Bearded dragons are a great pet to have for many reasons. They are not only stunning, but are curious and smart. Because of this, they make enjoyable pets. However, these reptiles have a very intricate food list. This is because their diet is very strict. Sometimes certain food choices can also prove fatal if given to them.
Bearded dragons have a wide variety of choices when it comes to their diet. This can range from various types of insects to fruits and vegetables.
This article will explore more behind a bearded dragon’s diet and some of the food you can give them. You’ll find plenty of helpful information you can keep in mind to ensure you feed your pet safely.
What Do Bearded Dragons Need to Eat?
Bearded dragon has a very strict food list that needs to be followed. This way, you can be sure that they stay healthy and receive the necessary vitamins and minerals their body needs. While you can vary in what you give them, their diet mainly consists of insects, vegetables, and fruit.
For bearded dragons, their diet needs to consist of about 75% of some form of meat. This can be in the form of insects or even small animals, like mice. On the other hand, vegetables and fruits make up about 25% of their diet. Because of this, it’s important to make sure they get plenty of protein but with some vegetables and fruits on the side.
The most important thing to remember is that bearded dragons need to eat what they would in the wild. Commercial food choices introduced to their diet is not healthy for them.
Bearded Dragon Food List: Meal Ideas
Below are some food options you can give your bearded dragon to satisfy their hunger.
Bearded dragons need to have protein in their diet. This can be accomplished by giving them insects. Some of the best insects to give a bearded dragon are mealworms, waxworms, locusts, cockroaches, earthworms, and crickets.
Mealworms are filled with protein, but they can be difficult for bearded dragons to digest. They also are very high in fat. Because of this, mealworms are ideal to give your pet as a snack every so often.
While bearded dragons tend to adore waxworms, they should only be given as a snack. This is due to their high fat content which could make them sick if they eat too much. You should only give them waxworms a few times per week to prevent serious health issues.
Locusts are a staple food for bearded dragons. They can eat about one or two locusts per day depending on their size. They are also high in iron which is a plus.
Cockroaches are also very high in protein and iron. This makes them the perfect staple to add to your pet’s diet. However, these insects tend to be very big. Because of this, you’ll want to keep an eye on your pet when they eat. You can also cut the insect up or remove its outer shell for easy digestion.
These insects are beneficial to bearded dragons thanks to their high protein, iron, and calcium levels. They are also high in fat which can be good for bearded dragons. However, keep in mind that because of this fat content, it’s best to not give them to young bearded dragons. This is because their body is not fully developed and may not be able to handle the fat they consume.
Make sure to only give your bearded dragon earthworms. Bait worms you can buy in stores are not healthy for your pet. This is because they are not gut loaded and do not provide any benefits to your bearded dragon.
Also, you don’t want to feed your bearded dragons earthworms you might find in your garden. While they might be fresher, they are not always the healthiest. This is because of things that might have seeped into the ground or of possible diseases they might have. Earthworms should only be bought from pet stores or from farm-raised sources as they are gut loaded and their environment is watched carefully.
Crickets might be small insects, but they are very beneficial to bearded dragons. This is especially so for younger ones as they are high in iron. This helps younger bearded dragons to develop healthy bones. Because of their size, you might need to feed your bearded dragon anywhere from 15 to 30 crickets per day. However, crickets do have very hard outer shells. Due to this, it’s important to keep an eye on your pet when they eat them. If you find that they might have some difficulty with them, it’s best to try a different insect.
If you decide to feed your bearded dragon crickets, there are plenty of places you’ll find them. This ranges from garden centers to pet stores.
These reptiles are able to eat a variety of different fruits. These are not only sweet treats for them, but have plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Figs can be given to your pet about once a week. These fruits are high in fiber and calcium which are important for good health. Make sure to cut them up before you give it to them though. This will make it easier for them to chew and digest the fig.
You can also give mango to your pet occasionally. They are packed with Vitamin A, something all reptiles need in order to survive. However, this should only be given as a treat as large amounts of this tropical fruit can lead to metabolic bone disease.
Bearded dragons love peaches, but they need to be fresh ones. However, as with other large fruits, you should cut them to the appropriate size for your pet.
Just as with other fruits, apricots have numerous vitamins and plenty of fiber. These can help your pet’s digestive system work better.
You should cut apples into small pieces for your pet. You should also peel and core them before you give it to them as a snack. This fruit can be given regularly to them as it’s high in fiber and contains many vitamins that are beneficial to their health.
In addition to insects and fruits, bearded dragons can also eat many different types of vegetables. These are important to give your pet as they help to hydrate them. They also provide their body with important vitamins.
- Green beans
Green beans contain beta carotene and Vitamin B, two very important things for your bearded dragon’s health. They help to keep their muscles strong, ensure their brain stays active, and encourage healthy blood cells.
Turnips will not only help to keep your bearded dragon hydrated, but contain many nutrients. You’ll find Vitamins A, E, and C in them as well as calcium. It also has plenty of fiber which can help with digestion. However, make sure you chop the turnip up to help your pet chew and digest it better.
- Yellow squash
Yellow squash is a vegetable most bearded dragons enjoy. This is because it tends to be very flavorful. Besides its taste, it also has many health benefits for your pet. This vegetable has magnesium, Vitamin C, and potassium – all of which help to keep your pet active and healthy.
- Bell pepper
Bell peppers are very tasty, making them yet another favorite snack for bearded dragons. While you should give it to them sparingly, these vegetables are filled with plenty of vitamins. They also contain high levels of water which can help to hydrate your pet.
Toxic Food Items: What to Avoid
Bearded dragons can eat many different insects, fruits, and vegetables. However, there are a few toxic options. If given to your pet, it could prove to be fatal. Below are some to watch out for.
This form of lettuce is mainly water. Because of this, it could create too much water in your bearded dragon’s body which can lead to digestive problems. It also has no nutritional value so your bearded dragon won’t get any health benefits from it.
While they are very beautiful insects, fireflies can be incredibly toxic to bearded dragons. This is due to the fireflies’ chemical composition that interacts negatively with their body system. In fact, even just half of a firefly can prove fatal to a bearded dragon. If ingested, these reptiles will suffer immensely with symptoms like severe indigestion and nausea.
You should never feed avocados to bearded dragons due to their high levels of oxalic acid. While a very small accidental dose will not usually be fatal (it might result in a stomachache) large doses can be.
Rhubarb is yet another extremely toxic food to give to bearded dragons. Just as with avocados, rhubarb contains high levels of oxalic acid. It also has elevated levels of phosphorus which can be fatal.
The composition of spinach contains certain chemicals in it which can cause a calcium deficiency in bearded dragons. This could eventually lead to metabolic bone disease. While you can occasionally give spinach to bearded dragons, it’s best not to as it can cause serious problems.
These are just a few food items that are toxic to bearded dragons, although there are many others. Because of this, always check before you feed your reptile something to ensure it’s safe.
Things to Keep in Mind
While feeding your bearded dragon shouldn’t be hard work, you need to keep a few things in mind. Below are some important tips to consider.
Watch the Amount of Fruit You Give Them
While fruit is important to add to your pet’s diet, it can be very sugary. This can cause your bearded dragon’s teeth to rot because of the heavy amount of sugar in them. Because of this, it’s a good idea to give them fruit a few times a week rather than every day. Although for some soft fruits, like kiwi, it might be ideal to feed them it once or twice a month.
Always Get Live Insects
While you can feed your pet preserved insects, live is always best. This is because these insects are higher in vitamins and minerals. Therefore, your bearded dragon will benefit more from them.
Feed Them Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Bearded dragons can be given frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, but they ideally should be fresh. This is because fresh options contain more vitamins and nutrients in them. They also tend to have more flavor.
Be Careful with Younger Bearded Dragons
You’ll need to be very careful when feeding young bearded dragons. Because their body is not fully developed, it can present some problems. This includes not being able to digest high levels of fat and not chewing insect shells properly. Due to this, you want to be very careful when you give your pet certain food items. Be sure to also keep a close eye on them until you feel they are able to eat safely on their own.
Cut the Food Up When Necessary
Even if your bearded dragon is older, you might need to cut up certain fruits and vegetables for them. This is because they might be difficult for them to digest or chew through. Small pieces will make it easier for your pet to consume their food. It will also help to prevent indigestion which can be very uncomfortable for them. This procedure is especially necessary for young reptiles who are still learning how to chew and digest their food.
Change Things Up
While there’s nothing wrong with giving your bearded dragon their favorite treats, try to change their meals up a bit. This way, their body can get a variety of different vitamins and nutrients. It will also help to prevent their body from getting too much of one vitamin or nutrient which can sometimes be unhealthy.
A bearded dragon has a strict diet, but one that still allows you to feed them many different options. While you need to be careful with the amount of food you give them, your pet can try many tasty options. This will not only help to keep them healthy, but increase their lifespan.