What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Bearded Dragon Diet
February 20, 2022
Bearded dragons have become more and more popular as pets in recent years. This is because they are relatively low-maintenance, active, and fun to watch. Yet, although beardies are considered good pets even for beginners, they do have complex dietary needs that need to be followed carefully to avoid any health issues.
Once you get the hang of it, you will most likely enjoy serving up combinations of different foods and finding out which ones are your dragon’s favorites.
Beardies are exotic pets, and as such, they have very specific nutritional requirements when it comes to their food. The bearded dragon diet contains a lot of variety and different foods ranging from leafy greens to bugs and worms. Because beardies eat such a wide range of different foods, their diet may seem complicated at first.
On the other hand, feeding a beardie can be fun because of all the options available and the possibility to watch them chase live prey. Also, feeding your beardie is easy to master once you understand which foods are safe and suitable.
So, what do bearded dragons eat? Let’s find out.
- What Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
- What Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon – The Basics
- Fruits and Vegetables for Bearded Dragons
- What Vegetables Can a Bearded Dragon Eat?
- What Leafy Greens Are Good for Bearded Dragons?
- What Fruits Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
- What Insects Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
- What Flowers Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
- Calcium for Bearded Dragons
- What Foods Can Bearded Dragons Not Eat?
- What Do Bearded Dragons Eat in the Wild?
- What Do Young Bearded Dragons Eat?
- Summing Up – What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
- Vet’s Comment
What Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
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Bearded dragons have adapted to a habitat where food is sparse. Therefore, they have evolved to eat a varied diet of insects, small vertebrates, leafy greens, vegetables, and small amounts of fruits.
They are omnivores, which means they eat both animals and plants. However, young bearded dragons need a more animal-based diet than adults beardies:
- Young bearded dragons eat about 70-80% of bugs, insects, and worms. Only 20-30% of their daily food intake should comprise vegetables and leafy greens.
- Adult beardies, however, need the exact opposite. 70-80% of an adult bearded dragon’s diet should be made up of veggies and greens, with only 20-30% of their energy coming from animal sources.
So, this is what a beardie diet looks like in general, but what foods can bearded dragons eat? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, here are the basics you need to know about feeding a bearded dragon.
What Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon – The Basics
Before you start serving your pogona different foods, here are a few things you should know:
- A diverse diet is essential to ensure your beardie gets all the different nutrients they need. A varied diet also provides enrichment and keeps your beardie interested in its food.
- Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they need to get their energy from both plant- and animal-based sources. Beardies cannot be vegetarians or vegans to avoid health issues.
- Although beardies eat a wide range of different foods, many can be harmful or don’t provide your pet with the nutrients they need. You should always check before feeding something new to your dragon.
- Oxalic acid is something you need to be careful with. It binds with calcium causing calcium deficiency and metabolic bone disease.
- The food should be fed from a shallow dish that won’t get tipped over easily.
- Make sure to cut vegetables, greens, and fruits into bite-sized pieces to make them easy to swallow and digest. Each piece should not be larger than the space between your beardie’s eyes.
- Veggies should be mixed together to prevent selective eating, which could lead to nutrient deficiencies.
- Vegetables and fruits can be prepared in advance and kept in the freezer before feeding. Some owners prefer to cut veggies and fruits into adequately sized pieces and divide them into appropriate portions of mixed veggies that can be thawed before serving them up to your beardie.
- Any uneaten food should be removed after an hour to make sure your pet doesn’t eat any food that has gone bad. Spoiled food can easily make you pogona ill.
- Bearded dragons are generally good eaters, so if you feel your beardie has lost interest in food, ask a vet for advice. A loss of appetite could be the first sign of illness.
Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s head over to all the different foods you can feed your bearded dragon.
Fruits and Vegetables for Bearded Dragons
First of all, as we stated earlier,
- The diet of young bearded dragons should comprise 70-80% of animal-based foods and only 20-30% of vegetables, leafy greens, and fruits.
- Adult beardies are the opposite and need 70-80% of their diet to be made up of veggies and greens, and only 20-30% of their energy to come from animal sources.
The majority of plant material should comprise vegetables and leafy greens, with only a small amount of fruits. This is due to the fact that fruits contain sugar which may lead to health problems like tooth decay, obesity, or tummy trouble.
When feeding your beardies veggies and fruits,
- 80-90% of the total intake should be leafy greens and vegetables (most of the vegetables being dark green with a smaller portion of red, orange, and yellow veggies)
- And only 10-20% of fruits (preferably ones that are low in sugar and acid)
Flowers can also be added to the diet as an occasional treat.
Try to feed your beardie organic veggies when possible to avoid any unnecessary chemicals.
Next, let’s find out which vegetables and fruits are suitable for pogonas.
What Vegetables Can a Bearded Dragon Eat?
Since 70-80% of an adult bearded dragon’s diet should consist of veggies, you need to make sure your pet’s veggie plate includes a variety of different vegetables to ensure the intake of all essential vitamins and minerals.
Vegetables can be fed raw or cooked, but we recommend raw veggies because they lose some of their nutrients when cooked. Raw foods are also more natural for beardies.
We recommend raw veggies because they lose some of their nutrients when cooked.
Always wash veggies before serving because they may contain dirt, pesticides, or other harmful chemicals. Also, cut up the veggies into bite-sized pieces, remove any seeds, and do your research to determine which veggies are safe for your pet.
We also recommend opting for organic produce as it is safer for your beardie.
Some of the most common veggies your beardie may like include:
- Bell Peppers
- Bok choy
- Butternut squash
- Green beans
- Sweet potato
- Swiss chard
For more important information on feeding vegetables safely, check out our article on Feeding Vegetables to Your Bearded Dragon.
What Leafy Greens Are Good for Bearded Dragons?
Leafy greens are healthy and contain loads of nutrients that are essential to your dragon’s health. Therefore, leafy greens should make up the majority of veggies you feed to your bearded dragon.
However, not all leafy greens are suitable for beardies. For example, swiss chard, spinach, and beet greens contain oxalates, so they should only be fed sparingly or not at all. The oxalic acid in these foods binds to calcium preventing the body from absorbing it. If foods that are high in oxalates are fed too often, it may lead to calcium deficiency and metabolic bone disease (MBD) in beardies.
Remember to wash leafy greens thoroughly before serving, and cut them up into small pieces to prevent choking.
Here are some of the most common leafy greens bearded dragons enjoy:
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Lamb’s lettuce
- Mustard greens
- Spring greens
- Turnip greens
Again, for a more detailed guide on how to feed leafy greens to your beardie safely, click over to our article on Feeding Leafy Greens to Your Bearded Dragon.
What Fruits Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Although your pet probably enjoys fruits because of their sweetness, they should only make up about 10-20% of your beardie’s plant-based energy intake. Fruits may contain many vitamins, but they are not rich in minerals that are an essential part of a beardie diet.
Too much sugar may lead to tooth decay, weight gain, and gastrointestinal upsets.
Often, fruits also contain a lot of sugar which can lead to health issues when fed excessively. Too much sugar may lead to tooth decay, weight gain, and gastrointestinal upsets. Also, a diet that is too high in sugar can raise your beardie’s yeast levels leading to infections like yellow fungus disease.
Although too much fruit in a beardie diet may cause problems, serving fruits also has its benefits. If your pet is a picky eater and doesn’t want to eat veggies, sprinkling their serving of vegetables and leafy greens with small pieces of fruit may get your beardie eating. They are attracted to the sweetness of the fruit but often end up eating the greens as well.
Again, wash the fruits before feeding to avoid harmful chemicals and dirt, cut them up, and remember to remove seeds or pits. Always check the safety of any new fruits because some are toxic or harmful to pogonas.
If you want to learn more about feeding fruits to your dragon, see Fruits Bearded Dragons Can Eat Safely.
Fruits Bearded Dragons Can Eat
Here is a list of some of the most common fruits bearded dragons like to eat:
Citrus fruits should be avoided as they may cause gastrointestinal upsets due to their acidity.
What Insects Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Bearded dragons will eat many kinds of insects, bugs, and worms, but not all of them are safe or suitable for their diet. As a responsible pet parent, you should make sure you know which bugs fit a nutritious and balanced diet and make sure the ones you buy are safe.
You should never feed your beardie with insects you find in the backyard.
You can raise live prey yourself, but many owners decide to buy them online or from a pet store because it’s just more convenient. We have added links to our favorite products to help you out.
You should never feed your beardie with insects you find in the backyard or in your house because they may contain pesticides and parasites that may be harmful to your pet.
Some of the most common bugs and worms for bearded dragons are:
- Cockroaches (see our recommendation)
- Crickets (see our recommendation)
- Dubia roaches (see our recommendation)
- Earthworms (see our recommendation)
- Grasshoppers (see our recommendation)
- Hornworms (see our recommendation)
- Mealworms (only for adult beardies) (see our recommendation)
- Phoenix worms (see our recommendation)
- Silkworms (see our recommendation)
- Superworms (only for adult beardies) (see our recommendation)
- Waxworms (only as a treat because they are high in fats) (see our recommendation)
Dubia roaches and crickets are two of the most common feeder insects for pogonas. They can both be considered good choices for staple food. Still, many people prefer dubia roaches because they are rich in protein, quiet, can’t jump or escape, don’t carry parasites, live longer, and don’t smell. However, if the idea of growing roaches makes you squeamish, crickets might be the better option for you.
Sometimes beardies can be picky eaters, and you may have to test which source of protein they prefer. Also, if you want to feed your beardie live prey, gut-loading will help you provide a more nutritious diet.
In addition to gut-loading, dusting the insects or worms with calcium powder will help you ensure adequate calcium intake and avoid metabolic bone disease (MBD).
Remember that young beardies under the age of 18 months should not be fed mealworms or superworms because they have a chitin shell that juvenile beardies can’t digest well and which could cause an impaction. Other worms are a better choice for growing dragons to make sure they get all the protein needed for growth.
Also, keep in mind that spiders, ticks, and fireflies can be toxic and may even kill your beardie, so stay away from these insects. You should also make sure your beardie does not eat bees, wasps, and monarch or queen butterflies
For our detailed guides to feeding animal-based foods, check out our articles on What Insects Can Bearded Dragons Eat and Can Bearded Dragons Eat Meat.
What Flowers Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
In addition to fruits and veggies, you can occasionally treat your pogona to flowers.
Some of the flowers your pet can eat safely are:
You can grow flowers in your garden or buy them from a flower shop. Sometimes you may even be able to get some flowers for free if your local flower boutique is throwing out ones that have wilted and are not sellable anymore.
Before buying, always make sure there are no chemicals added to the water. Also, if you grow your own flowers, don’t use any chemicals.
For more information about flowers that your beardie can eat, see Feeding Flowers to Your Bearded Dragon.
Calcium for Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons need calcium in their food to ensure healthy bone development, neurological processes, and many bodily functions. Unfortunately, the most common problems veterinarians see are related to not supplementing a beardie’s diet adequately, so it is crucial to ensure you know how to use supplements correctly.
It is crucial to ensure you know how to use supplements correctly.
Bearded dragons need their diet to be higher in calcium than phosphorus. It is especially important for young beardies who need calcium to support the health of their growing bones.
First of all, you need to avoid foods that are too high in oxalates. This is because the oxalic acids bind with the calcium in the food and body, causing calcium deficiency and health issues like MBD.
The easiest way to guarantee adequate calcium intake is to sprinkle their food with calcium powder. These are our recommendations for your pet:
- Promotes healthy bones and vital bodily functions
- Calcium supplement without Vitamin D3
- Spray directly from bottle onto food 15 seconds before serving
For more information on how to supplement your beardie’s diet correctly, click here.
What Foods Can Bearded Dragons Not Eat?
Even if there are many foods bearded dragons can and should eat, there are also many they shouldn’t. Some foods can have zero nutritional benefits, while others can be straight-up toxic.
Some foods can have zero nutritional benefits, while others can be straight-up toxic.
First of all, obesity is very common in bearded dragons, so you should avoid overfeeding. Because adult beardies often have a healthy appetite, they are prone to weight gain and obesity if they are fed too much or too often. Being overweight may lead to health issues such as heart disease or problems with the joints.
Twenty insects a day is the maximum for adult beardies because too many high-protein foods are often the main reason for obesity. Sugary fruits should also be fed in moderation, as high-sugar foods easily lead to gaining weight.
Here is a list of what not to feed bearded dragons:
- Beet tops
- Iceberg lettuce
Although there are many fruits and veggies you can safely feed bearded dragons, there are some exceptions that can make your pet ill. Always make sure to check before feeding any new food to ensure you’re not offering anything that could be toxic.
Also, make sure to avoid celery and iceberg lettuce because they both contain a lot of water but very little nutrients.
Because in the wild bearded dragons get their animal protein from insects, meat like chicken, beef, or fish should not be a part of their diet. Although beardies are omnivores, meats are too high in fats and phosphorus and should not be fed.
Also, note that fireflies, spiders, and ticks can be toxic and should not be included in your beardies diet.
What Do Bearded Dragons Eat in the Wild?
When a wild reptile is kept in captivity as a pet, it’s essential to ensure they are fed a diet that resembles what they naturally eat in the wild. Because they have adapted to their natural environment, beardies thrive best on food that is similar to what they would eat in the wild.
Bearded dragons are actually quite agile and hunt for live prey in the wild. Live animals such as crickets, worms, and cockroaches make up about 75% of their diet. They are even known to hunt small mammals like mice.
Although wild bearded dragons will mainly eat an animal-based diet, pet beardies will need significantly less protein in their diets due to getting less exercise. A diet that is too high in protein will lead to obesity, so as pets, bearded dragons should only get 20-30% of their daily food intake from insects, worms, or other animal proteins.
As an omnivore, your bearded dragon should eat insects, worms, vegetables, flowers, leafy greens, herbs, and fruits. A varied diet will ensure that all their dietary needs are met, although it is important to make sure nothing you include in the diet can cause health issues.
What Do Young Bearded Dragons Eat?
Although adult beardies are mainly herbivores, when they are young, their diet is primarily animal-based and more carnivorous.
Hatchlings need a lot of high-protein food to support their growth. Therefore, they should be fed crickets throughout the day.
Beardies of all ages need a balanced diet that fits their dietary needs, but for hatchlings and juveniles, it’s essential that you provide all the right nutrients they need for normal growth.
Make sure to cut any veggies and fruit into small bite-sized pieces to avoid gastrointestinal issues and choking. A good rule of thumb is to keep the pieces smaller than the distance between your beardie’s eyes.
Beardies are considered adults at about 18 months. Their activity levels decrease, and they reach their full size, which is why they don’t need as much protein in their diet. At this age, beardies can gradually be transitioned to the adult diet.
Summing Up – What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
As omnivores, bearded dragons eat a wide range of different foods. From veggies and fruits to worms and bugs, beardies usually have a healthy appetite and enjoy a variety of energy sources.
Because there are so many things you can offer and beardies have very specific nutritional requirements, feeding a bearded dragon may sound daunting at first. However, once you get the hang of it, you will most likely enjoy serving up combinations of different foods and finding out which ones are your dragon’s favorites.
Just keep in mind that as a responsible pet parent, you need to do your research and make sure you’re providing a balanced diet for your reptile friend. Not only will it keep your pet happy and healthy, but it will also help you avoid expensive visits to the vet.
Did you know that beardies don’t chew their food? Bearded dragons gulp their food in single bites, so everything should be chopped to suitably small sizes, no larger than the space between their eyes.
Juveniles should be fed a diet of about 80% protein, while adults only need about 25% of their diet to be made up of bugs. The rest should be veggies, leafy greens, and tiny amounts of fruit.
Beardies also need diets high in calcium, so I always advise dusting their food with a suitable calcium supplement to prevent metabolic bone disease, one of the most common problems my beardie patients present.
– Dr. Edele Grey, 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.