Menu Close

What Foods Can I Add to My Bearded Dragon Food List?

Bearded dragons are relatively easy to keep as far as reptiles go, as they can and should eat a varied diet. They eat plant material as well as insects, which means you won’t have to become a bug wrangler and breeder in order to keep your dragon happy.

In addition, they can eat a wide variety of readily available greens, vegetables and insects. Variety will keep him interested in his food and provide the needed nutrients he needs each day.

In the wild, bearded dragons eat mainly live food. This makes up about three-quarters of their diets. Included are crickets, cockroaches, worms and even small creatures such as mice for the larger dragons. In captivity, they can thrive less live food and more vegetable matter, with perhaps a little fruit mixed in. In fact, the ratio of insects to plant matter is reversed for captive dragons.

What Foods Can a Bearded Dragon Eat?

As far as insects, your dragon can eat crickets, kingworms, earthworms, butterworms, phoenix worms, silkworms, cockroaches, Dubia roaches, and locusts. Waxworms and Morioworms can be fed to them, but since these worms are quite fatty, they should only be used as an occasional treat. Mealworms and their larger cousins, superworms, should only be fed sparingly to adult dragons. Their hard outer shell can lead to digestive problems. Dragons should be supervised when eating these.

There is a wide range of vegetables your beardie can eat, including peas, green beans, butternut, acorn and yellow squash, sweet potato, bell pepper, okra, swiss chard, cabbage, asparagus, and bok choi. Broccoli can be fed in small bits weekly.

Dragons love greens. They can eat spring greens, kale, collards, parsley, turnip and mustard greens, endive, coriander and watercress. They can also eat some weeds, such as dandelion greens, clover, catsear, dead nettle and plaintain. If you do bring in some weed leaves, make sure they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals previously.

An occasional fruit treat can be added to your bearded dragon food list. The sugar in fruits can lead to a fat dragon, however, while soft fruits can lead to tooth decay. Citrus fruits are out, but your dragon can eat figs, watermelon, apples, mango, papaya, peaches, apricots, plums, dates, pears, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, guava, grapes and raisins.

Take any peeling off fruits and vegetables and cut it down into bite-sized pieces. Tough stems should be removed also, as well as any seeds. If you feed refrigerated greens, let them warm to room temperature first. When feeding insects, don’t put in too many at one time. Watch out for drowned insects in the water bowl and remove them promptly. For a full list of foods your bearded dragon can eat read my article What to Feed a Bearded Dragon [The Complete Guide].

What Should I Not Feed My Bearded Dragon?

Any citrus fruits will cause an upset stomach in your dragon. Mushrooms, onions and chives also don’t belong on your bearded dragon food list. While lettuce is popularly touted as good food, it really is mostly water and has little nutritional value, so you shouldn’t waste time with it.

While some sources state that spinach and beet greens are fine for dragons, they contain chemicals that can cause calcium deficiency, which can lead to bone disease. Avocados and rhubarb both contain chemicals that are toxic and perhaps fatal to beardies. Many species of tree leaves present a problem as well. With all the different greens and vegetables, they can eat, it’s not a problem to avoid these.

It’s best to avoid feeding insects that come from your yard, especially fireflies. They can have parasites living in them that can harm your beardie, and fireflies are toxic. Exotic pet stores will stock a wide range of insect foods, both live and dead. If you live near a river or lake, bait shops often stock crickets for bait that will do fine as well.

How Much Do Bearded Dragons Need to Eat?

Bearded dragons eat as much per feeding session as they need to and won’t overeat. Babies and juveniles require more protein, as they are actively growing. This means that they will need a mostly or entirely insect diet. Once they reach adulthood they can transition to a more plant-based diet.

Baby dragons, those three months old or less, should be fed three to five times per day. Feeding sessions won’t last long, perhaps five or ten minutes. Let them eat as much as they want during that time. The reason for the time limit on feeding sessions is that your dragon won’t need more time to eat what he needs. Any live food still left in the enclosure should be removed after the feeding session is over.

Juvenile dragons, three to twelve months of age, need only two or three feeding sessions per day. This means 25 to 60 crickets per day. As your dragon gets near adult age at about nine months, you can gradually change to more plant-based food, feeding insects perhaps once per day.

Adult dragon’s diet is usually around three-fourths plant material and one-fourth protein. They usually eat around 10 crickets per day. The plant material, of course, can be left in the enclosure as long as you don’t put in too much so that it lays around getting limp and even moldy.

Babies need to eat from 25 to 80 crickets per day. While this may seem like a lot, you need to take into account the size of the crickets you feed your pet. A good rule of thumb is that the crickets should always be shorter than the space between your dragon’s eyes. This may mean getting some really tiny, baby crickets if you’re raising a baby. Large, adult crickets aren’t advisable, even for an adult beardie. Adult crickets grow a harder exterior skeleton, which can be hard to digest.

To vary the diet and prevent impaction, you can also feed some other insects, such as the various types of worms and roaches in the list above. A baby might like worms a bit more as he may not have the hunting skills of an adult. Worms are easier to catch. Check out my article The Complete Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule for setting up your own feeding schedule.

What is a Bearded Dragon’s Favorite Food?

Many beardies love greens such as dandelion and collard greens. They love live food as well. Like any live creature, each dragon will have his own preferences. Look on any forum dedicated to reptile care, and you’ll likely find someone whose beardie just doesn’t like something he’s supposed to be crazy about.

You’ll soon learn what your dragon’s favorites are. With all the choices available in both live food and plant material, he can have quite a varied diet even if he’s a little fussy.

Do Bearded Dragons Have to Eat Live Food?

Beardies really love to have live food. Live insects have much more food value than dried ones. Since dragons don’t have a large stomach, it’s important to them to have food that has a lot of nutrition. Until they reach adulthood, your dragon will need an all-insect diet with a lot of protein for growth.

Yes, you may have to keep some live insects around, but this allows you to make sure your beardie has the best choices he can have. Keeping live insects means that you can use a process called gut loading, which means that you feed your insects for a couple of days before presenting them to your dragon. This ensures that your live food has the highest nutritional value possible.

It’s best to use tongs to feed your dragon insects. Only put in two or three at a time. He won’t be overwhelmed with an insect invasion, and it will be much easier for you to capture the uneaten ones. He’ll learn to bond more quickly with you when you feed him as well.

Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon Only Mealworms?

Mealworms are a popular food because they are relatively inexpensive, and many people are under the impression that they are a staple in a bearded dragon food list. Actually, mealworms are not great for bearded dragons and should be fed only in limited quantities.

The hard outer shells they have can cause impaction in your dragon’s digestive system, which may need veterinarian intervention. It’s recommended that you watch your dragon until he finishes the mealworm to watch for any signs of trouble. Any dragon that isn’t at least five or six months old should never be given mealworms.

Aside from this, beardies require a lot of vitamins and minerals in their daily diet. Limiting them to any one food will not keep a dragon healthy, whatever that food is.

How Long Can Bearded Dragons Last Without Food?

A mature beardie with a good store of fat in his body can go as long as two months without feeding, but of course, this is not what you want to do. Juvenile dragons are growing rapidly and should not go without any regular feeding. In fact, if they stop eating, it’s a sign that something is wrong and should be checked out.

How Often Do You Feed Bearded Dragons Crickets?

Crickets are a real staple of a bearded dragon food list. Growing juveniles especially need this vital source of protein to help them grow, usually until they are about 18 months old. Luckily, most pet stores and bait shops stock them, and they can be found online as well. They are easy to raise as well. They also provide some interest to your beardie, as he will enjoy chasing and catching them much as wild dragons do. It will keep him active and give him exercise.

Baby dragons eat about 25 to 80 crickets per day. This may seem like a lot but remember that you will be feeding really small crickets. Don’t leave any uneaten crickets in the beardie home. Believe it or not, crickets can actually attack a small dragon, and babies can get stressed out if this happens. Besides, any uneaten crickets are susceptible to being run over or just plain dying, and you don’t want dead or smashed bugs in your enclosure.

Juveniles can eat 25 to 60 crickets per day. Once they get to the age of nine months, it’s time to start weaning them off the cricket diet, feeding them 20 to 30 per day. Adults may only eat 10 per day in one session. By this time, he’s eating mostly plant matter. If your interested in saving big money on crickets, check out this guide Breeding Crickets Made Easy and you’ll have healthy, clean and virus free crickets to feed your bearded dragon.

The typical crickets one can find for purchase include house or brown crickets, Jamaican crickets, tropical house, Indian house or banded crickets, and the two-spotted, African or Mediterranean Field crickets.

It’s easy to feed your crickets calcium and vitamin D3 supplements a day before feeding them to your dragon to make sure he gets these essential nutrients. An alternative is to dust your crickets with calcium supplement powder that contains vitamin D3 just before a feeding session.

While some other insects, such as Dubia roaches, may have more nutritional value, they are fairly easy to keep. Most people won’t want to keep anything called a roach in their homes, whatever the reason.

It’s fairly easy to raise your own crickets at home. You can buy a cricket enclosure or make your own. You can even use a plastic food container with a lid as long as it’s deep enough to prevent them from jumping out when you lift the lid. Of course, you’ll have to make air holes in the lid. Pieces of egg crates or old toilet paper rolls will give them a place to climb out of the way of each other.

You’ll need to keep the enclosure at about 75 to 80 degrees F, but don’t keep them in the same room with your dragon, as the cricket noises will bother him. Clean your enclosure weekly. Feed them green and fruits such as apples and berries. Avoid citrus fruits, kale, iceberg lettuce and watermelon. You can also give them crushed plant-based cat or dog food.

A sponge can provide water, but it must be dechlorinated. Aside from the de-chlorinator, you won’t incur any additional expense except for buying more crickets, as their food will be readily found in your home anyway. Crickets only live eight to ten weeks, depending on age, so watch for and remove dead ones daily. If your interested in learning more on breeding cricket read my article How to Breed Crickets for Bearded Dragons.

Conclusion

Your beardie will grow well and be happy as long as you see to his diet. Feeding him the proper foods at the proper ages will ensure good bone and organ development. With the surprising variety of foods, he can eat, you’ll soon find that he’s easier to care for than many other reptiles. Besides, cricket chasing is great entertainment to watch. Have fun with your beardie.