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.