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Healthy treat ideas for carnivorous reptiles!

Healthy treat ideas for carnivorous reptiles!

Healthy Treat Ideas for Carnivorous Reptiles

Written by Mariah Healey,

Everyone likes to give their pet treats. Seeing our pets makes us happy, after all. But what kinds of treats are good for carnivorous reptiles? It’s not like you can go to the pet store and get a bag of shaped biscuits or jerky like you can for a dog or cat.

The good news is that you can find suitable treats for carnivores when you know what you’re looking for. Here are some nutritious treat ideas that your meat- or insect-eating pet will love:


This one may come as a surprise to you — after all, why would a carnivore be interested in something that comes from a plant? For carnivorous lizards and turtles, although their main source of nutrition is animal prey, it’s not unusual to see them eat fruit in the wild if encountered. This is because fruit is a source of vitamins (and it tastes good)!

Generally speaking, brightly-colored fruits like berries are more likely to get your pet’s attention than those that are more neutrally-colored, like apple or pear. Fruits to try with your carnivorous lizard or turtle include:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cactus fruit (prickly pear / tuna)
  • Cherries
  • Figs
  • Mango
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Fruit should never be offered frequently or in large quantities. Your pet may love fruit due to its sweet taste, but lots of sugar isn’t great for your pet’s metabolism — or their teeth. Too many fruity treats can cause health problems later down the road, so limit fruit to one small piece per month.

Vertebrate Prey

If your carnivore usually eats insects, the occasional vertebrate makes a tasty treat, as well as an opportunity for fat-soluble nutrients that are otherwise rare in an insect-based diet, such as pre-formed vitamin A (retinol). Vertebrate prey is also a great way to help a female reptile who has recently laid a clutch of eggs or given birth to recover from the demands of pregnancy.

Suitable vertebrate prey options for insectivores may include rodents, birds, or even eggs. However, beware: vertebrate prey is more calorie-dense than insects, so like fruit, offer this kind of treat sparingly or else you risk making your pet overweight!

If you want to give your carnivore a vertebrate treat, it should still be appropriately sized: no larger than your pet’s head.

“Treat” Ideas for Snakes

Snakes can be hard to treat, since they generally eat infrequently, which means that when they do eat, that meal needs to be perfectly balanced — which usually means whole prey. Snacks aren’t really a thing for snakes, and they’re unlikely to accept fruit. However, there are still ways in which you can “treat” your snake to a new sensory experience! Snakes don’t have taste buds, they do have a keen sense of smell.

One way is to offer a variety of prey in your snake’s diet, according to what’s appropriate for its species. Here are some ideas:

  • African soft-furred rats
  • Gerbils
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs
  • Rabbits
  • Chickens
  • Quail
  • Tadpoles
  • Frogs
  • Toads
  • House geckos
  • Anoles
  • Young snakes
  • Bird eggs
  • Reptile eggs

All prey should be captive-bred to minimize the risk of introducing a nasty parasite to your pet’s system.

If your snake isn’t used to a varied diet yet, it may have difficulty recognizing a new prey item as food. But don’t give up! Most snakes enjoy a highly varied diet of many different species of prey in the wild, which helps them achieve balanced nutrition. Letting your snake skip a meal or two until it’s hungry enough to consider something new is a good strategy for long-term success.

Another way you can “treat” your snake is with an enrichment activity related to its sense of smell. This can be a food puzzle, scent trail, something new to sniff (like a piece of shed skin from another one of your pets). You may even get to witness a new behavior from your snake!


Treats are a great way to build trust with reptiles because they can teach the animal to associate their human caretaker with good things. They can also be a helpful part of target training (even for snakes when you use small pieces!). Just be disciplined about how often you use them, and treats can become a fulfilling and healthy way to bond with your pet.


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