Variety is the spice of life. When it comes to your bearded dragon’s diet, variety is also an important element in keeping your dragon healthy and happy. Learn everything that your dragon can eat. What proportions of different sorts of food does your dragon need to maintain ideal health? Find out here.
Young bearded dragons eat more bugs than other types of food. As dragons age, they become more interested in plants. Adult dragons eventually consume considerably more plant food than insects.
If your dragon is to be as healthy as possible, you will need to offer a variety of insects, vegetables, fruit, and even small mammals. Providing a varied diet is not difficult, but it does require some education and preparation. It will also be beneficial for you to establish a feeding schedule with your dragon so you are sure she is getting a balanced diet.
Insects are probably the first thing that you think of when you think of feeding your bearded dragon. Your dragon will love all kinds of insects, including worms, beetle larvae, caterpillars, roaches, and crickets. It is best to provide your dragon with a wide variety of insects, but keep in mind that not all bugs are created equal. Learn what insects should be a staple of your dragon’s diet and which ones are just treated.
Greens and vegetables, as well as the occasional fruit, will serve an important role in your dragon’s diet, especially as she gets older. Learn what greens, vegetables, and fruit you should provide, as well as how to provide them.
In the wild, dragons would eat small mammals as well as insects. In captivity, we can feed live or frozen pinky mice to our dragon’s diets. Consider all of the benefits of feeding pinky mice.
One of the few reptiles commonly kept in captivity that are willing to accept commercial diet and can actually thrive on them are bearded dragons. Learn the advantages of providing a commercial diet as a base for your bearded dragon’s daily meal.
Your dragon will likely eat anything that moves, so it is up to you to provide safe food for her. In the wild, bearded dragons would eat a huge range of different kinds of insects. In captivity, we can try to provide as much range as possible. There is, however, a limit to the safe and available insects to choose from.
Some people choose to catch insects in the wild for their dragon. This can dramatically increase the diversity of your dragon’s diet and also provide interesting food like moths and butterflies. Catching insects in the wild to feed your dragon can be dangerous. Insects can carry bacteria, viruses, or pests which can then infect your dragon.
Furthermore, if you are not certain what the insect is, you may accidentally feed your dragon something poisonous or dangerous. Choose captive-bred insects to provide the safest diet for your dragon.
Most bugs which are called worms in the market are not really worms but in fact the larval stage of a beetle. True worms which your dragon can eat include earthworms and red worms. Worms contain a lot of protein but also tend to be fatty. It isn’t a good idea to feed too many worms. An occasional earthworm or red worm can be a great healthy treat for your dragon.
If the worm is too long for your dragon, cut it into appropriately sized pieces. Worms are a good choice if you want to breed food for your dragon since they don’t go through changing life cycles like larvae and can be sustained and bred very easily in a simple container of dirt and compost.
Some of the most popular bearded dragon food on the market is the larval stage of beetles, moths, or butterflies.
Some moth larvae that are great for your dragon are butter worms and wax worms. Butterworms, also known as Tebo worms or sweet worms, are soft, fatty worms that are very easy for your dragon to eat and digest. Wax worms are similar to butter worms and can be fed in the same way. These caterpillars are too high in fat to form a substantial part of your dragon’s diet, but they are highly desirable and a great way to help your dragon gain some weight after a stressful event like moving into your home.
Hornworms are another caterpillar that is soft and popular with dragons. The bright green color and dramatic size of these caterpillars make them exciting to feed to your dragon. Because these larvae are so high in water content, they can be a great treat if your dragon is a bit dehydrated.
Phoenix Worms and silkworms are some of the few foods that can be fed as a staple of your dragon’s diet since they contain a good balance of nutrients and fat. Both species of caterpillar are great for both baby and mature dragons. Just be careful to choose worms that are no larger than the space between your dragon’s eyes.
Mealworms are among the most popular food for all kinds of pet reptiles and birds. They are readily available live, frozen, and freeze-dried at pretty much all pet stores. Mealworms have a high percentage of fat compared to protein and they have a hard shell which can lead to impaction in small dragons, so they are advised as a small part of the diet for mature dragons only. Since mature dragons will often accept the freeze-dried variety of mealworms, these can be a very convenient part of your dragon’s diet. When your dragon is full grown, she may prefer superworms, which are very similar to mealworms but are considerably larger.
Roaches and Crickets
Roaches and crickets provide some of the best staples for your bearded dragon’s diet since they contain a good balance of protein and nutrients to fat content and have soft shells which provide fiber without creating a risk of impaction like that of mealworms or superworms.
Crickets have been a staple in the pet food market for a long time. You can find live crickets of various sizes as well as freeze-dried crickets at most pet stores. Crickets provide an entertaining feeding as they jump all over your dragon’s cage. You can choose the exact size for your dragon. This makes it is easy to maintain your dragon on crickets throughout her life without worrying about feeding her something too big or small. Crickets are easy to breed in captivity, but they can have a strong odor and make a lot of sounds, so they are not preferable for all people.
For many people, roaches are not a serious consideration since they are simply too gross. If you can’t handle the thought of feeding a roach to anything, you can still provide your dragon with a greatly varied diet. If you are willing to consider roaches, however, you should think seriously about this versatile and easy food source for your dragon.
Dubia roaches are the most commonly fed. Roaches are very easy to breed have less smell than crickets in the breeding colony. Furthermore, they live a long time and grow slowly so you have a great chance of using all of the roaches you produce. Dragons love to eat roaches, but roaches don’t provide as much of a show in the terrarium since they tend to hide and stand still to avoid detection.
Greens and Vegetables
It can be hard to convince your young dragon to eat her veggies, but the older she grows the more willing she will be to consume a wide range of vegetables and greens. Your dragon has the best chance of learning to like greens if you provide the widest range of greens that you can.
Dandelion greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, parsley, escarole, and clover all can function as excellent sources of greens for your dragon. Rip leaves up into bite-size pieces or clips them to something stationary so that your dragon can rip off appropriately sized pieces. Don’t give your dragon lettuce, and only occasionally offer spinach and beet greens.
Your dragon will enjoy all kinds of vegetables that go into your daily meals as well. Broccoli, peas, green beans, okra, zucchini, grated carrots, squash, sweet potato, and bell pepper can all be great options for your dragon. Remember to cut vegetables into bite-size pieces so that your dragon can easily eat them.
High sugar foods like fruit should not serve as a primary source of nutrition for your dragon. It can, however, be a great treat and a good way to tempt young dragons into eating their veggies. Most young dragons will learn to like fruit before they like veggies. By pairing fruits and veggies together you can convince young dragons to try some of the veggies as well.
Peewee, melon, papaya, apricots, peaches, dates, bananas, and plums can all be great treats for your dragon. It is often not as important to cut fruit into small pieces since it is soft enough for dragons to bite out the quantity that they want. Keeping fruit in larger pieces may also keep it from going bad as quickly.
If your dragon has had some trouble catching insects, especially agile insects like cricket, you may find that a piece of fruit in the enclosure will attract insects, making it easier for your dragon to catch them.
In the wild, your bearded dragon would take any opportunity to eat bite-sized small mammals and birds. Your dragon would not think twice about raiding a bird’s nest or searching out a nest of baby mice. Mammals provide a different dietary profile than insects or other foods, so there is a good argument to be made for pinkie mice being a beneficial part of your dragon’s diet.
If the thought of feeding live baby mice to your dragon is tasteful you can also get frozen mice of the exact size specifications that you need. These mice can then be thawed and fed to your dragon. Most bearded dragons are more than willing to take thawed pinkie mice. The younger a pinky mouse is, the lower it will be in fat. Baby mice contain high levels of calcium and other trace nutrients that are great for your dragon.
Bearded dragons respond unusually well to commercial diets. This is doubtless one of the attractions of this lizard as a pet. Remember that no animal will thrive on an entirely commercial diet. Fresh and living food is also important for your dragon’s health.
That said, commercial diets are balanced by experts for your dragon’s nutrition. It is a great idea to provide a commercial diet as a base for your dragon’s daily meal and then supplement with fresh fruits, vegetables, insects, and pinky mice.
Bearded dragons are easier to feed than many other commonly kept reptiles. They can be a lot of fun to feed too. Every dragon has its own preferences and pickiness. You will have fun getting to know your particular dragon’s personality when it comes to food. Provide a wide variety of foods throughout your dragon’s lifetime.
Encourage your dragon to eat the correct level of greens versus insects for her age. You will find that she begins liking more and more foods that she previously rejected as she gets older. Have fun feeding your dragon. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of having your dragon run up to the glass in anticipation of a great treat.