Feeding Bearded Dragons is really very simple and straightforward, as long as you follow a few simple steps.
What do Bearded Dragons eat?
Bearded Dragons are omnivorous and will readily eat most things – whether you want them to or not! Typically they will eat a mixture of insects such as crickets, roaches, locusts, mealworms, waxworms, morioworms and you can buy these in any reptile shop, or like me, order them online which works out a bit cheaper.
It may not sound too appealing but you also have to look after any live food you feed to your Pogona, since whatever the prey has eaten will then be passed on to your pet. For this reason it is ill-advised to feed anything, including vegetation, that you’ve caught from outside since it could contain pesticides etc…
Insects and worms
You should feed the prey a variety of greens – left over peelings, apple cores etc… is fine and you can get some bug food supplements that help the insect to develop proteins and vitamins. All this nutrition is then passed on to the Dragon and is known as ‘gut loading’. When you buy insects you should never feed them straight away to your Beardie, always gut load them, as there will be little nutrition in the prey otherwise. If you can’t wait then typically brown crickets will have more nutrition than a locust if fed nothing, however, locusts will retain more nutrition apparently after being fed than a cricket.
You should avoid feeding your pet insects that are too large as this can cause impaction, choking, paralysis and even death – a rule of thumb is to never feed a Dragon an insect that is longer than the width of the back of the Dragons jaw.
Beardies will eat a very wide range of vegetation, although avoid lettuce as there is nothing nutritional in there for them and don’t feed anything too often that has a high water content. A few things they will eat are:
- Hibiscus flowers
- Rose petals
- Spinach (don’t feed to often as Spinach binds with Calcium)
There are many, many more plants that they will eat but be sure that whatever you provide has been thoroughly rinsed and washed to ensure no pesticides are ingested as well.
In the wild, Dragons will get their water from dew, rainfall and from vegetation and prey. To keep them hydrated provide a small shallow dish of water and change every day, or use a dripping system.
However, I find that giving them a shallow bath every week or two provides them with enough hydration, removes any dirt, helps with shedding and for a desert dwelling animal it would seem that they know how to swim and enjoy doing laps of my bath tub so it works as enrichment too.
You can tell whether your Bearded Dragon is getting enough water by the urate in their excrement – that’s the small white part of it. When it is fresh, if it’s not white then they are dehydrated and if there is no urate then there is a problem.
How often to feed
It depends on the age, size and condition of the Pogona. For new born and young it should be around twice a day with a mixture of greens, insects and worms – but in small portions. As they get older they can eat larger amounts but less frequently – I still feed daily for the interaction, for instance the adults will eat around 6-8 large locusts daily and some vegetation – some days they don’t eat as much and the female that I have won’t stop eating when she has eggs, there seems to be no end to the amount she wants to eat. Typically though vegetation is offered every other day for adults. Juveniles seem to much keener to eat leaves and vegetables than the adults – except the pregnant female who just eats anything.
If you look at the width of the Beardies tail it will give you an idea of the fat reserves it has – some can go for weeks without eating, also it will show you if you’re overfeeding or not.
You should also feed them at least couple of hours before the lights go out as they will need time to metabolise their meal properly by sitting under the UVB and basking in the heat.
How to feed
For new dragons, to get them used to you, try hand feeding – a locust will normally sit on your hand and await it’s impending demise and the Dragons normally are very gentle feeders.
To encourage exercise and enrichment of their captivity, I also let them roam the living room and chase after insects – Beardies can be astonishingly fast when they want to be. I also try to encourage some climbing and jumping as well when they are being fed – basically putting the locusts at different heights etc… Also be careful that if you do feed them outside the vivarium/ terrarium, then there is nothing else around for them to try and eat, things such as long hair, crumbs, dirt etc…
Also you’ll find from this that your lizards then begin to more actively stalk their prey and nine times out of ten, they will always find out where you keep the insects and will spot the one cricket that got away – the Bearded Dragons eyesight is phenomenal
If you feed in the enclosure they will always eat part of the substrate as they lunge for the food, but it’s never normally an issue unless you’re using Calci-sand. To minimise risk of impaction from eating too much of the substrate ensure there are plenty of branches, stones, plants and pieces of bark for the insects to hide and sit on, rather than just sit on the vivarium floor.
After feeding, never leave leftover live food in the tank with them as it will stress them out, also for juveniles the insects can bite and cause infection, nipped tails etc…
If your lizard has an adequate UVB bulb and you vary it’s diet and gut load the live food, you won’t need to supplement their diet too much with additional calcium and vitamins.
Instead get some dusting powder and dust a few insects every other feeding, alternating between calcium and a multivitamin. Younger Dragons will require more vitamins and minerals frequently to ensure that they develop good healthy bones. Breeding/ egg laying females should be supplemented daily to ensure good egg production and that they won’t lose any calcium from their bones during this time.Share this page: