As a responsible reptile owner, you might want to know about the proper feeding techniques of your adorable beardie. The entire feeding procedure can sometimes feel like rocket science to inexperienced individuals. This bearded dragon feeding guide would help you make the right food choices for your pet lizard.
Bearded dragons come from semi-arid southeastern parts of Australia. Because of the scarcity of food sources in their natural habitat, they have evolved to have a diverse diet. This means that you can feed them various things including vegetables, invertebrates, and small vertebrates.
Despite the apparent rough and rugged appearance of bearded dragons, they are quite fragile animals. This means that a slight imbalance in their food intake or surrounding environment can take a toll on their health.
Your omnivorous pet lizard would go through a variation in its diet preference as it grows old. Baby and juvenile bearded dragons mainly consume a carnivore diet, as they need protein for their growing bodies. On the other hand, adult beardies tend to give preference to a herbivore diet. Once they reach adulthood, they would not require an excessive amount of insects and bugs in their daily diet.
Figuring out what to feed your exotic pet can get quite challenging at times. You cannot simply allow them to eat anything that crawls in front of them. Depending upon the age of your bearded dragon, you would have to come up with a sustainable diet plan.
Pro Tip: You should keep the lights turned on for at least 2 hours following the feeding session of your beardie. This would ensure that are able to properly digest their food without any complications.
Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule
If you own hatchlings or juveniles, then you would need to feed them insects about 2 to 4 times daily. Young bearded dragons have a voracious appetite and they would devour a massive number of live bugs. In order to satiate this seemingly never-ending hunger, you would need to set a fixed time schedule. This means that you shouldn’t simply toss in insects in the tank whenever you feel like it.
You would also need to spray veggies with water to ensure that your bearded dragons stay hydrated throughout the day. You would seldom see your beardie taking a sip from the water bowl. In the wild, they tend to get their hydration from water droplets on leaves and vegetation. You can provide them with the same feeding setup by misting the leafy greens. This would also keep the vegetables fresh for a longer period of time.
Bearded dragons can sometimes bite on more than they can chew (no pun intended). Young beardies would try to swallow almost any live insect that comes near them. This means that they wouldn’t hesitate to gobble up on bugs much bigger than they can swallow. This can create serious health issues such as impaction or hind-leg paralysis. You would need to look for bite-size bugs that are easily chewable for your baby beardie.
The type of live feed you provide your beardie can also have an impact on their overall health. It is better to let the insects go through the molting process before feeding them to your pet lizard. Once their exoskeleton is removed, the insects contain fewer amounts of dead skin cells attached to their bodies. This means that you would be able to provide clean and fresh food to your beardie.
How Often to Feed a Bearded Dragon?
In order to have a healthy and happy dragon, you need to keep track of its feeding routine. Normally, you can feed an adult bearded dragon once a day. You can even skip a day every now and then, as adult bearded dragons just have to sustain their bodies. On the other hands, new hatchlings have a strong appetite because of the rapid phase at which their body grows. They would grow twice or thrice the size within a matter of a few months. This means that they would require a high-protein diet, which mainly contains mainly live bugs. You would typically have to feed your baby beardie 2 to 4 times per day.
For adult bearded dragons, many people follow a 3-day cycle. On the first day, you would include leafy greens without restricting the quantity. The second day would be a protein day. This means that you would allow them to eat a decent amount of crunchy bugs within a 15-minute time window. The third is a fasting day during which you would not provide any food to your bearded dragon. This feeding routine helps maintain a lean physique of your adult bearded dragon without any gaining any fat deposits.
How Often Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Being omnivorous, bearded dragons would eat almost anything they find palatable. They have a diverse diet preference, which makes it easier for reptile owners to care for them. The willingness to eat various food items makes it easier for them to survive in the wild. You would need to add a balanced diet routine to ensure a long-lived bearded dragon.
During some parts of the year, bearded dragons might not as frequently as they usually do. With the onset of the winter season, your bearded dragon would slowly become uninterested towards any food. This is the time when they usually prepare to hunker down for brumation. As long as your bearded dragon is 2 years old or older, you can allow them to prepare for brumation. Dragons younger than that have high chances of dying, as they don’t have enough sustainable fat layers.
Bearded dragons would also reduce their eating frequency during the breeding season. The mating season usually starts off with the onset of the spring season. When your bearded dragon wakes up from hibernation, it would slowly start feeding at the same pace.
How Often Do Adult Bearded Dragons Eat?
You can consider a bearded dragon an adult when it surpasses the age of 18 months. At this phase of life, they usually reach most of their growth potential. After this, they start becoming heavier and wider rather than growing in length. This means that they are also likely to suffer from obesity once they become fully adult.
You can no longer feed them an unlimited amount of crickets and mealworms when they reach adulthood. You can only feed them about 10 crickets in a day. Similarly, the number of super-worms should not surpass 7 units in a day. This type of diet discipline is crucial to minimizing potential health complications in adult bearded dragons.
You can compensate for this scarcity of protein in their diet with fresh vegetables and fruits. You can feed them papaya, mangoes, and bananas in controlled amounts. Similarly, you can cater to their daily fiber requirements by adding non-starchy vegetables in their diet.
Unlike baby bearded dragons, adult bearded dragons do not demand to be fed throughout the day. An adult would typically move away from food when it has satisfied its hunger. They might also close their eyes when you present them with food once they are no longer hungry.
How Often Do Baby Bearded Dragons Need to Eat?
Just like a newborn human baby, young baby bearded dragons eat multiple times per day. They stay active and take part in physical activities – which potentially require a substantial amount of energy. They also grow at a rapid phase, as this allows them to reduce the chances of attracting nearby predators. When they reach full size, they are less likely to be pursued by small prey.
A baby bearded dragons can eat about 40 to 80 bugs in a day. You would also need to feed them about 3 to 5 times daily. Most reptile experts recommend feeding baby beardies at least 4 times per day. This gives them a better opportunity of gaining mass rapidly and reaching their full growth potential.
You do not have to worry about adding leafy greens at this life stage, as they would mostly eat bugs. Typically you would need to feed crickets, as they contain higher protein content. As a general rule of thumb, the food should not be longer than the length between their eyes. This would ensure that they can easily digest food without suffering from constipation. If your bearded dragon has been suffering from impaction for a few days, then this can put excessive strain on their delicate spine. If left untreated, it can cause paralysis. This is the reason you might also want to add fibrous food items in your bearded dragon’s diet.
Bearded Dragon Feeding Chart by Age
By referring to the feeding chart below, you would be able to maintain a proper meal plan for your beardie. The exact amount of food might differ from one dragon to another but they mostly have a similar appetite.
|0 to 3 months||70% of insects |
30% of vegetables
|20 to 40 insects per day||3 to 5 times daily|
|3 to 12 months||80% of insects |
20% of vegetables
|30 to 80 insects per day||2 to 4 times daily|
|12 to 18 months||80% of insects |
20% of vegetables
|30 to 80 insects per day||Once a day|
|18 months +||20% of insects |
80% of vegetables
|50 insects per week||Follow 3-Day Cycle|
How Much Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are highly likely to put on excessive fat if you don’t provide them a well-balanced diet. Once they become older than 18 months, a greater amount of meals they eat would be converted into fat. Obesity would not only create health issues but it even affects the overall mood and energy levels of your dragon. Therefore you would need to restrict the amount of some veggies and fruits. Fruits that have sugar content should never be given to your dragon. These sugary fruits can also create periodontal diseases in your exotic pet’s oral cavity. The soft fibrous nature of fruits doesn’t provide much abrasion to the upper surface of teeth. This exposes them to getting accumulated with tartar and bacterial growth on teeth. So you might want only to feed fruits, like kiwi, only once a month.
Mealworms can also cause your bearded dragon to become obese. The harder exoskeleton of these critters is not only difficult to chew but it can even create digestion disorders.
How long can a Bearded Dragon go without food?
It all greatly depends on the age of your bearded dragon. These arid creatures are usually known for their self-control and resilience when it comes to going without food. An adult bearded dragon can even survive without any food for up to 2 months. That might be quite surprising for you, as you cannot imagine going without food for more than a day.
These dragons have learned to make do with little food sources in their natural landscape. Normally, an adult bearded dragon would abstain from food consumption when it enters into brumation. During this phase, they wouldn’t eat for weeks, if not months. They store fat deposits before going into the hibernation mode.
If your bearded dragon is younger than 18 months, then it should not hibernate. It would not be able to survive, as it needs daily nourishment at this phase of life.
Bearded dragons’ metabolism slows down when they grow old. This reduces their overall appetite without affecting their energy and health.
What Can Bearded Dragons Eat Everyday?
You would need to come up with a balanced diet plan for your pet dragon. This would ensure that they remain active and energetic throughout the day. Proper nutrition can also increase the lifespan of bearded dragons, as they are less likely to develop fatal health conditions.
Bearded dragons require a substantial amount of protein during the first 2 years of their life. By protein, we don’t mean lamb chops or rib-eye steaks but we are mainly referring to small bugs. You can feed them a wide variety of insects, such as earthworms, cockroaches, locusts, silkworms, and larvae.
Some insects that contain tough chitin, such as mealworms, should never be given to baby beardies. The hard protective layer of these insects can get stuck in the intestine of a small bearded dragon.
You can also feed them small quantities of fruits almost daily. Some of their favorite fruits include strawberries, guava, raisins, and blueberries. You should refrain from feeding them high-sugar fruits, as they can damage their teeth.
Note: You should never feed glowing bugs, like fireflies, to your bearded dragon. These eye-catching insects contain a toxic chemical called “lucibufagins”. It can lead to death within an hour if your pet reptile even eats one of these insects. This is the reason you should carefully pick feeder insects from the local pet store for your beardie.
Do Bearded Dragons Need to Eat Every Day?
Hatchlings and juveniles have a voracious appetite, as that complements their rapidly growing bodies. Due to this, they would need to be fed several times per day. You can feed them 4 to 6 times a day depending upon their hunger.
Once bearded dragons undergo full-body growth their appetite would suddenly drop. They would even skip meals for an entire day sometimes. This is perfectly healthy and you should never consider force-feeding your dragon. They would only come near food when their body demands it.
What is the Best Thing to Feed a Bearded Dragon?
In a nutshell, the best thing that bearded dragons love to eat in their natural habitat is live insects. Their predilection for live bugs decreases as they grow old. As they become older bearded dragons start giving preference to leafy greens. This helps them prevent from becoming overweight and developing cardiovascular diseases.
Most beardie owners give Dubia roaches to their pet dragons. These insects are easily digestible and your dragon would happily gobble on them. You might also be tempted to add a massive amount of crickets in the diet because they are cheap. You should restrict the number of crickets, as they are usually filled with parasites. If these intestinal worms enter the digestive tract of your dragon, then this can weaken them.
Mealworms are also popular feeder insects for bearded dragons. You should never feed these worms to your baby or juvenile bearded dragon because they are covered with chitin shell. This non-protein compound can be difficult to chew and it can’t be digested properly.
When it comes to veggies, the leafy greens are always the best, such as kale, parsley, zucchini, and beans. Your adult bearded dragon would fain add them in his or her daily diet without any hesitation.
Can You Overfeed a Bearded Dragon?
Unlike the digestive systems of mammals, it takes time for most reptiles to fully absorb their meal. Bearded dragons would usually lie down in a basking spot after eating. The heat radiated from the UVB bulb aids them in the digestion process. This is the reason they give up on eating, as they don’t get enough exposure to sunlight. Similarly, bearded dragons can put on weight if you provide them with a high-fat diet.
It is highly advisable to come up with an age-appropriate diet plan, which would cater to the dietary requirements of your pet. Usually, babies are more likely to be overfed because they don’t stop eating until you remove food. You would actively have to remove live bugs after a particular timeframe otherwise they would keep on eating. Moving bugs in the tank can also cause your bearded dragon to become stressful.
How Many Crickets to Feed a Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are known to eat crickets with gusto, as they apparently love the crunchy texture of these insects. The higher iron content of these bugs makes them a highly preferred option as feeder insects. They are also less off-putting to most people compared to cockroaches, which can quite creepy.
You might also want to remove these tiny critters from the tank once your dragon is done feeding. Crickets tend to bite bearded dragons during the time they are sleeping. This can leave open wounds to your young beardie, which can potentially lead to a serious infection.
It is a good habit to dust your crickets with vitamin and mineral supplements before feeding them to your pet. This would ensure that your beardie is getting all the necessary dietary supplements daily. You should also gut-load your feeder crickets approximately 24 hours before the feeding day. This would offer better chances for your beardie to absorb a higher amount of nutrients.
For Baby Bearded dragon:
New hatchlings and juveniles would be able to eat about 30 to 80 crickets daily. Make sure to feed them about 5 times per day during the first 3 months of their life. You can allow them to eat as many crickets they want in one sitting of around 10 minutes.
For Adult Bearded Dragon
When bearded dragon fully matures you would need to reduce the number of live insects in their diet. You can feed about 20 units every other day to ensure optimal protein amount.
How Many Dubia Roaches to Feed a Bearded Dragon?
Dubia roaches are one of the best feeder insects you can feed to your bearded dragon. They contain about 61% moisture and 28% protein, which provides a great source of nutrition for your active pet. Unlike crickets, they don’t hop out of the container or make noises. They are also fairly easy to breed. You can breed around 1,000 critters in a small plastic container with proper ventilation.
Roaches also have a longer lifespan than other insects. You should keep in mind that it takes a bit longer for these bugs to become fully adult. Whether you are planning to start a colony or just buy a batch, they can offer a healthy meal.
For Baby Bearded dragon:
Baby bearded dragons require a large amount of protein to sustain their rapid growth. For babies younger than 3 months, you would need to buy roaches that are ¼ inches long. You can feed up to 25 to 50 roaches to a baby bearded dragon daily.
For Adult Bearded Dragon
Adults are able to swallow roaches that are bigger in dimensions. You can purchase them roaches that are 2 inches long. When it is protein day, you can feed anywhere from 3 to 5 roaches to your full-grown dragon.
How Many Superworms to Feed a Bearded Dragon?
Superworms are basically the larvae of Darkling beetle. These scrumptious worms contain a large percentage of fat, this is the reason you should only consider them as treats. These odorless insects don’t give off any bad smell, unlike other breeder insects. You can place bran or raw oatmeal in the container for them to feed on. Fully gut-loaded worms would allow a more delicious meal to your hungry pet dragon.
For Baby Bearded dragon:
You can feed them to your juveniles, but you should restrict only feed a few of these high-fat insects. Purchase worms that are about 1.2 to 2 cm for your young dragon. You can allow juvenile beardie to eat about 5 to 10 superworms in one sitting.
For Adult Bearded Dragon
Your adult bearded dragon would also only eat a couple of these insects because of their fatty content. Purchase superworms that are about 4 to 6 cm for your adult bearded dragon. An adult bearded dragon would also be able to eat 4 to 8 of these worms.