’s requirements to prevent that. You can tell that the lizard is pretty much full if its eating excitement goes down. At that point, you can remove all food leftovers from the enclosure.
- Meal frequency – Baby lizards need more frequent feeding than adults. Depending on the species, you may need to feed your little reptile once, twice, or three times per day, give or take. Try to set up a schedule with specific feeding hours so you can track your lizard’s mealtime more accurately.
- The size of the food items – Always consider the size of the food items. Baby lizards are greedy and will attempt to eat their food even if it’s not the right size. This can lead to choking and compaction, which can cause death. The food item should be no larger than the distance between the gecko’s eyes.
What do Baby Lizards Drink?
Baby lizards drink water which they collect from the plants around them. Adult lizards hydrate themselves the same way, although some will drink water from their bowl, depending on the species. Whether they drink water from it or not, the water bowl is necessary in your lizard’s enclosure to increase air humidity.
When do Baby Lizards Start Eating?
Baby lizards begin hunting for food and eating as soon as they hatch. They have very well-developed feeding instincts, allowing them to become self-sufficient as soon as they’re out of the egg. This evolutionary advantage improves their survivability considerably.
Baby geckos remain babies for the first 2 months of their lives, after which they enter the juvenile phase. Most gecko species are considered adults when they reach the 12-month mark.
In essence, baby lizards have similar dietary requirements to adults. The only difference is that they eat more often, require smaller food items, and demand a higher nutrient concentration to support their physiological needs.
Finally, all these factors vary based on the species that the lizard belongs to. Always adapt the meal plan to your lizard’s species, age, weight, and overall dietary needs to prevent health issues and boost the pet’s growth rate and health over the years.