One of the most important things to consider when you own a bearded dragon is their diet. You must figure out what they should or could eat and what to avoid altogether.
In addition, you should know how much and how often you need to feed them. Not to forget their diet requirements depending on their age.
A bearded dragon requires a diet with a mix of live protein sources, leafy greens, vegetables, weeds, and occasional fruit treats. How you mix all these things changes depending on his age.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about a bearded dragon’s diet.
What do bearded dragons eat?
Bearded dragons are omnivores and can eat meat (primarily insects) and plants. They require supplements and water as well. One of the most important aspects of their diet is variety. They enjoy a mix of different edible options, and it’s important to provide a varied diet to ensure they get the sufficient nutrients required to keep them healthy and happy.
What insects can bearded dragons eat?
For you to encourage their natural hunting behaviors, it’s essential to offer them insects. Bearded dragons love eating insects (live insects), but you have to get them from your local pet store or online pet shops.
Feeding tip: Don’t give them insects you catch from the wild, as they could cause health concerns.
Most of- the time, when people think about insects, crickets are the only ones that come to mind. While crickets are tasty and rich in protein and calcium, there is a myriad of insect options that bearded dragons can eat.
Besides crickets, bearded dragons can eat Dubia roaches and worms. Dubia roaches are very nutritional and could make up a huge part of their protein diet. They are low in fat and high in protein. On the other hand, worms are also a great option, especially when you want to give your dragon a special treat. The following worms are safe for consumption.
- Butter worms
- Phoenix worms
- Wax worms
- Super worms
What vegetables can bearded dragons eat?
Providing vegetables is a nice way to balance your bearded dragon’s diet. The good thing about vegetables is that the dragons can eat them as much as they want. Here’s a list of vegetables that are safe to eat.
- Green beans
- Butternut squash
- Yellow squash
- Bell pepper
- Acorn squash
- Bok choy
- Broccoli (limited amounts)
- Swiss chard
- Sweet potato
What greens can bearded dragons eat?
Green, leafy veggies should also play a big part in a bearded dragon’s diet. Here’s a list you can choose from:
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Turnip greens
- Spring greens
What fruits can bearded dragons eat?
Fruits are sweet, and your pet will most likely enjoy eating them. While they are healthy, they should not make up a huge part of your dragon’s diet. This is because they are high in sugar and do not contain too many essential nutrients. Also, feeding too many fruits can lead to obesity or weight gain. That’s why they should be served as occasional treats.
Here’s a list of safe fruits for your bearded dragon.
- Bananas (can be with or without peels)
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
What weeds can bearded dragons eat?
Bearded dragons can eat weeds. Weeds are low in calories and high in essential nutrients. The following are some weeds you can feed your bearded dragon:
- Plantain weed
- Dead nettle
What foods can’t bearded dragons eat?
Some foods can be harmful to bearded dragons; they can either be too hard to digest, make them sick, or poisonous. It is, therefore, essential to know these foods for your pet’s safety.
- Onions/garlic/leeks – too acidic.
- Mushrooms – high amounts of phosphorus and acid.
- Rhubarb – high levels of oxalic acid, which can be poisonous.
- Avocados – oxalic acid.
- Iceberg lettuce – lack of nutritional value.
- Eggplants – too acidic.
- Buttercups – toxic.
- Wild caught insects – may contain parasites that could be transmitted to your pet.
- Fireflies – contain toxins that can be fatal.
- Ladybugs – poisonous.
- Caterpillars and butterflies – many contain toxins.
- Dairy products, such as cheese, milk, eggs, and yogurt – too hard to digest.
- Acidic fruits, including lemons, limes, tomatoes, oranges, and tangerines.
- Chicken – hard to digest.
- Anything humans can’t eat.
Bearded dragon feeding chart by age
Once you understand what they can and can’t eat, feeding them becomes very easy. They have specific nutritional needs during different stages. Now, the other thing you need to understand is the feeding percentage of plants versus insects, which depends on age.
|Age||Insects||Plants||No. of meals per day.|
|Babies 0-6 months||80%||20%||4 – 5 times a day.|
|Juveniles 6-12 months||50%||50%||2 – 3 times a day.|
|Sub-adults 12-18 months||50%||50%||2 times a day.|
|Adults 18+ months||20%||80%||1 – 2 times a day.|
The dietary requirements of a baby bearded dragon
Baby bearded dragons are those between 0-6 months old. They need to eat a high protein diet to build body mass, muscle, and fat reserves. Insects provide a high level of protein. Therefore, the diet should consist of more insects than vegetables and fruits, with 80% of the diet being insects while 20% being plant matter. They also need to eat more often than adult bearded dragons. They can eat 4-5 times a day.
We recommend that you let them eat as many insects as they want in 10-15 minutes. They can eat as many as 50 or more. Then you can offer small amounts of vegetables and fruit mix.
The dietary requirements of a juvenile bearded dragon
Juvenile dragons are between 6-18 months old. By this age, the dragon has developed body mass and some fat reserves and should eat less often than a baby bearded dragon. If you continue feeding at the same rate as babies, they can gain weight, which might impact their health in the long run.
At this stage, the ratio of plants to insects should change. Insect intake should be reduced while plant intake increases. The balance should be 50/50. Typically, they should eat three times a day.
Here’s an example of a feeding schedule: plants in the morning, insects in the afternoon, and a mix of both in the evening. But you can change the schedule as long as the ratio remains the same.
Dietary requirements of an adult bearded dragon
A bearded dragon reaches maturity when it’s over 18 months old. At this stage, the feeding schedule and needs change, with most of the diet being vegetables (about 80%). The remaining 20% are insects. If you feed too many insects to adult bearded dragons, they may become obese.
The feeding frequency should be reduced to once a day or twice at most. You can offer a mix of vegetables daily and give insects a few times a week, or give a mix of vegetables and insects with fewer insects.
Adult bearded dragons can add weight quickly, so you should always be keen on their weight and adjust accordingly.
What supplements do bearded dragons need?
Bearded dragons can benefit from supplemental vitamins and minerals in their diet. They should receive three essential supplements on top of their healthy and safe diet.
- Calcium – Calcium is needed for the following reasons; bone development, muscle contractions, and in females, a good reproductive system. If your pet lacks sufficient calcium, he may develop metabolic bone disease (MBD).
- Vitamin D3—This vitamin allows calcium absorption in your pet’s body. In the wild, bearded dragons get this vitamin from sunlight exposure. Pet dragons, on the other hand, rely on proper UVB lighting and sunlight. However, they don’t get sufficient sunlight unless yours is outside most of the time.
- Multivitamins – your dragon needs vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to remain healthy. They can get all these nutrients from multivitamins. However, these are optional, so you must consult your vet to see if your pet needs them.
These supplements are available in powder form and should be sprinkled at each feeding. Baby bearded dragons can benefit from having their food sprinkled with calcium (with vitamin D3) and multivitamins at least three times a week. Juvenile dragons can have multivitamins once a week and calcium three times a week or every other day. Finally, since adult dragons are no longer growing, you can dust their food with calcium three times a week and offer multivitamins once a week.
Do bearded dragons need water?
Bearded dragons often get hydrated through food (mostly vegetables). However, it’s also important to offer them water in a bowl. Water should always be available.
When offering water, make sure you put it in a small bowl and keep the water level shallow to prevent babies from drowning and the water from adding too much humidity.
At the end of every day, empty the remaining water and refresh it.
What can you do if your bearded dragon isn’t eating?
Bearded dragons are enthusiastic eaters, and they love to eat. Sometimes refusing to eat for a day might not call for concern because they get full and might not want to eat more. However, if your pet refuses to eat consistently and he’s starting to lose weight, this could be a symptom of a health problem, and you need to figure out the cause.
There are many reasons why bearded drugs refuse to eat:
- Stress due to environmental changes.
- Insufficient lighting and temperature.
- Impaction – happens when there is a buildup in the gut or intestines.
- Wrong diet
- Brumation – it’s like hibernation and mainly occurs in the cold months.
As you can see, there are a handful of reasons why your bearded dragon could refuse to eat. The good thing is that you can check on all these basics to figure it out. If you’re still unsure, visit your vet to see what he thinks.
Bearded dragons are omnivores whose complete diet consists of live insects, vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, supplements, and water. Whether you own a baby, juvenile, or adult bearded dragon, they need a mix of all these foods to be strong, healthy, and happy.
Remember that the ratio of insects to plants will change as they grow. Baby dragons need more protein in their bodies than adults do; hence, more insects, while adult dragons need more plants than insects. Contrary to what most people believe, they are not picky eaters. They eat whatever is on the menu, and you, as the pet owner, need to differentiate between safe and poisonous foods.
We hope this extensive guide helped you realize that feeding bearded dragons is not as complicated as it seems.