As a caretaker of a turtle, I sometimes struggle understanding the logic behind the inclusion of corn, soybean, and wheat meals in reptile food, such ingredients seem truly aberrant from what a reptile would naturally be exposed to. Nevertheless I am aware of the biological and chemical similarity between most organisms, so I wonder whether that will help reptiles, especially omnivores with an eclectic digestive ability, to digest these compounds.

I'm looking for legitimate studies on reptile digestibility; anecdotal experience or advice is supplementary if present.


This is not a yes / no question. Many tortoise eat plants (veggies and fruits) while some turtles eat fish too. Snakes are basically predators and do not dwell on plants neither do most of the lizards. I think if a reptile is capable of digesting plant food in general, then it should be able to digest preprocessed grains as well.

Edit: As for whole intact grains I'm unsure, as canadianer pointed out in comments section, intact grains are hard(er) to digest. /end of edit/ I found this article where scientist fed alligators with a mixed diet in various setup. The diet included corn too and the 'gators responded well in terms that they could use carbon-hydrates.

Recently, we (3) have demonstrated that hatchling alligators benefit from and apparently do utilize some dietary carbohydrate.

  • $\begingroup$ Don't make the assumption that being able to digest some plant material means that the organism can digest all plant material. Whole grain is notoriously hard to digest for many animals. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Mar 17 '15 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yes that is true, but the OP asked about wheat in reptile food which I assume is preprocessed and as such can be digested. Nevertheless you're absolutely right in your comment, I did not express exactly what I meant to write / say. My bad, I'll edit my answer. $\endgroup$ – Nandor Poka Mar 17 '15 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ Ah yes, you make a good point. The original question did in fact specify wheat meal, meaning it has been processed. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Mar 17 '15 at 21:09

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