Bearded Dragons (Pogona) are omnivorous, they’ll pretty much eat anything that they can get in their mouths! All the items listed you should be able to find in any pet shop, supermarket or buy online, if it’s not on these lists then check first before feeding, chances are it could be poisonous.
As a rule, don’t feed any insect that’s longer than the width between the dragons eyes. Also insects have tough exoskeletons so when feeding, try to pick the ones that have recently malted to help your beardies digestion, especially if young.
Before feeding, ensure that the insects have been gut loaded – basically an hour before, feed the insects some greens to ensure they carry nutrition. Add a supplement by dusting a few of the insects every few days, alternating between calcium and a multivitamin.
Do not feed wild insects as they are more likely to carry parasites and toxins such as pesticides.
Insects that Bearded Dragons eat
- Crickets (Brown or Black)
- Locusts / hoppers
Most insects will come in tubs and depending upon the size you’ll get varying amounts. You’ll get 25 medium locusts in a tub or 50 small or 100 hatchlings for instance. Locusts are generally easier to dust, handle, feed and catch any surplus in the tank whereas crickets are very fast and difficult to catch and they are noisy, especially if one escapes under the fridge and just won’t shut up! Worms on the other hand are financially the best bet since you get 100′s for your cash, however, they are more of a treat item due to their fatty content – great though for young dragons that need to put on weight. If you have more than 1 Bearded Dragon, then it’s worth buying in bulk as you’ll save a bit of cash and won’t need to visit the pet shop every other day.
If the insects are a bit feisty then put them in the fridge for 15 minutes (still in their tub!) and this will cool them down and slow their metabolisms making them easier to handle.
What do you feed the insects?
Remember that while you may be repulsed by having to keep insects alive to feed your dragon, looking after them keeping them clean and well fed and hydrated will mean a healthy dragon.
There are a few options here, first you can add in some fibre such as Bug Grub or other purpose made insects food, but if you yourself have a healthy diet and eat vegetables then you can feed the insects the waste, such as leaves and some peelings etc… just make sure it’s raw – I’ve yet to see a fussy insect.
They love to eat greens, but this should really make up about 30% of their diet, and appetite will vary depending on the age and the dragon – most of my dragons are ravenous for greens no matter how many insects they eat. Also remember to wash/rinse any vegetables and try not to feed anything with a high water content too often.
Fruit, Herbs & Vegetables for Bearded Dragons
- Bell pepper
- Bok choy
- Brussel sprouts
- Cactus leaves
- Cactus pear
- Collard greens
- Dandelion leaves
- Green beans
- Honey dew melon
- Mustard greens
- Sweet potato
- Turnip greens
Variation is the main thing to remember, leaves are pretty much the staple with a mixture of any of the others and avoid feeding items with high water content too often, e.g. grapes, tomato etc… unless you like cleaning up runny poo!
Also worth noting is that some fruit juice will stain and result in your Bearded Dragon looking like she has lipstick on when she’s been eating strawberries!
On a serious note, it’s best to keep any vegetation finely chopped and in a bowl away from the substrate. Sticky, juicy fruits are best hand fed to avoid the lizard getting a mouthful of dirt and always provide fresh vegetation everyday, avoid it sitting there rotting away.
Edible plants for Bearded Dragons
You won’t have much luck growing some of these in the vivarium due to the heat and lack of humidity you need to keep but you may have some of these plants in the garden or find them in a garden store. Avoid feeding cuttings from the garden, because it can contain toxins from pesticides. Plants take up minerals etc… from their roots and store them, including pesticides – if it’s in the soil the plant will take it in. So it’s best to re-pot the plant, rinsing away most of the old soil and replant in clean soil and leave for around 6 weeks for the pesticides left in the plant to be expelled.
Of all the plants below, the best one to keep is the Chinese Rose Hibiscus (pictred above) – the flowers from this are like crack cocaine for lizards, I have never seen anything so mental or fights break out over anything else.
- Chinese Lantern flowers
- Carnation petals
- Day Lilies flowers
- Ficus leaves (sap is irritant)
- Geranium flowers & leaves
- Hibiscus flowers & leaves
- Maple leaves
- Mesquite leaves
- Mulberry leaves
- Nasturtium flowers & leaves
- Pansy flowers
- Rose petals
- Spider Plant leaves (sap is irritant)
- Wandering Jew leaves (sap is irritant)
- Yucca flowers
Other treats for Beardies
As well as the above, you can also feed Bearded Dragons pinkie/ baby mice as well as the occasional pieces of hard boiled egg.
How often should I feed my Bearded Dragon?
|0-3 months||7 days a week, twice a day||1 – 2 days a week|
|3-6 months||6 days a week, twice a day||2 – 3 days a week|
|6-8 month||5 days a week||3 – 4 days a week|
|8-12 months||4 days a week||4 – 5 days a week|
|12-18 months||3 days a week||5 – 6 days a week|
|18 months +||2 – 3 days a week||6 – 7 days a week|
The above of course is a guide, for instance I feed insects to my adult beardies daily but in reduced quantities, purely for daily handling.
What times should I feed my lizards?
Generally you should feed at least an hour after the lights/ heat have been on and an hour before they are due to turn off. This gives plenty of time for the dragon to digest and metabolise the food rather than leave it sit in their bellies for 12 hours or having to wait until there is enough warmth in order to do so.