What do Bearded Dragons eat? Our bearded dragon diet guide.

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Bearded Dragons are omnivores and can eat a range of insects, fruit and vegetables. One of the most important things about your bearded dragon’s diet is variety, 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.

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We’ll be covering all of the below in this article but if you want to jump to a certain section, just click the link you want.
What do Bearded Dragons eat? | Bearded Dragon food and diet | Can Bearded Dragons eat meat? | What fruit can Bearded Dragons eat? | What vegetables can Bearded Dragons eat? | What greens can Bearded Dragons eat? | Unsafe food | Baby Bearded Dragon diet | What is the best live food? | Vitamins and calcium in your Bearded Dragons diet | Not eating | Food for when Bearded Dragon is ill

What do Bearded Dragons eat and how often?

Adult Bearded Dragons should be fed once a day however baby bearded dragons will need to be fed more often than older beardies. Bearded Dragons can eat a wide range of live food such as crickets, mealworms and kingworms; vegetables such as sweet potato and pepper and leafy greens such as kale and parsley . They can also eat limited amounts of fruit.

Our food list below provides detail on the meat, veg, greens, fruit and weeds they can 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 however mice aren’t fed to bearded dragons kept as pets.

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

Pete Hawkins reptile expert talks through feeding his dragon Willow, in the video above.

What food do Bearded Dragons eat?

Your Bearded Dragon's diet should replicate what he or she would eat in the wild. It should include meat, vegetables, fruit, greens and weeds. 

However, as your Beardie gets older, you'll need to reduce the amount of meat they're eating, as they won't be getting as much exercise as their cousins. Too much meat can lead to obesity.

Our Bearded Dragon food list tells you what is safe to include in your Beardie's diet including how much and how often you can feed your Beardie. You can easily purchase live food from a wide variety of pet stores such as Northampton Reptile Centre who offer an online shop.

The right diet forms an important part of your Bearded Dragon's care, as does the correct setup

Can Bearded Dragons eat meat?

Bearded Dragons can eat meat in the form of insects. Our live food list tells you what meat your Beardie can eat: 

  • Crickets
  • Kingworms
  • Waxworms- these fatty worms should only be fed as a treat
  • Earthworms
  • Cockroaches
  • Locusts
  • Butterworms
  • Silkworms
  • Phoenix worms
  • Crickets
  • Dubia roaches
  • Morioworms - these fatty worms should only be fed as a treat
  • Mealworms - these should only be fed to adult Bearded Dragons due to their hard outer skin. Impaction could potentially occur if baby or juvenile Dragons eat them.
  • Superworms - these are a larger version of mealworms. Again, they should only be fed to adult Bearded Dragons.

What fruit can Bearded Dragons eat?

Bearded Dragons can eat a wide range of fruits. However these should be fed sparingly - not everyday. Fruit is very sugary, and can lead to obesity. It can also raise their yeast levels. One commonly asked question is can bearded dragons eat grapes and as you can see from the list below, grapes are a safe option for your beardie however there are some fruits to avoid such as citrus fruits as these can upset their tummy.

Our food list tells you what fruit your Beardie can eat: 

  • Figs
  • Watermelon
  • Apples
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Dates
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Plums
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Guava
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Apricots

Exotic vet John Chitty recommends that owners exercise caution when feeding soft fruit as it is sugary and can ferment and cause teeth problems. Therefore soft fruit like kiwi is best fed about once a month as part of a fixed diet that includes fibrous veg.

What vegetables do Bearded Dragons eat?

Bearded Dragons can a wide range of vegetables. Our food list tells you what veg your beardie can munch on:

  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Courgette
  • Butternut squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Bell pepper
  • Broccoli (small bits weekly)
  • Acorn squash
  • Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Parsnip
  • Pak choi
  • Yellow squash
  • Asparagus
  • Okra
  • Swiss chard

What greens can Bearded Dragons eat?

Beardies can eat greens. Our food list tells you what greens they can eat:  

  • Spring greens
  • Floret mix
  • Lambs lettuce
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Parsley
  • Clover
  • Dandelion greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Endive
  • Rocket
  • Coriander
  • Watercress

What weeds do Bearded Dragons eat?

Bearded dragons can eat:

  • Dandelion
  • Catsear
  • Dead nettle
  • Plantain

You will need to prepare some fruit and veg by taking the peel off or cutting it down into bite-sized pieces. You should also remove all pips from food.

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 them.

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Bearded Dragon food adviceBearded Dragons can eat a range of insects

What can't Bearded Dragons eat?

Stick with food in the lists above and you should be fine, but there are a few food items that you need to ensure you avoid feeding your bearded dragon.

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 can cover many problems that can affect Bearded Dragons.

  • Onion
  • Chives
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Lemon - this citrus fruit will upset your dragons tummy
  • Orange - another citrus fruit that will upset your dragons tummy
  • 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 any sort of 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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Baby Bearded Dragon diet information?

You may be wondering what do baby bearded dragons eat?

Baby Bearded Dragons are also known as hatchlings. Reptile expert Pete Hawkins states 3 stages of growth, the youngest being bearded dragons aged 0-6 months which are classed as babies. They will need to eat more insects than vegetables, and they will need to be fed more often than older Beardies. They 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 10 - 15 minute feeding periods.

Baby Dragons can eat several insects during this time, but it’s fine if they stop eating. They're just full! Clear out any insects they don’t want and start again a few hours later.

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

Juvenile and adult Bearded Dragon diets

Juvenile Bearded Dragons are bearded dragons aged between 6-12 months and they should be fed insects five out of seven times a week, while still feeding greens everyday, according to reptile expert Pete Hawkins. 

Again fruit can still remain, but in limited quantities, and not everyday.

Adult Bearded Dragons are those aged 12 months and older and they should eat less insects and animal matter. You only need to give your dragon insects two or three times a week, with vegetation everyday.  

Remember, adult Beardies don't need too many insects and animal matter otherwise they'll become obese.

In the wild, Bearded Dragons will get a lot of exercise, meaning they can naturally eat more meat, however, domesticated Beardies don't get this.

live food for bearded dragonsCrickets are one of the most popular live foods for bearded dragons

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 around £4-£8 depending on which size you purchase and they're available online or in pet shops. When you get them home, store them in boxes with holes in.

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. 

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 crickets getting in and some people recommend filling the bowl with polymer crystals, which they can walk on.  

Meal worms are 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.

Gut loading insects

It's important to gut load any insects you give to your dragon. This means feeding your insects ideally what you're not feeding your dragon that week.

When your dragon eats those insects he'll be ingesting the goodness the insect has eaten. Providing even more nutritional variety to your dragon's diet.

Vitamins and calcium in your Bearded Dragons 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 calcium and vitamin supplements to keep them healthy.

Pete Hawkins recommends using Arcadia Earth Pro-A, as it contains a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

He also recommends using Arcadia CalciumPro Magnesium. Again sprinkling it across all insects.

What to do if a Bearded Dragon is not eating

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

Brumation can also be a cause for your Beardie to lose its appetite. Find out more about this in our Bearded Dragon Brumation article. 

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, which should be 35 - 43oC on the basking spot, with 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.

You should also check that your dragons UV is in date. A bulb lasts for around 12 months, and you can find this information on the packaging. Check its at the correct distance from the basking spot, and ensure you use a reflector. 

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.

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

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 and it is difficult to diagnose the exact cause or illness unless you are a vet.

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 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.

Is your Bearded Dragon insured? Get a quote for £1,000 of vet fees, death and theft cover. Vet fee cover only also available | We've been insuring exotic pets since 1996 | Check out our customer reviews on Feefo.

Disclaimer 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.