Live food

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"Pinkie" mice for sale as live food for reptiles

Live food is living food for carnivorous or omnivorous animals kept in captivity; in other words, small animals such as insects or mice fed to larger carnivorous or omnivorous species kept either in a zoo or as a pet.

Live food is commonly used as feed for a variety of species of exotic pets and zoo animals, ranging from alligators to various snakes, frogs and lizards, but also including other, non-reptile, non-amphibian carnivores and omnivores (for instance, skunks, which are omnivorous mammals, can technically be fed a limited amount of live food, though this is not known to be a common practice). Common live food ranges from crickets (used as an inexpensive form of feed for carnivorous and omnivorous reptiles such as bearded dragons and commonly available in pet stores for this reason), waxworms, mealworms and to a lesser extent cockroaches and locusts, to small birds and mammals such as mice or chickens.


Live foods commonly available are crickets (Gryllus assimilis, Gryllus bimaculatus, Gryllodes sigillatus and Acheta domesticus commonly), waxworms (Galleria mellonella), mealworms (Tenebrio molitor), superworms (Zophobas morio) and locusts (a number of species are seen commonly). There are however many more species used such as butter worms, calci worms (Hermetia illucens), buffalo worms, bean weevils, phoenix worms, sun beetle grubs (Pachnoda marginata), earthworms, a variety of cockroach species (Blatta lateralis and Blaptica dubia commonly) , silkworms and more. Insect species are most commonly used to feed small reptiles and amphibians.

Another common form of live food, most commonly used to feed snakes, is small rodents. The most commonly known small rodent used for live food is likely the mouse; many pet stores which carry snakes or cater to snake owners also carry "feeder mice" for this reason (see Fancy mouse). It is also common to feed reptiles freshly killed or frozen/thawed rodents as most reptiles will readily accept them.

Creatures that are the most common choices for live foods, ranging from feeder mice to crickets and mealworms, generally are bred and raised in captivity themselves, and can often be found both through local pet stores and from wholesalers or "farms" that breed them specifically for live food sales.

Animals commonly fed live food[edit]

Animals that are commonly fed live food include bearded dragons,[1] leopard geckos and other lizards, various types of snake, turtles, and carnivorous fish, though other animals, such as skunks (which are sometimes kept as pets), being omnivorous, can also eat some live food, though it is unknown how common this is in practice.