What Do Bearded Dragons Eat? [bearded dragon diet and feeding guide]
In the wild, Bearded Dragons eat a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, and insects. As a Bearded Dragon owner, it may be difficult to find the best mix of foods for your dragon but in general, it should be mostly plant-based matter with some feeder insects included. Some examples are dark leafy greens, Dubai roaches, carrots, and bell peppers.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding your Bearded Dragon!
Bearded Dragon Diet
Bearded Dragons eat a wide variety of items including fruit, vegetables, live insects, worms, and greens.
What Do Bearded Dragons Eat in the Wild?
Bearded Dragons Natural Habitat?
Bearded Dragons come from Australia. In Australia, Bearded Dragons (which are known scientifically as (Pogona vitticeps) inhabit deserts, savannahs, and even forests.
Beardie’s habitats are very hot and they typically spend a large amount of their day basking on rocks, tree stumps, and fence posts.
As a Bearded Dragon owner, you will need to try and replicate their natural habitat in your home.
This means you will need to provide a hot and arid environment with plenty of access to fresh water and many types of food.
What Do Baby Bearded Dragons Eat in the Wild?
In the wild, Bearded Dragons eat a varied diet rich in plants, bugs, and even smaller lizards.
In general, according to The Bearded Dragon Manual book, younger dragons tend to eat about half plant matter and half live prey.
In the wild, the bugs baby beardies eat are more nutritionally dense than the bugs we can offer them in captivity and the dragons.
They are constantly searching for more small insects to eat like moths, flies, and worms. This varied diet and voracious eating ensure adolescent Bearded Dragons have rapid growth.
What Do Adult Bearded Dragons Eat?
As dragons get older and their digestive system changes and they stop growing as much, they need less live prey compared to baby beardies.
Adult Bearded Dragons eat mostly plants with a little bit of live food as well.
This means a great way to mimic their natural environment and provide your beardie with a healthy life is to feed your adult Bearded Dragon more vegetables, just like you!
In the wild, older beardies eat many plants such as prickly pear cactuses, leaves, and various fruits.
It is important to remember they can’t eat all kinds of vegetables and fruits since they may not be adapted to them, so it is important to research what the best Bearded Dragon foods are.
Here we are going to help see what the bottom line is when it comes to providing a healthy diet for your new exotic pet!
Best Food for Bearded Dragons
After your Bearded Dragon grows up one of the best places to get food for your Bearded Dragon is the grocery store and you can shop for them while you shop for yourself.
Depending on what you eat, you can even make them the same fresh salad as you as long as you make sure the Bearded Dragon’s diet is taken into account.
For a baby Bearded Dragon, you should feed about half plant matter and half feeder insects.
Once Bearded Dragons are more than about 10-12 months of age you should feed your Bearded Dragon about 75% plant matter and 25% feeder insects.
The plant matter should be about 80% vegetables and greens and 20% fruits and flowers.
Feeding Fresh Vegetables to Your Bearded Dragon
In general, fresh vegetables are better than fruits for you Bearded Dragons. Vegetables provide many essential nutrients for your Bearded Dragon and are a key staple in your dragon’s diet.
So, what kinds of fresh vegetables will your dragon eat? Below is a list to help you decide! The list is broken down into 3 categories: stables, treats, and avoid.
The stable foods can be fed with every meal, the treats should be limited to a little bit once or twice a week, and you should not feed your beardie the avoided foods.
- Acorn Squash
- Bell peppers
- Butternut Squash
- Collard Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Green Beans
- Mustard Greens
- Snap Peas
- Turnip Greens
- Bok choy
- Spring mix
- Sweet Potatoes
- Swiss Chard
Foods to Avoid Feeding to Your Bearded Dragon
- Beet greens
- Wild plants
Feeder Insects for a Bearded Dragon
Feeder insects are an important supplement to the vegetables you feed your Bearded Dragon, as they provide protein, fats, and calories!
There are many good feeder options out there, but there are some that are certainly superior to others.
Crickets for example are a very popular choice, but there are better options that are more nutritionally complete.
Below is a list of examples of possible feeder insects to feed your Bearded Dragon.
Later we’ll talk about ways to make your feeder insects even more healthy (hint, skip to the supplements and gut loading section).
- Dubia roaches
- Butter worms
- Earthworms (make sure to rinse them off!)
- Phoenix worms
- Wax worms
- Black soldier fly larvae
Even though Bearded Dragons usually are not picky eaters, that does not mean you can just feed them any bug or insect. Below is a list of live insects to avoid completely.
- Wild insects
- Bugs from the bait shop
- Dead insects
- Elder bugs
- Glowing insects (like fireflies!)
- Venomous insects
Feeding Fresh Fruit to Your Bearded Dragon
Fresh fruit should be offered sparingly even though it may seem like a healthy choice. As previously mentioned, it should only consist of about 20% of your beardie’s plant matter diet.
There are many fruits you can feed your dragon, but below is a list of staple fruits, treat fruits, and fruits to avoid.
Fruits to Avoid Feeding to Your Bearded Dragon
Commercially Available Bearded Dragon Food
There are many pellets on the market that have specifically been formulated for a healthy diet.
If you use these, use a pellet with lower protein for adult beardies and one with higher protein for baby beardies.
Supplements and Gut Loading
There are many ways to increase the nutrition in your Bearded Dragon’s diet to make sure they stay healthy. One is gut loading, and the other is supplements.
What is Gut Loading?
As previously mentioned, you may want to make your feeder insects even healthier. This is done through gut loading, a form of supplement.
Gut loading is done by feeding live prey highly nutritious and vitamin-packed food items.
Then, when your bead dragon eats this live prey they also absorb the nutrients from gut loading.
You can also coat the fresh fruits and vegetables in your beardie’s diets with supplemental vitamins and powders that you can buy at pet shops.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Calcium Supplements?
Yes, you need to make sure your Bearded Dragon has enough calcium and a good calcium supplement is a way to accomplish this.
Using Calcium powder to dust their food is the most common way to add this supplement to your dragons’ diet.
An adult dragon should be given a calcium supplement about three times a week.
Supplements, used properly, can even help boost your Bearded Dragons’ immune system. You can find them online or at local pet stores.
Oxalic Acid and Its Dangers
Some foods like rhubarb have high levels of oxalic acid. This dangerous compound can block calcium absorption and cause a calcium deficiency.
Make sure to avoid foods high in oxalic acids to maintain your Bearded Dragon’s immune system health.
How to Feed a Bearded Dragon
In addition to a bowl with fresh water, you should also have a bowl for your beardie’s food. Some keepers will have two food bowls, one for worms and one for plant matter.
This will help contain the food so it doesn’t get any loose substrate on it.
If you are feeding your Bearded Dragon bugs that move, you should consider having a solid substrate so your precious dragon doesn’t ingest any loose substrate.
Juvenile Bearded Dragon Diet
The astute Bearded Dragon owner would feed their baby dragon (less than 12 months of age) a steady diet of about half plants and half bugs. These bugs should easily fit in the beardie’s mouth.
If you are feeding your young Bearded Dragon worms make sure not to feed them any super worms as these can be dangerous for young dragons.
Adult Bearded Dragon Diet
All of the foods in a young Bearded Dragon’s diet can also be used for the proper diet of an adult Bearded Dragon.
As the dragon passes 12 months of age you should shift to about 75% plant matter and 25% live insects and bugs.
What if Your Beardie is a Picky Eater?
Just like people, your Bearded Dragon may be a picky eater and not eat everything you offer. If this happens just try and offer them different items until you find something they like.
If your beardie only eats a few things you can try adding little bits of varied foods to the ones you know your beardie likes.
This can be a good choice to ensure your Bearded Dragon has a well-rounded proper diet.
Growing Food for Your Bearded Dragon
Did you know beardies eat flowers like dandelions, hibiscus, and clover. If you have a green thumb you can make a little garden to feed your Bearded Dragon.
Make sure to never use chemicals or herbicides on these though if you are going to feed them to your beardie.
Below is a list of flowers and other plants you can grow in a little garden and feed your dragon.
Bearded Dragon Hydration
It is important to keep your Bearded Dragon well hydrated.
Although they will gain a lot of water from the fruits and vegetables they eat, it is important to also provide them with warm water in case they want a soak or a drink.
Make sure to clean out your Bearded Dragon’s water bowl with fresh water often as they might leave waste in the bowl.
Bearded Dragon Health
Just like you, a healthy diet is the key to a healthy Bearded Dragon, but sometimes things can go wrong.
I am not a Bearded Dragon medical expert and if you have any questions or your beardie seems lethargic or otherwise sick you should consult a vet to make sure your pet is okay.
What is Metabolic Bone Disease?
This is a disease caused by an inadequate amount of UVB light and a poor diet. Metabolic bone disease causes rubbery jaws, bone weakness, and muscle decay.
Juvenile dragons are the most susceptible, but adults can get it too.
Bearded Dragon owners can prevent this disease by providing a proper diet that is not too high in oxalic acids and phosphorus and by using UV bulbs.
Related Bearded Dragon Questions
Do Bearded Dragons Need UV Light?
Bearded Dragons need strong UV light. If Bearded Dragons do not get enough UV, their bodies don’t make enough vitamin D3. This can cause a calcium deficiency in your beardie.
It is critical to provide a UV light across the entire length of your dragon’s cage to make sure they are healthy and happy!
Where Should I Buy a Bearded Dragon?
Since they are one of the most popular exotic pets, you can get your first baby beardie in many different places!
In general, you should try to find reputable pet stores, local breeders, or a reptile convention to buy your Bearded Dragon.
What is the Difference Between Inland Bearded Dragons and Central Bearded Dragons?
Both inland and central Bearded Dragons are the same species (Pogona vitticeps), and there is no difference between them.
It is just a different name for the same species of Bearded Dragon. There are a total of eight different Bearded Dragon species.
There are many things you can feed your Bearded Dragon and many things you should avoid.
When feeding your new exotic pet you should take into consideration its age and what else it has recently eaten.
Make sure all plant matter is well washed and free of pesticides and live prey isn’t from the wild or already dead. Bon appetit!