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.
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.
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.