It’s safe to say that reptiles are very different from humans. Reptiles have scales, are cold-blooded, and have fascinating diets. Reptiles can be herbivores, omnivores, carnivores, or insectivores.
Additionally, some reptiles eat multiple times throughout the day while other species might only eat once or twice a week. If you’re looking for a pet or just interesting animal facts, it might benefit you to learn about reptiles that eat way less than we do!
So, what are some reptiles that don’t eat often?
In the reptile world, there are some extreme cases of animals like crocodiles, tortoises, and snakes that can go for months without food. There are also a good number of pets that don’t eat often like tegus, ball pythons, and monitor lizards! Some of these reptiles only need to be fed once a week.
In this article, we’ll discuss why some animals can go for so long without food. We’ll talk about the most extreme reptiles that can go for ridiculous amounts of time without food, and lastly, we’ll touch on which pet reptiles need to be fed the least and if they’re easy to keep.
What Affects How Often A Reptile Should Eat?
There are a few factors that might affect how often an animal needs to eat. In general, reptiles need to eat less often than other animals. Reptiles are cold-blooded which means they get energy and warmth from external factors. Reptiles don’t burn energy internally to stay warm and just have lower metabolisms in general.
However, there’s still a wide variation among reptiles in diets and food consumption!
One thing that changes how much food a reptile needs is its size.
It’s pretty obvious that larger animals usually need to eat more food than smaller animals. But, larger animals may not need to eat as often as smaller animals. Small animals have high metabolisms and low body fat and muscle mass percentages. They need to constantly refuel their bodies. Large animals have fat and muscle stores, and because they’re large, their metabolism might be slower and they may not need food as often.
Even though a meal for a big reptile will be larger, it won’t need to eat as regularly as a small one.
Age is an important factor when calculating how often a reptile needs to eat.
Growing reptiles need to eat way more frequently than adults. Reptiles that are growing still need good nutrition so that they can build strong bodies. Juvenile reptiles usually need to eat at least once a day, while adults of the same species might only need to eat every 2-3 days. So, a young reptile will always eat more often than an adult!
If you do get a pet reptile as a baby, you’ll need to make sure to check the feeding requirements for their life stage as they’ll vary greatly from the feeding requirements for an adult!
The species is the biggest factor in deciding how often a reptile eats.
There are so many different species of reptiles out there. A reptile’s species also designates what they eat and how often they’ll eat it. Leopard geckos are insectivorous pets that eat small meals often. On the other hand, corn snakes might eat one huge rat and then not need feeding for another 10 days.
The species has a lot to do with how much food a reptile needs to survive and thrive.
4. Environmental Conditions
A reptile’s environment is so important to them maintaining a healthy and functional body. Temperature, lighting, and humidity all play into how much food a reptile will eat.
If you have the wrong lights in your reptile’s enclosure, they may become sleep deprived and their appetite might change. If your reptile’s enclosure is too hot or cold, it won’t eat as readily as it normally would. The same is true for humidity and any environment too dry or too humid will make your pet feel sick.
Of course, pets that don’t feel great will often eat less food than they should and may become severely anorexic as a result of a bad setup.
4 Reptiles That Don’t Eat Often
In nature, there are some amazing examples of reptiles that don’t need to eat often. Reptiles are built to survive in tough conditions, and not needing food is a big help for survival. Most of the reptiles below aren’t kept as pets, but our first choice is!
1. Ball Python
Ball pythons and some other species of snakes can go for months without a meal. It’s estimated that ball pythons in the wild can go for up to 6 months without any food! How do they do this? Ball pythons can lower their metabolic rates so that they expend almost no energy while waiting for their next meal. Amazing!
Ball pythons are commonly kept as pets, and we’ll discuss them again later, but please don’t make your pet go without food for months even though they can survive it!
2. Galapagos Tortoise
Galapagos tortoises are huge reptiles that are rumored to be able to go a whole entire year without food. One of the main reasons why these tortoises can do this is their large internal water storage. They’re built to thrive on long hot desert days without water. Galapagos tortoises, like ball pythons, can also lower their metabolisms and spend less energy in between meals.
Galapagos tortoises are considered to be endangered and aren’t kept as pets.
3. Burrowing frog
Have you ever heard of torpor before? Well, burrowing frogs are amphibians (sorry not a reptile) that use torpor to go for up to a year without food! Torpor is a state similar to hibernation where animals’ bodies shut down metabolically. In a pinch, burrowing frogs can bury themselves in the mud and disappear for years.
During this time of disappearance, the frog’s heart rate slows tremendously and they don’t need to eat at all! Burrowing frogs aren’t often kept as pets but can be found in many regions around the world.
Crocodiles are the largest reptiles in existence and are also the reptiles that can go the longest without food! It’s been estimated that crocodiles can go up to a whole year without a meal, and in some cases even longer than that.
In these extreme cases, crocodiles become motionless and conserve insane amounts of energy. Crocodiles usually go a long time in between meals since their meals tend to be very large prey items.
It goes without saying that crocodiles aren’t kept as pets, but it’s interesting to think of these beasts as reptiles that can survive for so long without any sustenance!
6 Pet Reptiles That Don’t Need To Be Fed Every Day
Now that we’ve discussed some of the wild reptiles that can go the longest without food, we’ll talk about pets.
There are definitely benefits to having a pet that doesn’t eat often. You won’t need to think about or prepare meals daily for them. Since they don’t eat often, they’ll also defecate less often, meaning less smell and easier cleanup overall. Despite these perks, not all of the reptiles below are suitable for beginner keepers.
1. Corn Snake
Corn snakes are a species of diurnal snakes that make great pets to observe during the day. Corn snakes are common pets and generally gentle in their disposition. Corn snakes can grow to be extremely large with some growing longer in length than a human’s body! Corn snakes don’t eat often and only need a meal about once every 7 – 10 days. Extra large adult corn snakes may even go up to 2 weeks without a meal.
If you do decide to adopt a corn snake, be warned. Even though they won’t poop often, colubrid poop is rumored to be the smelliest, so you’ll want to be quick with the clean-up on feeding days!
2. Savannah Monitor
Savvanah monitors are large carnivorous lizards that are commonly kept as pets. These monitors have a similar build to a tegu and can grow to be 4 feet in length. Despite their size, savannah monitors only need to eat 1-3 times a week depending on their size and body condition.
Because savannah monitors are carnivores, the bulk of their diet should be made up of whole animal protein. This means that you’ll need to feed mice, rats, chicks, and fish to this reptile.
3. California Kingsnake
California kingsnakes are beautiful pet snakes that have bands of color running along their entire bodies. These snakes are popular pets and make good starter snakes.
One of the coolest things about California kingsnakes is that they only need to be fed once every 10-14 days. That means, in theory, your pet may only need to be fed twice a month. In the wild, these snakes can go for months without a meal.
If you do end up with a California kingsnake, don’t be surprised if you find them eating more than just their food. These snakes are one of the many species of reptiles that will eat their sheds while in captivity.
4. Argentine Tegu
Tegus have an impressively diverse diet and can be considered true omnivores. In the wild, tegus eat anything from flowers to eggs and to small birds if they can catch them!
In captivity, you’ll be able to provide your tegu with larger more nutritious meals than they would normally find on their own, and most importantly tegus only need to be fed every 2 -3 days.
Argentine tegus can get quite large in size and need plenty of space to roam. With the right resources, these lizards can make very lovable pets!
5. Ball Python
Earlier, we mentioned that ball pythons are one of the species that can go for 6 months without eating food. However, you’ll want to feed your ball python more often than that. Ball pythons typically need to be fed every 1 – 2 weeks. Ball pythons make great beginner pets not only because of their feeding schedule but also because of their disposition.
Ball pythons are one of the easiest reptiles to handle. Instead of attacking or biting, ball pythons choose to curl up into a tight ball. It’s where they get their name from! So, if you’re new to handling and looking for a pet that doesn’t eat often, a ball python may be the best choice for you!
6. Rosy Boa
Rosy boas are the last pet on our list of pet reptiles that don’t eat often. Rosy boas only need to be fed about once a week and can survive without food for a couple of weeks. In the wild, these snakes eat small rodents and other mammals. In captivity, it’s perfectly acceptable to feed them a diet of mice and small rats depending on their size.
Because of their biology, there are tons of reptiles that don’t eat often. Snakes certainly seem to have the slowest metabolic rates overall and are capable of digesting huge amounts of food all at once. However, some larger lizards can go for an incredible amount of time without food in the wild.
Just because an animal can survive a long time without food doesn’t mean that it should. If you do have a pet reptile, you should always make sure to feed it the recommended amount and frequency for the species.