Having a bearded dragon as a pet can be a great way to explore a reptile’s intriguing life. But part of providing a safe and comfortable home for a bearded dragon is providing them with the right diet. So exactly what do bearded dragons eat?
Well, our handy guide will point you in the right direction so that the newest addition to your family is a happy and healthy camper!
The Importance of a Well-Rounded Diet
Like any living creature, a bearded dragon needs to have a well-balanced diet to get the nutrients they need. This is essential because a well-rounded diet contributes to a longer lifespan, an increase in their activity level, and allows them to keep their colors vibrant.
What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Unlike a majority of reptiles, bearded dragons are omnivores. They will eat both animal-based foods (including insects) and plant-based foods. Your bearded dragon’s diet must include a good mixture of these types of food.
1. Insects and Bugs
Insects are a big part of a bearded dragon’s diet. This is what they naturally eat in the wild and will need to continue doing so as a pet. When feeding them insects, make sure that you are using self-raised insects or store-bought insects from a pet shop.
You should never feed your bearded dragon insects from your garden because these insects may contain harmful pesticides and fertilizers that can be toxic to your lizard.
Bearded dragons can quickly overeat insects, so it’s recommended you feed them about as many insects they can eat in a 15-minute time period. Measuring this out will give you a sense of how many insects your bearded dragon should be eating a day.
The most popular type of insects your lizard will eat are Dubia roaches and crickets. However, they might also enjoy the following:
- Small worms
A huge part of your bearded dragon’s diet, about 80% to 90% will be vegetables. For the most part, you want to aim for dark green leafy vegetables because they are higher in the nutrients that a bearded dragon needs. Light green vegetables are not as beneficial because they are nutrient-poor and often high in fiber.
Some popular vegetables and greens your bearded dragon will benefit from include but are not limited to the following:
- Artichoke hearts
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- green peas
- Turnip greens
- Bell peppers
- Cooked lentils
There are some greens and vegetables that you should never feed your bearded dragon or feed them in limited quantities. Swiss chard, spinach, and beet greens contain oxalates which can build up calcium, keeping your lizard from absorbing necessary nutrients.
Kale, cabbage, and the mustard seed should also sporadically be fed to your bearded dragon because they contain goitrogens that suppressed the thyroid gland’s proper function. Too much of this can lead to hypothyroidism.
When you are feeding your bearded dragon greens and vegetables, You can serve them raw or cooked. You should always wash your vegetables before you serve them, and it can be super helpful if you mix different vegetables and chop them up finely so that your lizard can’t pick or choose what they want to eat.
Believe it or not, your bearded dragon enjoys fruits as well. Fruits should make up a really small portion of your bearded dragon’s diet, about 10% to 20%.
As with a toddler, you want to make sure your bearded dragon eats their greens and vegetables before feeding them fruit. Make sure that you wash the fruit thoroughly before serving it up.
Some fruits that your bearded dragon can eat include but are not limited to:
- Berries including blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and strawberries
- Bananas with the peels left on
Keep Your Bearded Dragon Hydrated
It is important that your bearded dragon stays hydrated, especially since their natural habitat is hot and dry. Although your lizard will usually get most of its hydration from watery vegetables like cucumbers, you should still provide them a bowl of water for them to use.
Don’t be surprised if your bearded dragon does not start lapping up water from it right away. Lizards don’t typically recognize standing water as a food source, and it may take some time for them to understand that it’s there for them to drink.
However, your bearded dragon will likely use their water bowl as their own personal swimming pool to cool down in. Because they will urinate and defecate in the water, regularly clean out the water bowl every two days or so.
While your bearded dragon will get lots of hydration through fruits and vegetables, you can also help by regularly spraying them with water. You don’t want to spray them to the point that they are soaking, but rather spray them so that there is a fine mist of water on their skin. This can be especially helpful to your lizard when shedding because the water will help moisturize their dry exterior.
Foods You Should Avoid Feeding to Your Bearded Dragon
With any well-rounded diet, there are some foods that you should avoid feeding to your bearded dragon. Some of these foods are low in nutrients and will do nothing but fill your lizard up, while other foods can be toxic to your lizard.
Never feed avocados to a bearded dragon because they are toxic. Any insect that glows in the dark, including lightning bugs, is also toxic. And of course, you never want to feed a venomous insect to your bearded dragon either. Make sure to avoid the following foods as well:
- Elder bugs
- Fish and other seafood
- Lettuce ( Iceberg lettuce is low in nutritional value and is a filler food)
Once you get the hang of feeding your bearded dragon, it will become second nature what you put in their tank with them. If you have a bearded dragon at home, let us know what some of your lizard’s favorite foods are. Also, be sure to share this article with someone who might have their eye on getting a bearded dragon as a pet as well!
Dan got started with his first reptile, which was a green iguana, at the age of 10. From there, he has raised many different species of reptiles. Besides caring for reptiles, he enjoys woodworking, playing basketball, and spending free time with my 4 wonderful kids.