Types of Live Food

It can be a challenge to own pets that have different meal types than your conventional cats and dogs. You can’t always simply open a can of food or lay down some kibble and call it dinnertime. Instead, you may need to administer live food to your pet. It’s important to understand the dietary needs of your animals so that you do not potentially underfeed them. Pets can’t tell us when they aren’t getting enough nutrients, so it’s on you as the owner to make sure you’re providing the healthiest and most sufficient meals. Here, we’ll go over the various types of live food that you can feed to different animals and best practices to give your pets live food.

What animals eat live food?

There are plenty of pets that eat live food. In fact, a lot of conventional pets are actually omnivorous – cats, for example, are hunters by nature, although they’re perfectly content to stay at home and eat from bowls. Some unconventional pets that eat live food include chameleons, snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, and tarantulas.


lizard with worms
Mealworms are good choices for lizards! Photo by Image by Faizal Zakaria from Pixabay.

Owning a pet lizard can be a lot of fun, as many are particularly docile and like to spend their time relaxing. Giving them live food can increase their energy and keep them engaged. Many lizards eat the same creatures.

The most common live food to give to lizards like bearded dragons and crested geckos is crickets. Crickets are able to be purchased in bulk and kept for a period of time, or they can be purchased in small quantities and administered only when it’s feeding time. The age of your lizard will determine how often you should feed them; younger or baby lizards should be fed daily until they reach maturity, while adult lizards can be fed every 2 to 3 days.

In addition, you can feed these lizards different types of worms. Mealworms are common and can actually be stored in the refrigerator prior to feeding time. Just make sure you research the type of worm you’re giving, as some, like Waxworms, are very rich and should not be given more often than once a week.

Other lizards can be given food to mimic what they’d eat in their natural environment. For instance, chameleons, known for their long, shooting tongues, can be fed fruit flies and the like. They tend to snatch flies out of the air, whether from their logs or tree branches.


Some turtles, like red-eared sliders, are omnivorous. You can feed them live food in addition to their turtle pellets and fruits and vegetables they would have otherwise. Because aquatic turtles live and hunt in the water, you should feed them things like tiny minnows, tiny shrimp, and very small insects and worms.

It’s recommended that you remove your turtle from their aquarium and place them in a separate container for feeding. This helps prevent the water from getting too dirty and needing to be changed too often, and it also sets up a nice feeding schedule you can adhere to that your turtle will recognize.


Tarantulas are popular pets because of how easy they are to care for. They do not require a large space and are nocturnal. Live food for tarantulas includes crickets, different types of worms, roaches, and more. You can place the live food in the tank before you go to sleep each night, and your tarantula can eat while you sleep. Be careful not to just leave any insects in the tank, though, until it’s feeding time, as you do not want your tarantula to get hurt.


Snakes are carnivorous, so they need feeder food! Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash.

Snakes are carnivorous and their diet ranges from vertebrates like rodents and birds to invertebrates like insects. Many snakes, the larger they grow, require more sizeable meals; some subsist on entire rabbits, for example.

Feeding live prey to snakes is tricky. For one, it causes distress to the animal being hunted. It also poses the potential for your snake to be harmed. For this reason, many snake owners opt to buy mice that have been frozen and will feed the mice to the snake when the mice have thawed out.

Best Way to Give Live Food to Your Pets

The best way to give live food to your pet is dependent on the animal. It’s acceptable to feed your lizard live crickets in the terrarium, for example, but it might be a good idea to feed your turtle outside of its aquarium.

Snakes can be fed outside of their tanks, as well, which will get them used to being handled and will cause them to associate the specific environment (a feeding tub) with food, and not their main habitat (or other habitats).

You should not leave live food in the habitat for very long if your pet has not eaten it. This will prevent the food from injuring your pet. After all, live prey will still try to defend itself. Remove any live food and return it to storage or keep it in a separate tank until it’s time to feed your pet again.

Bear in mind that you can purchase a lot of live food in bulk. You can keep containers of mealworms refrigerated or keep a box of crickets in your home. For crickets, you will need to feed them to keep them alive; you will also need to practice gut loading, which will assist in your pet getting all the necessary and vital nutrients they need. Feeder fish can be kept in a separate aquarium, too.

Feeder Foods at Allan’s Pet Center

At Allan’s Pet Center, our in-house breeding program lets us be absolutely certain that we are selling the healthiest feeder food to pet owners. We do make sure that our feeder food is treated humanely, is given proper diets, and is sold within a reasonable time frame. We do not advocate keeping feeder food as pets.

If you have any questions about feeder food, what kinds of insects you should buy, the different ways to administer live food to your pet, or any other concerns or queries, reach out to Allan’s Pet Center today. We’ll be happy to talk with you!

Allan's Pet Center

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