Diet is highly important for any living animal, and each organism has a unique one for proper nourishment. It’s necessary to understand what your bearded dragon must eat to survive, seeing as they need a wide variety of vegetables and insects to keep the vet away.
There are several complications your bearded dragon can experience due to a poor diet; anything from metabolic bone disease to neurological problems and even death. This brings us to the question– what should your bearded dragon be fed
A comprehensive bearded dragon diet contains a specific percentage of protein and vegetables assigned to their various ages. Your beardie should be fed at the appropriate time with conducive regularity to ensure that they stay happy, safe, and healthy.
If you are wondering what to feed your bearded dragon, you have landed on the right article to answer your question. I will be taking you through all you need to know concerning the perfect diet for your bearded dragon, to ensure your pet lives its life to the fullest!
What Can A Bearded Dragon Eat?
There’s a slight difference between the buffet of a pet beardie and those in the wild. Surely, all bearded dragons feast on vegetables and bugs, but wild bearded dragons are known to gobble up rodents, birds, baby snakes, and even other smaller lizards. So it’s safe to classify bearded dragons as omnivorous creatures, just like us humans.
Simply put: bearded dragons eat a plethora of bugs, leafy greens, and a small amount of fruit.
Protein for bearded dragons is the major bodybuilding and developing factor in the diet and constitutes other values such as fat, water, and mineral content. It’s crucial to understand the significance of protein to your beardie’s stage in the cycle, so that you can take proper advantage of their requirements.
Baby dragons and juveniles prefer high-protein food in comparison to subadult and adult beardies. Here are some examples of good protein sources for bearded dragons:
- Goliath worms
- Dubia roaches
Vegetables ( Minerals & Vitamins)
Vegetables are the main source of minerals that your beardie requires for its metabolism. It boosts their immune system and gut health, helps to regenerate stem cells, strengthens the bone structure, and helps in hydration. Your beardie needs to consume greens so that they can stay alive. It is literally lethal for your beardie to consume protein alone.
Best vegetables for bearded dragons:
- Butternut squash
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Bell peppers
- Endive greens
- Cactus pad or prickly pear
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Green beans
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 totally do without the delicacy. The sweetness of fruits can be overwhelming to your beardie’s gut health and lead to diarrhea and dehydration. It should also be fed at most twice a week and given in minimal quantities.
Best fruits for bearded dragons:
Now that we know what bearded dragons can eat, the next step is to correctly pair the balanced diet to the correct age of the beardie. Yes, 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.
Your Bearded Dragon’s Perfect Diet Is Based On Their Age
The beardie diet is not a ‘one fit for all’ situation. Every phase will require a certain composition of food to thrive and grow into the next stage or remain healthy. There are four phases of a bearded dragon’s life cycle, and I’ll explain all they need and how often they should eat to progress into further stages.
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 and would consume about 20 to 50 bugs in a day, 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 70% of protein and 20% of 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 a regular in their diet. Veggies should see more butternut squash to improve their dental health, collard greens, and dandelion greens to aid the calcium intake.
Stage 2: Juvenile Phase
Juveniles are different from baby dragons only in size. They will require the same diet and food arrangement as the hatchlings but will develop much slower through the span of 6 months. During this period, they grow exponentially in size, gain weight, and gradually lose the voracious appetite they started with.
Similar to the hatchlings, juvenile beardies will require a diet of 70% bugs and 30% veggies to grow into sub-adult bearded dragons.
They can now eat super worms and mealworms frequently, as well as staple crickets since they can digest food better than hatchlings.
Veggies like butternut squash which is an all-time staple, collard greens, and mustard greens can be fed daily to build good 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, the frequency falling as low as once or twice a day. They will also eat less – about 20 bugs a day – in comparison.
Sub-adult beardies will require a diet of 60% proteins and 40% vegetables to mature into fully grown adults.
At this phase, their diet can involve tough skin bugs such as super worms and mealworms. Hornworms should be fed at a minimum to prevent plaque formation since they eat less, and dubia roaches can be a staple to provide them with substantial calcium and protein in one sitting.
Stage 4: Adult Phase
The adult phase is the point at which beardies reach sexual maturity. At 18+ months, they can be bred to start a new life cycle. Adult beardies metabolize food much slower than the other phases, thus, will require a highly simple and minimal food supply. They eat once a day and may sometimes skip a day in between with no food.
Adult bearded dragons do not add any length or increase in size but will put on weight. This is why their diet consists more of greens than protein to prevent them from getting overweight.
Adult beardies survive on a leafier diet, consisting of 70% vegetables and 30% protein.
Bearded dragons in this phase should eat less fatty and more fibrous bugs, with vegetables high in calcium like collard greens and broccoli to ensure that their bones stay strong.
The table below shows you a simplified and straightforward pattern of your beardie’s proper diet based on their age.
|Fraction in Percent (Bugs & Veggies)
|Number of Insects
|0 to 2 (Baby dragon)
|25 – 50/day
|3 to 6 (Juvenile)
|25 – 50/day
|6 to 9 (Pre-Adult)
What Do I Feed A Sick Or Recovering Beardie?
If your pet beardie has refused to eat, it could be due to some factors that may be hiding in view. Stress, parasites, and brumation are three things you should consider if your beardie suddenly loses appetite.
For an ill or recovering dragon, you need to incorporate fatty meals like wax worms and hornworms to regain their body weight, including high-mineral veggies like mustard greens and turnip greens to ensure they are fully reinforced. Roaches, grasshoppers, and crickets that are high in calcium should also be fed to them regularly to strengthen their bones. You should also look into feeding them vitamin C-loaded bugs (grubs fed with citrus fruits) to help build their immune system and help the recovery process.
Supplements such as an appetite booster (view on Amazon) and calcium powders (view on Amazon) are great for improving the overall health of your beardie. By sprinkling a prescribed dose of the supplements on their greens or grubs, the health of your beardie tends to improve drastically.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cooked Food?
You might have wondered, “can my beardie eat cooked food?” 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 out of pleasure.
In accordance with their nature, every meal has to be a representation of what they eat in the wild. Feeding them cooked food will stress their metabolism and lead to longer bouts of digestion, ending in complications here and there. Why feed them 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 nutritious value of living or dead bugs for your beardie is the same. They will both contain the same fiber, fat, and protein content. However, feeding your beardie live bugs will improve their appetite and stimulate their nervous system which is ultimately good for their health.
So, it does matter if you feed your bearded dragon live bugs since it will naturally prefer live grubs over dead ones.
For your bearded dragon to be healthy and happy, they require a diet of both protein and vegetables in a quantity that is proper for its age. Many beardie parents make the mistake of free feeding their dragons on demand, which is detrimental to their health. Nonetheless, with this discussion, you should be able to decide and arrange an expert-rated diet to ensure your pet lives a robust and prosperous life. Good luck!