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Bearded Dragon Care: Diet Do's and Don'ts Part 1: Insects

Here is our first article on one of our favorite reptiles the bearded dragon! I'm sure you've seen Morty our beardie. While we absolutely love our bearded dragon we do want to emphasize that these reptiles are quite the extensive type of reptile and require tons of care and research. We have compiled this blog and more come in order to highlight some of the information we have learned in our time to make it easier. Below we will list our resources as well.

To start bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and protein based foods ( e.i. bugs!). Depending on the age of your dragon that determines the ratio your reptile will eat of each of these. Adult beardie will typically eat 80% plants, veggies, & fruits and 20% insects. Juvenile bearded dragons will generally eat in range of 80% insects and 20% plants, veggies, and fruits or even 50-50. It really depends on the needs of your reptile and if you're unsure its always good to contact your veterinarian to determine the best course of diet.

First we'll start with protein aka bugs. Bearded dragons love eating live insects as well having great nutritional value. Dried or preserved bugs are great in a pinch, but for long term live insects are preferred. To start you should pick one type of insect to be the main feeder insect then you can supplement with others to supplement their diet. These opinions include:

-Crickets - high in calcium and a tasty protein. Great option for main feeder.

-Dubia Roaches- roaches are one of the favorite of bearded dragons. Dubia roaches are the best type of roach to feed your dragon. They are low in fat and high in protein and contain 5x times the nutritional value of other live insects. Great option for a main feeder.

-Black Soldier Fly Larvae- Great option for main feeder insect. They provide a great source of protein and contain essential nutrients and amino acids.

-Worms- there are many options when it comes to worms some are a great diet for daily diet and other are a good option for a special treat.

-Butter worms- full of calcium and protein great for daily diet.

-Earthworms - not super popular when it comes to regular feeding, they offer calcium and moisture. Just make sure to rinse them off before feeding.

- Mealworms- popular snack for ADULT bearded dragons. These worms have a tough exoskeleton that can cause digestion issues in juvenile beardies. Should be an intermittent main feeder.

- Phoenix worms- a great option because they are a source protein and calcium. But can be expensive when feeding to older dragons because of their size. So adult bearded dragons will require large amounts.

- Silkworms - these worms contain great amounts of nutrients but are high in fat content and feeding often can cause digestive issues. So these are better as a supplement feeder.

-Wax worms- a definite option when it comes to feeding your dragon but due to the high fat content they should be an occasional treat.

-Horn worms- a great option for feeding, they contain good nutrient but are made up of 85% moisture so they should not be a daily feed but a weekly treat.

Now that we have gone through what bugs are good for your dragon we'll talk about insects to avoid. Never feed your bearded dragon any insect from the wild, your backyard, or bait shop. These insects often carry diseases or kept improperly which can land you and your bearded dragon with an expensive vet bill. Do not feed your bearded dragon any dead insects that aren't preserved because they can harbor bacteria as they start to decompose. Any type of venomous, fireflies, insects that glow, or elder bugs these are toxic to bearded dragons and can cause sickness or even death.

Now with these options make sure to pick a reputable supplier that keeps and feeds there bug supply well. And when keeping feeders make sure to feed them a diet rich in nutrients and calcium. This is termed "gut loading" basically this means eat large amounts of nutritionally varied foods before feeding them to your reptile. This occurs 24-72 hours before feeding these guys. By gut loading your feeders you're giving more nutrients to your bearded because these insects now also have the nutrients from these vegetables in their digestive system. When gut loading make sure your feeders stay hydrated offering dehydrated feeders can lead to dehydrated reptiles too. Good food to use for gut loading include:

-Acorn squash

-Butternut squash

-Sweet potatoes

-Collard greens

-Mustard greens


When gut loading avoid spinach because it contains oxalate, this binds to calcium which makes it unable to be properly processed by your reptile. By gut loading your feeders it has shown that it will help maintain a healthy and varied diet. This however does not mean you should not dust your feeders. Dusting your feeders with calcium or vitamins helps maintain nutrients in your beardie's diet.

Hopefully this helps lead you in the right direction when it comes to feeding your bearded dragon. We will be continuing to post more about bearded dragon diet and other care tips. For more information do your own research and if you still have concerns or questions finding and discussing this with an exotic veterinarian would be the best course of action.

-Jordyn, Ann, Morty, and The Misfits

Important Links

-Dragon's Diet: "The Complete Bearded Dragon Diet Plan." By Team Dragon Diet

-Falls Road Animal Hospital: "The Bearded Dragon's Diet: What Can They Eat?"

-Allan's Pet Center: "Gut Loading Feeder Insects for Reptiles." By Allan's Pet Center

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