What To Feed Your Bearded Dragon? The Healthiest Beardie Diet Today

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Good nutrition is vital for the health and well-being of your bearded dragon. By that, I mean a diverse menu of vegetables and insects provided consistently. If you feed your pet random wild-caught bugs or just any edible greens, you are making a dangerous mistake! An improper diet like that can lead to serious complications such as metabolic bone disease, neurological issues, and even death. So, what should you provide your scaly companion?

A proper and safe diet for your bearded dragon consists of a specific balance of protein and veggies based on its age. This includes certain proteins like dubia roaches, crickets, and worms along with greens such as collard and dandelion leaves so that it’s fully satisfied. It’s crucial to feed your pet at the appropriate times and with consistent regularity to ensure its continued health and happiness.

By understanding the essential components of its nutritional needs, you can help keep your scaled friend safe, healthy, and thriving. This article will equip you with the information needed to create the perfect meal plan for your beardie, allowing it to live a full and vibrant life.

What Exactly Should Your Bearded Dragon Eat?

There’s a slight difference between the buffet of a pet beardie and those in the wild. All bearded dragons feast on vegetables and bugs, but wild bearded dragons are known to gobble up even rodents, birds, baby snakes, and other smaller lizards. So it’s safe to classify bearded dragons as omnivorous creatures, just like us humans.

Simply put: bearded dragon eat a plethora of bugs or small critters, leafy greens, and a small amount of fruit.

Grubs (Protein)

Protein serves as the major building block for your bearded dragon’s body. It also plays a role in other important functions like managing fat, water, and mineral content. Baby and juvenile bearded dragons generally require a higher protein intake compared to subadults and adults.

This is because the younger dragons are in a critical phase of growth and development, requiring more of the bodybuilding and repairing nutrients that protein provides. As their bodies build and develop over time, the need for bugs reduces and is replaced with other necessities like mineral value.

Examples Of Good Protein Sources For Bearded Dragons:

Vegetables (Minerals & Vitamins)

Vegetables serve as the primary source of essential minerals for your bearded dragon. These nutrient-dense greens play a vital role in supporting its metabolism, immune system, and overall health. Consuming a variety of vegetables helps to boost gut health and regenerate stem cells, strengthen the skeletal structure, and improve hydration.

It is crucial for your bearded dragon to consume an appropriate amount of vegetables alongside its protein intake. A diet consisting of protein alone is simply lethal for your pet, especially once it has passed the hatchling stage.

Best Vegetables For Bearded Dragons:

Fruits (Delicacies And Appetizers)

Fruits are a controversial item in a bearded dragon’s diet. Since there are no fruits in their natural habitat, their metabolic system can do without the delicacy. Their sweetness can overwhelm your beardie’s gut health leading to diarrhea and dehydration. Fruits should also be fed at most twice a week and in minimal quantities.

Best Fruits For Bearded Dragons:

Now that we know what bearded dragons can eat, the next step is to pair the balanced diet correctly to the accurate age of the beardie. Bearded dragons at different stages require unique food arrangements to grow from baby dragons to adults. They all have a specific diet that works for them at each phase. Read on to find out more.

Creating Your Bearded Dragon’s Perfect Diet Based On Its Age

The beardie diet is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Every phase requires a certain composition to thrive and grow into the next stage healthily. There are four phases in a bearded dragon’s life cycle, and I’ll explain how they all should be fed.

Bearded Dragon Feeding Plan

Stage 1: Baby Or Hatchling Phase

The baby bearded dragon stage lasts approximately 8 weeks, and during this phase, they eat like lions! They need to be fed three to four times daily and would consume about 20 to 50 bugs, including a sprinkle of vegetables. Due to their high metabolism, they are required to eat heavily to ensure they grow out of this phase and into the next. You’ll find beardies in this stage to be quite active and agile, highly food competitive, and a little skittish.

Baby dragons need a diet of 70% protein and 30% vegetables to build body mass and strengthen their bones. Preferably, easy-to-digest bugs like hornworms, silkworms, dubia roaches, and especially crickets (for calcium) should be regular in their diet. Also, veggies like butternut squash will help improve their dental health, while collard greens and dandelion greens aid the calcium intake.

Stage 2: Juvenile Phase

Juveniles differ from baby dragons mainly in size. They require the same diet and food arrangement as hatchlings but develop much more slowly over the span of 6 months. During this period, they grow exponentially, gain weight, and gradually lose the voracious appetite they started with.

Similar to the hatchlings, juvenile beardies require a diet consisting of 70% bugs and 30% veggies to grow into sub-adult bearded dragons. They can now eat superworms and mealworms frequently, as well as staple crickets since they digest food better than hatchlings.

Veggies like butternut squash, collard greens, and mustard greens can be fed daily to build strong bones and improve dental health.

Stage 3: Sub-Adult Phase

At this phase, metabolism slows down. Sub-adult beardies eat less than juveniles and hatchlings, typically once or twice a day.
Sub-adult beardies require a diet consisting of 50% proteins and 50% vegetables to mature into fully grown adults.

Their diet involves tough-skinned bugs such as superworms and mealworms. Hornworms should be fed minimally to prevent plaque formation while dubia roaches should be a staple to provide them with substantial calcium and protein in one sitting.

Stage 4: Adult Phase

The adult phase is when beardies reach sexual maturity. At 18+ months, they can be bred to start a new generation. Adult beardies metabolize food much slower than the other phases, and will require a simpler, minimal diet. While they do not gain any body length, they can easily put on mass. This is why their diet consists more of greens than protein to prevent them from becoming overweight.

Adult beardies thrive on a leafier diet, consisting of 70% vegetables and 30% protein. Your bearded dragons in this phase should eat fewer fatty bugs, and more vegetables high in calcium such collard greens and broccoli to ensure that their bones stay strong.

Quick Facts

The table below shows you a simplified and straightforward pattern of your beardie’s proper diet based on their age.

AGEFraction in Percent (Bugs & Veggies)Number of Insects
0 to 3 months (Baby dragon)70/3025 – 50/day
3 to 6 months (Juvenile)70/3025 – 50/day
6 to 9 months (Pre-Adult)50/5020/day
9 to 12+ months (Adult)30/7010/day

What Do I Feed A Sick Or Recovering Beardie?

If your bearded dragon suddenly loses its appetite, it could be due to several factors, including stress, parasites, or brumation (a hibernation-like state).

For your ill or recovering dragon, incorporating fatty prey like wax worms and hornworms can aid in regaining body weight as regular insects like roaches, grasshoppers, and crickets help strengthen the skeletal structure. Additionally, you must provide a variety of high-mineral vegetables, such as mustard greens and turnip greens, to ensure comprehensive nutritional support during the recovery process.

Furthermore, consider supplementing its diet with vitamin C-enriched insects, such as dubia roaches or crickets fed citrus fruits, to boost its immune system and further aid the recovery process.

Including supplements such as an appetite booster (view on Amazon) and calcium powders (view on Amazon) can greatly improve the overall health of your recovering beardie. By sprinkling a prescribed dose of these supplements on its greens or grubs, it can improve your pet’s health drastically.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cooked Food?

If you are wondering whether cooked food is safe for beardies, the answer is no. I certainly do not recommend feeding your bearded dragons cooked food. Unlike humans, beardies do not have the luxury of eating for pleasure.

In line with their nature, every meal should represent what they eat in the wild. Feeding them cooked food can stress their metabolism and lead to longer digestion periods, resulting in various complications. Why opt for cooked food when you have a plethora of bugs to choose from? It’s much easier for you and more nutritious for your beardie to eat raw food just like they do in the wild.

Does It Matter If I Feed My Beardie Live Bugs?

The nutritional value of live and dead bugs for your beardie is the same. Both contain the same amount of fiber, fat, and protein. However, feeding your beardie live bugs can enhance its appetite and stimulate its nervous system promoting overall health. Therefore, it’s preferable to feed your bearded dragon live bugs since it will naturally desire them over dead ones.

The Conclusion

For your bearded dragon to be healthy and happy, it requires a balanced diet of both protein and vegetables in appropriate quantities for its age. Many beardie owners make the mistake of free-feeding their pets on demand, which is detrimental to their health. Nonetheless, with this discussion, you should be able to create an expert-rated diet plan to ensure your pet lives a robust and prosperous life. Good luck!

Photo of author

Medi

EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Reptiles. He is a pet lover who loves to discuss about bearded dragons and share the knowledge he gained over time about pet reptiles.