One of the first questions someone may ask when thinking about owning a bearded dragon as a pet is, “What do bearded dragons eat?”.
This is a very important question since you must know what a certain animal eats before acquiring one.
Bearded dragons have a very large palate of what they like to eat. As a matter of fact, their willingness to eat all types of food is one of the reasons they are so easy to care for. Similar to humans, bearded dragons will eat just about any food they find palatable, and do best with a varied diet.
The best way to make sure your pet is getting the foods it needs is to mimic what it would normally eat in the wild.
Bearded dragons are omnivorous, which means they eat both vegetation and insects.
Insect prey foods contain protein and are a staple of baby and juvenile bearded dragons.
Best of all, bearded dragons love vegetables and fruits and these should form the foundation of their diet, while insect foods should be offered two or three times per week to meet their need for proteins.
A well-balanced diet will help keep your bearded dragon happier and healthier.
There are three basic types of foods you can feed your bearded dragon, insect prey, fruits and vegetables and commercial lizard foods. Let’s talk about each one, beginning with fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and Vegetables
Bearded dragons will eat just about any fruit and vegetables that you offer. It is best to offer fruits and vegetables chopped into bite sized pieces.
If you have a very young bearded dragon chop the food up very fine. If you are feeding an adult the food may be a bit more coarsely chopped.
It is always best to go with a somewhat smaller food particle size when possible. You don’t want to offer pieces that are large enough to choke the bearded dragon. Never feed a bearded dragon any food that is larger than the distance between its eyes.
Here are some of the best raw vegetables and fruit to feed your bearded dragon.
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Cabbage (red and green)
- Carrots (including the tops)
- Collard greens
- Dandelions (leaves and flowers)
- Frozen mixed vegetables (such as beans, carrots, and peas), thawed
- Mustard Greens
- Sweet Potatoes
It is a best practice to mainly feed them the leafy vegetables and save the others for a mix in variety. The easiest method for chopping up vegetable and fruit items is by using a food processor.
Two vegetables to try to avoid feeding a bearded dragon are spinach (among other cruciferous vegetables) and lettuces. Spinach can be added to the diet of baby bearded dragons that are still developing to help provide iron, but this should be in moderation. Give them no more than one small offering per week. Too much spinach can harm the bearded dragon.
Although bearded dragons love all types of lettuces, they contain no real nutritional value, and should only be offered in emergency situations. If you must feed your bearded dragon lettuce make sure to add a mineral supplement made for reptiles. Giving a bearded dragon lettuce can also cause diarrhea, which isn’t too fun to clean up.
- Almost all types of berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc)
- Apples, chopped
- Pears, chopped
- Grapes, peeled
When offering any fruit that has an outer skin (like apples or grapes) be sure to remove the skin before giving it to your bearded dragon.
If any of these vegetables are picked from outdoors make sure they are pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer free. These chemicals could make your bearded dragon very sick, or could kill it.
It is always important to never offer insects that are too large for your bearded dragon.
Supplying insects that are too large for the bearded dragon to chew and swallow could lead to it choking.
Also, never put more insects in the bearded dragon’s habitat than it will consume. Insect running rogue in the habitat can cause your bearded dragon stress, and the insects can actually start nibbling on your pet!
Here are some of the best insect prey foods to offer your bearded dragon.
- Superworms (Very large mealworms)
- Grasshoppers (Do not use wild grasshoppers)
- Horn worms
- Fruit flies
All of these feeder insects can be found in most pet stores, or ordered online. Crickets are by far the most popular feeder insect. Feeder insects should be purchased from a reputable retailer. Try to avoid offering wild insects unless they are free of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals.
Only feed wax worms as a treat every so often. They are high in fat content and can contribute to poor health in your bearded dragon if they are offered a lot. Limit the amount of meal worms offered as well, as the outer shell of these worms can be difficult to digest.
Dubia roaches are a great choice for any size bearded dragon as they have twice the protein of crickets are have a higher ratio of meat to shell content.
The best approach to feeding your bearded dragon is offering plenty of leafy green vegetables with other vegetables mixed in, and a light dose of insect feeders.
the pet store that we got ours from said no spinach for the beared dragon!
Hi Hannah – Your pet store is right. You shouldn’t feed a bearded dragon spinach. The only time spinach can be fed is when it’s a baby bearded dragon to help build up its iron. With that said it should be limited to just one small feeding every couple of weeks. Mix just a little spinach in with the rest of its vegetables and fruits.
Spinach shouldn’t be given to an adult bearded dragon.
Ann Evans says
My bearded dragon HATES greens! I’ve tried putting worms in them and everything. If I show her them in tweezers, she actually closes her eyes and turns her head away like a child having a tantrum! She was hand fed bugs before I had her and I get the feeling they didn’t bother with greens because it was easier to feed more bugs. Any suggestions? She doesn’t mind apple but that’s about it!!
Hi Ann – getting a beardie to eat greens that was not fed them from the start can be quite a challenge. Try offering a wide variety of mixed green & fruits that are finely chopped. If she likes apples add a little more of them in the mix. Try having carrots, endive, watercress, arugula, mustard greens, dandelions, kale, apple, papaya, and a variety of other veggies and fruits all mixed together and chopped up very fine.
Try offering just the veggies for a whole day. If she refuses to eat that day do not continue that strategy. Some beardies can be so picky they will refuse to eat even if that’s all there is. Sometimes if they get hungry enough they will eat some of it. It’s worth a try, but you don’t want to starve her either.
Offer just a little greens to start…just enough for two or three bites. Offering a large amount at one time can turn them off sometimes.
I hope this helps and please come back to tell how she’s doing!
My beardie flash she hates all fruits and veggies what t should I do because I don’t have any money to buy insects?
(Chris)Elizabeth Hurley says
Our beardie is basically the same way about greens, fruits anything good for him. Ours too will close his eyes and put his head higher in the air. If they weren’t so darn cute and have such great personalities and so loving it would get very aggravating trying to get them to eat what’s best for them.
i am getting a bearded dragon next week and i was wonder if i should get a male or female. like aggression wise beacuse i have little nephews and they would want to hold it and i don’t want them to get hurt.
a male they are so much friendlier to children
I have a male and he is super sweet.. He is very relaxed and calm. It’s all in how u take care of them. U need to tend to it very offten and take him places with u. My dragon has basically went every ware with me in the past 5 years and he is super chill.. I recommend a male
I have my beardie, spyro and she did the same thing refused to eat greens! it make it very difficult to feed her because there is no exotic pet store where I live so I have to order online. I finally decided to buy one of those mixed foods for bearded dragons, and it has stuff like corn, green onions grasshoppers and stuff like that in it and she actually eats it all. but I’d rather do it from home. any ideas on other fruits I could mix in with it?
Please, please be careful with your bearded dragon if you take them outside!! We live in florida and have always taken our 3 & 1/2 year old beardy outside, which he LOVED. we had him outside one day and he walked onto our neighbors grass and within 40 minutes, he was dead. We came to find out they had their lawn sprayed with pesticide 3 weeks earlier. Beware so that this never happens to you. We loved our beardy sooo much and we all miss him so much specially my 13 yr old son R.I.P. Beloved ‘Dragon
Lily Dagenais says
I am so sorry that happened. i bring my bearded dragon out a lot and he stays with me so that that does not ever happen, but if it does i will contact you and we can be dead bearded dragon buddies.
I’m confused. Your website says NOT to feed beardies cruciferous vegetables, but cabbage, kale, arugula, collard greens, and mustard greens are all listed as cruciferous vegetables in the dictionary. So are these ok or not?
I have a Bearded Dragon that I obtained from a family relative of late, he does not show signs of aggression, but I also can not get him to eat any veggies or greens, he’ll eat bugs without complaining or anything, just not greens, is there any way I can somehow get him to eat them? I’m a huge Lizard person, so I really love my Beardie. if you could give me some advice, I’d love the tips. Thanks.
What about other sprouts like lentil and mung bean sprouts? I grow my own fresh sprouts and was wondering if I could give them to my beardie.
Lily Dagenais says
My Bearded dragon absolutely loves taking baths and sticks his tounge out at the bath at the same time.
So will they die and will it cause parasites if they consume lettuce ? Because I was told they could have that but now I’m starting to notice after I read this the diarrhea my bearded dragon has had.
I dont think they will die or that the bearded dragon has parasites, i think its just that lettuce has no nutritional value and you should not make lettuce the main veggie source for your bearded dragon.
Thank you for the great information. I would like to add an aside, if I may. As someone else mentioned, I’ve never fed cabbage to beardies.
I’m getting a bearded dragon soon I recomend if you want a pet lizard get something easy to take care of or of u want one of these if your in to hard work you can get one.
My beardie, Norbert, used to never eat any kinds of greens, the only thing I could get him to eat besides crickets and fresh green beens..and fruit. After many years, I have learned that he is more interested in greens if I give him different colors textures and flavors at the same time. Now..his appetite has changed! I mix chopped yellow squash, small bites of green beans, fresh greens(the mixed kind from the grocery store..arugula, baby kale, etc..except the spinache..etc.) and a bit of diced strawberry and a couple of blueberry. Now food is interesting..at first, he only ate the blueberry, a couple of strawberrys..he likes sweets…but now..he eats it all..it is an interesting meal!! What he doesn’t eat, I put back in the fridge and let him eat the leftovers the next day!! Pretty cool!
Beardies need a high calcium diet and they need food that’s easy for them to digest.