What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?

close up picture of a bearded dragon

Intro

Bearded dragons are fascinating creatures and wonderful pets, but taking care of them requires understanding their dietary needs. Their diet is fundamental to their overall health and wellbeing. Unlike mammals, these reptiles have unique feeding habits that are crucial to their growth and vitality. This guide delves into the dietary world of bearded dragons, examining what they eat, what they should avoid, and how often they need to feed. We’ll also explore where you can buy high-quality food for your bearded dragon. Armed with this knowledge, you can ensure your pet enjoys a balanced diet that closely mimics what they would eat in the wild, contributing to a long, healthy, and happy life.

What Do Bearded Dragons Eat As Pets?

Bearded dragons are omnivorous lizards, which means their diet consists of both plants and animal matter. When kept as pets, it’s essential to provide a balanced diet that closely replicates what they would eat in the wild. Below are the key components of a bearded dragon’s diet.

Insects: Live insects are a vital part of a bearded dragon’s diet. Common insects fed to bearded dragons in the UK include locusts, crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. It’s important to note that all insects should be appropriately sized – usually no bigger than the space between the dragon’s eyes – to prevent choking.

Vegetables: Bearded dragons also require a substantial amount of vegetables in their diet. Suitable vegetables include bell peppers, courgettes, and butternut squash. Leafy greens like rocket, watercress, and kale can also be given, but spinach should be avoided as it can inhibit calcium absorption.

Fruits: Fruits are a smaller but still necessary part of a bearded dragon’s diet. They should be offered less frequently than vegetables and insects. Suitable fruits include apples, peaches, and strawberries. Always remember to remove any seeds or pits before feeding.

Supplements: Bearded dragons require additional nutrients to stay healthy, which can be provided through supplements. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are particularly important and can be dusted onto their food.

Remember, variety is the key to a healthy diet for a bearded dragon. By providing a wide range of food, you can help ensure they get all the necessary nutrients. Always check with a reptile expert or a vet before introducing a new food into your dragon’s diet.

bearded dragon in grass

What Do Wild Bearded Dragons Eat?

Wild bearded dragons originate from the arid, rocky, semi-desert regions of Australia where food can be scarce and varied. As such, their diet is considerably diverse, adapting to the availability of food sources in their harsh environment.

Insects and Small Animals: Wild bearded dragons are keen hunters, feasting on a range of insects such as crickets, spiders, beetles, and even small lizards or rodents when available. They are also known to consume other small invertebrates like worms and slugs.

Plant Matter: A significant part of their diet also consists of plant matter. They eat leaves, flowers, stems, and fruits from a variety of plants. The types of plants they consume depend on their natural habitat’s vegetation.

Occasional Prey: Bearded dragons are opportunistic feeders, meaning they can and will consume other forms of nutrition if available. This can include smaller reptiles, young birds, and even eggs.

The diet of wild bearded dragons reflects their adaptability and the need to survive in a challenging environment. The variety in their diet is a crucial factor to consider when planning the diet of pet bearded dragons, to mimic their natural feeding habits as closely as possible. Always remember that what is safe for a wild bearded dragon to eat isn’t necessarily safe for a pet bearded dragon, due to differences in environment and captivity conditions.

What Should Bearded Dragons Not Eat?

While bearded dragons are omnivores and consume a wide variety of food, there are certain items that they should avoid due to potential health risks. Here are some foods that are not suitable for bearded dragons.

Avocado: Avocado is toxic to bearded dragons. It contains a substance called persin, which can cause heart problems and potentially be fatal.

Rhubarb: Rhubarb leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can lead to calcium deficiencies in bearded dragons. This can result in metabolic bone disease, a serious condition for reptiles.

Foods for Insect or Fish Eaters: Foods that are primarily made for animals who eat insects or fish, like raw meat, cat or dog food, and fish, should not be given to bearded dragons. These types of food can lead to serious health problems, including liver and kidney diseases.

Fireflies and Other Luminous Insects: These insects can be toxic and potentially fatal to bearded dragons due to a chemical they contain called lucibufagins.

Lettuce: While not toxic, lettuce is nutritionally poor and can cause diarrhoea in bearded dragons. It’s better to opt for nutrient-rich leafy greens like rocket and watercress instead.

Wild-caught Insects: Insects caught in the wild can be harmful if they’ve been exposed to pesticides or if they’re a species that’s toxic to bearded dragons.

Certain Fruits and Vegetables: Some fruits and vegetables, like spinach and beetroot, can inhibit calcium absorption due to their high oxalate content. Also, citrus fruits are too acidic and can lead to digestive issues.

Dairy Products: Bearded dragons, like most reptiles, are lactose intolerant. Dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yoghurt can cause digestive issues and should be avoided.

Onions and Garlic: These vegetables are too harsh for a bearded dragon’s digestive system and can lead to stomach problems.

Raw Eggs: Raw eggs can contain bacteria that could harm your bearded dragon, and they also have an enzyme that inhibits the absorption of vitamin B.

Processed Foods: Any processed or seasoned foods intended for human consumption, such as canned foods, fast foods, or leftovers, are unsuitable for bearded dragons. These foods often contain spices, oils, and other ingredients that can be harmful to them.

Plants from Your Garden: Some common garden plants can be toxic to bearded dragons. These include ivy, buttercup, and daffodil. Also, even non-toxic plants could have been exposed to pesticides, making them unsafe.

Chocolate and Caffeine: These substances are toxic to many animals, including bearded dragons, and can cause serious health problems.

It’s crucial to do your research or consult with a reptile expert or a vet before introducing new food items to your bearded dragon’s diet. Their health and longevity greatly depend on their diet, and certain mistakes can lead to serious health problems.

bearded dragon in leaves

How Frequently Do Bearded Dragons Eat?

The frequency with which a bearded dragon eats can vary depending on whether it’s in the wild or kept as a pet, its age, and its overall health status.

How Often Do They Eat In The Wild?

In the wild, bearded dragons’ eating habits are opportunistic and largely dependent on the availability of food. They might eat several times a day during periods of abundance, or they could go for days without eating during times of scarcity.

How Often Do They Eat As Pets?

As pets, the feeding schedule for bearded dragons is more regular and is typically influenced by their age.

Juvenile Bearded Dragons: Young bearded dragons are growing rapidly and require a substantial amount of food to support their development. They should be fed two to three times a day. Their diet should consist mostly of protein (insects) with a smaller portion of vegetables.

Adult Bearded Dragons: Once a bearded dragon reaches adulthood (around 18 months old), their metabolism slows down, and they require less food. Adult bearded dragons should be fed once a day, with their diet consisting mostly of vegetables and a smaller portion of insects.

In all cases, it’s important to monitor the weight and health of your bearded dragon and adjust their feeding schedule and diet as necessary. It’s also crucial to provide fresh water daily. If you have any concerns about your bearded dragon’s diet or feeding schedule, it’s always a good idea to consult with a vet or a reptile expert.

Animal Based Protein Sources For Bearded Dragons

Protein SourceWhy It’s Good for Bearded Dragons
CricketsCrickets are a staple insect for bearded dragons. They are high in protein and relatively easy to digest. Crickets can also be ‘gut-loaded’ (fed nutritious foods that then pass to the bearded dragon) and dusted with calcium or vitamin supplements.
LocustsLocusts are another excellent source of protein. They are larger than crickets and can provide more nutrition per insect. They are also good for ‘gut-loading’ and dusting with supplements.
MealwormsMealworms provide a good source of protein but should be given sparingly due to their high-fat content and tough outer skin, which can be difficult for bearded dragons to digest. They’re best served to adult bearded dragons.
Dubia RoachesDubia roaches are a nutritious and protein-rich food source. They have a better protein-to-fat ratio than mealworms, making them a healthier choice. They’re also easy to digest.
WaxwormsWaxworms are very high in fat and should be given as a treat rather than a staple part of the diet. They are excellent for underweight bearded dragons that need to gain weight.
SilkwormsSilkworms are a nutritious and highly digestible protein source. They are low in fat and high in calcium, making them an excellent choice for bearded dragons.
Earthworms/Dendrobaena WormsEarthworms, or dendrobaena worms, are a good protein source. They are low in chitin (the hard outer shell of insects), making them easier to digest.
HornwormsHornworms are a great source of hydration as well as protein. They are also high in calcium, which is beneficial for bearded dragons.
Phoenix Worms (Black Soldier Fly Larvae)Phoenix worms are an excellent source of protein and calcium. They are also low in fat, making them a healthy choice for bearded dragons.
ButterwormsButterworms are high in protein and fat, making them suitable for an occasional treat rather than a regular part of the diet.

Remember, all live food should be appropriately sized for your bearded dragon. A good rule of thumb is to never feed your bearded dragon anything larger than the space between their eyes. Also, variety is key in a bearded dragon’s diet, so try to offer different types of protein sources.

bearded dragon on a stone

Plant Food Sources For Bearded Dragons

Vegetable Food Sources For Bearded Dragons

Vegetables play a vital role in a bearded dragon’s diet, contributing to their overall health and wellbeing. They offer a range of nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals, and should make up a significant portion of their daily intake. Here’s a selection of vegetables that are not only safe but also beneficial for your bearded dragon:

VegetableWhy It’s Good for Bearded Dragons
Rocket (Arugula)Rocket is a great source of calcium, vital for bearded dragons. It also provides other necessary nutrients and is easy to digest.
Butternut SquashButternut squash is high in fibre and low in oxalates, which makes it a healthy choice. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C.
Bell PeppersBell peppers are packed with vitamins A and C. They should be chopped into small, manageable pieces before feeding.
Courgette (Zucchini)Courgette is a low-oxalate vegetable that provides hydration and fibre. It’s also easy for bearded dragons to digest.
KaleKale is high in calcium and vitamins but should be fed in moderation due to its slightly higher oxalate content.
CarrotsCarrots are a good source of vitamins and fibre. However, due to their high vitamin A content, they should be fed sparingly to avoid vitamin A toxicity.
Green BeansGreen beans are rich in fibre and low in sugar, making them a healthy option for bearded dragons.
Sweet PotatoSweet potatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C but should be cooked and served in small amounts due to their high sugar content.
PeasPeas provide a good source of vitamin A, but due to their higher phosphorus content, they should be fed sparingly.
BroccoliBroccoli is rich in vitamins A and C. It should be fed in moderation due to its slightly higher oxalate content.

In conclusion, it’s important to feed your bearded dragon a varied diet of these vegetables to ensure they receive a broad spectrum of nutrients. However, always bear in mind the specific nutritional content and potential limitations of each vegetable. Some should be fed in moderation due to higher oxalate or sugar content, for instance. As with any changes to your pet’s diet, it’s always best to consult with a vet or a reptile expert when introducing new food items.

Fruit Food Sources For Bearded Dragons

Fruits are a delightful treat for bearded dragons, providing an array of vitamins and hydration. Although they should constitute a smaller part of a bearded dragon’s diet compared to vegetables and animal-based proteins, they add important variety and can be beneficial when given in moderation. The fruits listed in your table have been carefully selected for their nutritional value and safety for bearded dragons.

FruitWhy It’s Good for Bearded Dragons
ApplesApples are a good source of dietary fibre and vitamin C. They should be served peeled and deseeded.
PearsPears provide hydration and are high in fibre. As with apples, they should be served peeled and deseeded.
PeachesPeaches are a good source of vitamins and hydration, but should be fed sparingly due to their higher sugar content.
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)Berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. They should be given in moderation due to their sugar content.
MangoMango is a good source of vitamins A and C. It also has a high sugar content, so it should only be offered occasionally.
BananasBananas are a good source of potassium, but they should be given sparingly due to their high phosphorus content, which can interfere with calcium absorption.
GrapesGrapes provide hydration and are high in fibre, but they should be given sparingly due to their high sugar content.
Melon (Watermelon, Cantaloupe)Melon provides excellent hydration and is a good source of vitamins A and C. However, due to its high water and sugar content, it should only be offered occasionally.
KiwiKiwi is a good source of vitamin C, but due to its higher oxalate content, it should be fed sparingly.

It’s important to remember that while these fruits can provide important nutrients and hydration, some of them, due to their higher sugar or oxalate content, should only be fed sparingly. This includes fruits like peaches, berries, mango, bananas, grapes, and melon. In addition, some fruits need to be prepared in a certain way, such as apples and pears, which should be served peeled and deseeded.

In conclusion, providing your bearded dragon with a varied diet that includes a careful selection of fruits can contribute to their overall health and wellbeing. As always, when introducing new foods into your pet’s diet, it’s best to do so gradually and under the guidance of a vet or reptile expert.

orange bearded dragon

Where Can You Buy Bearded Dragons Food?

Finding high-quality food for your bearded dragon is easier than you might think. Several reputable online retailers in the UK stock a wide range of suitable food options.

You can browse the extensive selection of live food available at Internet Reptile. They offer a variety of insects, ensuring your bearded dragon has a balanced diet.

Reptile Centre also has a great range of bearded dragon food, including a diverse selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, along with nutrient-rich dry food options.

For a range of specialised dry food, Evolution Reptiles is a great place to look. They stock a variety of products specifically tailored to the nutritional needs of bearded dragons.

The Online Reptile Shop is another excellent resource, offering a wide variety of bearded dragon foods, including both live and dried options.

Lastly, Live Foods Direct offers a specially formulated juvenile bearded dragon food, perfect for supporting the growth and development of younger pets.

Remember to always ensure that any food you provide is suitable for your bearded dragon’s age and size. And, as always, variety is key to providing a balanced diet.

FAQ’s

What Do Bearded Dragons Eat In The Wild?

In the wild, bearded dragons have a diet that is primarily composed of insects and plant matter. This includes ants, spiders, beetles, and small lizards. They also eat a variety of leaves, fruits, and flowers.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Salmon?

No, bearded dragons should not eat salmon or any other type of fish. Their digestive system is not designed to handle fish, and it can cause serious health issues, including liver and kidney disease.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Slugs?

It’s not recommended to feed your bearded dragon slugs. Slugs can carry parasites and are not part of a bearded dragon’s natural diet.

Do Bearded Dragons Eat Other Lizards?

In the wild, larger bearded dragons may occasionally eat small lizards. However, this is not a behaviour that should be encouraged in captivity. A balanced diet of plant-based food and insects is more suitable and safe for pet bearded dragons.

What Bugs Do Bearded Dragons Eat?

Bearded dragons can eat a variety of bugs, including crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and roaches. These bugs should be gut-loaded before feeding to ensure they provide maximum nutritional value.

What Insects Do Bearded Dragons Eat?

Bearded dragons eat a wide range of insects, including crickets, mealworms, and roaches. It’s important to provide a variety of insect types to ensure a balanced diet.

What Can Bearded Dragons Eat?

Bearded dragons can eat a mix of insects, vegetables, and fruits. They should have a diet high in calcium and low in phosphorous. Insects can include crickets, mealworms, and roaches, while vegetables can include leafy greens like rocket and butternut squash. Fruits should only make up a small part of their diet.

What Is A Bearded Dragon’s Diet?

A bearded dragon’s diet should consist of a balanced mix of insects, vegetables, and a small amount of fruits. It’s also crucial to provide them with a source of calcium, such as a calcium supplement or calcium-rich foods.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dog Food?

No, bearded dragons should not eat dog food. Dog food is not nutritionally balanced for bearded dragons and can lead to serious health issues.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Wild Crickets?

While bearded dragons can technically eat wild crickets, it’s not recommended. Wild crickets may have been exposed to pesticides or carry parasites, both of which can be harmful to your pet.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Butterflies?

While butterflies are not toxic to bearded dragons, they should not be a regular part of their diet. Butterflies don’t provide much nutritional value and can be hard for bearded dragons to catch.

Do Bearded Dragons Eat Scorpions?

While bearded dragons are capable of eating small scorpions in the wild, it’s not recommended to feed them scorpions in captivity. Scorpions can sting and injure the bearded dragon, and they don’t provide any unique nutritional benefits compared to safer food options.

References

RSPCA, n.d. Bearded Dragon Care. [online] RSPCA. Available at: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/other/beardeddragon [Accessed 17 May 2023].

Everything Reptiles, n.d. What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?. [online] Everything Reptiles. Available at: https://www.everythingreptiles.com/what-do-bearded-dragons-eat/ [Accessed 17 May 2023].

VCA Hospitals, n.d. Bearded Dragons – Feeding. [online] VCA Hospitals. Available at: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/bearded-dragons-feeding [Accessed 17 May 2023].

A-Z Animals, n.d. What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?. [online] A-Z Animals. Available at: https://a-z-animals.com/blog/what-do-bearded-dragons-eat/ [Accessed 17 May 2023].

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