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Making Your Own Nectar for Anoles, Geckos, Basilisks, Beetles and other Pets

A surprising number of largely carnivorous lizards, especially various geckos and anoles, consume sap, flower nectar and overripe fruit in the wild. Providing a substitute in captivity is a good way to increase dietary variety. Also, as many find sweet liquids irresistible, by mixing in vitamins and minerals you can help ensure a nutritious diet.

Sugar Water to Nectar Mix
Well, we’ve come a long way since the anole “sugar water days” (the recommended diet for green anoles sold at circuses in the 1960’s). Following is a mix that I and others have found useful for anoles, geckos, basilisks, skinks and others.

1 jar of fruit-based baby food (papaya, banana, apricot or mixed)
1 tablespoon of honey (alternate with molasses)
1 dropper of Avitron Bird Vitamins (although formulated for birds, Avitron is a tried and true ingredient)
1 teaspoon Repti Calcium (without D3)
Water should be added to achieve a consistency favored by the species that you keep – i.e. nearly solid for New Caledonian giant geckos, watery for Jamaican anoles.

Additional Notes
Some folks add bee pollen, which seems not to affect palatability, and may add useful nutrients.

Experiment with different flavors, as some species are quite particular. Try also adding some mashed, overripe bananas, oranges, mangos and other fruits to the mix (for giant geckos, this is a must).

Nectar for Beetles, Roaches and Moths
If you are like me and favor invertebrates as well, you’ll find this mix very useful in keeping Hercules, goliath, rhinoceros, stag and other tropical and native beetles.

Most roaches devour it eagerly. I have used this and similar mixes to quickly nutrient-load roaches destined to be fed to delicate captives, and for Cuban green and other species in zoo exhibits.

As a side note, if you enjoy observing moths, or collect them as food for your animals, try smearing a tree trunk with honey or molasses. This old insect-collector’s trick has yielded me huge, spectacular Cecropia and polyphemus moths right in the heart of New York City!

Prepared Nectar Mixes
Nectargold for Lories and Lorikeets is a highly nutritious multi-fruit nectar mix. It is supplied dry, and so can be stored until needed. Many creatures will accept it as is, or you can tweak the recipe with honey or other favorites.

Further Reading
Some anoles take nectar so regularly that they may actually function as important plant pollinators. For more information, please see the following note in Herpetological Review

Rhacodactylus leachianus image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Alfeus Liman.


  1. avatar

    Hello Frank,

    Hope this finds you well and you are having a speedy recovery!

    I’ll have to try this sometime, but one thing I found particularly interesting is that Cecropia and Polyphemus would be attracted to nectar. They don’t feed as adults as far as I know. Any ideas as to why?

    I raised some polyphemus(started with 8 cocoons, got one pairing from these, and reared 30+ larvae). When they matured I put many of them on the windowscreen in my bedroom at night(my folks were sure pleased about that) and hoped they would attract some wild males. Alas, none came, and apparently they did not feel like mating with their siblings for a second generation.

    As always, thanks for the great blog!

    • avatar

      Hello Joseph, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your kind thoughts…I’m coming along very well.

      I tried the same with Luna moths in the past! No luck, although a friend a Queens, NY did very well.

      It is indeed very strange that such moths will come to nectar. They live less than a week, and, as you say, are not known to feed (no digestive system). I kept both species in a large outdoor exhibit at the Bronx Zoo as well (many males were attracted to the females). The moths would occasionally come down to over-ripe peaches and nectar put out for other species. I had the chance to watch closely…they definitely were not feeding, at least not as other moths do. They would just rest there awhile and then move on…wishful thinking!? Next time I’ at the American Museum of Natural History I’ll stop in their live moth/butterfly exhibit and check on the keepers’ thoughts. Well, another question to keep in mind (if you have space left!).

      If you are interested in silkmoths and do not have it, try to get a copy of a book entitled, I believe (can’t put my hands on my copy right now) Wings of Majesty. Paintings of nearly every species, including all the giants – just spectacular and inexpensive on bookseller’s surplus lists a few years ago.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar

    I was wondering if there was an alternative for the Avitron, because I am having a very hard time finding it where I live. Thank you.


    • avatar

      Hello Alexas,

      You can substitute a high-quality liquid herp vitamin, such as Vita-Drops.; powdered vitamins can also be used, but when they and powdered calcium are added, some lizards do not accept the mixture as well.

      Please let me know if you need more info, best, Frank

About Frank Indiviglio

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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.
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