What to Feed Your Bearded Dragon
By D C Rona
Bearded dragon’s natural habitat is the Australian desert. Food in that region is rather scarce; therefore, this species is omnivorous and can survive on a number of dietary items. But once you bring one home, you are looking for more than survival – you want your beardie to thrive. So the biggest question is what to feed your bearded dragon?
A bearded dragon in captivity will typically consume vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, as well as insects. To take the best care of your pet bearded dragon, you need to know what their nutritional needs, and which food sources should be avoided, in order to keep them active and healthy while in your home.
When looking at which insects are best for your beardie, there are a number of choices that are adequate. It’s important to remember that your bearded dragon’s diet should consist mainly of animal matter, with only around 25% fruits and vegetables. The animal foods which are considered ideal are: crickets, mealworms, king worms, wax worms, earthworms, cockroaches, and pinky mice (but only for adults). The insects you choose should be freshly molted, and coated with a calcium supplement a few times a week (every day for young dragons). These insects should also have been fed nutritious foods beforehand, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and legumes, which is called “gut loading”. There are also a variety of products on the market today that are calcium and vitamin enriched that can be used to “gut load” the insects. You can find these insects in some pet stores, but be sure that they have not had contact with pesticides. Wild caught insects are always questionable and should always be avoided.
Your beardie could survive on insects alone, but most owners choose to feed them fruits and vegetables, as well as certain leafy plants. Fruit should comprise 10% or less of its diet. A few of the ideal fruits are: figs, kiwi, apples, grapes, peaches, apricots, plums, and peeled bananas. You can also give them strawberries, but you must remove the seeds beforehand. There are a number of vegetables that are also suitable for your bearded dragon, these include: broccoli, okra, zucchini, green beans, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, carrots (grated), and even frozen mixed vegetables. As for leafy greens, it’s never recommended that you give your bearded dragon iceberg lettuce, so avoid feeding them premixed salad mixes that you find in the produce section of your local grocery store, if it contains that type of lettuce. Leafy greens that are a good choice for your bearded dragon’s diet include: clover, kale, escarole, mustard and turnip greens, as well as parsley. You may also feed them spinach and beet greens, but only occasionally. Before feeding, you should always tear the fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens into rather small pieces and mix them together, so that your dragon will eat a bit of everything, rather than just what he prefers.
Now the next time you hear the question – what to feed your bearded dragon, you’ll have some answers. By ensuring that your beardie gets a balanced diet, you lower the risk of potential health problems and increase his chances of a long, happy life. So, remember to be choosy when picking out your dragon’s food, it will show in his health and happiness.
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