If you’re a beardie lover and owner, then I’m sure you know the stress of not knowing which foods are healthy for your dragon or worst – which foods can be toxic! When you first bring your dragon home it can all be so overwhelming. Firs they might go off their food because of their sometimes sensitive and stubborn ways. And then having to shop for insects and keep them alive while you try to keep your dragon live. It can get crazy at times….The things we do for love, huh? 🙂
Needless to say, all of this was the inspiration behind why we created this article. We wanted to shed light on these issues while also showing you how to create the most nutritious bearded dragon diet that will help your bearded dragon lead a healthy and long life!
Bearded Dragon Diet Breakdown
First, as you know, bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter.
As they mature into adulthood, this ratio gradually flips with adults needing 80% greens and 20% insects. You don’t have to do much. As they grow they will stop eating multiple times a day and instead may only eat once every few days. Regardless, you want to always make sure their salads are readily available to them each day.
The recommended diet for feeding bearded dragons should primarily consist of fresh salads and live feeder insects sprinkled with some calcium and a multivitamin. However, fruit should only be fed as a treat or for training purposes.
Fresh salads should be offered daily and consists of greens such as collards, dandelions or mustard greens as their staple vegetables (should be included in every salad). We recommend mixing 2 calcium rich greens for the base.
There are many different types of insects, greens, vegetables, and fruits that dragons can eat, with some providing more nutritional benefits than others.
To make the salad more appealing you can add texture or color with fresh chopped green beans, Konnayu (purple yams) or shaved butternut squash. Sometimes you can add a few worms as well if your bearded dragon is not eating.
We realize that Raising Bearded Dragon’s readers and customers are located worldwide, thus the availability of certain insects and even vegetables and greens vary widely. In the states, in Florida Dubia Rocahes are illegal. And in the UK their staple insects are Locusts. And in rural US states it may be difficult to get some of the specialty greens. So just check with your local breeder or reptile store to determine what is offered in your community.
Bearded Dragon Diet For New Owners
For starters when it comes to building a bearded dragon salad or meal plan the most important thing to remember is everything in moderation. Instead of feeding them the same salad mix all the time you want to rotate out their vegetables every few weeks. Why, this helps them to adapt better to other changes in their life?
And most importantly, when you diversify their vegetables, it helps them to receive a good balance of all the vitamins they need. Giving them too much of one vegetable and not enough of another can lead to hyper or hypo vitamintosis. This is basically when dragons get too many vitamins or the opposite, not enough. Neither of these things are good, so it is easiest to rotate their vegetables out every couple of weeks.
Always feed them fresh greens and vegetables instead of dried, bagged or preserved food.
Why fresh greens? Because eating fresh and organic produce will help them receive the highest percentage/concentration of essential vitamins, minerals and key nutrients that are needed to build both their immune system (and fight off infections) as well as their digestive system (to effectively eliminate waste). When either of these systems fail, they quickly lead to disease, parasites and other deteriorating health issues.
Bad bearded dragon diet = Major Health Issues!
Bearded Dragons bodies can be a lot like humans and they also suffer many of the same diseases such as gout, liver failure, cancer or even periodontitis (gum disease). Their health largely depends on a nutritious diet rich in alkaline foods (namely fresh vegetables). They also need to have their calcium and multivitamin because the calcium helps to strengthen their skeletal structure (and prevent Metabolic Bone Disease). And it also helps with their nervous function and is essential for pregnant females to lay healthy eggs.
As a new owner it can be frustrating to get them to eat their greens or food because bearded dragons are very sensitive to changes – such as their diet, their tank set up or even where they live! So they may go off food for a day or two, this is fine and fairly common in many cases. However, in the event that this happens, it is important to give them a warm soak.
Giving your bearded dragon a warm soak for about 10-15 minutes will help to keep them hydrated; relaxes their nerves; strengthens their trust bond with you; and keeps their digestive system operating efficiently for when they do start back eating again.
dry YOur Dragon thoroughly after their soak to avoid fluctuating humidity in the tank.
Fluctuating humidity in the tank often leads to infections and dragons getting SICK because of the difficulty in regulating their body temperature. So to this point, it is important to not leave your water bowl in their tank either.
New to Bearded Dragon Ownership? Then you will probably find a lot of value in our FREE BEARDED DRAGON FOOD LIST! It offers a comprehensive food chart, as well as supplementation and feeding schedules based on your dragons age.
Best Starter Foods For Your Bearded Dragon Diet
For staple insects, you can use:
~Dubia Roaches (Blaptica dubia)
~Discoid Roaches (Blaberus discoidalis)
Phoenix/Repti Worms – These are our top recommendation for feeder insects. They are Black Soldier Fly larvae and despite their small size, they are packed with beneficial calcium. They’re also soft-shelled, which makes them wonderful worms for baby dragons!
Silk Worms – These worms are high in protein and low in fat and are enticing worms that most dragons love! They also are recommended for gravid (pregnant) females.
While crickets are a popular choice for staple insect, they pale in comparison to the quality of roaches. Crickets are loud, smelly, and will potentially chew on your dragon if left in the cage. Roaches are nutritionally superior, with a single nymph being equivalent to about 5 crickets! Only use crickets if you have no other choice.
Don’t make the mistake of feeding mealworms – these are empty calories for dragons and they have hard outer shells, making them difficult to digest for young beardies. NOT WORTH IT!
Maintaining Your Feeder Insects:
Feeder Insects have different requirements for their care. So please consult with your supplier to learn more about storage requirements. Bearded Dragons need to be fed live gut-loaded feeder insects.
What is the meaning of “gut-loaded”?
Essentially, your bearded dragon is eating whatever the feeder insect is eating. So gut-loading is the technical term given to feeding your insects in a healthy way the same as you would do for your bearded dragon.
You want to make sure you know the source or supplier of your feeder insects and the source of the food they are eating. And you should never feed your dragon any insects from your backyard or garden. Finally, before feeding your insects to your dragon (just prior to feeding time), it is a good practice to toss them in a plastic baggie or dedicated covered container, sprinkle some calcium powder on them and give them a light shake to coat them. You don’t want to shake too hard and kill them. Just shake enough to dizzy them and make them easier for your dragon to eat.
Building Your Salads
On a daily basis, provide a salad filled with dark, leafy greens and vegetables, dusted with Repashy’s Superveggie. Fantastic choices are:
- Green Beans
- Acorn Squash
- Butternut Squash
- Yuca Roots
- Konnayu (Purple Yams)
- Red Peppers
Fruits: [Only feed as a rare treat]
Fruits have natural sugars so that is why we only recommend them as a treat or use them for training purposes. We also recommend you don’t feed your bearded dragon any highly acidic/citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and tomatoes. Avocados are also super high in fat and toxic in nature. So we don’t recommend those either.
Supplementation is just as important as the diet itself.
If you have a baby bearded dragon we recommend you dizzy your insects before feeding them. You do this by recycling an old container such as a cardboard tubular oatmeal box or a large zip lock baggie. Toss the live feeder insects in there with a sprinkle of calcium powder and give them a shake for a few seconds. Remember that the insects must be fed live so you don’t want to shake them too much. This helps slow them down once you put them in their tank.
These are our recommended essentials to create an awesome and nutritious bearded dragon diet! Again, this is one of the most important aspects of caring for a dragon – when you provide a proper diet, you’re already making huge steps to preventing one of the top causes of death in these beautiful creatures!
Want to go beyond the basics of food care? Then you absolutely would benefit from our Ultimate Bearded Dragon Nutrition System. The guide includes:
- A Pre-Made Reusable Shopping List Template
- Over 100+ Beautiful But Deadly Toxic Household Plants
- The feeding and proper storage of feeder insects
- And More…!