What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Sometimes this is true, but often, a general lack of knowledge about the bearded dragonís diet makes it impossible for many beardie keepers to provide the right balance of nutrients. First off, you need to buy the insects that you are going to feed your bearded dragon.
Why? Two reasons: first, buying the insects will ensure that you will have a sufficient amount of live prey items for your bearded dragon every day and second, buying bred insects will also mean that there is a low risk of parasitic infections after your lizard has consumed the live prey items.
You see, deadly parasites can actually hide in insects, and these parasites can be passed on to your lizard. Parasites are common in wild-caught insects, so they are not always the best choice.
Before feeding insects to your bearded dragon, always remember to ìgut-loadî the prey items. Gut-loading is a very common practice, and it helps in increasing the nutrient availability in the prey items. It is easy to gut load insects ñ just put them in a large Coleman thermos and place slices of lettuce and potatoes inside. The insects will eat and absorb the nutrients in the food you have provided. These nutrients in turn will be passed on to your lizard when the insects are fed to your pet.
Are you having a hard time giving your bearded dragon its supplements?Never fear, dusting is here! Dusting is really just sprinkling the mineral or multivitamin supplement on the insects that your bearded dragon is about to consume. You can also add the supplement to the mush that you are going to feed worms and insects. As long as the powder supplement sticks to the prey items, your bearded dragon will get the nutrients.
Now let us talk about plant matter. There are a lot of nutrients in vegetable matter that are not present in animal matter. The key to perfect nutrition in bearded dragons is not very different from the secret of a balanced human diet: variety. You canít give your bearded dragon iceberg lettuce every day and expect it to fully thrive.
But if you work hard, and do your research, you will discover that there are a ton of vegetables available in your local supermarket that are cheap and will provide the right mix of plant protein, vitamins, and minerals for your reptile. Some vegetables even have vitamin D, a very essential nutrient that wards off the deadly reptile disease known as metabolic bone disease.
So remember: reptiles will eat anything thatís given to them, but that doesnít automatically mean that they are getting all the nutrients they need to thrive.
Feeding timeYour beardie’s diet will play a huge role in the overall health of your reptile. Your bearded dragon will be easy to feed. After all, they are omnivorous, which means that they eat both animals and plants. Small insects such as crickets and cockroaches are a popular choice. Keep the portions small. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the item you give your beardie is no larger than the space between the reptile’s eyes. However, remove the uneaten portions as soon as the reptile is done to keep the tank clean.
You can try to feed your beardie twice a day and keep offering until the reptile stops eating (more on this in my free book). On average, most beardies will eat about 20 crickets a day. Some may even up to 60 crickets or insects a day as they grow. Also, be sure to feed your beardie insects from the pet store and not insects that you have randomly caught. This way, you can be assured of the quality of the insects. Backyard insects may have been exposed to fertilizers and other toxic substances that can be detrimental to your reptile’s health when consumed. These may even carry parasites. Some insects such as lighting bugs can kill reptiles. As your bearded dragon gets older, you can introduce treats such as earthworms and other types of worms on an occasional basis.
When it comes to plant based food items, give your bearded dragon green leafy items such as cabbage, collard greens, bokchoy, chicory and other leafy items. These should be given raw. To ensure ample carotene supply, give your beardie some squash occasionally to help maintain its coloring. You may notice your beardie’s color starts to fade over a period of time. An easy solution is to give it some squash or carrots. Carrots and squash should be cooked to soften it. The leafy vegetables also serve as a water source for your bearded dragon. Avoid giving your bearded dragon too many carrots and never feed it spinach and lettuce. Although spinach is loaded with calcium, it can be indigestible for your reptile, resulting in compaction and other digestive issues.
Fruits can also be occasionally be given, but avoid citrus based fruits such as lemons and oranges. Mango, papaya and berries are some of the fruits that can be tolerated by a bearded dragon.
VitaminsTo boost the nutritional value of these food items, spray it with some multivitamin supplement or calcium supplement. Bearded dragons will live longer and stay healthier when given multivitamin supplements. These can be purchased at pet stores and are specially designed for reptile consumption. The multivitamin supplements can be dusted on the reptile’s food about twice a week.
WaterAll living things require water and this is true even for a heat loving reptile. However, rather than leaving out a water dish, it&rsq uo;s better to wet the vegetables that you feed the reptile. Many reptiles with a water dish end up using it as a toilet instead of as a potable water source. Also, if you feed your beardie crickets, these are likely to drown in the dishwater.
A good item to have a spray bottle filled with water. This provides a nice mist that can be quite soothing and enjoyable for your bearded dragon. The bearded dragon should be sprayed daily to help keep it cool and to give it much needed water to drink.