Providing vegetables and fruits as a daily part of a bearded dragon’s diet is very important for their health. The percentage of fresh vegetables and fruit they receive increases as they mature.
A baby bearded dragon should receive approximately 60% – 80% proteins from insects, and around 20% – 40% vegetables and fruits.
Juveniles should receive about 50% insects and 50% vegetables and fruits.
An adult should receive about 25% – 30% insects while the vegetables and fruits increase to around 70% – 75%.
Although a bearded dragon’s intake of plant matter increases as they age it can be difficult to get them to eat the plant matter offered.
Once they become accustomed to eating crickets, roaches, wax worms, and other insect prey, they tend to not want any vegetables or fruit. This can become more and more of an issue as the bearded dragon ages.
Here are a few tips to help train your bearded dragon to eat vegetables and fruits.
Begin Offering Vegetables and Fruits At a Young Age
If you acquire your bearded dragon as a baby, it is very important to begin offering vegetables and fruits right away. As mentioned previously, babies require more insects so they can develop body mass and fat reserves, but a small portion of mixed, chopped vegetables should be offered each day.
Offer a good mixture of chopped vegetables first thing in the morning. Let the plant matter be the only food source he sees at the beginning of each day. Watch to see if your bearded dragon shows interest in the vegetable and fruit mixture.
If your beardie shows an interest but does not consume any, try placing a very small portion in your hand and offer it to him.
This may work well if the bearded dragon is already accustom to you. If not, keep trying to offer some each day.
The most important thing with this tip is to try to get the beardie to eat some plant matter before eating any insects. When he gets hungry he will mostly likely eat some of the vegetable mixture. With that said, do not starve your bearded dragon hoping he will eat the plant matter. If it has been most of the day and still hasn’t eaten then offer some foods he likes.
If you have a juvenile or adult bearded dragon offer vegetables and fruits at least once a day before offering any insects. Ideally, offer mixed fruit and vegetables twice a day – once in the morning and again in the evening (before offering any insects). It can be much more difficult to get them to eat vegetables at this age, but it can be done.
Always sprinkle a calcium powder supplement onto any food item you offer your bearded dragon at each feeding. This includes insects and plant matter.
Offer More Fruits Mixed With Vegetables
When preparing the chopped fruit and vegetable mix, add a larger percentage of fruits than greens. Adding strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, papaya, or cherries to the mixture can help entice them to eat.
Bearded dragons do use the sense of smell to determine food sources, and the sweet smell of these fruits can encourage them to try it out. Mixing these sweet fruits in with the greens well, then adding a little finely chopped mixture of the fruits as a topping can lure them in to at least investigate the food.
Make sure any food item offered is finely chopped into small pieces. Never offer any food that is larger than the distance between the bearded dragon’s eyes as a rule of thumb.
Again, take a small piece of fruit and offer it by hand. See if it takes a sniff, or turns away. Keep trying different fruits to see which ones he takes the most interest in, and add more of those to the food mixture later.
You can also top off the vegetables with a Salad Dressing for Bearded Dragons. This will help to attract the bearded dragon and encourage eating.
As the bearded dragon begins eating some of the food mixture each day, gradually begin adding more vegetable matter and a little less of the fruit.
You don’t want the fruit to become the permanent component of the food mixture because they are higher in sugars. It’s okay to offer a lot of fruit at first as an introduction, but you do not want it to become the only plant matter the beardie receives.
Offer Treat Insects With The Vegetables
Another tip you can try to get your bearded dragon to eat more vegetables is by adding wax worms or small mealworms on top of the mixed vegetables. If your bearded dragon really loves wax worms, horn worms, or meal worms, add a couple of them on top of the vegetables and fruit.
When he lunges after the treats he may intake some of the plant matter, tricking him into eating the vegetables.
Begin by adding just one worm onto the veggies. Watch to see if he also grabs some of the vegetables. Add another worm, and watch again. This tactic works really well if the bearded dragon is very hungry and goes into a “feeding frenzy”.
This can help the bearded dragon get a taste for the vegetable mix, and also teach him that the greens and fruit means treat goodies are coming, thus encouraging interests in the plant matter.
Use a Clip to Hang Leafy Vegetables
You can find inexpensive spring-loaded clips at any discount store to hang leafy greens (like kale or dandelion greens) on the side of the enclosure. You can use regular aquarium suction cups to attach the clip to the side of the terrarium.
Leave the leaf in the enclosure throughout the day. If the bearded dragon gets the munchies he may go over and nibble some of the leaf.
Training Takes Patience
Teaching your bearded dragon too consume more vegetables and fruit takes some patience and diligence on your part. It is very easy to become frustrating by your bearded dragon’s reluctance towards plant matter, but keep trying each day. Don’t give in to the lack of response and begin feeding just insects because it’s easier.
With diligence and time you can train your bearded dragon to eat more vegetables and fruits. Remember to start them as young as possible, and to offer the plant matter first before any insects!