What Bearded Dragon Eat: Complete Guide to Nutrition

Let’s explore what bearded dragon eat! If you have a pet dragon you’ll find yourself doing a lot of research about what they can and cannot eat. Here’s your one-stop shop, best guide:

Introduction to What Bearded Dragon Eat

Understanding the dietary needs of your bearded dragon is essential for maintaining its health and well-being. These fascinating reptiles have specific nutritional requirements that must be met to ensure they thrive in captivity. From protein-rich insects to a variety of leafy greens and fruits, providing a balanced diet is key to promoting optimal growth, development, and longevity. In this guide, we’ll explore the diverse range of foods that bearded dragons consume in the wild and how to replicate these dietary needs in a captive environment.

Overview of Bearded Dragon Nutritional Needs

Bearded dragons are omnivorous reptiles with distinct dietary requirements to support their health and vitality. Their diet should consist of a balance of protein, vegetables, fruits, and essential nutrients. Protein is crucial for growth and muscle development, obtained primarily from insects such as crickets, dubia roaches, and mealworms. Additionally, leafy greens and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, contributing to digestive health and overall well-being. Understanding the nutritional needs of bearded dragons is paramount to ensuring their longevity and quality of life in captivity.

what bearded dragon eat - bearded dragon on a branch sticking out its tongue about to eat a cricket

Feeder Insects for Bearded Dragons

Here’s a list of the best feeder insects for bearded dragons:

  1. Crickets: Crickets are a staple in many bearded dragon diets. They provide excellent protein and are readily available in various sizes.
  2. Dubia Roaches: Dubia roaches are another popular choice due to their high protein content and lower chitin levels compared to crickets, making them easier to digest.
  3. Mealworms: Mealworms are commonly fed to bearded dragons, especially to juveniles. However, they should be fed in moderation due to their higher chitin content.
  4. Superworms: Superworms are larger than mealworms and can be offered as occasional treats for adult bearded dragons. They are rich in protein and fat.
  5. Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL): BSFL, also known as phoenix worms or calciworms, are high in calcium and protein, making them an excellent choice for bearded dragons, particularly as calcium supplements.
  6. Silkworms: Silkworms are soft-bodied and easy to digest, making them suitable for bearded dragons with sensitive digestive systems. They are also rich in protein and calcium.
  7. Hornworms: Hornworms are high in moisture content and are a good source of hydration for bearded dragons. They are also relatively low in fat and can be fed as occasional treats.
  8. Waxworms: Waxworms are high in fat and should be fed sparingly as occasional treats due to their low nutritional value. They can be useful for enticing picky eaters or as a reward during training.

Remember to vary the diet by offering a combination of these feeder insects to ensure your bearded dragon receives a balanced nutritional intake. Additionally, always gut-load feeder insects with nutritious foods before offering them to your pet to enhance their nutritional value.

what bearded dragon eat - bearded dragon in an enclosure beside a dish of food
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Best Vegetables for Bearded Dragons

Here’s a list of some of the best vegetables for bearded dragons:

  1. Collard Greens: Collard greens are a nutritious leafy green vegetable rich in calcium, vitamin A, and fiber. They are an excellent staple vegetable for bearded dragons.
  2. Mustard Greens: Mustard greens are another nutritious leafy green option that provides essential vitamins and minerals. They are high in calcium and vitamin C.
  3. Turnip Greens: Turnip greens are rich in calcium and vitamin K, making them a healthy choice for bearded dragons. They offer a variety of nutrients essential for overall health.
  4. Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens are highly nutritious and contain vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and iron. They can be foraged or purchased from organic sources.
  5. Kale: Kale is a nutrient-dense leafy green vegetable that provides vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and fiber. Offer kale in moderation due to its high oxalate content.
  6. Bell Peppers: Bell peppers are rich in vitamin C and provide a crunchy texture that many bearded dragons enjoy. Offer a variety of colors for added nutritional diversity.
  7. Squash: Squash varieties such as butternut squash and acorn squash are high in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and fiber. They can be served cooked or raw.
  8. Carrots: Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. They provide essential nutrients and can be offered as occasional treats.
  9. Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. They make a nutritious addition to a bearded dragon’s diet when cooked and offered in moderation.
  10. Zucchini: Zucchini is low in oxalates and provides vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. It has a mild flavor and can be offered raw or cooked.

Remember to offer a variety of vegetables to ensure your bearded dragon receives a balanced diet. Rotate the vegetables regularly to provide different nutrients and flavors, and always wash them thoroughly before serving.

Can Bearded Dragon Eat Raspberries

Recommended Fruits and Treats

Here’s a list of recommended fruits and treats for bearded dragons:

  1. Apples: Apples are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. Remove seeds and core before offering.
  2. Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries): Berries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, making them nutritious treats for bearded dragons.
  3. Pears: Pears are rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium. Offer them peeled and diced.
  4. Bananas: Bananas are a good source of potassium and vitamin B6. Offer them as an occasional treat due to their high sugar content.
  5. Papaya: Papaya is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as enzymes that aid digestion. Offer it in small amounts as a treat.
  6. Mango: Mango is high in vitamins A and C, as well as beta-carotene. Offer it as an occasional treat due to its high sugar content.
  7. Watermelon: Watermelon is hydrating and contains vitamins A and C. Offer it as a treat in small, seedless pieces.
  8. Grapes: Grapes are a good source of hydration and contain vitamins A and C. Offer them sparingly due to their high sugar content and potential choking hazard.
  9. Kiwi: Kiwi is rich in vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Offer it peeled and sliced as an occasional treat.
  10. Melons (Honeydew, Cantaloupe): Melons are hydrating and contain vitamins A and C. Offer them in small, seedless pieces as occasional treats.
  11. Figs: Figs are high in fiber, potassium, and calcium. Offer them in small amounts as a treat.
  12. Cherries (Pitted): Cherries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Offer them sparingly as treats due to their high sugar content.

Remember to offer fruits and treats in moderation, as they are higher in natural sugars compared to raw vegetables. Rotate the treats regularly to provide variety and ensure a balanced diet for your bearded dragon. Additionally, always remove pits, seeds, and any inedible parts before offering fruits to your pet.

Importance of Calcium and Vitamin Supplements

The importance of calcium and vitamin supplements for bearded dragons cannot be overstated, as these nutrients are essential for maintaining their health and well-being. Calcium plays a crucial role in bone development, muscle function, and nerve transmission in bearded dragons. Without an adequate supply of calcium, bearded dragons are at risk of developing metabolic bone disease (MBD), a debilitating condition characterized by weakened bones, deformities, and fractures.

In addition to calcium, vitamin supplements are also vital for bearded dragons. Vitamin D3, in particular, is essential for calcium absorption and utilization. Bearded dragons obtain vitamin D3 through exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, either from natural sunlight or from artificial UVB lighting in their enclosure. However, captive bearded dragons may not always receive sufficient UV exposure, especially if they are housed indoors. Therefore, supplementing their diet with vitamin D3 is essential to ensure proper calcium metabolism.

Other vitamins, such as vitamin A and vitamin E, are also important for bearded dragons’ overall health. Vitamin A plays a role in maintaining healthy vision, skin, and immune function, while vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage.

To ensure that bearded dragons receive an adequate supply of calcium and vitamins, it’s crucial to offer them supplements in addition to their regular diet. Dusting feeder insects and vegetables with calcium powder and a multivitamin supplement is a common method of supplementation. The frequency of supplementation may vary depending on factors such as the age, size, and health status of the bearded dragon, as well as the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of its diet.

However, it’s important not to over-supplement with vitamins and minerals, as excessive amounts can be harmful to bearded dragons. Therefore, it’s essential to follow recommended dosage guidelines and consult with a reptile veterinarian if you’re unsure about the appropriate supplementation regimen for your pet.

In conclusion, calcium and vitamin supplements are crucial for maintaining the health and vitality of bearded dragons. By providing these essential nutrients, bearded dragon owners can help prevent nutritional deficiencies and promote overall well-being in their beloved pets.

what bearded dragon eat - bearded dragon eating a cricket
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Understanding Gut Loading and Its Role

Understanding gut loading and its role in feeding live insects to bearded dragons is crucial for ensuring that your pet receives optimal nutrition. Gut loading refers to the practice of feeding nutritious foods to feeder insects before offering them to your bearded dragon. The purpose of gut loading is to enhance the nutritional content of the insects, making them a more nutritious meal for your pet.

When feeder insects are gut loaded with high-quality foods, they absorb essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. These nutrients are then passed on to your bearded dragon when it consumes the insects, providing a natural and balanced source of nutrition.

Gut loading also helps improve the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of feeder insects, which is essential for the health of bearded dragons. Calcium is a critical mineral for bone growth and development, while too much phosphorus can interfere with calcium absorption. By gut loading feeder insects with calcium-rich foods such as dark, leafy greens, and calcium supplements, you can ensure that your bearded dragon receives sufficient calcium without the risk of phosphorus imbalance.

Furthermore, gut loading can help hydrate feeder insects, which is important for maintaining the overall health and hydration of your bearded dragon. Insects that are well-hydrated are more likely to be consumed by your pet, reducing the risk of dehydration.

To effectively gut load feeder insects, provide them with a nutritious diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, and commercial gut-load diets. Some suitable gut-loading foods include carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and high-quality dry dog or cat food. Offer gut-loading foods to feeder insects for at least 24 hours before feeding them to your bearded dragon to ensure optimal nutrient absorption.

In conclusion, understanding gut loading and its role in feeding live insects to bearded dragons is essential for providing a balanced and nutritious diet for your pet. By gut loading feeder insects with nutritious foods, you can enhance their nutritional content and promote the health and well-being of your bearded dragon.

how long can a bearded dragon go without water

How to Offer Water to Bearded Dragons

Offering water to bearded dragons is essential for maintaining their hydration and overall health. While some reptiles may drink from a shallow water dish, many bearded dragons prefer to obtain moisture from their food sources or through droplets of water sprayed onto their salads. Here’s how to effectively offer water to bearded dragons through their food/salads:

  1. Misting: Use a spray bottle to mist your bearded dragon’s salads or vegetables with water before feeding. Lightly misting the food will add moisture and make it more appealing for your pet to eat. Be sure not to oversaturate the food, as excessive moisture can lead to mold growth.
  2. Hydration-Rich Foods: Include hydration-rich foods in your bearded dragon’s salads, such as cucumbers, bell peppers, and leafy greens. These foods have a high water content and can help supplement your pet’s hydration needs.
  3. Fruits with High Water Content: Offer fruits with high water content, such as melons (e.g., watermelon, cantaloupe) and berries, as occasional treats. These fruits not only provide hydration but also offer essential vitamins and minerals.
  4. Soaking: Another method to provide water to bearded dragons is through soaking. Occasionally, you can offer your bearded dragon a shallow bath or soak in lukewarm water for about 10-15 minutes. This allows them to absorb water through their vent area, aiding in hydration.
  5. Monitoring Hydration: It’s essential to monitor your bearded dragon’s hydration levels regularly. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, wrinkled skin, lethargy, and decreased appetite. If you notice any of these signs, consider increasing the moisture content of their food or offering a soak.

By incorporating these methods into your bearded dragon’s care routine, you can ensure that they receive adequate hydration without relying solely on a water dish. Remember to provide a varied diet that includes a mix of hydration-rich foods, monitor your pet’s hydration levels, and consult with a reptile veterinarian if you have any concerns about their health or hydration status.

mealtime tips

Mealtime Tips and Feeding Schedule

Mealtime tips and establishing a feeding schedule are essential aspects of caring for a bearded dragon. These reptiles thrive on a balanced diet consisting of protein, vegetables, and occasional treats. Here are some mealtime tips and feeding schedule guidelines to ensure the health and well-being of your bearded dragon:

  1. Offer a Variety of Foods: Provide a diverse variety of insects, such as crickets, dubia roaches, and mealworms, to ensure your bearded dragon receives a balanced diet. Additionally, offer a variety of vegetables, including dark, leafy greens, squash, and bell peppers, to provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  2. Gut Load Insects: Before feeding insects to your bearded dragon, gut load them with nutritious foods for at least 24 hours. This enhances the nutritional value of the insects, ensuring your pet receives optimal nutrition with each meal.
  3. Supplement with Calcium and Vitamins: Dust feeder insects and vegetables with calcium powder and a multivitamin supplement specifically formulated for reptiles. This helps prevent nutritional deficiencies and ensures your bearded dragon receives essential nutrients.
  4. Establish a Feeding Schedule: Establish a consistent feeding schedule for your bearded dragon based on its age and size. Juvenile dragons may require daily feedings, while adult dragons may only need to be fed every other day or a few times per week. Monitor your dragon’s weight and adjust the feeding schedule as needed.
  5. Monitor Appetite and Eating Habits: Pay attention to your bearded dragon’s appetite and eating habits. Healthy dragons will eagerly consume their meals, while decreased appetite or refusal to eat may indicate underlying health issues. If you notice any changes in eating behavior, consult with a reptile veterinarian for guidance.
  6. Remove Uneaten Food: Bearded dragons may not always consume all the food offered to them. Remove any uneaten insects or vegetables from the enclosure after feeding to prevent them from spoiling and causing hygiene issues.
  7. Offer Water with Food: Incorporate moisture into your bearded dragon’s diet by misting their salads or vegetables with water before feeding. Hydration is essential for your dragon’s overall health and well-being.
  8. Supervise Mealtime: While bearded dragons are generally adept hunters, it’s essential to supervise mealtime to ensure your pet eats safely and efficiently. Avoid leaving live insects unattended with your dragon to prevent potential injuries.

By following these mealtime tips and establishing a feeding schedule, you can provide your bearded dragon with a nutritious diet that supports their health and vitality. Remember to monitor your dragon’s appetite, adjust the feeding schedule as needed, and consult with a reptile veterinarian for personalized dietary recommendations.

Avoiding Common Dietary Mistakes

Avoiding common dietary mistakes is crucial for ensuring the health and well-being of your bearded dragon. Here are some important tips to help you avoid these pitfalls and provide your pet with a balanced and nutritious diet:

  1. Overfeeding or Underfeeding: One common mistake is overfeeding or underfeeding your bearded dragon. It’s essential to feed your dragon an appropriate amount of food based on its age, size, and activity level. Juvenile dragons require more frequent feedings, while adult dragons may need to be fed less often. Monitor your dragon’s weight and adjust its feeding schedule accordingly.
  2. Imbalanced Diet: Another common mistake is feeding an imbalanced diet. Bearded dragons require a mix of protein, vegetables, and occasional treats to meet their nutritional needs. Avoid relying too heavily on one type of food and ensure that your dragon receives a variety of feeder insects, vegetables, and fruits to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
  3. Lack of Calcium and Vitamin Supplements: Failure to provide adequate calcium and vitamin supplements can lead to nutritional deficiencies and health problems, such as metabolic bone disease (MBD). Dust feeder insects and vegetables with calcium powder and a multivitamin supplement specifically formulated for reptiles. Follow recommended dosage guidelines and consult with a reptile veterinarian if you’re unsure about supplementation.
  4. Poor Gut Loading: Inadequate gut loading of feeder insects can result in a less nutritious meal for your bearded dragon. Be sure to gut load feeder insects with nutritious foods for at least 24 hours before offering them to your dragon. This enhances the nutritional value of the insects and ensures your pet receives optimal nutrition with each meal.
  5. Feeding Inappropriate Foods: Some foods can be harmful to bearded dragons and should be avoided. These include foods high in oxalates, such as spinach and beet greens, as well as foods that are toxic to reptiles, such as avocado and rhubarb. Research safe and appropriate foods for bearded dragons and avoid feeding anything that could be harmful to your pet.
  6. Ignoring Hydration Needs: Bearded dragons require adequate hydration to stay healthy. Incorporate moisture into its diet by misting salads or offering hydration-rich foods. Monitor your dragon’s hydration levels and offer a shallow soak or bath as needed.

By avoiding these common dietary mistakes and providing your bearded dragon with a balanced and nutritious diet, you can help ensure its health and well-being for years to come. Stay informed about your dragon’s dietary needs, monitor its eating habits, and consult with a reptile veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions about its diet.

baby bearded dragon

Adjusting Diet According to Age and Health

Adjusting your bearded dragon’s diet according to its age and health is crucial for ensuring that it receives the proper nutrition and stays healthy throughout its life. Here’s how you can adjust the diet based on these factors:

  1. Age: Bearded dragons have different nutritional needs at various stages of life:
    • Baby Bearded Dragons (0-6 months): Young dragons are growing rapidly and require a diet high in protein and calcium to support bone development. Offer small insects multiple times a day and provide a variety of leafy greens and vegetables.
    • Sub-adult Bearded Dragons (6-12 months): As bearded dragons reach sub-adulthood, you can gradually reduce the frequency of feedings and transition to larger insects. Continue to offer a balanced diet of protein, vegetables, and occasional fruits.
    • Adult Bearded Dragons (12+ months): Adult bearded dragons have slower metabolisms and lower protein requirements. Adjust the feeding schedule to every other day or a few times a week, and focus on providing a diet rich in leafy greens, vegetables, and fewer insects.
  2. Health: If your bearded dragon has specific health concerns or conditions, you may need to adjust its diet accordingly:
    • Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): Bearded dragons with MBD require a diet high in calcium to help strengthen their bones. Ensure that they receive calcium supplements and offer calcium-rich foods regularly.
    • Obesity: If your bearded dragon is overweight, reduce the frequency of feedings and limit high-fat foods such as waxworms and fatty meats. Increase the proportion of leafy greens and low-calorie vegetables in their diet.
    • Digestive Issues: Bearded dragons with digestive issues may benefit from a diet rich in fiber and hydration. Offer easily digestible foods such as cooked vegetables and hydrating fruits like cucumber and melon. Avoid foods that could exacerbate digestive problems, such as high-fat or high-oxalate foods.
  3. Monitoring and Adjusting: Regularly monitor your bearded dragon’s weight, appetite, and overall health. Adjust its diet as needed based on changes in age, health status, and activity level. Consult with a reptile veterinarian if you’re unsure about the appropriate diet adjustments for your pet.
  4. Supplementation: Ensure that your bearded dragon receives appropriate calcium and vitamin supplementation according to its age and health needs. Dust feeder insects and vegetables with calcium powder and offer a multivitamin supplement as needed.

By adjusting your bearded dragon’s diet according to its age and health, you can help ensure that it receives the proper nutrition and stays healthy throughout its life. Stay informed about your dragon’s dietary needs, monitor its health closely, and consult with a reptile veterinarian for personalized dietary recommendations if necessary.

my bearded dragon won't eat veggies

FAQs about Bearded Dragon Nutrition

What should I feed my bearded dragon?

Bearded dragons require a balanced diet consisting of protein, vegetables, and occasional fruits. Offer a variety of feeder insects such as crickets, dubia roaches, and mealworms, along with dark, leafy greens, vegetables, and hydration-rich fruits like melons and berries.

How often should I feed my bearded dragon?

Juvenile bearded dragons (0-6 months) should be fed multiple times a day, while sub-adults (6-12 months) can be fed once or twice a day. Adult bearded dragons (12+ months) typically require feeding every other day or a few times a week.

Can I feed my bearded dragon only vegetables?

While vegetables are an essential part of a bearded dragon’s diet, they also require protein from feeder insects to meet their nutritional needs. A balanced diet should include both vegetables and protein sources.

How do I gut load feeder insects?

Gut loading involves feeding nutritious foods to feeder insects before offering them to your bearded dragon. Offer gut-loading foods such as dark, leafy greens, vegetables, and high-quality dry dog or cat food for at least 24 hours before feeding them to your pet.

Do I need to supplement my bearded dragon’s diet with calcium and vitamins?

Yes, it’s essential to supplement your bearded dragon’s diet with calcium and vitamin supplements. Dust feeder insects and vegetables with calcium powder and offer a multivitamin supplement specifically formulated for reptiles to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Can bearded dragons eat fruits?

Yes, bearded dragons can eat fruits as occasional treats. Offer fruits with high water content and essential nutrients, such as melons, berries, and apples, in moderation.

What foods should I avoid feeding my bearded dragon?

Avoid feeding foods high in oxalates, such as spinach and beet greens, as well as toxic foods like avocado and rhubarb. Additionally, avoid offering insects caught in the wild, as they may contain pesticides or parasites.

How can I tell if my bearded dragon is getting enough nutrition?

Monitor your bearded dragon’s weight, appetite, and overall health regularly. Signs of adequate nutrition include a healthy weight, alertness, and a strong appetite. Consult with a reptile veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet’s nutrition or health.

Can bearded dragons drink water?

While bearded dragons can drink water, they may prefer to obtain moisture from their food sources or through droplets of water sprayed onto their salads. Offer a shallow dish of clean, fresh water in the enclosure for drinking if desired.

How do I adjust my bearded dragon’s diet as it ages?

Adjust your bearded dragon’s diet based on its age and nutritional needs. Offer more frequent feedings and a higher protein diet to juveniles, gradually transitioning to fewer feedings and a more plant-based diet as they reach adulthood.

These FAQs and answers provide essential information about bearded dragon nutrition to help ensure the health and well-being of your pet. If you have additional questions or concerns, consult with a reptile veterinarian for personalized advice.

Conclusion: What Bearded Dragon Eat

In conclusion, providing a balanced diet for your bearded dragon is essential for maintaining its health, vitality, and overall well-being. By offering a variety of protein sources, including feeder insects such as crickets, dubia roaches, and mealworms, along with a selection of dark, leafy greens, vegetables, and occasional fruits, you can ensure that your beardie receives all the essential nutrients it needs. 

Additionally, supplementing your beardie‚Äôs food with calcium and vitamin supplements, gut-loading feeder insects, and adjusting their diet according to age and health needs are critical aspects of responsible bearded dragon nutrition. Monitoring your pet’s weight, appetite, and overall health regularly and consulting with a reptile veterinarian as needed will help you provide the best care and nutrition for your beloved beardie. With proper nutrition and care, your bearded dragon can thrive and live a long, healthy life as a cherished member of your family.

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