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How to Make Your Own Reptilinks

Reptilinks are some of the most popular commercial food options for reptile owners, and for a good reason – they are convenient, healthy, and a nutritionally complete alternative to feeding whole prey.

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That said, purchasing pre-packaged meals can be costly and doesn’t give you full control of what goes in your pet’s diet.

Furthermore, Reptilinks is only available in a few countries, and if you are outside of the US, your options may be limited.

The good news: you can in fact make your own DIY reptilinks at home, and this can both save you money and allow you to choose whatever ingredients best suit your reptile’s diet.

What you need

The equipment needed to make your own reptilinks consists of a high-quality food processor or meat grinder, and a sausage maker attachment.

In most cases, you will want to use a meat grinder or food processor that is strong enough to handle bones as you will grind up whole prey such as mice, chicks, and quail.

If you are not using whole prey or using boneless prey (e.g. insects), a normal food blender with a strong motor will work just fine.

A sausage maker attachment is used to form the mixture into links. It is important to use a sausage maker attachment that is compatible with your food processor or meat grinder.

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The main benefit of making your own reptilinks is that you have total freedom regarding what goes into each link.

It’s important to do some research on your reptile’s ideal diet and follow your vet’s recommendations when choosing what ingredients to use, but in most cases you will want to use whole prey or a combination of lean meat and gizzards, fruits and vegetables (if your reptile is omnivorous), and optionally eggs and powdered supplements.

Below, some considerations on each food option for reptilinks.

1. Whole prey

Whole prey is any type of animal that is consumed whole, including meat, bones, heart, liver and gizzards. These are all nutritious and will ensure your pet will get all the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs.

Eating whole prey is especially important for snakes and other carnivorous reptiles that rely solely on animal products for sustainment.

The majority of whole prey used in reptilinks normally consists of either mice, quail, chicks, or rabbit. Frogs and lizards can also be used, as well as fish and seafood such as shrimp and cray (keep the shell on for added calcium).

Insects are another excellent option that is especially suited for lizard owners (bearded dragons, tegus, blue-tongue skinks etc.). Dubia roaches, crickets, superworms are often used.

2. Lean meat

Sausages can be made with any kind of meat, but it’s best to opt for lean meats with as little fat as possible, usually chicken or turkey. Ideally, include other parts of an animal such as hearts, liver, gizzards, chicken feet.

If you are not using whole prey, you may want to add a few egg shells or calcium supplements to compensate for the lack of bones.

It’s also a good idea to mix lean meat with smaller whole prey such as insects, shrimp, snails or even small whole fish, depending on your reptile’s preferred diet.

3. Fruits and vegetables

Omnivorous reptiles such as bearded dragons and Argentine tegu lizards need a combination of protein and vegetables in their diet.

The best vegetables to use are dark-leafed greens such as collard greens, dandelion greens, carrot greens and endive.

Fruit is not necessary part of a healthy diet for your lizard, but it usually highly appreciated and can make your reptilink more appealing to your pet. Most lizards love berries such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

If you include fruits in your recipe, make sure they only make for a small portion of the overall meal, as they tend to be high in sugar.

4. Eggs

Eggs are can be a healthy addiction as they provide extra proteins and important nutrients.

You can use fresh chicken or quail eggs, and also include the shell which is an excellent source of calcium.

5. Supplements

Supplements are especially important if you are not planning to feed your reptile whole prey on a regular basis.

The most important supplement your pet is going to need is probably going to be calcium, which is hard to get for reptiles and a lack of which can result in metabolic bone disease.

It is generally a good idea to mix in some reptile-friendly calcium powder and a reptile multivitamin into some of your links and feed these a couple of times a week. Make sure to consult your veterinary if you are unsure about your pet’s specific supplement requirements.

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With the right equipment, making your own links is really easy.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients.

Step 2: Prepare your food processor or meat grinder. If you are using a food processor, make sure to remove the blade and add the sausage maker attachment. If you are using a meat grinder, make sure to grind the whole prey first before adding the other ingredients.

Step 3: Add the ingredients to the food processor or meat grinder. Start with the ground meat and then add any eventual vegetables, fruits, eggs, vitamin powder, and mineral powder. Grind until all of the ingredients are well combined.

Step 4: Form the mixture into links using the sausage maker attachment. If you are using a food processor, you can pipe the mixture into a loaf pan and then slice it into links.

Step 5: Refrigerate or freeze the links for later use. Reptilinks can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Species-specific considerations

Bearded dragons:

These omnivores require a well-rounded diet comprising both meat and vegetables.

Ideally, 70% of their diet should consist of insects like crickets and roaches.

The remaining 30% should come from a mix of leafy greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, and dandelion greens, as well as a variety of fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Blue-tongue skinks:

Like bearded dragons, blue-tongue skinks are omnivores with a diet that includes 70% insects and 30% vegetables and fruits.

Their insect intake should range from small crickets to larger roaches. The vegetable portion can encompass an array of leafy greens, like collard greens and mustard greens.

Incorporating diverse fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries adds to their nutritional variety.

Argentine tegus:

These omnivores lean more towards a meat-based diet. About 70% of their intake should be lean meats like chicken, turkey, or rabbit.

The remaining 30% should include leafy greens such as collard greens and other vegetables. The blend of protein and plant matter is essential for their balanced nutrition.

Colombian tegus:

With a mostly carnivorous preference, Colombian tegus need a diet that’s 90% meat, ideally including lean options like chicken, turkey, or rabbit.

The remaining 10% can be supplemented with fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens such as collard greens and other similar options.

Bull snakes, gopher snakes, and pine snakes:

These carnivorous snakes thrive on a diet of whole prey, varying in size from small mice to larger rats, rabbits, and quail.

The diversity in the prey’s size and species ensures they receive a well-rounded diet.

Hognose snakes:

Being carnivores with a strong fondness for frogs, hognose snakes should be fed either whole frogs or a mix of frog and other protein sources like quail or rabbit.

The size of the frog and other prey should vary to accommodate their needs.

Savannah monitors: Although primarily insectivores, these monitors can occasionally consume meat or seafood. Their diet should comprise various insects, including crickets, roaches, and mealworms, in different sizes. Infrequent portions of meat or seafood, like chicken, turkey, or fish, can provide dietary diversity.

Pacman frogs:

Carnivorous by nature, Pacman frogs have an extensive diet that includes prey smaller than their size, such as other frogs, quail, rabbit, and insects.

Their diet should encompass a variety of live prey, including crickets, roaches, mealworms, and small mice. It’s also possible to introduce dead prey, as long as it’s fresh and not frozen, to supplement their nutrition.

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