Diet is a central part of pet care, so if you are considering getting a bearded dragon one of the first things to learn about should be what your ‘beardie’ will eat and how to feed them. An important aspect of simulating their natural environment is getting them some of the foods they would enjoy in the wild. Yes, this will mean that live foods will be a part of your pet’s diet. If the thought of keeping and feeding your bearded dragon live insects is a complete turn-off then perhaps they aren’t the pet for you, however for many this only adds to the excitement of keeping these pets and children will enjoy watching these animals actually hunt for their food!
Bearded dragons differ from many other reptiles in that they do not feed on a diet which solely consists of insects. They are omnivores and also enjoy fresh vegetables and greens, which should be provided daily with insects offered on alternative days for adults. Young bearded dragons require more protein for growth and should be supplied with insects daily.Vegetables should always be fresh and delivered to your pet in a shallow dish for easy access. It’s also a great idea to spray them lightly with water for easy hydration, and this will simulate the way they would drink in the wild – by drinking dew from vegetation. Suitable vegetables to feed a bearded dragon include:
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
- Peas and beans
- Shredded raw carrot
Fruits such as apples and grapes may also be fed, but should be given as a treat. Bearded dragons also enjoy lighter greens including Romanian lettuce, though these hold little nutritional value and shouldn’t make up the majority of the diet. Similarly, spinach and broccoli should be avoided because too much of them can cause harm to your bearded dragon.
All of these foods should be chopped or shredded finely to make them easily digestible. As a guide, a piece of food should not be larger than the space between the bearded dragon’s eyes. This also applies to the insects you will feed your pet, but using this guide will allow you to adjust the size of the food as your pet grows.
Insects suitable for bearded dragons include crickets, locusts and mealworms. Insects should be ‘gut loaded’ before feeding to offer the greatest amount of nutrition, and they should also be dusted with a vitamin and mineral powder for an easy way to supplement your pet with the nutrients they need for healthy growth.
Live foods can be bought from many pet stores, and some online retailers even offer a subscription service so you can receive new live foods every month. If you have more than one bearded dragon or are a bearded dragon breeder you may wish to cut down on costs by taking the trouble to breed your own crickets, keep checking back for more information and advice on keeping bearded dragons!