Bearded Dragon Feeding Guide: Comprehensive Nutrition Plan

In the intricate world of reptile care, understanding the dietary needs of your pet is paramount. This Bearded Dragon Feeding Guide promises not just an exposition on the do’s and don’ts but dives deep into the nuances of the bearded dragon diet. Ensuring a balanced diet for these captivating reptiles is more than just about feeding; it’s about understanding nutrition, adapting feeding techniques according to age, and ensuring a variety of essential nutrients. By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped with expert-backed knowledge to ensure your bearded dragon leads a healthy and long life.

Bearded Dragon Feeding Plan

Bearded dragons, due to their varying life stages and associated growth spurts, have different nutritional needs. Below is a comprehensive 24-hour feeding guide tailored to their stages:

Juvenile Bearded Dragons (0-5 months):

  • Morning: Start the day with a protein boost. Offer them a serving of small crickets and mealworms. This aids their rapid growth phase.
  • Mid-day: As the day progresses, offer a variety of fresh vegetables, especially greens. This should make up about 20% of their daily intake at this stage.
  • Evening: Conclude the day with another protein-heavy serving of insects. Juvenile dragons have a voracious appetite, and these servings will contribute to their muscle and overall body development.

Sub-Adult Bearded Dragons (5-18 months):

  • Morning: Offer larger crickets to meet their increased size. Also, blend in fresh vegetables, with a 50-50 ratio between protein and greens.
  • Mid-day: Offer a mix of safe fruits and greens. This not only adds variety but introduces them to more adult-like diets.
  • Evening: Limit insects to 60% of the meal, focusing more on vegetables to align with their maturing digestive system.

Adult Bearded Dragons (18 months and above):

  • Morning: Kickstart the day with fresh vegetables. This should constitute the major part of their diet at this stage.
  • Mid-day: Supplement with safe fruits or a high-quality commercial bearded dragon food for variety.
  • Evening: Offer insects, but limit it to twice a week, while boosting greens in their diet on other days.

Meal Preparation and Presentation Techniques

Encouraging Picky Eaters:

It’s common to find bearded dragons that develop a particular fondness for some foods and outrightly reject others. To tackle this:

  1. Variety is Key: Rotate between different types of greens, fruits, and insects. This introduces them to a spectrum of flavors and nutrients.
  2. Consistent Feeding Spot: Establishing routine can be helpful. Offer food at the same location daily.
  3. Enticing Foods: Occasionally incorporate hornworms or butterworms. Their movement can stimulate the dragon’s interest, especially if it’s being particularly finicky.

Dietary Changes:

When introducing a new food item:

  1. Slow Integration: Mix the new food with their regular meals, increasing its proportion gradually over days.
  2. Monitor for Reactions: Always keep an eye for any signs of digestive distress or changes in fecal matter.
  3. Seek Expert Opinion: When unsure about any food, consult with a reptile nutrition expert.

Weight Monitoring:

With obesity being a concern for captive bearded dragons:

  1. Regular Weigh-ins: Using a reptile scale, monitor their weight. This helps in adjusting food quantities as needed.
  2. Adjust Diet Accordingly: If they gain too much weight, reduce fatty foods and insects. Conversely, if they’re underweight, increase proteins and consult a vet.

Essential Nutrients in a Bearded Dragon Diet

Bearded dragons require a plethora of nutrients for optimal health:

  1. Proteins: Vital for muscle development, it’s predominantly found in insects. The type and size of insect should correlate with the dragon’s age.
  2. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium and vitamin D3 are paramount for bone health. Vegetables like turnip greens and dandelion offer these.
  3. Fibers: Essential for digestion, they’re abundantly found in leafy greens and certain fruits.
  4. Fats: While essential, they should be offered in moderation. Overfeeding can lead to fatty liver disease.

Differences in Feeding Juvenile and Adult Bearded Dragons

Juvenile vs Adult Feeding:

The dietary distinction stems from their varying growth rates and metabolic needs:

  1. Juvenile Diet: Their rapid growth demands high protein. Hence, they need more insect servings daily. Calcium is also vital at this stage for bone formation.
  2. Adult Diet: As they mature, their metabolic rate slows. Thus, the protein requirement decreases, and vegetable intake becomes predominant. Calcium remains crucial, but the proportionate intake might be less than juveniles.

Feeding Frequency:

Feeding intervals vary with age:

  1. Juveniles: Multiple feedings daily align with their higher metabolic rate.
  2. Adults: Once or twice daily is sufficient, considering their slowed metabolism and the risk of obesity.

Bearded Dragon Feeding Frequency

Understanding the feeding frequency of bearded dragons is essential for their overall health and well-being. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, while underfeeding can cause malnourishment. Their feeding frequency not only depends on their age but also on their activity levels and overall health.

  1. Juveniles (0-5 months): At this tender age, bearded dragons are growing rapidly and thus have a higher metabolic rate. It’s recommended to feed them 3-4 times a day. Their diet should primarily consist of protein sources, supplemented with vegetables.
  2. Sub-Adults (5-18 months): As they approach adulthood, their growth rate decreases slightly. Feeding them 2-3 times daily is suitable at this stage. While protein remains crucial, start transitioning towards more vegetables in their diet.
  3. Adults (18 months and above): Adult dragons require feeding once or twice a day. Their diet becomes predominantly plant-based, with occasional insects.
  4. Factors Influencing Feeding Frequency: Keep in mind that apart from age, factors like the dragon’s health, season, and breeding condition might influence how often and how much they eat.
  5. Feeding Myths: There’s a misconception that adult dragons can survive on weekly feedings. While they indeed have robust survival mechanisms, such infrequent feeding can lead to nutrient deficiencies and is not recommended.

Fresh Vegetables Suitable for Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons thrive on a varied diet, and fresh vegetables are a staple. They provide necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, not all veggies are safe

Fresh Vegetables Suitable for Bearded Dragons
  1. Leafy Greens: Offer a mix of dandelion greens, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens. These are high in calcium and other essential nutrients. However, avoid spinach and beet greens as they can bind calcium, making it hard for the dragon to absorb.
  2. Other Vegetables: Squash, bell peppers, carrots, and peas can be provided in moderation. They offer a mix of vitamins and minerals and can add variety to the diet.
  3. Avoiding Oxalate-rich Veggies: Vegetables like spinach and rhubarb are high in oxalates, which can interfere with calcium absorption and are best avoided.
  4. Presentation: Finely chop or shred the vegetables. A colorful mix can entice picky eaters.

Safe Fruits for Bearded Dragons

Fruits are a treat and should only make up a small portion of a bearded dragon’s diet. But it’s vital to know which fruits are safe.

  1. Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries can be given occasionally. They’re rich in antioxidants but should be provided in moderation due to their sugar content.
  2. Other Safe Fruits: Apples (without seeds), pears, and melons are also acceptable. Always remember to peel and deseed any fruit you offer.
  3. Citrus Fruits: While not entirely off the menu, fruits like oranges should be given sparingly due to their high acidity.
  4. Fruits to Avoid: Avocados and grapes should be avoided due to their potential toxicity to bearded dragons.
  5. Hydration Role: Fruits can also provide hydration, especially in drier habitats, but should not replace fresh water.

The Role of Insects in a Bearded Dragon’s Diet

Insects are vital, especially during the juvenile phase, as they’re the primary source of protein.

The Role of Insects in a Bearded Dragon's Diet
  1. Crickets: A favorite for many dragons, they’re nutritious and easy to digest. Ensure they’re gut-loaded, meaning they’ve been fed nutritious foods before being offered to the dragon.
  2. Mealworms: While they offer good protein, their hard exoskeleton can be tough for younger dragons to digest. They’re more suitable for older dragons.
  3. Superworms: Richer in fat, they should be given in moderation, primarily as a treat.
  4. Waxworms: These are the equivalent of candy for dragons—high in fat and loved by them. It’s tempting to offer these often due to the eager response, but they should be limited due to their high-fat content.
  5. Silk Worms: Nutritious and soft-bodied, they’re easy for dragons to digest and can be a regular part of their diet.
  6. Role of Vets: When in doubt, consult with a reptile veterinarian. They can provide guidance on the best insects for your specific dragon’s needs and health conditions.

Treats and Supplements: What’s Needed?

Bearded dragons, like humans, enjoy an occasional treat. However, these should be given in moderation and should not replace their regular diet. While treats provide variety and can be used as a bonding tool, it’s essential to ensure they’re nutritious.

  1. Occasional Treats: Waxworms and superworms are some of the favorites. They’re fatty and delicious for your dragon but should be considered the equivalent of junk food.
  2. Calcium and Vitamin D3 Supplements: These are not “treats” but essential additives, especially for juvenile dragons. Calcium dusting of feeders ensures proper bone development, and Vitamin D3 assists in calcium absorption. A lack of these can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease, a common ailment in captive dragons.
  3. Multivitamins: Weekly or bi-weekly, consider dusting the insects with a reptile multivitamin. This ensures they’re getting a well-rounded amount of essential nutrients.
  4. Gut-loading: Before feeding insects to your dragon, feed the insects a nutritious diet. This practice, known as gut-loading, ensures that your dragon gets the nutrients from those insects.
  5. Hydration Treats: Fruits with high water content, like watermelon, can be offered occasionally, especially during shedding or in dry conditions. However, these should not replace regular water provision.

Sourcing Quality Feed for Bearded Dragons

The health of your bearded dragon directly relates to the quality of its food. Feeding it subpar or potentially contaminated food can result in various health issues.

  1. Local Breeders: Often, local insect breeders offer the freshest and highest quality insects. They also ensure that the insects are fed a nutritious diet, making them more beneficial for your dragon.
  2. Reputable Online Retailers: Many online retailers provide a vast variety of insects, vegetables, and fruits. Look for reviews and buy from well-known, trusted sources.
  3. Organic Produce: If buying vegetables and fruits from a grocery store, consider organic options. They’re free from pesticides that can harm your dragon.
  4. Avoid Wild-Caught Insects: They might carry parasites or have ingested pesticides, both of which can be detrimental to your dragon’s health.

Using Feeding Time to Bond with Your Bearded Dragon

Feeding time isn’t just about nutrition; it’s also a golden opportunity for bonding.

  1. Hand Feeding: Occasionally, offering food from your hand can build trust. However, always be cautious; dragons might mistakenly nip a finger!
  2. Interactive Feeding: Use feeding tweezers or tongs to engage in a “chase” with your dragon. Let it “hunt” the insects you’re holding.
  3. Talk and Engage: While feeding, talk gently to your dragon. This familiarizes it with your voice and presence.
  4. Feeding Time Bonding: Regularly sit by the enclosure during feeding. Over time, this association between you and food can foster trust.

Do’s and Don’ts of Bearded Dragon Feeding

Feeding seems straightforward, but there are several nuances that every owner should be aware of.


  • Vary the Diet: A varied diet ensures all essential nutrients are provided.
  • Wash Vegetables: Always wash fruits and vegetables to rid them of any pesticides.
  • Monitor Their Weight: Regularly weigh your dragon to ensure they’re neither underfed nor overfed.


  • Avoid Lettuce: It’s mostly water and offers minimal nutritional value.
  • Avoid Feeding Insects Larger Than the Space Between Their Eyes: Large insects can cause choking or impaction.
  • Avoid Over-reliance on Commercial Food: While convenient, they should not replace fresh food.

Expert Tips for Healthy Feeding

  1. Adjust With Seasons: Bearded dragons might eat less during colder months due to decreased metabolism. Don’t panic; adjust their feeding accordingly.
  2. Stay Informed: Always be on the lookout for new research on bearded dragon nutrition. The reptile community frequently shares new insights.
  3. Consult With Experts: Regular vet visits, especially with a reptile specialist, can offer tailored advice for your dragon’s unique needs.
  4. Join Communities: Engaging in forums or local reptile communities can provide practical tips and tricks learned from firsthand experience.


Ensuring the health and longevity of your bearded dragon hinges heavily on its diet. Through a holistic understanding of their dietary needs, from essential nutrients to the pleasures of occasional treats, owners can curate a feeding plan that not only nourishes their reptile but strengthens the bond they share. Always remember that a diverse diet replicates what they would encounter in the wild, providing not just sustenance, but mental stimulation. Prioritizing quality feed, understanding the differences in feeding requirements, and capitalizing on feeding time for bonding can drastically enhance the life of your dragon and deepen the joy of pet ownership. As with all pets, continuous education, consulting with professionals, and immersing oneself in a community of fellow enthusiasts will ensure that you remain updated and always offer the best to your scaly friend.

  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
  • Affiliate Disclosure

    Bearded Dragon Guru is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Bearded Dragon Guru also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank, ShareASale, and other sites. Bearded Dragon Guru is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.