Pet Reptile Diet (Milk, cheese, cream and dairy checked out)

Reptiles have a diverse diet, with tortoises being herbivores, lizards being omnivores, and snakes are carnivores. They get most of the water from their diet but still require fluids for hydration. Therefore, depending on your reptile, you need to know which fluids are suitable for them.

So, can reptiles drink milk? Reptiles do not lactate, and you should never give them milk or its products, as their body cannot digest the lactose in milk. The only time a reptile, for instance, a snake, would drink milk, is when they are thirsty and no water is available for them. However, this is discouraged, as milk can cause bloating, diarrhea, and intestinal pain or damage your pet's digestive tract.

If you want to know whether reptiles drink milk or any of its products, this is the guide for you. We will help you understand whether reptiles can eat cheese and cream. Read through the rest of the sections to find out all the answers you need.

Can Reptiles Eat Cheese?

Reptiles do not lactate, implying that their young ones do not drink milk from infancy. This means that reptiles lack the enzymes necessary to break down lactose; hence, they are lactose intolerant, unlike mammals, who lactate their young ones. Therefore, can reptiles each cheese?

Cheese is a milk product, and you should not give it to your reptiles, as they cannot digest it. Also, in the wild, cheese does not comprise a natural part of the reptile diet. Their digestive systems are not evolved to release enzymes for breaking down the lactose and other proteins in cheese.

Thus, while cheese is rich in protein and calcium, you should avoid giving it to your reptile, as it will not benefit due to its inability to digest. Cheese is also high in fat, which is unsuitable for reptile health.

Generally, owners who feed their reptiles on cheese do so due to provide calcium and protein. However, this is wrong and damaging to your reptile's health. Cheese comprises the fat and protein parts, both of which are unhealthy for reptiles. For instance, the bearded dragon is lactose intolerant as its digestive system lacks enzymes that can break down the lactose in cheese.

Also, a beardie will not digest complex proteins in cheese, leave alone absorbing the nutrients into its system. Thus, while cheese is a highly nutritious food, giving it to your reptile is not beneficial.

On the contrary, giving your beardie cheese even in small amounts will cause adverse effects, including diarrhea and bloating. A larger amount of cheese will cause adverse effects such as impaction due to indigestion, and if you prolong feeding cheese to your beardie, its digestive tract will suffer complete damage.

In addition to digestive issues, cheese is also high in fats; hence, unsuitable for lizards. The high-fat content can cause stomach problems and kidney failure in your pet, which is fatal. Also, the calcium content in cheese is more than what your lizard requires and giving your pet this food will cause an imbalance. Hence, to meet your lizard's calcium needs, consider other foods rich in this mineral or add supplements to its diet.

While avoiding cheese, you should also avoid dairy products such as milk and limit your lizards to drinking water only. Offering cheese to your lizard with full knowledge of the above side effects is irresponsible and can kill your pet. However, if your pet accidentally swallows a piece of cheese, you should monitor its health and contact your vet in case of abnormal reactions or behavior. While monitoring it, provide its favorite treats and water to mask the side effects of cheese.

Turtles and tortoises are also lactose intolerant and will suffer complications or become seriously ill if you give them cheese or dairy products. This is the same case for snakes, given that cheese is not their natural diet. Thus, while your pet may eat this delicacy if you offer it, it is not recommended for them.

As a rule of thumb, avoid giving your reptile dairy products since they are not available naturally in the wild; hence, not a part of their diet. Some reptile owners claim to give their pets these treats without any adverse side effects, but you should not experiment with yours as a prudent owner since each pet may react differently.

Despite being a rich calcium and protein source, cheese is still a dangerous food for your reptile. To meet these dietary needs without jeopardizing your pet's health, consider calcium carbonate supplements and dust your pet's food. While doing this, exercise moderation, given that the powder is bitter and may discourage your pet from eating.

Another consideration when it comes to calcium is your pet's health and age. Too much calcium will cause an imbalance, affecting your pet's bones. Thus, if unsure of the quantity to apply, talk to your vet for direction.

You should also install the proper UV lamps in your pet's enclosure to aid in calcium metabolism, especially if your pet spends most of its life inside the tank. You should also be keen to replace these lights after at least twelve months, after which they are not fully functional. Alternatively, you can allow your pet to roam around as it basks under the sun, but you should do this under supervision to prevent it from straying away.

Snakes are carnivorous and will get their protein from their dietary mice. You should provide these mice in a frozen state to prevent them from injuring your pet since rodents are famous for this habit. If you own a lizard or turtle, you can meet their protein needs by giving meat and insects. Gut loading your insects with lizard-friendly foods offers an easy way to control how much protein your pet eats.

However, juvenile reptiles will require more protein for growth than adults. As the lizard ages, they become more vegetarians and only take protein for maintenance. When feeding insects, ensure the size is not bigger than the distance between your reptile's eyes. This way, you will reduce the risk of choking or impaction. You should also chop the fruits and vegetables into small sizes before giving your pet.

Finally, while ensuring a healthy cheese-free diet, you should also keep your reptile hydrated through a constant supply of water in their tank. If your reptile does not drink water, you can mist its tank and body for absorption through the skin.

You should also stick to a natural water supply rather than bowls to encourage your pet to hydrate. Alternatively, you can soak your pet, especially lizards, to keep it moisturized and aid the shedding process. This way, you will not need to give it dairy products such as milk for hydration, maintaining its good health.

Can Reptiles Eat Cream?

Cream, especially ice cream, is a favorite snack for most individuals during summer. It not only cools the body but also serves as a rich calcium source, an essential mineral that reptiles need to stay healthy. While sharing this snack with your reptile seems like a good idea, it is worth finding out whether your reptile can eat cream or not and its potential side effects.

Most reptiles, especially lizards, can eat cream, but it is not safe for them, and you should not feed it to them. This is because the cream is a dairy product, and the reptile digestive system is not adapted to digest it. Therefore, feeding your reptile on this meal will result in digestive problems, which could affect their overall health. Thus, to keep your pet safe from stomach problems, you should avoid cream by all means.

Turtles comprise another group of reptiles that easily get bored from monotonous diets. These pets love variety and feeding them the same food over time will make them lose interest in food and feeding time. To supplement your turtle's food, you should provide treats while ensuring they get all the nutritional requirements from these foods. This includes both plant and animal products such as insects, shrimp, meat, and vegetables.

While their digestive system can handle variety, it is different from the human system. A turtle, like other reptiles, will not digest foods such as cream, which are dairy products, as they lack the enzymes necessary to digest the cream. Therefore, feeding your pet on this treat will cause indigestion, and you should avoid it by all means.

In addition to cream being a naturally unavailable food for reptiles in the wild, cream is an unsuitable treat for your reptiles due to its nutritional concentration. This food is rich in calcium, a requirement by most reptiles to prevent metabolic bone disease but should never substitute their natural calcium sources. The cream is also rich in carbohydrates; hence, an energy-giving food.

Carbohydrates are a good food option if your pet is active, as this will break it down to release energy, preventing its accumulation in the body as fats. However, reptiles, especially those in captivity, are inactive as they lack the space to roam. Also, they do not hunt their food; hence, minimal physical activity than those in the wild.

These pets spend most of their time in the tank sleeping and giving them energy-rich foods will result in the storage of these calories as fats, causing obesity. Thus, you will regulate the calorie content in your pet's diet and promote good health by avoiding cream.

Cream, especially ice cream, is high in sugar. Sugar is naturally unavailable in the wild; hence, not a part of the reptile diet. Giving your pet this treat in captivity will cause digestive problems. The reptile digestive system utilizes the fermentation process to break down food.

This process is carried out by bacteria and gut flora present in their system. By feeding your pet high sugar foods, you will affect the gut flora balance; hence, their digestion, resulting in stomachache, bloating, and diarrhea. If untreated, this could result in fatal dehydration.

Another unhealthy constituent of cream for reptiles is the fat content. Reptiles in captivity are generally inactive. This is attributed to the minimal space, their solitary, and exothermic nature. These pets spend most of their time resting to preserve their energy for essential body functions such as digestion.

This is why low-fat meals are suitable for reptiles. Giving your pet cream will result in obesity and affect its overall health. Cream is also high in cholesterol, which can further worsen their health. While cholesterol is ideal in building healthy cells, too much of it is a health risk and should be avoided.

Cream, especially ice cream, is also low in protein, hence unsuitable for reptiles, especially juveniles. Protein is essential for growth and maintenance and giving your pet this snack will deny them this vital mineral in the right concentration.

Given the above constituents of cream, it is evident that this food is not a healthy treat for reptiles and should be avoided. Therefore, you should replace this unhealthy food with healthy options to maintain a healthy pet. The top consideration when choosing food for your reptile is its calcium-phosphorus ratio. The ideal ratio should be 2:1, and your pet will get this balance if you feed it on variety.

For lizards, their meal should comprise a mixture of greens and vegetables with a few insect treats, including alfalfa, collard greens, escarole, phoenix worms, cactus pear, squash, and turnip greens, among others. To effectively feed your pet, you should mix three or more of these varieties to form a salad.

This way, the food will be more enticing for your lizard, especially if it is picky. However, you should note that not all green vegetables are safe for your lizard and if unsure, contact your vet for assistance. You should also minimize fruit intake for bearded dragons since it may cause diarrhea, especially if you give them more watery fruits.

Wrap Up

Milk and its by-products are rich in calcium and protein, which are essential nutrients for a reptile's health. Despite their benefits, you should not give these products to your reptile. This is because reptiles are not lactating animals, and their system is not adapted to digest milk, cheese, or cream.

They lack the enzymes to digest lactose; therefore, giving them milk or its products will cause stomachache and digestive issues. The nutritional contents of these products are also in higher concentration than what a reptile needs and consuming them will yield more harm than good.

To prevent health complications associated with dairy products, you should meet your pet's nutritional requirements by mimicking its food in the wild. This includes fruits, vegetables, insects, and rodents. You should also supply calcium supplements through dusting and add UV lighting to your pet's enclosure to encourage calcium metabolism for good health.


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