Feeding a bearded dragon is one of the major responsibilities of exotic pet ownership. This reptile should be fed a well-balanced diet to maintain optimal health. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as live insects, can provide proper nutrition. It is important to remember that over-feeding a bearded dragon can cause health issues.
Live crickets should be an integral part of the bearded dragon's diet, however, store-bought crickets can lack nutritional value. Kept at home for a few days, the live crickets should be gut-loaded to provide better nutrition for a bearded dragon. Gut-loading the crickets means fortifying them with a nutritional diet. Prior to feeding a bearded dragon a cricket, the cricket should consume nutritious greens sprinkled with powdered supplements that are sold at pet stores. Fortified crickets will provide the best nutritional value for the dragon.
When feeding a bearded dragon green leafy vegetables, it's best to avoid iceberg lettuce, as this offers little nutritional value. Better choices are romaine, kale, or collard greens. These vegetables are rich in antioxidants and vitamins essential for a bearded dragon's good health. Feeding a bearded dragon greens every day can also help strengthen its immune system.
Fruits are also accepted by most bearded dragons and should be offered every other day. Berries and melons are favorites and provide a pet bearded dragon with vitamins C and A. All fruits should be chopped or sliced into small pieces before serving them to the lizard. It is important to remember every morsel of food must be smaller than the width of the lizard's mouth. Feeding bearded dragons pieces of fruit or vegetables that are too large may result in digestive complications that could require veterinary care.
A bearded dragon younger than a month old can obtain sufficient nutrition by being fed small crickets. Maintaining a regular feeding schedule is important, although baby dragons should never be over fed. All crickets should be removed from the feeding area if the baby bearded dragon has not consumed them within 20-30 minutes.
Egg-laying female bearded dragons must consume extra protein. An excellent source of protein can be found in live pinkie mice, which are readily accepted by bearded dragons. These tiny, immature mice are hairless and easily digested by bearded dragons. For additional protein required for breeding dragons, mealworms or silkworms can be fed several times a week.