How Often to Feed a Bearded Dragon –
A Vet Explains Everything You Should Know
March 24, 2022
If you own a bearded dragon or are planning to have one as a pet in the future, you must have all the essential information regarding not only their diet but also on how often to feed bearded dragons.
Offering a balanced diet and following feeding guidelines will help keep your beardie healthy -and avoid those expensive visits to the vet. After all, your pet depends on you for proper nourishment, and as a good pet parent, it is your responsibility to make sure you’re up to date with everything related to feeding your bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons’ feeding schedules and diet change with their age.
Having an appropriate feeding schedule will help you ensure your beardie gets enough food every day and stays healthy and nourished.
But how often should you feed your beardie, and what factors do you need to consider when planning a feeding schedule?
Let’s find out.
How Often Should You Feed a Bearded Dragon?
The simple answer is that it depends on the bearded dragon’s age. Bearded dragons’ feeding schedules and diet change with their age, so it is the most important factor when it comes to feeding bearded dragons.
Bearded dragons can be divided into three categories considering their age, and each age category has a different feeding schedule. These age categories are:
- babies (0-6 months),
- juveniles (6-18 months), and
- fully grown adults (18+ months).
Babies, juveniles, and adult bearded dragons all have different feeding requirements, timings, and daily feeding frequencies. As an owner of a bearded dragon, knowing when to feed and how often to feed a beardie of a certain age is an important part of proper feeding and essential for keeping your pet in good health.
So, what are the guidelines for planning a feeding schedule for bearded dragons? Let us explain:
How Often Do You Feed a Bearded Dragon –
An Age-Specific Guide
As age is the most important factor in deciding how often you will feed your beardie, feeding schedules depend on which age category your pet falls into.
How often to feed baby bearded dragon (0-6 months)
Baby bearded dragons have the highest feeding frequency because they grow fast and need a lot of energy to sustain that growth.
In nature, baby beardies need to grow big quickly to avoid predators. Therefore, the quicker they grow, the better it is for their survival in the wild. But in captivity, their appetite for food can cause problems as they may overstuff themselves with it.
High protein food is necessary for beardies during this age. Therefore, the ratio of insects in the diet of a baby bearded dragon should be at least 80%, while the rest should be vegetables and greens.
Also, baby beardies need 3 to 5 meals per day every 3 to 4 hours.
This may seem a little high for such a young age but remember that beardies can only eat pieces of food that are smaller than the distance between their eyes. This means that each mouthful is small, and, therefore, baby beardies need to eat often to reach their daily calorie requirements.
Each feeding session should be about 10 to 15 minutes, and allow your baby bearded dragon to consume as many insects as it wants during this time.
Normally, they would consume around 30 to 80 small-sized insects a day, which is important for them as they need to build fat reserves in the body for survival.
Crickets make a good food choice during this age as they have high protein and fat content and are easily available.
How often to feed juvenile bearded dragon (6-18 months)
Bearded dragons more than the age of 6 months and below the age of 18 months are considered juveniles. Juvenile bearded dragons are also known as sub-adults.
Juvenile beardies or sub-adults are not sexually mature and are in the growing phase of their life. They have nearly the same diet as the baby bearded dragons, but the feeding frequency is reduced.
Juvenile beardies need about 2 meals in a day, and their diet should consist of 70% insects, with the remaining 30% being veggies or greens.
They still need a high protein diet to promote growth, but due to the increase in size, they only need two meals a day. Crickets are an ideal protein source for juveniles, and a healthy juvenile bearded dragon can consume up to 20 to 60 insects in a single serving.
How often do you feed an adult bearded dragon (18+ months)
A bearded dragon can be considered an adult when it reaches the age of 18 months. At that age, adult bearded dragons are sexually mature and can reproduce. Adult bearded dragons have a very different diet compared to younger ones.
An adult bearded dragon needs to be fed once a day. They can even go a day without food occasionally, but you should never skip meals regularly.
An adult beardie’s diet should contain more veggies and greens than insects because insects are rich in fat and protein and can cause obesity issues in adults. Therefore, an adult bearded dragon diet should have a ratio of about 20% insects and 80% vegetables or greens.
Offer food to your adult beardie in a 15-minute feeding window each day. Generally, healthy adult beardies will consume about 10 to 15 insects in a day. By this age, you should feed large-sized insects and during this time quality of food is more important than quantity.
What Time Of Day Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded animals, so they need to get their metabolism going before they eat. Therefore, always try to feed your bearded dragon at least 2 hours after turning on the lights in its habitat.
If you have an adult beardie, you can feed it any time of the day. Just make sure it’s more than 2 hours after the lights have been turned on and more than 2 hours before you will turn the lights off.
This also goes for baby and juvenile dragons -although they require several feedings each day. You just have to give them 2 hours before and after switching the lights on and off. This is important because they need a specific body temperature to digest their food properly.
FAQ On How Often Do Bearded Dragons Eat
Here are some of the questions we often get related to how often you should feed bearded dragons.
How often should I feed my bearded dragon mealworms?
Mealworms are not a very good food choice for bearded dragons because they have a very hard outer covering, also known as an exoskeleton, which is made up of chitin.
This material is very hard to digest and can even lead to an impaction. On top of that, mealworms don’t have a very good nutritional profile. In case of an emergency, when you have no other food items available, you can offer a few mealworms to your bearded dragon depending upon its age, just to satisfy its hunger. For example, for an adult beardie, 8 to 10 mealworms are enough for one time but don’t feed them regularly.
How often should bearded dragons eat crickets?
Crickets are one of the healthiest and most readily available insects for feeding your bearded dragon, and you can feed them daily. A healthy, fully grown bearded dragon should consume as many crickets as it can eat in a 10 to 15-minute feeding window every day.
However, you should never forget to feed the required amount of veggies or greens along with crickets.
How often do you feed baby bearded dragon crickets?
Baby bearded dragons below the age of 4 months should be fed crickets 3 to 5 times a day. You should let them eat as many crickets as they can consume in a 15-minute feeding session.
Crickets, in particular, have a high protein content which is very important to sustain the quick growth of baby beardies. Crickets also don’t pose any health problems for bearded dragons and are considered a safe feeding option for them.
Bottom line – How Often Do You Feed Bearded Dragons?
Bearded dragons have special feeding requirements, and you cannot feed them everything available in your home. They have a special diet that includes specific insects, vegetables, greens, and fruits.
The nutritional requirements of bearded dragons depend on their age and change as they grow. When they are babies, they need frequent feeding sessions every few hours to promote quick growth during their early life.
But as they grow old, their feeding requirements change, and juvenile beardies only need two meals per day. Finally, when they become fully grown adults, bearded dragons don’t need a high protein diet and only require a single meal in a day because they have already grown to their maximum size, and by this age, they only need food to maintain their weight and to enable reproduction.
To be a good pet parent, you must make sure you provide your beardie with a species-specific diet and follow feeding guidelines such as feeding schedules.
Don’t overfeed or underfeed your bearded dragons and follow the feeding schedule according to their age, so your pet remains healthy and well-nourished.
Reptiles are very sensitive when it comes to their environment and nutrition. Therefore, you need to make sure that you provide a balanced diet and follow an age-appropriate feeding schedule.
If you have an adult bearded dragon, feed it at the same time every day and never make sudden changes in the feeding schedule.
Consult a veterinarian before changing the diet and time of feeding. Give adequate time to your bearded dragon before feeding because they are cold-blooded animals and need time to warm up their bodies for proper digestion of food. Don’t overfeed adult beardies as this can lead to obesity; feeding once a day is enough for their dietary needs.
– Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM
NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.