Feeding your Bearded Dragon
As any responsible reptile owner knows: one does not simply feed a Bearded Dragon by stuffing anything that moves down its throat.
Dragons might look rough, tough and rugged, but they are actually sensitive creatures that can react to their environment in various ways.
What must I feed my Bearded Dragon?
In a nutshell? Protein. And no, we are NOT talking about lamb chops! Dragons love mealworms, crickets, wood cockroaches, silkworms, black soldier fly larvae… It’s no fun being a critter in a dragon’s world.
Here’s the interesting thing, though – dragons are omnivores and quite healthy eaters, and they love variety. So balance their protein needs with some fresh fruit and veggies daily.
If your dragon is more than a year old, the ratio can be 40% protein, 60% veggies & fruit. Less than a year old they should have 80% protein, 20% veggies & fruit.
Healthy options include:
- Greens like kale, parsley, zucchini and beans.
- Papaya – remove the seeds, and shred or chop the fruit finely.
- Figs - the calcium and fibre in figs are good for dragons, but make it a once-a-week treat.
- Broccoli – but ONLY in moderation, and finely chopped. Too much can suppress thyroid function – so if you’re not sure, rather don’t use it.
- Endive – a great source of calcium, and not harmful to dragons – make it a diet staple. Shred and serve with collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens!
- Carrots – grate them up finely!
Bearded Dragons need a calcium and multivitamin supplement added to their food. For dragons under a year, give calcium five times a week, and the multivitamin twice a week. For older dragons, twice a week for both supplements is fine.
You can also mix in commercial Bearded Dragon food into your dragon’s salad to improve it’s nutritional content.
And remember – Bearded Dragons need water, even though they come from a dry environment. Methods include misting them gently about 2 to 4 times a day (do it from above, so that the mist comes down on them like light rain), or dripping water on their nose until they’re done drinking.
How much must I feed my Bearded Dragon?
It is important to do your research carefully, in order not to overfeed your dragon. You don’t want it to get fat!
As we’ve seen above, certain foods (such as broccoli and kiwi fruit) are healthy for occasional snacking, while other kinds are fine for everyday feeding.
- Too many mealworms can cause your dragon to gain too much weight – and their hard shells can also cause impaction, so watch this carefully. Avoid giving them to younger dragons.
- Before feeding crickets to your dragon, let the crickets eat a Kellyville Pets gut load for their final meal – this makes them a healthier meal for your dragon.
Remember: size matters to dragons, so don’t try to feed your tiny hatchling a too big insect – it can only cause problems. The rule of thumb here is that the insect’s size should be as small as the distance between the Bearded Dragon’s eyes. Adapt your dragon’s diet as he gets older, keeping in mind his size, energy and calcium needs.
Which foods are dangerous for Bearded Dragons?
Avoid feeding your Bearded Dragon the following:
- Lettuce – it has very little nutritional value, and can cause diarrhoea.
- Beet tops and spinach both contain calcium-binding chemicals that inhibit calcium uptake in dragons.
For more information, watch our video on feeding your Bearded Dragons here.