Home | Reptile and Amphibian Health | Reptile Gardens – Growing Food Plants and Attracting Insects for Your Pets – Part 2

Reptile Gardens – Growing Food Plants and Attracting Insects for Your Pets – Part 2

Please see Part I of this article for information regarding specific types of reptiles and the growing of native plants.

Nearly all fruits and berries, and many flowers and grasses, can be put to good use in feeding tortoises, herbivorous lizards, and certain aquatic turtles.  Try also adding grass clumps and leafy branches to your insectivorous pets’ terrariums…frogs, day geckos and others will enjoy poking through them in search of tasty insects.

Fruit Trees and Bushes

Apple and Crab Apple





Most berries, including natives such as elderberry and juniper











Seeds, Grains and Grasses


Canary Grass



Seeds of most native grasses (“weeds”)

Pond Plants

A small pond, or even an unfiltered, water-filled container set out in a sunny location, will support duckweed, Anachris and other hearty aquatic plants, many of which are important natural foods for aquatic turtles.  Keep a few minnows in the pond to consume mosquito larvae.

You can also easily (almost too easily!) grow water hyacinth and water lettuce – both look great in terrariums housing frogs, newts and small turtles.  They require very bright light, but you can always rotate individual plants back out to the pond, where they will perk up very quickly.

Next time I’ll highlight some interesting insect visitors that you can expect in your reptile garden.

Further Reading

Fruit and other trees attract cicadas…a mixed blessing for “real gardeners” but a bonanza for herp enthusiasts.  For my take on using these chunky summer songsters as reptile food, please see Cicadas, an End of Summer Treat.


  1. avatar

    Hello Frank,

    Just giving you a heads up that these articles are great! This particular info is tricky to come by, and it often differs depending on what animal(human, bird, tortoise, chameleon…what is safe for isn’t necessarily safe for others, and some plants are ok in small quantities) you are talking of.


    • avatar

      Hello Joseph, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks very much for the kind words. Yes, it is a complicated subject…I’ll post updates from time to time.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar

    I am building a terrarium for my grey tree frogs and I am not sure that the pond plants that are not poisonous to frogs. I have water lettuce, zanthedeschia aethiopica, myrio phyllum and “Curly Wurly” juncus rush grass. On the banks I want creeping jenny and peacock ferns. Is there are place to look up this information? Thank you for your help. I can’t wait to move my frogs into a better home!

    • avatar

      Hello Jules, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      None of the plants you mention will be a problem in and of themselves (toxicity is mainly a concern for herbivorous reptiles, which will eat the plants). However, insecticides that may have been sprayed on plants can linger and kill frogs. Try to purchase or collect your plants from pesticide free environments. Washing the plant well, and discarding the soil, is sufficient to remove surface chemicals. Certain insecticides are injected into plants…this is not common, but if you have any doubts then keep the plant isolated for 1 month, then wash well.

      Perhaps you might enjoy my article How a Herpetologist Keeps Barking and Gray Treefrogs.

      Good luck and enjoy…sounds like a nice project. Please keep me posted and feel free to send a photo if time permits.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

Read other posts by

Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
Scroll To Top