In the wild, bearded dragons’ diet mainly consists of insects, but they also eat plant materials such as fruits, vegetables, and flowers. In captivity, the ideal diet for a bearded dragon is a balance of protein, vegetables, and fruits. Some common foods that bearded dragons can eat include:
- Insects: crickets, mealworms, waxworms, roaches, super worms, hornworms, and more.
- Vegetables: kale, collard greens, mustard greens, bok choy, turnip greens, dandelion greens, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, bell peppers, and more.
- Fruits: apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mango, papaya, and more.
- Commercial pellets or canned diets provide a balanced diet and a convenient way to ensure your bearded dragon gets all the necessary nutrients.
Bearded Dragon Diet Plan
A proper meal plan should include live insects. These insects provide a vital source of protein and nutrients for the reptile. Other food items should include meat, fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals.
Insects should make up a significant portion of the diet; juvenile bearded dragons and adult dragons that eat insects regularly should be free-fed live insects. When transitioning an animal from a wet to a dry diet, it’s necessary to soak them in water (two parts water: one part dry diet) to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upset.
Here are some insects you can feed your bearded dragon:
- Crickets: These are a staple food for bearded dragons. They are readily available and are a good source of protein.
- Dubia roaches are another excellent protein source and are high in calcium and are also low in fat.
- Mealworms: They are high in fat and should be fed sparingly. They are a good source of protein but should not be the primary source of protein in your bearded dragon’s diet.
- Superworms: These are similar to mealworms but are larger and have a higher protein content. They are also higher in fat, so they should be fed sparingly.
- Waxworms: These are high in fat, so they should only be given as an occasional treat. They could be a better source of protein.
According to VCA Animal Hospital, bearded dragons are omnivores who can eat insects and various plant-based foods. Therefore, providing them with a varied diet that includes vegetables is essential. The best vegetables for feeding bearded dragons include turnip greens, radish greens, carrot greens, and peeled cucumber. These vegetables provide essential nutrients and are easy to digest.
When feeding your bearded dragon vegetables, choose those high in fiber and low in fat; this will help ensure their long-term health. Avoid feeding your bearded dragon any rhubarb, as it is toxic to bearded dragons. Instead, give them collard greens or dandelion greens as their favorite choice of vegetable. These greens contain high amounts of nutrients and calcium but are low in fat and calories.
Fruits should constitute the smallest part of a bearded dragon’s diet, making up no more than 25% of the total meal. However, if cut into small, manageable pieces, fruits can be essential to a bearded dragon’s diet. Superworms, earthworms, crickets, and fruit flies comprise the bulk of a bearded dragon’s diet. Safe fruits include strawberries, melons, bananas, apples, and blueberries. These should make up the majority of a bearded dragon’s meal.
Calcium and Vitamin Supplements
Calcium and vitamin supplements are essential to a bearded dragon’s diet. These supplements help to provide the additional vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in a captive bearded dragon’s diet.
Calcium is an essential mineral that helps to promote healthy bone growth and development. Without sufficient calcium, bearded dragons may develop the metabolic bone disease, leading to severe deformities and death. Therefore, providing a calcium supplement containing vitamin D3 helps absorb calcium.
Water is an essential element of a bearded dragon’s diet, and they should always have access to clean, fresh water. You can provide water to your bearded dragon in a shallow dish large enough to climb into if they want to soak but not so deep that they could drown. Some bearded dragons will also drink from a water bottle or dropper.
It is essential to change the water frequently to ensure that it is clean and free of any bacteria or contaminants. However, you should never treat your bearded dragon water with chlorine or other chemicals. However, if you are still determining the quality of your tap water, you can use a water conditioner or provide bottled water.
Common Feeding Mistakes
- Overfeeding: Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues in bearded dragons. Feed your dragon the right amount of food based on size and age.
- Not providing a varied diet: Bearded dragons need a varied diet to get all the necessary nutrients. Offer a mix of insects and greens to provide a balanced diet.
- Feeding the wrong insects: Not all insects are suitable for bearded dragons. Avoid feeding your dragon insects high in fat, such as mealworms, super worms, and waxworms.
- Feeding too large insects: Insects that are too large can cause impaction and other digestive problems. Feed your dragon insects no more significant than the space between its eyes.
- Not providing enough calcium: Bearded dragons need calcium for healthy bone growth and development. Dust your dragon’s food with calcium powder to ensure they are getting enough.
- Need to provide more water: Bearded dragons always need access to clean water. Ensure that your dragon’s water dish is always whole and clean.
- Feeding inappropriate human food: Avoid feeding your dragon human food high in fat, salt, or sugar. These foods can lead to obesity and other health issues in bearded dragons.
- Not monitoring your dragon’s weight: Regularly weigh it to ensure it maintains a healthy weight. Obesity can lead to health problems such as fatty liver disease.