As far as reptiles go, one of the best pets is the bearded dragon. They are low-maintenance pets that can be great companions. As long as you feed them correctly, they can stay by your side for many years. They require special diets, so it’s important to know what they can and can’t eat.
Pet bearded dragons eat crickets, roaches, and a variety of greens. Their diet changes somewhat throughout their life, with younger lizards eating more insects in order to get the protein they require. They also need calcium supplements to keep their bones healthy.
Maintaining the diet of a bearded dragon can be one of the most involved parts of owning one, but everyone can learn how to do it. Here’s everything you need to know about the diet of a bearded dragon:
The bearded dragon is a class of lizard that includes six different lizard species. Bearded dragons are characterized by their triangular heads and their puffy necks. They are covered in spines, but they aren’t sharp enough to cut. They come in colors ranging from a sandy yellow to shades of orange and red.
Bearded dragons make great pets because of their peaceful nature. They don’t make much noise and they don’t react strongly to visitors or other new things. They are also pretty low maintenance, needing little more than regular food, water, and sunlight. Bearded dragons also make great pets because they often live for over a decade in captivity. They are resilient pets, able to handle a lot of different types of foods and different types of environments.
One of the bearded dragon’s strongest attributes is its ability to scavenge just about anything. No matter what the environment is like, bearded dragons can find something to eat in the wild. They are also able to survive long periods of time without eating. Bearded dragons can go for as long as two months without finding anything to eat, and when it is brumating (a reptilian form of hibernation) it can go for even longer.
However, bearded dragons do face some threats, even when living as pets. Bearded dragons can be attacked by cats, dogs, and even large birds. They need a watchful owner to make sure that they get enough heat, sun, and space. Bearded dragons also need some vitamin supplements to keep them strong. As long as they have an owner that feeds them a healthy diet, they will stay around for many years.
Early Life Diet
Young bearded dragons grow quickly, increasing in size from just 8 inches in length to 24 inches in only a few months. This is because one of the bearded dragon’s best defenses is its size. They protect themselves from dangerous animals by being large enough to fight back against a cat or heavy enough to avoid being carried off by a hawk.
During these early months, bearded dragons need a very specific diet to sustain their growth. This diet needs to be rich in protein, so you should feed a baby or a juvenile bearded dragon a diet consisting of about eighty percent insects and 20 percent vegetables.
By feeding them enough insects, your bearded dragon will get the protein it needs. Most owners of bearded dragons feed their pets crickets, as crickets are one of the easiest insects to obtain. You can buy them in boxes of hundreds online or from your local pet store. Apart from crickets, you can also feed your bearded dragon roaches, although they are a little more expensive and more difficult to obtain.
As for the vegetables that you feed your bearded dragon, it needs very few during the early months of their life. In reality, the vegetables offer very little to a bearded dragon in terms of calories or nutrients and instead offer a way for bearded dragons to get water into their systems without drinking.
Some of the preferred vegetables that you can feed to your bearded dragon include mustard greens, collard greens, and turnip greens. You can also feed them other vegetables such as bok choy, but you should avoid feeding them lettuce or similar vegetables. This is because lettuce has almost no calories for a lizard (though it does have a high water content).
The number of insects and vegetables that you feed your lizard will depend heavily on how large it is and how old it is. Pay careful attention to how much it is eating and adapt to the lizard’s needs.
Adult Bearded Dragon Diet
After your bearded dragon develops to its full size, you will want to reverse the content of the dragon’s diet, with about twenty percent of its food coming from insects and the other eighty percent coming from vegetables. This is because the lizard does not need as much protein to grow. In fact, if you feed your lizard too many insects, it will become unhealthy, sometimes developing fatty liver disease.
The right amount of insects to feed an adult bearded dragon is pretty low. Depending on the size of your lizard, you will feed it about 10 crickets twice a week. This will keep their body healthy and their liver from having any problems. If you are feeding your lizard roaches, you can probably feed them a fewer number because roaches have more calories.
As far as vegetables go, adult bearded dragons eat the same varieties of greens as the juveniles do. The right amount for adults is about half a cup of greens every day. These vegetables are pretty inexpensive and easy to obtain, making feeding your bearded dragon a simple and easy process.
If you feed a bearded dragon too much food, it can grow overweight and unhealthy. One of the most vulnerable parts of a bearded dragon is the liver, which is normally used to help a bearded dragon be able to eat anything that it finds.
In the wild, a bearded dragon will eat just about whatever it can fit into its mouth. This includes normal insects like crickets, cockroaches, and beetles, but it also extends to earthworms, mice, spiders, and even small lizards. The bearded dragon has a liver that can make just about anything safe to eat.
However, if your lizard is eating too many insects, it can cause harm to its liver and digestive system. Your lizard might experience nausea, pain, and other body problems. Eating too many insects can cause impaction in their digestive tract. If you have any questions about how to appropriately care for your bearded dragon, ask your veterinarian.
Alternative Food Sources
If you want to add some variety to your bearded dragon’s diet, there are a few other food sources that are good for them to eat. One of the other foods that bearded dragons can eat is fruit. The best fruits for them to eat are soft fruits like berries and bananas. These fruits can add a lot to your lizard’s diet, but be careful not to give them too much or it could be unhealthy for them. Fruit has a lot of sugar and acid after all!
Another one of the bearded dragon’s favorite foods is dandelions. They enjoy eating the tufts and blooms. You can also feed them other foods like pea pods, squash, and bell peppers. As long as their main diet is supplied by simple greens, adding a few other foods will give your lizard a variety of flavors and colors to eat.
One of the problems that you will have with a pet bearded dragon is its bone structure. Pet bearded dragons often suffer from brittle bone disease, causing them discomfort and increasing the risk that they break a bone. They can also have problems with their metabolism. These problems come from the diet and lifestyle that they have while in captivity. Bearded dragons in the wild eat all sorts of different insects and grubs, some of which are very high in calcium.
Domesticated bearded dragons, on the other hand, get most of their calories from the same sources—crickets, roaches, and leafy greens. They also get less vitamin D from basking because the basking lamps that bearded dragons have aren’t a perfect substitute for real UV rays. To keep beaded dragons healthy, their owners must supply some sort of calcium supplement to keep their lizards from feeling the ill effects of calcium deficiency.
If you are an owner of a bearded dragon and would like to know how to get your lizard the calcium it needs, you should know that there are two main ways to supply calcium. The first is to buy dusted calcium. This is a powder that you can sprinkle over all of the food your lizard eats. it is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t bother the lizard at all.
The other option is to look for food that is higher in calcium. Some of these foods include rodents, worms, and maggots. You can buy food options like these from pet stores, but pay attention to how your lizard is doing. If it looks like your bearded dragon is experiencing lethargy or muscle twitches (common signs of calcium deficiency), find some powdered calcium.
Watering Your Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are used to living in a dry environment, meaning that they have adapted to drinking very little water. Most of the water that they need is obtained through eating vegetables that have high water contents. However, you should still supply water for your bearded dragon so that they can drink the amount that they chose.
When giving your bearded dragon water, you should know that bearded dragons do not drink from standing water. Standing water is more likely to be unhealthy for bearded dragons, so they avoid it. When offering water in a dish to your lizard, you should put your finger in it to move the water around a little bit so that the lizard sees the water as good to drink. Once it starts drinking, you can stop moving the water around.
Bearded dragons, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded. They need heat from the sun to keep them warm and active. This means that all lizards are much more active in the sunnier months of the year. During this time, reptiles hunt and bask all day. During the winter months, reptiles will grow somewhat dormant. This process is called brumation.
When a reptile brumates, it becomes less active, conserving its energy and doing very little. Brumating reptiles will usually get together with other reptiles of their species to conserve warmth while they lay dormant. They will eat very little food and will sleep for very long periods of time.
Though your pet bearded dragon may have access to food and heat all year round, their bodies are conditioned to brumating for a few months out of every year. During this time, your lizard will move very slowly, spending most of its time sleeping. It will seek out a dark, cozy place to spend most of its time and will become disinterested in eating.
A bearded dragon’s brumation period lasts for most of the winter in the wild, but living in captivity can throw your bearded dragon’s schedule off. Because of this, the timing and length of their brumation can be very unpredictable. Pay attention to your bearded dragon to know when it is beginning to brumate so that you can best accommodate its needs.
While your bearded dragon is brumating, you can feed it a lot less food and you can decrease the amount of heat and light that your lizard gets. However, the best thing you can do is just patiently wait for your lizard to move through the cycle. Let them get plenty of rest and make sure that they have access to water. The length of time that they brumate will vary widely from lizard to lizard and even from year to year, with brumation lasting for any length of time between 2 and 6 months. The best thing you can do is wait.
All in all, a bearded dragon mostly eats crickets and leafy greens, though they are capable of digesting just about anything that can fit into their mouths. However, to keep them safe and healthy they require an owner that will provide them with the appropriate vitamin and nutrient supplements as they grow and mature to adulthood.
Keep a watchful eye on your bearded dragon and it will be at your side for a long time.