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Bearded Dragon Feeding Guide – From Childhood to Old Age
Bearded dragons are omnivorous reptiles, meaning they eat both vegetables and live food (insects). They eat a mixture of both throughout their lives, but the ratio of vegetables to insects changes as the dragon grows. When young, the bearded dragon eats mostly live food. This is a very active time for a young dragon and its size increases steadily during the first 1-2 years. As the beard gets older, its diet begins to consist more of vegetables and less of living food.
To ensure proper nutrition, calcium and vitamin powder must be added to the food from time to time (usually by dusting the meal with a finely divided additive). Calcium intake is very important because bearded dragons can be prone to metabolic bone disease if proper calcium levels are not achieved. Additional powders can be applied to live insects by putting some in a plastic bag with the insects and shaking.
It’s also important to vary the types of vegetables and insects you feed your bearded dragon. A varied diet offers a wider range of vitamins and nutrients. Some vegetables may be rich in certain vitamins, but others may lack them. The basis of the vegetable portion of a dragon’s diet should be leafy greens. These include collard greens, mustard greens, kale and dandelion greens. Greens should be offered every day to the dragon throughout its life. Basic green vegetables should be supplemented with small portions of other vegetables, including beans, peppers and carrots. Any plant matter you feed your bearded dragon must be chopped up enough to prevent the dragon from choking on it. Nothing you put on the beard should be bigger than the space between their eyes.
Insects should be given to young dragons daily. Only eat as many as the bearded dragon can eat in one feeding. Remove all insects if the dragon will not eat them, as they can nibble on sensitive parts of the beard while sleeping. As the bearded dragon ages, it eats less and less live food, and feedings can be reduced to every other day. Only eat insects that are smaller than the width between the eyes of bearded dragons, as too large food can cause health problems and get stuck in the dragon’s digestive tract. Some common feeder insects include crickets, mealworms, superworms and cockroaches. Freeze-dried or otherwise preserved insects are also available at pet stores, but the best is live food.
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