How Often Do You Need to Feed a Bearded Dragon?


Being a new bearded dragon owner can be quite challenging, from figuring out which type of insects and veggies you feed them at certain ages and feeding them in the right way.

The bearded dragon is an omnivorous animal that can eat a variety of foods. Its diet includes; insects, vegetables, and at times some non-citrus fruits. You should feed baby bearded dragons 3-5 times a day, while adult ones you can feed them once a day.

Providing a healthy and proper diet is vital in having a happy bearded dragon. I hope that this blog post will answer any question you may have regarding how often you want to feed your bearded dragon, regardless of how old it is.

How Often Should a Baby Bearded Dragon Eat?

It needs to eat more insects than vegetables, and you need to feed it more often than an older bearded dragon. It would be best if you fed it three to five times a day. It may seem a lot but remember, it should be in smaller pieces.

It grows so fast for survival since it needs to get to a size that it can defend itself and escape predators. That’s why it requires a lot of protein to get to its required size.

It tends to eat between 30-80 insects, depending on the sizes of the insects. A higher protein diet is the best for a baby dragon, so greens are not that important. The best ratio that I would recommend is 80% insects and 20% vegetables. Crickets are the best insects for the bearded baby dragon.

It would be best to give it smaller portions since large portions can cause spinal cord compression internally and thus paralysis.

How Often Should Juvenile and Adult Bearded Dragons Eat?

A juvenile bearded dragon is still in a stage of rapid growth, so it requires more proteins than vegetables. You should still offer a ratio of 80% insects and 20% vegetables. It would be best if you fed it three to five times a week.

Adult bearded dragons reach full size at 18 months, their diet changes at this stage since they no longer eat to promote growth but to sustain themselves. From 18 months onwards, you need to feed your bearded dragon once per day, and their diet composition changes to 20% insects and 80% vegetables.

A 3-Day Cycle is one of the best cycles you can use while feeding your adult bearded dragons. The first day should be a leafy green day; feed them one meal that includes as many greens as they can feed in 15 minutes.

The second day is a protein day; you should feed them as many live insects as possible and ensure that they absorb lots of protein and have low fat. If you feed them high-fat insects like mealworms, they should be like a treat. On the third day, taking a break from feeding your bearded dragon will be just fine.

3- Day cycle is recommended because

  • Prevents obesity
  • It suitable for a balanced diet
  • It’s easier to feed your bearded dragon greens since they are hungry

Bearded Dragons Food and Diet

Your bearded dragons’ diet should include insects, fruits, green, and at times, weeds. You can also feed them supplements like calcium and a multivitamin once a week. As it gets old, you should reduce the amount of meat consumed to avoid becoming obese.

The following are the types of insects, fruits, greens, and weeds to feed them.

Insects

Provide proteins, fats, and calories that keep their bodies functioning.

  • Crickets
  • Silkworms
  • Earthworms
  • Cockroaches
  • Locusts
  • Morio Worms- should be fed as a treat
  • Mealworms-due to their hard outer skin, you should feed them to adult bearded dragons
  • Superworms-You should only feed them to adult bearded dragons
  • Waxworms-You can give them as a treat due to their fat content

Vegetables, Greens and Fruits

They provide the bearded dragons with vitamins and minerals that they need for good health.

  • Peas
  • Cabbage
  • Green Beans
  • Asparagus
  • Okra
  • Buttersquash
  • Swiss chard
  • Kales, mustard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Lambs lettuce
  • Figs
  • Watermelon
  • Apples
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Papaya
  • Apricots
  • Grapes
  • Raisins

Weeds

  • Dead nettle
  • Catsear
  • Dandelion
Bearded dragons eating insects x
Bearded dragons eating insects

Bearded Dragons Supplements

Your bearded dragon will likely require some extra help to stay healthy. The best supplements are calcium and multivitamins. Calcium deficiency at times is a problem to reptiles and causes metabolic bone diseases.

There are two ways you can give your pet these supplements.

  • Sprinkle the supplements into the food
  • Gut load-which means feeding the insects with the supplements and your pet; while eating those insects, it will be ingesting what the insect has eaten.

What Can’t Bearded Dragons Eat?

There are a few food items that bearded dragons can’t eat since they can be poisonous.

  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Chives
  • Lemons-they upset their tummies
  • Orange-they also upset their tummies
  • Iceberg lettuce-Contains lots of water and has less nutritional value
  • Avocados-Contain a chemical that can cause illness in your dragon, and large portions can be fatal
  • Seafood

If you’re not 100% sure about what to feed your bearded dragons, it’s good you ask.

What Are the Best Live Insects to Give Your Bearded Dragons?

The best live foods for your bearded dragons are crickets and mealworms. They don’t cost that much, and they are easy to store too.

Feed them live crickets that are easy to eat. If they are bigger than the space between your bearded dragon’s eyes, they may be an issue in consuming them. You can dust your bearded crickets with calcium or vitamins for more nutritional value.

Mealworms are cheaper, and you can store them in or out of the fridge. If refrigerated, they tend to stay longer, but they become dormant. They have a higher fat content than the crickets, so don’t give your beard too much to eat.

Locusts, cockroaches, and a variety of worms are also popular foods.

What to Do if Your Bearded Dragon Is Not Eating?

The most reasons that cause your dragon not to eat are:

  • Low temperatures
  • Stress
  • Impaction 
  • Brumation
  • Illness
  • Change in diet
  • Shedding skin

Low Temperatures

If the temperatures are too low, then your bearded dragon will not have the energy to go and eat. If your bearded dragon is not eating much, check on its temperature, which should be 35-43 degrees celsius on the basking spot and in a cool-down area 27-32 degrees celsius.

Check on your UV bulb and make sure it’s up to date; the bulb lasts for 12 months, and ensure it is at a correct distance away from the basking spot. 

Stress

Lots of things can cause your bearded dragon to feel stressed. It may be external factors like tank placement, noise, or activity.

Some are stressed due to social interactions if you keep them in one area. Stress usually makes your bearded dragon eat less.

Impaction

It’s when a hard mass is blocking the digestive system. It’s usually caused by your bearded dragon eating foreign matter that is too large to pass through. It usually causes lots of discomfort and pain, and this leads to your bearded dragon consuming less.

Brumation

During the cold season, your bearded dragon may have a reduction in activities, including eating. If temperatures drop low enough, your bearded dragon may enter brumation, where they will not eat for a long time.

Illness

If your bearded dragon has a low appetite, then it is a symptom of illness. When an animal is sick, its body is weak, and consuming food will be minimal. Reptiles tend to hide illness and weakness to hide from their prey. 

If you see your bearded dragon not eating, they are ill, and you should visit a vet. 

Change in Diet 

When you change your bearded dragon’s diet and notice it’s eating less, that means it does not like the food.

Keep persisting with new foods, as you know that reptiles are stubborn, and they may eventually give in and end up eating more.

Shedding Skin

If your bearded dragon is shedding its skin, this may likely cause it to stop eating for a short period. After shedding its skin, it will start eating again.

Best Food for Your Ill Bearded Dragon

It’s always good to follow the advice your vet has given you; if they have recommended a special diet, it’s wise to follow it.

For certain conditions, there are methods you can use to feed your pet. If it’s dehydrated, you should stop feeding them solid foods till they are ready to have the food and use a syringe for dropping an electrolyte mixture near or in your dragon’s mouth.

The goal of the treatment is to create a watery mixture that has food and nutrients, which you then feed with an injection. If you want to change your bearded dragon’s diet, it’s wise to check with your vet.

What Can Cause Your Bearded Dragon to Eat More 

Adult bearded dragons stop eating when they are full. An increase in a bearded dragons appetite is usually triggered by biological reasons and changes as stated below;

  • Diet change
  • Seasonal changes
  • Gravid
  • Sexual stimulation

Diet Change

If you have changed your bearded dragon’s diet, it may welcome the change and enjoy the food. Just like us humans, bearded dragons also have favorite foods that they love.

It’s important to monitor your bearded dragon to know which food is its favorite to avoid eating some foods less. It can result in a lack of uptake of some nutrients. You can feed your bearded dragon its favorite food as a treat.

Seasonal Changes

Bearded dragons are usually active when they are in ideal temperatures. Thus you should provide them with seasonal changes so that they can be biologically stimulated. When temperatures rise and the days lengthen, they tend to be more active; therefore, they eat more. In colder seasons, they tend to eat less.

Gravid 

If your female bearded dragon is in the same room with a male, she may have an increased appetite. The energy of developing eggs is high, and she will need to eat more food to keep up with this.

You can always confirm if your female dragon is gravid with an x-ray at the vet.

Sexual Stimulation

During the breeding season, bearded dragons end up using a lot of energy, which will lead to an increase in their food intake. If you have many bearded dragons in the same place or near each other, they can result in sexual stimulation, which will increase their appetite.

Conclusion

Feeding a bearded dragon depends on its age and the type of food you provide it. The ratio of plants to insects changes throughout their lives; baby dragons need more protein than vegetables, while adults need more vegetables than proteins. With these rules, then you will have no problem keeping your bearded dragon healthy.

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