Bearded dragons have been considered by many reptile keepers as one of the perfect reptiles to keep as pets. These docile creatures are active during the day. They have distinct personalities and features that make them even more appealing to many hobbyists. Like any other pets, they do have specific requirements to remain healthy and happy. If you own or plan to own one, you need to make sure that they are provided with the appropriate care that they require so that they will live longer and healthier.
With proper husbandry, a beardie will live for up to 10 years or even more while in captivity. Records indicate that the oldest bearded dragon reached 18 years old before it died. If you intend to have one or more of these lizards, you have to make sure that they are provided with the right care, including the best food for bearded dragons.
These gentle pets are omnivores, which means they need both vegetables and meat to stay healthy. Note, however, that the amount and type of live food that they need changes as they mature. Hatchlings are almost totally carnivorous. But as they grow old, their need for live preys decreases. Adults will require 80% greens in their diets. Throughout the stages of their lives, they should be provided with the right balance of vegetables/fruit and live foods, however.
Juveniles will need smaller pieces or finely chopped vegetables/fruits. As a general rule when feeding bearded dragons is to make sure that no food offered is bigger than the gap between their eyes. The same rule applies for the size of live food that your beardie can take. Young dragons should also be fed 2-3 times a day.
Younger beardies may seem to have an aversion to anything green at first. But if they’ve been used to seeing and eating these green, they’ll soon continue to munch on salad and vegetables as they grow. If you find your young dragon to be seemingly uninterested with the greens that you offer, you don’t need to worry. Offer a variety of vegetables and fruits. Cabbage, mixed salad leaves, escarole, kale, bell peppers, broccoli, clover, sweet potato, grapes, dandelion greens, apples, squash, mustard greens, carrots, zucchini are all foods which might appeal to your pet. Experiment with the food items that you offer and see which of these foods your beardie will prefer.
Fruit may also be given to a bearded dragon. However, you need to make sure that it makes up the smallest portion of its diet. Avocados, and other food items that are high in moisture content like iceberg lettuce, cucumber or tomatoes should never be offered to these reptiles, however as these may cause diarrhea.
These gentle pets have a remarkable growth rate. They can grow to about 4000 times their size from hatching to adult. These reptiles normally reach full size by the time they reached their 12th to 18th months. To ensure that they will be provided with the right amount of essential nutrients that they need to support this tremendous growth rate, they also have to be fed with live food.
The basic live food diet for beardies is crickets. These preys come in two types: brown, and black. When feeding your reptile pet with live insects, make sure that you don’t feed them obe that is too big for the dragon. Too small a prey would also be less inviting for the beardie, however.
Other meat food sources for your beardie can include pinky mice (should be offered to adult beardies only) as well as these insects:
- Wax worms (should be supplied not too often as these worms are high in fat content)
- King worms
Before you offer any live food to your pet, it should be gut fed and dusted with a calcium supplement. Gut loading simply means feeding the live prey the same healthy foods that you feed your beardie. This makes it easier for the bearded dragon to be supplied with the essential nutrients that it needs to stay healthy and be free of health issues such as the Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
Provide your dragon as many as live prey that they can eat in a 15-minute session every time. During their early growth stages, they should be given 3 meals a day. This can be reduced to 2, and then to 1 when your pet has already reached a good size. This will most likely happen during the 6th to 8th months of the dragon’s life.
A Cricket Keeper can help you feed your dragon with ease. Just place the crickets into the keeper and place vegetables and water into it. These Cricket Keepers are designed with four black tubes and these are where your crickets will naturally go to hide. When it’s time to feed your pet, simply lift one of the tubes and sprinkle some calcium supplement on the crickets. Cover the ends of the tube and shake it vigorously. This will coat the live prey nicely and stun them for a few minutes. The process will slow down the crickets and will make it easier for your beardie to catch them.
As your pet grows older, you may offer locusts and roaches to it. Your beardie will definitely love them. But as they are more expensive that crickets, it is best that you get your pet used to eating live crickets instead during its earlier stages of growth.
Providing the right food for your bearded dragon is crucial to maintaining your pet’s optimum health. It is equally important that you have a properly set up vivarium where your pet can stay and be provided with an appropriate temperature gradient. The varying temperature should be properly set to ensure that your dragon will be able to properly digest its food properly. A strong UVB light is also needed so that your beardie will be provided with the right amount of vitamins it needs to stay healthy and live longer.