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Bearded Dragon Diet
Bearded dragons are omnivorous lizards, which means they need a balanced diet of animal and vegetable matter to live a healthy life. Baby dragons eat mostly insects. About 80% of their diet consists of animal matters and 20% vegetable matters. But as they grow and become adults they will start to eat more vegetables. Adult bearded dragon need 80% plant protein and 20% animals matter to live a healthy life.
If you feed your beardie nothing but insects for weeks and weeks, he/she may begin to develop a deficiency in many of the needed minerals and vitamins not contained in insects. If you begin to introduce a proper mixed diet that includes insects, fruits, and vegetables, your bearded dragon’s overall nutrient intake will vastly improve.
Feeding too much animal protein in the diet is very dangerous for your bearded dragon’s health. It’s hard for these bearded dragons to break down a lot of these proteins. Too much animal protein creates a lot of byproducts such as uric acid that becomes the reason for different diseases such as kidney issues and liver issues.
Baby Bearded Dragon Diet
Juvenile bearded dragons need more animal protein than adults. This means that you need to feed them more insects as compared to adult bearded dragons. The diet of a baby dragon (2-4 months of age) will consist of approximately 80% insects and 20% vegetables and fruits.
Baby bearded dragons should be fed 2-3 times daily. You can feed them as many insects as they can eat during their feeding times which should be 10 to 15 minutes. However, once the feeding time is over, you should take the remaining insects out of the tank. A typical baby dragon or juvenile dragons can eat anywhere from 20 to 60 insects per day.
Adult Bearded Dragon Protein Diet
Adult bearded dragons do not need as much animal protein as baby bearded dragons. The diet of an adult bearded dragon will consist of approximately 80% vegetables and fruits and 20% animal/insect matter. Overfeeding a lot of animal matter can cause some serious problems. You should feed them insects only once a day. You can give them as many insects as they can eat within 10 to 15 minutes feeding time. Once the feeding time is over, remove all the remaining insects.
Best Food for Bearded Dragons
There are many insects that you can add to your bearded dragon diet. The important thing to note here is that you should never feed your bearded dragon insects that you have caught yourself because it can contain parasites and pesticides that could be very dangerous for your dragon’s health.
For staple insects, you can use:
- Dubia Roaches (Blaptica dubia)
- Phoenix/Repti Worms
- Silk Worms
- Horn Worms
- Butter worms
- Earthworms (rinsed)
- Phoenix Worms
- Wax Worms
Insects to Never Feed
- Fireflies (lightning bugs)
- Boxelder Bugs
- Wild-caught Insects
Boxelder and Fireflies insects are highly toxic and should never be fed to bearded dragons. It is also advised not to feed wild caught insects to your dragons as they could be dangerous if they have been in contact with chemicals. Mealworms are also bad for bearded dragons. They are hard to digest because of its hard outer shells and contains low nutrients.
The largest portion of your bearded dragon diet should consist of staple insects. The occasional insects can occasionally be offered as a seldom treat.
While crickets are a popular choice for staple insect, they are not as nutritional as roaches. Only feed crickets if you have no other choice.
Beside roaches, hornworms, silkworms and butter worms also make fantastic treats for all ages of bearded dragons.
Preparing insects for food
As bearded dragons need a lot of calcium, therefore feeder insects should be coated with calcium supplement 3 to 5 times per week for adults; every day for baby bearded dragons. Make sure the insects you are feeding your beardie are fed nutritious and vitamin-rich foods. Good foods to feed the insects include corn meal, ground legumes, mustard green, sweet potatoes, spinach, carrot, collard green, rolled oats, apples cereal and oranges.
The best way to feed insects to your bearded dragon is by placing them in a small bowl. Once the feeding time is over, make sure no insect remains in the cage as it could foul the water supply.
Food particle size
When feeding insects to your dragon, make sure the size of the food is proportional to the size of the dragon. Problems such as intestinal blockages and seizure can occur if you feed your beardie insects that are larger for them to digest or capture.
Plant matter in the bearded dragon diet should make up approximately 20% of the diet for juvenile and 80% for adults. The diet should consist mainly of vegetables, fruits, and greens.
Fruits should make up only a small portion of your dragon’s diet. The vegetables, greens, and fruits should be cut into small pieces for the dragon to eat.
There are a number of vegetables that bearded dragons can eat. You can add the following vegetables to your bearded dragon diet.
- Acorn squash
- Artichoke Heart
- Asparagus (Raw)
- Bell Peppers (Raw)
- Bok choy
- Butternut squash
- Cabbage (Raw)
- Cucumber (Peeled)
- Lentils (Cooked)
- Mustard greens
- Okra (Raw)
- Spaghetti squash
- Turnip greens
- Yams (Raw)
- Zucchini (Raw)
The salad that you feed your bearded dragon should always consist of veggies and greens. Below is the list of greens that are safe for dragons.
- Collard greens
- Turnip greens
- Mustard greens
- Dandelion greens
Below is the list of fruits that you can add to your bearded dragons diet.
Foods to Avoid
The most important thing is to make sure that you don’t feed your dragon something that they cannot have. Below is the list of foods that are bad for bearded dragons.
- Beet Tops
Spinach and beet green are high in oxalates that limit the absorption of calcium. Foods such as these increase the risk of Metabolic Bone Disease and many other problems. It is advised to avoid these type of foods all together just to be safe. Avocados and rhubarb are toxic and should not be a part of your bearded dragon diet.
It is also advised not to feed lettuce to your bearded dragon because it lacks any real nutritional value. Lettuce contains a high proportion of water, feeding it to bearded dragon can cause different problems such as diarrhea.
You can feed your bearded dragon tomatoes only once every six months. Tomatoes are acidic and can create problems for the digestive system.
- Kaplan, M. Dragons Down Under: Inland Bearded Dragons [On-line] http://www.anapsid.org/bearded.html. 2002
- Tosney, KW. Caring for an Australian Bearded Dragon. http://www.biology.lsa.umich.edu/research/labs/ktosney/file/BDcare.html
- Underwood, E. Inland Bearded Dragon: A Colorado Herpetological Society Care Sheet. The Cold Blooded News, Vol 24:3, March, 1997