What Do Baby Lizards Eat? Tips for Feeding Newborns and Juveniles

Updated: September 26, 2021 by Jennifer Munsell

what do baby lizards eat

If you own one or have them in your garden, you may be wondering: what do baby lizards eat? Almost all species of lizards are omnivores, meaning they eat a combination of meat and plants. Baby lizards will usually eat the same things as adult lizards but in different quantities.

Baby lizards, or hatchlings, must eat several times per day. They have fast metabolisms and are growing rapidly, so they need a lot of energy to develop their organs, muscles, and skeleton properly.

As you might have guessed, a baby lizard’s food needs to be baby-lizard-sized. While they will generally eat the same variety of food as their adult versions, the food has to be small enough for them to eat without causing digestion problems like impaction. As a general rule, food should be no larger than the width of the space between the lizard’s eyes.

What Do Baby Lizards Eat?

The main four diet categories include herbivores, omnivores, carnivores, and insectivores. If you are keeping captive baby lizards or even just occasionally feeding the ones in your backyard,you will need to find out what category they fall into to determine their dietary requirements.


A herbivorous diet consists only of plant matter. Herbivorous lizards do not eat any meat or insects. If they are fed meat or insects, they can cause digestion problems because their digestive systems are not equipped with the right enzymes needed to break down meat.

Herbivorous lizards only make up about 3% of the total lizard population.

Well-loved herbivorous lizards that make great pets include the green iguana, chuckwallas, the uromastyx, and the Solomon island skink. These lizards eat a strictly plant-based diet and do not eat meat during any stage of their lives.

It is still important to remember that herbivorous lizards need calcium in their diet. They can get calcium from some of the plant matter they eat, but an additional calcium supplement is recommended to prevent calcium deficiency.

Fluker's Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3 - 4oz.

Phosphorus and calcium are two of the most important minerals to monitor in your herbivorous baby lizard’s diet. Too much phosphorus will disrupt your baby lizard’s ability to absorb calcium,  which will lead to metabolic bone disease and other growth and development issues.

As a general rule of thumb, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in a baby lizard’s diet should be at least 1.5 to 2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus (1.5-2:1), with an even higher ratio of calcium being ideal (3:1 or even 4:1, for example).

Always rinse any vegetables, greens, flowers, and fruits you intend to feed to a baby lizard thoroughly. They may be coated in pesticides, wax, or insecticides toxic to animals.

Vegetables and greens should make up the majority of your baby lizard’s diet. They are highly nutritious, whereas fruit offers little nutrition with an unhealthy amount of sugar. For most herbivorous baby lizards, the proportion of foods in their diet should roughly be as follows:

45% greens : 40% other vegetables : 15% salad, flowers, fruit.

However, this ratio can vary slightly depending on the species of your lizard.


A herbivorous baby lizard needs to eat greens that are low in phosphorus yet high in calcium. Good high calcium, low phosphorus greens include:

  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Alfalfa
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Turnip tops
  • Escarole

Make sure the greens are chopped up well, especially if they have fibrous stems. The pieces should be no larger the width of the space between your lizard’s eyes. If there are tough stems in the greens, make sure to remove them completely.

Cooking your veggies and greens removes nutrients from them that are vital to your baby lizard. However, always having fresh greens and veg can be difficult. Using frozen veggies and greens is acceptable; just let them thaw out in the fridge first and avoid applying heat to them.

Other Safe Vegetables

In addition to leafy greens, there are many other delicious, nutritious vegetables that are exciting for your baby lizard to eat, as they vary in color, texture, and flavor.

Starchy vegetables, for example, contain lots of nutrients as well as enough starch to keep your baby lizard’s digestive tract clean and their bowel movements regular. Good starchy vegetables to offer your baby lizard include:

  • Zucchini
  • Butternut squash
  • Yellow squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Parsnips

Other great veggies to consider are peas, bell peppers, and carrots. They are brightly colored, which is stimulating to your baby lizard, and they offer diverse nutrition.

Always chop up your veggies into appropriate sizes and wash them thoroughly before feeding. The pieces should be smaller than the width of the space between the lizard’s eyes. If the pieces are too big, they will either go uneaten, cause your baby lizard to choke, or block their digestive tract and cause impaction.


Many wild lizards, such as green iguanas, for example, will often eat flowers. They are colorful and have many unique tastes and textures. Some safe flowers you can give to a herbivorous baby lizard include:

  • Clover
  • Geranium
  • Hibiscus
  • Dandelions
  • Dahlia blooms
  • Zucchini flowers
  • Pansies
  • Rose petals
  • Carnations

Flowers offer some nutrients to your baby lizard but not as much as dark greens or other vegetables listed above. They should be mainly used to add a bit of dietary variation a couple times per week and fed in small amounts rather than as a staple food.

Do not pick flowers from your garden for your baby lizard without knowing exactly what they are. Always rinse your flowers carefully to remove any insecticides, wax, or pesticides they may have on them.


Fruits are delicious, though they are full of sugar and not nearly as nutritious as greens and other vegetables. Generally, they should only be given to your herbivorous baby lizard as an occasional treat item once or twice per week in small amounts.

After you have fed your baby lizard fruit, make sure to feed them something starchy or fibrous to help clean any leftover fruit from between their teeth. If the fruit is allowed to remain there and fed to the lizard too often, it can build up and rot, which will lead to dental problems for your baby lizard.

Some safe fruit options include:

  • Watermelon
  • Apples
  • Mangoes
  • Plums
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwis
  • Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Apricots

Always remove seeds, stones, and pips. If they are ingested, they will lead to choking or impaction.

Vegetables and Other Plants to Avoid

While there exists a wide range of great vegetables and other plants ideal for herbivorous baby lizards, there are also many you should avoid.

For example, some vegetables are not particularly nutritious because they are made up of mostly water. While your lizard needs adequate hydration, too much water in their diet can cause runny stools and upset stomachs.

Watery, light lettuces such as iceberg lettuce offer almost zero nutritional value to your baby lizard. Slightly darker lettuces such as romaine, Boston, or red leaf lettuces are okay in small portions, though they are not suitable as staple veggies.

Peeled cucumber is another vegetable made up of mostly water that can be given to your baby lizard in very small, occasional quantities. They are very hydrating but do not offer much else in the way of nutrition.

Plants high in glucosinolates such as bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts should also be avoided, as they interfere with your baby lizard’s thyroid functions.

Additionally, fruits and veggies high in oxalates should be avoided. These include:

  • Beets
  • Cilantro
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard

Oxalates, also known as oxalic acid, can interfere with your lizard’s ability to properly absorb calcium.

Plants containing large amounts of phytates such as legumes and grains should not be offered to your baby lizard often. Similar to oxalates, phytates bind to calcium and prevent absorption.

Fresh tomatoes that have had the seeds removed can be given to your baby lizard. They are safe for most herbivorous lizards in small portions. However, too much tomato can be too acidic for your baby lizard, so only offer it as an occasional treat if they have developed a taste for it.

Finally, there are a few foods to avoid at all costs, as they are not just healthy but toxic to herbivorous lizards. Citrus fruits, for example, are high in citric acid, which is damaging to your lizard’s teeth and digestive tract. Additionally, onions, garlic, and avocados are highly toxic to most lizards.


Omnivores make up a large portion of the lizard population. Omnivores eat plant matter as well as meat items like insects and other small prey animals. For the plant portion of their diet, simply refer to the information in the herbivore section of this guide above.

Omnivorous baby lizards’ diets are typically made up of around 70% meat and 30% plant matter. As they grow older, they need less protein to fuel their growth and healthy development of bones, organs, and muscles so they will gradually need less meat and more plants.

Common omnivorous pet lizards include bearded dragons, plated lizards, and blue and pink tongue skins, night anoles, whiptails, and water dragons.

Depending on their species, the protein portion of their diet can be made up of insects or animal meat. For example, bearded dragons tend to eat mostly insects, while tegus eat larger animals like mice and fish.


What do baby lizards eat if they’re carnivores?

Alligator monitors and tegus are the main carnivorous baby lizards that are kept as pets, though many others exist in the wild. Some lizards start their lives out as carnivores and later transition to omnivores.

What Do Baby Lizards Eat? Tips for Feeding Newborns and Juveniles

Animal meat sources for carnivorous baby lizards include:

  • Eggs (quail or other small eggs)
  • Chunks of beef or chicken with no bone in them
  • Chicken hearts
  • Chicken necks and giblets
  • Feeder fish
  • Mice
  • Rats

Baby lizards that are carnivores need small meat items that are easy to digest. Rat pinkies or small mice that are not larger than your baby lizard’s head are good sources of animal protein. Make sure all meat sources are dead, as live prey can fight back and hurt your baby lizard.

Always make sure to get your meat items from a reputable source. Mice and rats can often contain harmful internal parasites or be contaminated with external parasites such as ticks and mites that are harmful to baby lizards.

Always remove any uneaten meat from your lizard’s enclosure after a feeding session, as over time, the meat will start to rot and become poisonous to your baby lizard.


Insectivores like skinks (except blue and pink tongue skinks), alligator lizards, chameleons, leopard geckos, and brown and green anoles only eat insects.

There are many different kinds of nutritious insects to choose from. When you are feeding your baby lizard insects, it is important to keep in mind the size of the prey versus the size of the lizard, as well as the fat content of the prey and how difficult it will be for them to eat.

Insects should, like any other foods, be smaller than the width of the space between the lizard’s eyes. Good sources of insect protein include:

  • Crickets
  • Small Dubia roaches
  • Superworms
  • Mealworms
  • Silkworms
  • Phoenix worms (black soldier fly larvae)
  • Earthworms

Waxworms and butterworms are wonderful treat items but should be a restricted part of their diet. They are very fatty, and feeding your lizard too many of them can lead to obesity and organ failure.

The size of the prey item needs to match the size of the baby lizard. Very small prey items such as mealworms are ideal for smaller lizards. However, feeding large insects like full-sized dubia roaches to a baby lizard will lead to impaction, choking, or a refusal to eat at all.

Never feed your lizard insects from your garden, as you do not know what parasites they are carrying. Always get your insects from a reputable source.

Avoid ticks, butterflies, caterpillars, and any insect that glows, as they are toxic to most lizards.

What Do Baby Lizards Drink?

All baby lizards drink water, regardless of if they are carnivorous, insectivorous, omnivorous, or herbivorous.

They should always have access to a clean, freshwater dish every day. Their water must be refreshed daily, and their water bowl should be cleaned well to prevent bacterial growth.

FAQs on Baby Lizard Diet

Do baby lizards drink milk?

Lizards are reptiles and do not drink milk like newborn mammals do. Baby lizards should have access to fresh water every day.

Will my baby lizard survive without its mother?

Most species of lizards are very independent as babies and do not need their parents to survive. They eat the same things as their adult counterparts and live mostly the same way, except on a much smaller scale.

What is considered a baby lizard?

A baby lizard is also called a hatchling. They are considered hatchlings or babies from the time they hatch to about two months old. Juvenile lizards are two to six months old. Sub-adults are roughly six to 12 months old, while adults are 12 months and up.

Can baby lizards eat meat?

Some can! It depends on what species the lizard is, but many baby lizards eat protein sources like insects right from birth.

What do I feed the lizards in my garden?

You can put out some veggies, salad, fruit, waxworms, and safe plants that they won’t find in your garden out for them. Keep an eye on what is being eaten and remove what is left behind so it does not rot and become toxic.

Do I have to feed my baby lizard insects?

If they are an insectivorous or omnivorous species, then yes. Non-herbivorous baby lizards need a consistent source of insect protein to support their growth. Most baby lizards eat a variety of insects like crickets, worms, and roaches.

What is the best vegetarian lizard?

The green iguana is one of many 100% vegetarian lizards, and it makes a fantastic pet if you’re willing to dedicate the time and space to caring for such a large lizard. There are other species of lizards that are herbivores that make good pets such as chuckwallas, uromastyxs, and Solomon island skinks.

With Full Tummies, We Say Goodbye!

Baby lizard food is very diverse and should always be exciting and stimulating to eat. By offering your baby lizard a diverse, balanced, and stimulating diet, you can help extend their lifespan and keep them as happy and healthy as can be.

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