What do Reptiles Eat

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Reptilian dining habits vary between species with most reptiles being carnivorous. Reptiles use their teeth only to hold their prey, as opposed to chewing or tearing apart their prey as do many mammals. Some reptiles have specialized feeding habits and dine on a single type of food or prey. The North American egg-eating snake feeds on eggs, while leatherback turtles feed on jellyfish. Other species are a little less picky and dine on both plants and animals, or even insects. Whatever their preferred meal is, reptiles also vary in their means of obtaining food.

Carnivorous reptiles display quite a variance between species when securing prey. Some aquatic turtles will rapidly thrust out their neck and draw in water with their mouths, sucking in their prey. Many turtles, lizards, crocodiles and snakes will use their mouths to grab their food and chew or swallow it whole. Some carnivores prefer to subdue their prey rather than consume it alive. Venomous snakes for example will strike out and bite their prey injecting them with venom. These snakes may release their prey rather than struggle with it while the venom takes effect, they then track the dying prey using their tongue. Some snakes, such as boas and pythons, will grasp their prey then coil their body around it to kill their prey by means of suffocation. The crocodile is known to attack and eat larger prey than most other reptiles, they will stealth under the cover of water to bring down mammals drinking at the banks of a river or lake.

Many turtles and tortoises, and some lizards are herbivores and dine on plants. These reptiles obtain their food by browsing the selection of local plants, dining on the leaves and fruit. Others, such as the terrestrial green iguana and the American painted turtle, are omnivorous and dine on both plants and animals. A majority of lizards eat insects. The chameleon, for example, has a longs sticky tongue which they can project with accuracy and speed to zap up insects.

Knowing what a reptile's dietary needs are is important in maintaining a healthy life for your favorite cold-blooded pet.

More about this author: Brandi Carpo

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