The Ultimate Guide to the Bearded Dragon Diet

bearded dragon dietBearded Dragons require fresh vegetables daily, fruit occasionally and live insects (depending on the age). Being omnivorous, beardies have a wide variety of things they can eat.

Consistently providing them with the nutritionally best diet is going to be vital to their growth and well-being. As humans, the food we eat has a direct effect on our health (for better or worse). Bearded dragons are no different.

Keep in mind, these are all rough guidelines as a bearded dragon is going to have its own unique personality and eating habits and may not follow the below to a T.

The goal is to do our best to mimic its diet in the wild. As bearded dragons require different diets at the different stages of its life, let’s look at the specifics:

Bearded Dragon Feeding Habits

Feeding a Baby Bearded Dragon – Baby bearded dragons require a LOT of feeder insects! During the first year they need to intake more protein to support their growth.

The rule of thumb is to provide as many insects as the young dragon can eat in a 10-15 minute time period, 2-3 times a day (due to their voracious appetite and fast metabolism at this age). Once they’re done, you want to make sure to remove the insects as they can annoy and stress out your dragon.

It is CRITICAL that you do not feed them insects that are too large. These little guys get excited and will attempt to eat prey that is too large which could lead to problems. A good rule of thumb for all ages is not to feed an insect larger than the space between the dragons eyes. Babies will enjoy pinhead sizes.

At this stage, crickets and roaches are your best bet. My suggestion is to wait until the juvenile stage before feeding mealworms/superworms due to their hard exoskeleton which can cause digestion issues.

Feeding a Juvenile Bearded Dragon – In the juvenile stage (5-18 months), the bearded dragon diet will slightly shift to more vegetables and less insect feeding sessions. We’re looking for about a 60/40 ratio of vegetables to insects.

Insects can be fed once or twice a day and you can now start including mealworms and superworms into the diet (not a staple insect). A fresh salad should be offered at all times and if they finish their salad it should be refilled the same day.

Feeding an Adult Bearded Dragon – At 18+ months of age, the ratio will move to 75/25  of vegetables to insects (pretty much the opposite of the baby stage). They now only need to be offered one salad a day and can be offered insects 3-4 times a week. You can still offer live insects daily, but it’s not a requirement at this point. Some adult bearded dragons are OK with eating every other day and they may also go into brumation which will cause their appetite to dramatically decrease.

Bearded Dragon Staple Vegetables, Fruits and Insects

When providing fresh veggies and fruits, you want to keep the ratio of veggie/fruit to about 90/10. You can make a “salad” and it should be good in the fridge for about a week. Make sure you dump any leftovers and refill daily.

After experimenting a bit, you will start to notice what your bearded dragon likes to eat. Listed below are the staple foods that beardies can eat on the daily (small portions on the fruit).

For the full list of everything that can be included in the bearded dragon diet, check out the ultimate bearded dragon food list.

*Keep in mind that the vegetables can be provided raw or cooked, with the preference being raw as it’s more nutritious. Also, think of fruits as a “salad topping.”  Use sparingly!

bearded dragon food

Staple Leafy Greens – Collard greens, Mustard greens, Beet greens, Turnip greens, Dandelion greens and Kale.

Staple Vegetables – Squash (Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti, Yellow), carrots, bok choy, bell peppers, peeled cucumber and celery. If using a hard raw vegetable, grate it or slice into very small pieces.

Staple Fruits (not so staple, use occasionally) – Pears, berries (strawberries, blueberries, cranberries), cherries, grapes, melons, mangoes and pineapple.

Feeder Insects – Staples are gut loaded crickets and dubia roaches. Can also include butterworms, earthworms and locusts occasionally. Superworms can be fed as a treat in the juvenile and up stage.

Bearded Dragon Dietary Supplements

As most pet bearded dragons are housed indoors, they aren’t capable of receiving all the necessary vitamins from their food alone. The most common supplements you will hear about with dragons are Calcium and Vitamin D3. These are vital for proper bearded dragon care. Vitamin D3 is necessary for a bearded dragon to properly uptake and utilize calcium. Without these supplements, beardies face the possibility of MBD (metabolic bone disease).

These vitamins are delivered orally by dusting feeder insects and/or their salad (dust only one meal per day). The brand that I have used and consider my go-to is the offerings from Rep-Cal.

Calcium – If your lighting setup uses  MVB (Mercury Vapor Bulb) for the UVB, you will want to use Calcium (without D3).

Baby/Juvenile Bearded Dragons – 5x a week (dust one feeding per day)
Adult Bearded Dragons – 3x a week (dust one feeding on three different days)

Calcium with D3 – If your lighting setup has a heat lamp and separate fluorescent UVB (such as the oh so awesome Reptisun 10.0), you will want to use Calcium with D3.

Baby/Juvenile Bearded Dragons – 5x a week (dust one feeding per day)
Adult Bearded Dragons – 3x a week (dust one feeding on three different days)

Multivitamin – To fulfill a bearded dragon’s vitamin and mineral needs, the use of a multivitamin is recommended. As with the calcium, I am a very fond user of the Rep-Cal line. For this supplement, you want to use Rep-Cal Herptivite (with beta carotene) Multivitamin.

Baby/Juvenile Bearded Dragons – 2x a week (dust one feeding on two different days)
Adult Bearded Dragons – 1x a week (dust one feeding a week)

Example of a baby bearded dragon supplement plan:

Monday – Calcium
Tuesday – Calcium
Wednesday – Multivitamin
Thursday – Calcium
Friday – Calcium
Saturday – Multivitamin
Sunday – Calcium

Bearded Dragon Commercial Diet

A commercial diet should supplement a proper diet. With that said, if for whatever reason you can’t make a salad/provide feeder insects, you’ll be fine tossing in some commercial chow. Just try not to make it a habit!

There are a wide-variety of commercial bearded dragon diets on the market. Some popular ones are Fluker’s Buffet Blends, Zilla Reptile Munchies and Zoo Med Gourmet.

What NOT to Feed Your Bearded Dragon

what not to feed your bearded dragon

There are some foods and plants that you should NOT feed to your bearded dragon. These foods are either unhealthy, contain no nutritional value or are downright lethal for a bearded dragon to consume.

Lettuce – It contains no nutritional value. Focus on feeding dark leafy greens.
Spinach – Contains a calcium-binding chemical that can lead to MBD. I know some that feed occasionally with no issues.
Avocados – Poor dragons, avocados are awesome (for us). High levels of oxalic acid, compounded through multiple feedings over the long term can prove lethal to your lizard.
Insects Captured in the Wild – It may seem tempting to save a buck, but you are at risk of introducing parasites or pesticides to your dragon which can cause a lot of issues.

Does your bearded dragon have a favorite salad? If so, share with the rest of us!

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