Wild bearded dragons eat a large range of foods generally, including considerable quantity of vegetation. They are true omnivores, eagerly consuming all manner of insects, other invertebrates, small vertebrates, leaves, flowers and fruits. A bearded dragon keeper must provide with the varied and well-balanced diet for their dragons.
A bearded dragons diet is composed mainly of two parts:
1. Animal, (or prey, or meat as you may call it) which means insects, arthropods and other invertebrates.
2. Vegetables including leaves, fruits, flowers and root parts.
Let’s look at each of these factors more closely.
• The vast majority of prey normally fed to beardies consists of insects. Bearded dragons are not fussy about what insects they eat. The general rule is “if it moves, eat it”.
• You can catch food for your dragons yourself, but it will be very time consuming to catch large quantities of bugs that even one bearded dragon will eat on a regular basis. Therefore, most keepers buy insects. Insects are fed live to beardies, they will normally chase after the them and wobble it.
• If you prefer to catch your food for your beardies, always be aware that insects could be contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, like public places are often sprayed with chemicals.
• Some insects are naturally toxic and poisonous (Monarch Butterflies and their larvae, fireflies and lubber grasshoppers are just some examples).
• Dragons will enjoy chasing after moths and leap at them. Moths, June beetles, earthworms, grasshoppers and flies provide some variety to their diet.
• Remember that when feeding the food that was caught in the wild, there is a risk of introducing parasites to your lizards. Keep an eye out for signs of infestations.
If you do not wish to catch food, live insects are available at most pet stores and are inexpensive. Crickets are very readily available and are probably the best insect to use as staple food. Meal worms, wax worms, fruit flies and occasionally other insects may also be available at your local store.
If you are caring for a large number of beardies, you will probably want to order insects in larger quantities both to save money when ordered in big lots and trips to and from local pet store.
A large portion of the nutritional content of insects resides in the undigested and partially digested food in their guts. Healthy, well fed insects provide more nutrients to captive reptiles than do staved ones. Many pet stores do not feed their insects very well. Therefore, if you bring your crickets home from the pet store do not immediately dump them into your beardie’s cage. It is much better if the crickets and other insects are themselves fed a nutritious diet, before giving it to the dragons.
Crickets are one of the easiest of the commercially available insects to keep. A simple, escape-proof container with some food and some hiding areas (a few layers of egg crates or crumpled pieces of newspaper will do nicely) is all they require.
Meal worms should be kept in a few inches of wheat bran or oatmeal with some slices of squash or sweet potato on top. Some leafy greens can be included but changed daily or mold will develop.
Many keepers also feed mice to their bearded dragons, as long as they are healthy. They are high in fat, so not to be fed too often.
Vegetation is the second major component of proper dragon diet. Most of the items in the produce store of your grocer make good additions to the menu. They should be highly nutritious, calcium rich, leafy greens.
Besides the leafy greens many other fruits can be included in their diet, like carrots, bell peppers, okra, squash, celery, corn and beans to name a few.