What DO Leopard Geckos Eat?! The Leopard Gecko, Eublepharis macularius, makes a wonderful pet for novices and advanced hobbyists alike (even after many years as a professional zookeeper, I enjoy keeping them, and wrote a book about their care). However, both sellers and buyers sometimes underestimate this delightful lizard’s needs, especially where feeding is concerned. Contrary to popular belief, vitamin-powdered crickets and mealworms do not constitute a suitable diet! If you wish your pet to live out its potential lifespan of 20-30 years in excellent health, you’ll need to provide it with as many different foods as possible. Fortunately, a surprising array of insects can be purchased online and in stores. Collecting and rearing your own insects is another excellent way to add to your gecko’s quality of life…and its great fun as well! Read More »
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Hi, Frank Indiviglio here. I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career of over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.
Although many salamanders will eagerly gobble-up crickets and mealworms, a diet restricted to these food items usually leads to nutritional disorders and reduced life-spans. This holds true even if supplements are used. A varied diet is essential if you are to have success in keeping salamanders long-term (my 32 year-old Red Salamander, 25 year-old Fire Salamanders and numerous others can attest to this!). Following are some useful tips for those seeking to vary the diets of their terrestrial salamanders. While most newts and aquatic species (Axolotls, Amphiumas) accept dry foods, they too will benefit from invertebrate meals. Please post below for detailed information on individual salamander species. As there is an endless supply of useful live foods for pet salamanders, please also post your ideas and observations.
Earthworms, Red Wigglers, Nightcrawlers (Lumbricus terrestris and relatives)
If you need to rely upon a single food item as a dietary staple for your salamanders, it should be earthworms, not crickets. I cannot recall a single salamander species that does not fare well on an earthworm-rich diet. Earthworms and their relatives reproduce rapidly when kept properly (please see article below) and can be stored for weeks under refrigeration. Their nutritional profile can be improved by a diet of leaf litter, corn meal, fish flakes and calcium powder. Read More »
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. From tiny Day Geckos to stout Water Dragons and lumbering Savanna Monitors, many popularly-kept lizards feed primarily upon live foods including insects and other invertebrates. The most important point for insectivorous lizard owners to remember (and one that my regular readers are sick of seeing!), is that crickets and mealworms alone, even if powdered with supplements, are not an adequate diet for any species. Dietary variety is essential. Fortunately, with a bit of planning, we can collect, breed or purchase a huge array of nutritious invertebrates for the lizards in our collections.
From specialists such as Horned and Caiman Lizards to Tokay Geckos and other generalists, the needs of individual species vary greatly. Please post below for specific information on the lizards in your collection.
Wild Caught Insects
I firmly believe that reptile keepers should place much more emphasis on collecting insects and other invertebrates. While caution concerning pesticides and toxic species is warranted (please see articles linked below), the risks can be managed. Some notable successes that I and colleagues have had with a variety of delicate reptiles can be credited in part to the use of wild-caught insects. Read More »
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Throughout my long career as a zookeeper and pet keeper, I have used wild caught insects to improve the diets of the amphibians, reptiles, fishes, invertebrates and birds under my care. While some cautions apply, the benefits conferred by the nutritional value of such foods far outweigh the risks involved. I have covered the collection and care of sow bugs, sap beetles, leaf litter invertebrates and many others in the articles linked below. Today I’ll discuss earwigs – common, hardy, and largely-ignored insects that have great potential as pet food. They are also extremely interesting in their own right, with females caring for their eggs and actually carrying food to the young!
Earwigs are readily accepted by a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, tarantulas, fishes, and scorpions, and provide nutrients absent from commercially-reared insects. They are quite common even in large cities, and can provide a significant amount of food for captive herps during the warmer months.
Earwigs are an ideal size (1- 1¼ inch) for both small and larger pets, and will be taken by animals ranging in size from Green Anoles to American Bullfrogs. They climb well, and quickly attract the attention of treefrogs and arboreal lizards. Despite the tough wing covers and pinchers, earwigs seem readily digestible, are not known to cause any related problems. As with crickets, earwigs should not be offered to ailing or debilitated animals, or to expectant females, as they have carnivorous tendencies. Read More »
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. I do not believe that any tortoise species can be classified as “easy-to-keep”, but several are better-suited as pets than others. I’ve covered on of these, the Russian Tortoise (Testudo horsfieldi), in an earlier article (read article here). The Greek Tortoise (T. graeca), while interesting enough for the most seasoned hobbyist, may also be the best pet tortoise, and an ideal choice for first-time keepers. Topping out at 8 inches in length, captive-bred individuals are readily available. They are as personable as any of their relatives, and decades of popularity among European keepers has left us with a good understanding of their needs. I’ll summarize these in the following article, and will also draw from my own experiences with this and related species during my long career at the Bronx Zoo.
A Note on Classification
Also known as the Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoise (not to be confused with Africa’s Spurred Tortoise, Geochelone sulcata), the Greek Tortoise is one of the smaller of the world’s 53 tortoise species.
Its taxonomy is somewhat complicated, with up to 13 subspecies being recognized. Traditionally, T. g. ibera comprised the bulk of those in the pet trade, and it remains the most widely-bred subspecies. The parent stock seems to have originated mainly from Turkey. Read More »