Tanya is an animal lover to has care experience with a variety of animals. She has studied as a vet technician and now is a volunteer.
Pet owners want nothing more than to provide their friends with the best nutrition they can. We all want our pets to live their longest and best life possible. Bearded dragons do not have a very complex diet, however, they have needs that must be met in order to provide them with the right vitamins that they may be missing from living in the wild.
Your Beardie Is an Omnivore
One of the first things to consider about a bearded dragon's diet is the fact that they are an omnivore. This means that they eat a mixture of insects and plants. This is fairly easy to do with a variety of vegetables from the grocery store and bugs from a pet store. Keep in mind that you will need to add some supplements that they do not always get in captivity.
How Often to Feed
The age of your bearded dragon dictates what and how much you should feed them. A baby beardie will require more protein and therefore should eat mostly insects multiple times a day. As they grow older, their ratio of bugs to vegetables will shift, and by the time they are adults they should be eating once a day and mostly vegetables.
The chart below from Reptile Guide is a great reference for feeding.
The Importance of Calcium and Vitamin D
Of all the supplements that are out there, Vitamin D3 and Calcium are the most important for your pet to have Bearded dragons can not metabolize calcium, which means it needs Vitamin D to help them process it in their systems. Both of these are important for bone and muscle development.
n the wild, bearded dragons receive their Vitamin D from the sun and the light in their tank should mimic this as well. This means you should dust your feeder insects/veggies with a calcium supplement.
A general guide would be:
- Baby (0 to 4 months): Daily calcium dusting
- Juveniles (4 to 12 months): 3 to 4 times a week
- Sub Adults (12 to18 months: 1 time a week
- Adults (18+ months): 1 time a week
When you are buying a calcium supplement, check the labels for one with a phosphorus ratio of at least 2:1. Phosphorus is not something you want to give too much of. You can easily find Calcium supplements in powdered or liquid form at your local pet store.
Be Aware of Other Vitamins
Too much vitamin A can be toxic to your pet dragon. It can build up in the body and lead to death in some cases. An alternative is using beta carotene instead of vitamin A.
Babies need iron to grow big and strong, but any fruit or vegetables with high iron content should not be given daily. An excess of iron can cause health issues in your bearded dragon. The best way to give your dragon iron is through their vegetables. They should not need any supplements for Iron.
Bearded dragons love their bugs! They can be stubborn and turn their nose up at their salads hoping to be fed insects. Many owners follow the 10-minute rule when feeding bugs. This means they feed as many bugs to their dragon as they want in the span of 10 minutes.
By keeping it around 10 minutes it is easy to ensure your dragon is getting full without overeating. Like other animals in captivity, they are at risk to become obese. A healthy mix of vegetables and insects will help keep them healthy.
To see a bigger version of the Feeder Insects chart, click here.
Vegetables will be your staple food for your bearded dragon. By the time they are adults, they should be eating mostly greens.
There is a wide variety to choose from and it is recommended that you switch up what they are getting each week to keep them excited and not bored of the same vegetables every day. You will quickly find out the things they like and dislike and this will allow you to make the best food combinations for your pet.
The chart below (bigger version available by clicking the link) highlights some of the vegetables that others use in their feedings, but it is in no way a complete list.
Another thing bearded dragons love is fruit. Fruit, however, should not be a daily food. Since they are often high in sugars, you need to be careful how often you give them the sweet stuff.
A nice balance of fruit occasionally in their salads is a great treat and can provide them with added nutrition.
To see a larger version of the Feeder Fruits chart, click here.
Foods to Never Feed Your Beardie
There are a few things that you should never feed your beardie:
- Avocados (Toxic)
- Rhubarb (Toxic)
- Insects captured in the wild
It may look overwhelming but be assured it is not very hard. It takes a bit of common sense and referencing any food's nutritional value if you are unsure to create a salad that your dragon will devour.
Makes notes about what your bearded dragon likes and dislikes, and you will be able to provide them with enough variety to keep them happy throughout their lives.
Mariah (January 17, 2022), Feed Insect Nutrition Facts for Reptile Keepers, Reptifiles, https://reptifiles.com/feeder-insect-nutrition-facts-chart/
Nutrition Data, https://nutritiondata.self.com/
Staff Writer, Bearded Dragons, Calcium, and Vitamin D3: Everything you need to know, Dragon's Diet, https://dragonsdiet.com/blogs/dragon-care/bearded-dragons-calcium-and-vitamin-d3-everything-you-need-to-know
Staff Writer, Vitamins and Minerals for Bearded Dragons, Bearded Dragon Care 101, https://www.beardeddragoncare101.com/vitamins-minerals-bearded-dragons/
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Tanya Huffman