Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule: Everything You Need To Know

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the feeding schedule for one of the most fascinating and commonly kept reptiles: the bearded dragon. The emphasis will be on understanding how best to meet the nutritional needs of these unique pets at various stages of their life. By establishing a well-considered feeding schedule, you can ensure that your bearded dragon enjoys a healthy and fulfilling life.

Not only will we delve into the intricate dietary needs of baby, juvenile, and adult bearded dragons, but we will also talk about the role of hydration, seasonal changes, and supplements. From the types of insects, fruits, and vegetables that should form part of your pet’s diet, to the nuances of food storage and preparation, this guide will touch upon all the crucial aspects of a bearded dragon’s diet.

We will also address common questions, offer useful insights on vet check-ups, and provide some guidance on the perils of underfeeding and overfeeding. By the end of this article, you will be equipped with all the information needed to set up an appropriate feeding schedule for your bearded dragon.

Introduction: The Importance of a Proper Feeding Schedule for Bearded Dragons

A proper feeding schedule for your bearded dragon is critical for various reasons. Foremost, it ensures they receive the right nutrients in the correct proportions, essential for their health and well-being. Bearded dragons have specific dietary needs that differ according to their age and size. By following a structured feeding schedule, you can ensure your pet gets a balanced diet suitable for its development stage.

Feeding Schedule for Bearded Dragons

An adequately planned feeding schedule also makes your bearded dragon’s feeding routine predictable.

Such routine allows your pet to adjust to feeding times, which can help in building trust and bonding with your pet. Moreover, it makes it easier for you to monitor your dragon’s appetite and identify any changes that may indicate a health problem.

Lastly, having a feeding schedule helps prevent overfeeding or underfeeding, both of which can lead to health issues. Overfeeding can result in obesity, leading to complications such as fatty liver disease and shortened lifespan. Underfeeding, on the other hand, can result in malnutrition, stunted growth, and weakened immune system. Therefore, maintaining a proper feeding schedule is vital for your bearded dragon’s overall health.

Understanding Bearded Dragon’s Dietary Needs

Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they consume both plants and animals.

Their dietary needs change as they grow, with young dragons requiring more protein for growth and adults needing a diet rich in vegetables for overall health.

Baby and juvenile bearded dragons require a significant amount of protein to support their rapid growth. The primary source of protein comes from live insects such as crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches. However, too much protein can lead to health issues such as kidney failure in adult bearded dragons. Therefore, it’s crucial to reduce the amount of protein in the diet as your dragon matures.

Bearded Dragon's Dietary Needs

Vegetables should form a significant part of a bearded dragon’s diet, especially for adults. These can include leafy greens, bell peppers, and squash. Fruits can also be included but in smaller quantities due to their high sugar content. Proper hydration is another crucial aspect of a bearded dragon’s dietary needs. Bearded dragons don’t typically drink water like other pets, but they do absorb it through their skin and intake it through their diet.

Calcium and vitamin D3 are essential for bearded dragons, particularly for bone health and growth. Therefore, supplements containing these nutrients should be a part of their diet. Always consult with a vet to decide on the right type and amount of supplement for your dragon.

Baby Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule: Getting the Start Right

In the initial stages of life, baby bearded dragons experience a period of rapid growth, requiring a diet high in protein. The diet for a baby bearded dragon (under three months of age) should be approximately 70% insects and 30% greens, vegetables, and fruits. The primary protein source at this stage is live insects like small crickets, mealworms, or dubia roaches. However, caution is required as the size of the food should not be bigger than the space between the dragon’s eyes to avoid choking.

Feeding should occur 2-3 times a day, with each feeding session lasting about 10-15 minutes.

You should allow the baby dragon to consume as many insects as it can within this time. Fresh vegetables and fruits should also be provided daily but remember that they should be finely chopped to aid consumption and digestion. Hydration at this stage is essential too, so a shallow dish of water should be readily available in their enclosure.

Juvenile Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule: The Transition Phase

As your bearded dragon moves into the juvenile phase (three months to a year old), it’s growth rate starts to slow down, and hence its dietary needs begin to shift. The diet should now be balanced between protein and plant matter, with a 50-50 ratio of insects and greens, vegetables, and fruits

Juvenile Bearded Dragon Feeding.

The frequency of feeding can be reduced to 1-2 times per day, with each feeding session still allowing the dragon to eat as many insects as it can within a 10-15 minute period. Regular hydration is still critical, and the provision of fresh vegetables and fruits should continue. Adjustments may be necessary based on your dragon’s behavior and health, so regular check-ups with a vet are recommended.

Adult Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule: Maintaining Health and Vitality

Adult bearded dragons (over a year old) have a slower metabolism, requiring fewer calories compared to their younger counterparts.

Their diet should now shift to be primarily plant-based, with about 80% greens, vegetables, and fruits, and only 20% insects.

Adult dragons can be fed once per day or even every other day, depending on their size and appetite. Each feeding session should consist of around 10-20 insects and a good portion of fresh vegetables and fruits. Hydration should continue, with a constant supply of fresh water in their enclosure. Regular bathing can also aid in their hydration and help with shedding. As always, regular vet check-ups are necessary to monitor their health and make any necessary adjustments to their diet.

Insects in the Diet: Scheduling for Optimal Health

Insects form a vital part of a bearded dragon’s diet, especially in their early life stages when they are growing rapidly. Live insects, including crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches, provide a valuable protein source and should constitute approximately 70% of a baby bearded dragon’s diet. Bearded dragons can eat as many insects as they want in 10-15 minute feeding sessions, typically 2-3 times a day.

As bearded dragons transition from the baby to juvenile stage, their intake of insects should gradually decrease to about 50% of their diet. The feeding sessions can reduce to 1-2 times a day. Ensure the insects are gut-loaded (fed nutrient-rich food) before feeding your dragon, as this will provide additional nutrients.

When they become adults, the insect portion of their diet should decrease further to around 20%, with feeding sessions occurring once a day or even every other day. At all stages, be aware that not all insects are equal. Some, like mealworms, have a high-fat content and should be given sparingly to avoid the risk of obesity.

Vegetables and Fruits: How Often and How Much?

Vegetables should form a significant part of a bearded dragon’s diet, increasing in quantity as the dragon matures. For baby bearded dragons, vegetables and fruits should form about 30% of their diet. This proportion should increase to 50% during the juvenile stage and then to 80% in adulthood.

Fresh leafy greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens should form the bulk of the vegetable portion. Other vegetables like bell peppers, squash, and sweet potatoes can also be included. All vegetables should be finely chopped to aid digestion and consumption.

Fruits should be given sparingly due to their high sugar content. Fruits like apples, pears, and berries can be given as treats, making up about 10% of the diet. Always remember to remove any seeds from fruits as they can pose a choking hazard.

The Role of Hydration in the Feeding Schedule

Hydration plays a critical role in the health and well-being of bearded dragons. Despite their desert origins, bearded dragons need to stay hydrated for proper digestion and overall health. However, they don’t usually drink water like other pets. They absorb it through their skin and get it from their diet

Role of Hydration .

A shallow dish of fresh water should be available in their enclosure at all times. This water should be changed daily or whenever it gets dirty. In addition, misting your dragon or giving them regular baths can help with hydration, especially during shedding periods.

In terms of diet, fresh vegetables and fruits can provide a substantial amount of water. For this reason, they should form a significant part of the bearded dragon’s diet, especially during the adult stage.

Integrating Supplements into the Feeding Schedule

Supplements play a vital role in a bearded dragon’s diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients. The two main supplements needed by bearded dragons are calcium and vitamin D3, which are essential for bone health and preventing metabolic bone disease, a common health issue in bearded dragons.

Calcium supplement should be dusted onto the insects before feeding. The frequency of supplementing can vary depending on the dragon’s age. For babies and juveniles, calcium supplement should be given daily due to their rapid growth. For adults, 2-3 times a week is generally sufficient.

Vitamin D3 is crucial for calcium absorption. Some bearded dragons can produce enough Vitamin D3 if they have sufficient exposure to UVB light. However, if you’re uncertain about the UVB levels in your enclosure, a Vitamin D3 supplement can be provided 1-2 times a week.

How Seasonality Affects the Feeding Schedule

Seasonality can significantly affect a bearded dragon’s feeding schedule. During the colder months, bearded dragons often enter a state of brumation, which is similar to hibernation. During brumation, their metabolic rate slows down, and they may eat less or stop eating entirely.

If your bearded dragon enters brumation, you may need to adjust their feeding schedule accordingly. This could mean reducing the amount of food offered or the frequency of feeding. It’s important to monitor your dragon’s weight during this time and consult with a vet if you notice any concerning changes.

During the warmer months, bearded dragons are typically more active and have a higher metabolic rate, so their food intake will increase. Regular feeding schedules can be maintained during these periods, but keep a close eye on their appetite and body condition, adjusting food quantity as necessary.

Feeding Schedule Adjustments for Pregnant and Breeding Dragons

If you’re breeding your bearded dragons, it’s essential to adjust their feeding schedule to meet their increased nutritional needs. Both the male and female dragons will need more energy during courtship and mating, so you should increase the quantity of food offered and ensure a higher proportion of protein-rich food, like insects.

Pregnant females, or gravid females, require special attention. Their nutritional needs are significantly higher as they develop eggs. They will need an increased amount of calcium to ensure healthy egg development, so it’s advisable to increase the frequency of calcium supplementation. Gravid females may also exhibit increased appetite. Cater to this by offering more frequent feedings, but be careful to balance the diet with a good mix of insects, vegetables, and fruits. Monitor weight gain carefully to ensure she is not becoming overweight.

Post-laying, females can experience decreased appetite and may lose weight. During this period, offer nutrient-rich foods that are easy to digest. Smaller, more frequent meals can be beneficial. If a female refuses to eat post-laying, consult a vet as this can indicate potential health issues.

Adjusting Feeding Schedule for Sick Bearded Dragons

Sick bearded dragons may exhibit changes in appetite and may require adjustments to their feeding schedule. Loss of appetite can be a symptom of various illnesses, from infections to metabolic bone disease. In these cases, it’s crucial to consult with a reptile vet to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Depending on the ailment, you may need to feed them soft, easily digestible foods. Pureed vegetables or small, soft-bodied insects might be easier for them to consume. For severe cases where the dragon refuses to eat, the vet might recommend syringe feeding with a special liquid diet.

While a dragon is sick, hydration becomes more critical. Maintain regular bathing and misting, and ensure fresh water is always available. Remember, recovery may take time, and the feeding schedule will need to be readjusted as they regain their health.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Creating a Feeding Schedule

There are several common mistakes that bearded dragon owners can make when it comes to creating a feeding schedule. One of the most common errors is failing to adjust the schedule according to the dragon’s age. As discussed, baby bearded dragons need more frequent feedings with a high protein diet compared to adults.

Another mistake is failing to provide a varied diet. While it can be easy to stick to a routine of feeding the same food, this doesn’t meet their nutritional needs. Just like us, bearded dragons need a mix of proteins, vegetables, fruits, and supplements to stay healthy.

Over-reliance on commercial diets is another pitfall. While these can be part of a bearded dragon’s diet, they should not replace fresh, whole foods. Commercial diets often don’t provide the required nutrients and can lead to health problems if relied upon solely.

Finally, not providing fresh water at all times is a significant error. Although bearded dragons originate from arid environments, they still need access to fresh water.

Overfeeding and Underfeeding: Risks and Prevention

Overfeeding and underfeeding can both pose significant health risks to bearded dragons. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can result in health issues such as fatty liver disease, heart disease, and joint problems. On the other hand, underfeeding can lead to malnutrition and growth issues, particularly in young, growing dragons.

Preventing overfeeding involves monitoring your dragon’s weight and adjusting their diet accordingly. Remember, adult bearded dragons need a diet high in vegetables and low in protein. Babies and juveniles need a higher proportion of insects for growth but ensure a balance to prevent overfeeding.

To prevent underfeeding, it’s vital to understand the signs of a hungry bearded dragon. These can include a lack of energy, weight loss, and lack of growth in young dragons. It’s crucial to feed them regularly, and if they’re still hungry after feeding, they may need more food.

The Impact of a Proper Feeding Schedule on a Dragon’s Growth and Lifespan

A well-balanced, appropriate feeding schedule is vital to a bearded dragon’s growth and lifespan. Baby and juvenile bearded dragons require a high protein diet for optimal growth. Lack of proper nutrition during these stages can lead to growth issues and developmental problems.

Dragon's Growth and Lifespan

An adult dragon needs a balanced diet rich in vegetables, supplemented by insects and occasional fruits. Failure to provide this can result in obesity and associated health issues that can affect lifespan.

The integration of appropriate supplements into the diet is also crucial. Deficiency in calcium and vitamin D3 can lead to metabolic bone disease, which can be fatal if left untreated.

In essence, the right feeding schedule contributes significantly to the overall health, growth, and longevity of a bearded dragon.

Feeding Schedule FAQs: Addressing Common Questions

Over the years of owning and caring for bearded dragons, there are common questions that come up around their feeding schedule. Here are a few:

  • “How often should I feed my bearded dragon?” The frequency varies with age. Babies should be fed 2-3 times a day, juveniles once or twice daily, and adults can be fed every day or every other day.
  • “What foods should be avoided?” Avocado, rhubarb, and any insects caught in the wild should be avoided due to potential toxicity or parasites.
  • “How do I know if my bearded dragon is over or underweight?” Regular weight checks and visual inspection (a healthy bearded dragon should have a rounded but not bloated belly) are vital. Consult with a vet if you’re unsure.

Food Storage and Preparation for a Streamlined Feeding Schedule

Good food storage and preparation practices can help streamline your bearded dragon’s feeding schedule and ensure they always get fresh, nutritious meals. Store vegetables in the refrigerator to keep them fresh, and always wash them before feeding to remove any pesticides or dirt.

Insects can often be purchased in bulk and stored appropriately. Some, like crickets and dubia roaches, can be kept in ventilated containers and fed a nutrient-rich diet (known as gut loading) before feeding them to your dragon.

Commercial diets should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent spoilage. Always check the expiration date before feeding.

When preparing meals, chop vegetables finely to make them easier for your bearded dragon to eat. Also, ensure any insects fed to your dragon are an appropriate size – generally, they should not be larger than the space between your dragon’s eyes.


Proper feeding schedules are a fundamental part of ensuring the health, growth, and longevity of bearded dragons. Whether you’re taking care of a baby, juvenile, or adult bearded dragon, understanding their specific dietary needs is crucial. The dietary requirements shift from being protein-dense in the early stages of life, to a diet primarily consisting of vegetables as they reach adulthood.

Incorporating a variety of insects, vegetables, and fruits, and the thoughtful integration of supplements, helps to provide a well-rounded diet that meets their nutritional needs. Attention to hydration is just as important, with the approach varying based on the age and health condition of the dragon.

Adjustments in the feeding schedule might be necessary depending on circumstances such as breeding, illness, and seasonality. Awareness of common pitfalls like overfeeding and underfeeding, and reliance on commercial diets can help avoid health issues. Regular vet check-ups are vital to catch any potential problems early on.

By being attentive and responsive to their dietary needs, maintaining good food storage and preparation practices, you can ensure a healthy, happy, and long life for your bearded dragon. Care for these exotic pets may require a bit of effort, but the reward of witnessing their growth and vitality is immeasurable.

  • 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!
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