What Do Bearded Dragons Eat? A Comprehensive Guide to Their Diet
Bearded Dragons are one of the most popular reptile pets, known for their gentle nature and unique appearance. However, to keep them healthy and happy, it is important to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet that meets their specific dietary requirements. In this article, we will discuss the natural diet of Bearded Dragons, the different types of food they can eat, and how to feed them properly.
Natural Diet of Bearded Dragons
Bearded Dragons are native to Australia, where they thrive in arid environments. In the wild, they are omnivores, eating a variety of insects, vegetables, and fruit. Some of the insects they eat include crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. As for vegetables, they eat leafy greens, such as collard greens and mustard greens, as well as root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.
Insects for Bearded Dragons
Insects are an essential component of a Bearded Dragon’s diet, providing them with the necessary protein and fat to support their growth and health. Bearded Dragons in captivity should be fed a variety of insects to ensure that they receive the proper balance of nutrients.
Some of the most common insects that can be fed to Bearded Dragons include crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. Crickets are a staple food for Bearded Dragons and are readily available at most pet stores. They are an excellent source of protein and contain important nutrients like calcium, which is essential for bone health.
Mealworms are another common insect that can be fed to Bearded Dragons. They are high in protein and fat, which makes them a great food source for growing Bearded Dragons. However, mealworms should be fed in moderation as they are also high in phosphorus, which can lead to health problems if fed in excess.
Waxworms are a treat that should only be fed to Bearded Dragons occasionally. They are high in fat and should not make up a significant portion of a Bearded Dragon’s diet. Waxworms are a good source of protein and can be used to entice a Bearded Dragon to eat if they are being picky.
When feeding insects to Bearded Dragons, it is important to ensure that the insects are properly gut-loaded with nutritious food. This means feeding the insects a high-quality diet before feeding them to the Bearded Dragon. It is also important to dust the insects with a calcium supplement to ensure that the Bearded Dragon receives the proper amount of calcium in their diet.
Insects should be fed to Bearded Dragons in moderation, as too many insects can cause health problems like obesity and liver damage. The amount of insects that should be fed to a Bearded Dragon depends on their age and size, and it is important to consult with a veterinarian or reptile expert to determine the proper amount.
Vegetables for Bearded Dragons
Vegetables are an important part of a Bearded Dragon’s diet and provide essential vitamins and minerals to support their health and well-being. When choosing vegetables to feed to Bearded Dragons, it is important to select a variety of greens, root vegetables, and other vegetables that are high in nutrients.
Leafy greens like collard greens, mustard greens, and dandelion greens are excellent choices for Bearded Dragons. These greens are high in calcium, which is essential for bone health, and they also contain important vitamins like vitamin A, which is essential for eye health.
Other vegetables that can be fed to Bearded Dragons include carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and squash. These vegetables are high in fiber and provide important vitamins like vitamin C, which is essential for immune function.
It is important to avoid feeding Bearded Dragons vegetables that are high in oxalic acid, such as spinach and kale. Oxalic acid can bind with calcium and prevent it from being absorbed by the Bearded Dragon’s body, leading to calcium deficiencies and health problems.
When feeding vegetables to Bearded Dragons, it is important to chop them into small pieces to make them easier to eat. Vegetables should be offered in a separate dish from the insects and should be replaced daily to ensure that they are fresh.
It is also important to ensure that Bearded Dragons are receiving the proper balance of nutrients in their diet. This means feeding them a variety of vegetables in conjunction with insects and fruit to ensure that they receive the proper balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Fruits for Bearded Dragons
Fruits are an important part of a Bearded Dragon’s diet and can provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to support their health and well-being. When choosing fruits to feed to Bearded Dragons, it is important to select fruits that are high in nutrients and low in sugar.
Some of the most common fruits that can be fed to Bearded Dragons include apples, strawberries, blueberries, and papayas. These fruits are high in vitamins like vitamin C, which is essential for immune function, and they also contain important minerals like potassium, which is essential for muscle and nerve function.
It is important to avoid feeding Bearded Dragons fruits that are high in sugar, such as grapes and bananas. Too much sugar can lead to obesity and other health problems in Bearded Dragons.
When feeding fruits to Bearded Dragons, it is important to chop them into small pieces to make them easier to eat. Fruits should be offered in a separate dish from the vegetables and insects and should be replaced daily to ensure that they are fresh.
It is also important to ensure that Bearded Dragons are receiving the proper balance of nutrients in their diet. This means feeding them a variety of fruits in conjunction with vegetables and insects to ensure that they receive the proper balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Commercial Diets for Bearded Dragons
Commercial diets for Bearded Dragons are a convenient option for owners who may not have the time or resources to prepare fresh food for their pets daily. These diets come in various forms, including pellets, powders, and canned foods, and are formulated to provide the necessary nutrients that Bearded Dragons require to stay healthy.
Most commercial diets for Bearded Dragons are nutritionally complete and provide a balanced mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin D3, which are important for bone health.
When choosing a commercial diet for a Bearded Dragon, it is important to select a high-quality product that is specifically formulated for their species. Some brands may be marketed as “reptile food” or “lizard food,” but it is important to read the label to ensure that the product is appropriate for Bearded Dragons.
Commercial diets can be offered in addition to fresh vegetables and insects, or they can be used as the primary source of nutrition for Bearded Dragons. However, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for feeding and to ensure that Bearded Dragons have access to fresh water at all times.
One downside to commercial diets is that they can be expensive compared to fresh food. Additionally, some Bearded Dragons may not find them as appetizing as fresh food, which could lead to a lack of appetite and nutritional deficiencies.
Foods to Avoid for Bearded Dragons
Bearded Dragons are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of foods, but certain foods should be avoided or given in moderation to ensure their health and well-being.
- Insects that are too large: Bearded Dragons should be fed insects that are no larger than the distance between their eyes. Feeding them insects that are too large can cause choking or gastrointestinal blockages.
- Wild-caught insects: Insects collected from the wild can contain pesticides or other harmful substances that can be toxic to Bearded Dragons. It is recommended to purchase insects from a reputable supplier or to breed them yourself.
- Toxic plants: Bearded Dragons should not be fed plants that are toxic to them, such as avocado, rhubarb, and tomato leaves. These plants can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other health problems.
- Processed foods: Processed foods, such as chips and crackers, should be avoided as they are high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. These foods can lead to obesity and other health problems in Bearded Dragons.
- Dairy products: Bearded Dragons are lactose intolerant and should not be fed dairy products. These products can cause digestive upset and diarrhea.
- Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, should be avoided as they are high in acid and can cause digestive upset in Bearded Dragons.
- Large amounts of spinach or kale: Spinach and kale contain high levels of oxalates, which can bind to calcium and prevent it from being absorbed by the body. Large amounts of spinach or kale can lead to calcium deficiency and other health problems.
Feeding Schedule and Portions for Bearded Dragons
Establishing a feeding schedule and portion size is essential for the health and well-being of Bearded Dragons. These reptiles have specific dietary requirements that must be met to ensure their growth, development, and overall health. Here is a detailed guide on feeding schedules and portions for Bearded Dragons:
- Frequency of feeding: Bearded Dragons should be fed once or twice a day, depending on their age and size. Juvenile Bearded Dragons (under six months old) should be fed twice a day, while adult Bearded Dragons can be fed once a day.
- Insects: Insects should make up approximately 50% of a Bearded Dragon’s diet. The appropriate amount of insects to feed depends on the size of the Bearded Dragon. As a general rule, juvenile Bearded Dragons should be fed as much as they can eat in 10 to 15 minutes, twice a day. Adult Bearded Dragons should be fed a similar amount, but only once a day.
- Vegetables: Vegetables should make up approximately 20% of a Bearded Dragon’s diet. These should be offered daily and can be either fresh or cooked. A variety of vegetables should be offered to ensure a balanced diet.
- Fruits: Fruits should make up approximately 10% of a Bearded Dragon’s diet. These should be offered in moderation due to their high sugar content. A variety of fruits should be offered to ensure a balanced diet.
- Commercial diets: Commercial diets can be offered in addition to fresh food or used as the primary source of nutrition. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for feeding and ensure that Bearded Dragons have access to fresh water at all times.
- Portion size: Portion sizes for Bearded Dragons should be based on their size and age. As a general rule, the portion size of insects should be no larger than the distance between the Bearded Dragon’s eyes. Vegetables and fruits should be cut into small pieces or grated to make them easier to eat.
- Calcium supplements: Bearded Dragons require calcium supplements to maintain healthy bones and prevent metabolic bone disease. Calcium supplements should be provided once a day, either by dusting insects or sprinkling them on vegetables.
In conclusion, Bearded Dragons require a balanced and nutritious diet that includes a variety of insects and vegetables. It is important to provide them with the right amount of food and to avoid feeding them harmful foods. By following the guidelines in this article, you can ensure that your Bearded Dragon stays healthy and happy. If you have any questions or concerns about feeding your Bearded Dragon, consult with a veterinarian or reptile expert for personalized advice.
I am Nick James, I have been three male beardies since 2015. I love to take care of my pets and their diet. Here, I am sharing my personal experiences and strategies to grow up your cute pet.