Bearded Dragon food – what they can eat, toxic food, how much it costs and more

Bearded Dragons are omnivores and can eat a range of insects, fruit and vegetables. They need a varied diet and the amount of edible options makes them a fun reptile to feed, as anyone who has seen one chase a cricket will know.

What can Bearded Dragons eat? | Unsafe food | How much food should they eat? | What is the best live food? | Vitamins and calcium in your Bearded Dragon's diet | Not eating or regurgitating food | Food for when Bearded Dragon is ill

Your Bearded Dragon's diet - what food can a Beardie eat?

In the wild Bearded Dragons mainly eat animals, they make up about 75% of their diet and can include crickets, cockroaches, worms and even small creatures such as mice.

Greens, vegetables and fruit make up the other 20% to 25% of their diet.

Here’s a list of safe food, including fruit and vegetables, that you can feed your Bearded Dragon. You’ll need to check how much and how often you can give each item to your Beardie. You can easily purchase live food from Northampton Reptile Centre's website.

Meal wormsCollardsOkraKiwi
King wormsParsleyPeasMelon
Wax wormsCloverGreen beansApples
EarthwormsDandelion greensCourgetteMango
CockroachesTurnip greensButternut squashPapaya
LocustMustard GreensSquashDates
EndiveSweet potatoPeaches
RocketBell pepperApricots
Coriander Plums

Here are some items they can eat occasionally: sprouts, tomatoes, blueberries, pears, grated carrots, banana, grapes and cucumber.

You will need to prepare some fruit and veg by taking the peel off or cutting it down into bite-sized pieces.

If you put live insects in with your Dragon make sure they don’t drown in its water bowl. If they do, clean them out as soon as possible.

Check with your vet for expert advice about reptile diets and always get your Bearded Dragon checked out if you are concerned about it.

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Unsafe food for Bearded Dragons

Stick with food in the table above and you should be fine, but there are a few food items that Bearded Dragon's can't eat. 

Dragons will consume things even if they are harmful so it is your responsibility to make sure they aren’t given them in the first place.

If your pet does get sick, seek advice from a vet. Insurance will cover many problems that can affect Bearded Dragons.

  • Iceberg lettuce It’s mostly water and has little nutritional value so don’t let your Bearded Dragon eat it
  • Spinach and beet tops Some guides will say these are fine for your Beardie, and they can be in small quantities. However, both contain chemicals that can cause calcium deficiency, which in turn can lead to metabolic bone disease. An occasional taste shouldn’t harm a bearded dragon, but with so many other options available it may be best to choose different greens
  • Insects captured in the wild Wild insects may have parasites in them that can harm reptiles. Exotic pet shops should have a range of live and dead insects for your Bearded Dragon. And it would be pretty hard finding enough wild insects in the UK anyway!
  • Fireflies Never feed Bearded Dragons, or any other reptile, fireflies. Any insects that glow are toxic and can kill reptiles
  • Avocados Chemicals in avocados are toxic for Beardies. A small amount will make your reptile ill and a large portion can be fatal
  • Rhubarb High levels of oxalic acid in rhubarb can be deadly poisonous for Bearded Dragons

You should not give your dragon fish or seafood such as prawns.

There is a long list of wild plants that are poisonous for Bearded Dragons. Here are a few that are more common in the UK: bracken fern, buttercup, crocus, daffodil, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, oak and poppy.

Basically, if you aren’t 100% sure it’s safe for your pet, don’t give it to them.

Like this article? Then you may like this article Loss of Appetite in Reptiles

One final thing to think about is sand. You’re not likely to give your Bearded Dragon sand to eat but many owners use it as a substrate and because it is loose it can easily be consumed when your Beardie is eating.

If consumed it can cause impaction, which means it builds up inside an animal because it can’t be digested and causes a blockage that can be fatal. Even calcium sand can cause impaction.

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How much food should a Bearded Dragon eat?

Bearded Dragons should be fed at least once a day, how much will depend on their age.

Baby Bearded Dragons will need more insects than vegetables and can be fed up to three times a day. If you leave vegetables and greens in their cage they’ll munch on them whenever they want and then you can add insects over three 15-minute feeding periods.

Baby Dragons can eat up to 60 insects a day but it’s fine if they stop eating during the 15-minute feeding period, they’re just full! Clear out any insects they don’t want and start again a few hours later for their next meal.

As they get older Bearded Dragons need fewer insects or they’ll get fat.

Some owners recommend switching to 50% insects and 50% plants, vegetables and fruit for juvenile Bearded Dragons and decreasing the amount of insects and animal matter to around 25% to 30% for adult Beardies.

Make sure you give them a variety of vegetables to keep your pet healthy.

What is the best live food?

The most popular live food for Bearded Dragons are crickets and meal worms. You can find them in most pet stores. Northampton Reptile Centre offer a great selection that you can order online. They're easy to store and don’t cost too much.

Live crickets are also a good choice because chasing them can be stimulating for your Dragon, you might be surprised how quick they are!

When buying live food most people think about the nutritional value, how easy it is to store and how much it costs. You should also make sure you vary what you buy occasionally so that your pet eats a range of animal matter.

500 crickets cost about £5 and they're available online or in pet shops. When you get them home, store them in boxes with holes in them. If you give the crickets some of your leftover fruit and veg to eat it will mean they will be full of even more nutrients when your Bearded Dragon eats them.

Only use crickets that your Bearded Dragon can eat easily, if they’re bigger than the space between your Dragon’s eyes they may have a problem consuming them.

To add more nutritional value you can dust them with calcium or vitamin powders. Find out more about this below.

Try reading some of our other articles such as Advice on Reptile Vivariums, Heating and Lighting

Once you’ve dropped the crickets in with your Bearded Dragon make sure they don’t drown in its water bowl. If they do you can just pick them out, but don’t leave them there. Pet shops do sell covers for water bowls to stop them getting in and some people recommend filling the bowl with polymer crystals, which crickets can walk on.

Meal worms are also cheap and can be stored in or out of the fridge. If you put them in the fridge they will survive and last a little longer but they’ll go into a dormant state. Meal worms do have a higher fat content than crickets so make sure you don't give your Dragon too many, they won't stop eating them even if it's making them fat!

Most live feeders for Bearded Dragons can start to smell when you’re storing them. It’s worth finding space for them in a garage, if you have one.

Cockroaches, locust and other kinds of worms are also popular live food. Some people give their adult Bearded Dragons live mice but it involves much more work and knowledge than other food and is not essential to their diet.

Vitamins and calcium in your Bearded Dragon's diet

Calcium deficiency can be problem among reptiles and it can lead to metabolic bone disease.

Even with a varied diet Bearded Dragons can benefit from vitamin and calcium supplements to keep them healthy.

The easiest way is buying a tub of separate calcium and multi-vitamin powders. You can pick these up from Northampton Reptile Centre and they're not expensive (tubs cost from £2.)

All you have to do is dust their live food, vegetables or fruit. For live food, put them in a container and sprinkle some powder in, give them a gentle shake and they’re ready to go.

It’s best not to mix the supplements, for example, use the calcium powder on a Monday, multi-vitamin on a Tuesday, and then back to calcium powder, and so on.

Calcium powder often comes with vitamin D3, which Bearded Dragon's would receive from sunlight in the wild. It is fine to give them this mix of calcium and D3.

Bearded Dragons under 6 months will need supplements daily. As they get older you can lower the amount of supplements they eat. Dragons between 6 months and 1 year can have them every other day and if they’re over a year they can have calcium every 2 or 3 days and vitamins twice a week.

Some people ease off supplements even more as their Dragon ages or if it gets a bit of natural sunlight.

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What to do if a Bearded Dragon is not eating or regurgitating food

If you are concerned about your Bearded Dragon go to a vet or call one as soon as possible. Find out how ExoticDirect’s pet insurance can cover vet fees or where to find a specialist vet.

There are a number of reasons Bearded Dragons might refuse food or regurgitate it, and it is difficult to diagnose the exact cause or illness unless you are a vet.

Common reasons are the temperature being too high or low, impaction caused by ingesting loose substrate, shedding skin, parasites or stress.

Refusing food doesn’t immediately mean something is wrong. Bearded Dragons do get full and sometimes adults might not eat for a day or if they're too hot they might just be very thirsty. However, if they’re losing weight it’s a cause for concern.

If they’re not eating, check the temperature (there should be a basking area between 35oC - 43oC and a cool-down area 27oC - 32oC) and make sure that your Beardie hasn't been eating loose substrate. Dragons might also refuse food that is too big, a good guide is sticking to insects that are no larger than the space between your Bearded Dragon’s eyes.

If your setup and food is good, check if your Bearded Dragon is shedding its skin because that can cause them to stop eating for a short period.

If you can’t find anything obviously wrong, take your Bearded Dragon to a vet that understands reptiles.

It could be that it ate too much and needed to be sick or it could be impaction, which can be spotted via an X-ray, but without specialist knowledge you’ll never know.

Other flags that your Bearded Dragon may be ill include diarrhoea, a lack of energy, droopy or swollen eyes.

For more information on why your Beardie may not be eating, read our article Loss of Appetite in Reptiles.

Best food for a Bearded Dragon that is ill

Always follow the advice of your vet, if they’ve diagnosed an illness they may be able to recommend a specific diet. You can find a vet that specialises in exotic pets here.

There are methods of feeding your dragon that can help for certain conditions. If they’re dehydrated, you might need to cut out solid foods until they’re ready for them and use a syringe to drop an electrolyte solution near or on their mouth.

For other illnesses you it’s possible to create a watery mix of food and nutrients and feed it to them with a syringe. You should be able to slowly build up to solid food.

But always check with a vet if you’re planning to change your pet’s diet.

Looking for reptile supplies? We recommend the Northampton Reptile Centre for all you need

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Advice provided within this article does not reflect the opinions of ExoticDirect pet insurance. Advice provided within this article is not a substitute for veterinary advice.