Feeding Bearded Dragons the Right Way

Bearded dragons by nature are omnivores, which means when feeding bearded dragons, they require both plants and animals. Your pet lizards are heavy eaters and they will eat just about any food that they can find. They enjoy a steady diet of many different types of plants and insects, from the staple entree of crickets, to the occasional dessert of super-worms.

The important thing to remember when feeding bearded dragons is not to feed it with anything that is larger than the space between their eyes. Buying appropriate sized crickets and chopping vegetables to manageable sizes will ensure that no problems with digestion or hind leg paralysis will arise.

Young or juvenile beardies should be fed 3 times a day with the appropriate size of crickets (preferably pinhead crickets). Within a five to ten minute period, offer them as many crickets as they can eat. As they get older, begin feeding them with fruits and vegetables as they are beginning to require a more well balanced diet.

Adult bearded dragons only require you to feed them once a day or twice a day. I typically offer my adult dragons a mixture of greens about an hour after the lights go on in the morning, then offer crickets and a fresh salad mix at least two to three hours before the lights go off at night. Feeding at least a few hours before or at least an hour after the lights are turned on/off will ensure that your dragon has the proper body temperature to allow their food to digest easily. If their food is not properly digested, it can rot inside of their stomach creating a number of different health risks.

It is safest to buy the plants, flowers or insects that you are going to feed your dragon rather than collecting them yourself from the neighborhood. These may have parasites and bacteria from the environment and can affect the health of your beloved pets, or can be all together poisonous to them such as lightening bugs. Breeding crickets and/or growing your own plants is another safe option that can save you quite a bit of money, but does require more time spent.

Like all reptiles, bearded dragons need both vitamins and supplements to sustain their growth. They need supplementation in the form of Calcium and Vitamin D3. Calcium is necessary for them because they grow so fast when they are young. At least one feeding every day should be calcium supplemented, as well as a multivitamin supplement once a week. Do not feed your lizard with supplements that contain phosphorus and/or oxalic acid as these bind calcium from other foods causing them to not be absorbed by the lizard.

Also keep in mind that before feeding insects to your bearded dragons, you should “gut load” them. This is simply feeding the insects with a vitamin supplemented food before feeding them to your beardies.

Your adult bearded dragons will continue to eat gut loaded insects but will also start to eat more fruits and veggies, so you will need to prepare a balanced diet for them. Many beardies will tend to eat vegetables more than insects as they grow older in age.

Some recommended fruits and vegetables that you can feed your beardies are turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, butternut squash, acorn squash, all other varieties of squash, green beans, parsnips, sweet potato, snow pea. Chop the vegetables into small pieces and refrain from freezing, as they lose a lot of their nutritional value. When freezing veggies, especially the green ones, Vitamin B1 will seep out and if this kind of food is continually given to your lizard it will cause a lack of nutrients.

Also when feeding vegetables to your pet it is advised to spray them generously with water. Bearded dragons tend not to drink from water dishes, and instead receive their hydration from the vegetables that they eat. Spraying these veggies with water will not only keep your pet properly hydrated, but will also keep the veggies fresh for much longer under the heat lamps.

You may have also noticed different types of “pellet” food available for beardies. Although there is no direct harm known in using these, it is much better to offer fresh food at all times in my opinion. Although it can be helpful to keep some of these pellets on hand in case of an emergency. Think of it from a human perspective. Would you rather eat a tv dinner, or a fresh meal from a nice restaurant?

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