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What Should Be Included in a Water Dragon's Diet?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

A water dragon's diet should generally include about ten percent calcium and phosphorous-rich vegetables and fruits, as well as some insects, and feeder animals, including baby mice, baby birds, or fish. Most water dragons will need their food coated in a mineral supplement powder at least once a week, unless they are eating a diet rich in whole prey. Insects should generally make up a smaller portion of the water dragon's diet, since overfeeding of insects can cause dangerous intestinal blockage in water dragons. In addition to a proper, balanced diet, most water dragons need to be exposed to UVA/UVB light for about 12 hours daily. This allows their bodies to assimilate and use the calcium they eat.

Reptiles like the water dragon generally need a lot of calcium, protein, and phosphorous in their diets. That's why herpetologists generally recommend feeding these animals a diet heavy in feeder animals. Baby mice, baby rats, small baby birds, and small fish are considered good types of whole prey for these animals. Young rodents who are just old enough to have grown a little fur are considered the best source of protein and other minerals for water dragons. Animals such as these should usually make up between 20 and 40 percent of a water dragon's diet.

Most experts recommend feeding water dragons only dead rodents. Live rodents may attack or fight back against the water dragon. This can cause the reptile injury, infection, and even death.

Earthworms are considered a beneficial part of a water dragon.
Earthworms are considered a beneficial part of a water dragon.

Some types of vegetables and fruits can make a healthy addition to a water dragon's diet. Strawberries, figs, cantaloupes, and raspberries are examples of fruits that can offer the water dragon plenty of the vitamins and minerals it needs for good health. Squash, parsnips, green beans, and dandelion greens are usually nutritionally appropriate as well. Not all water dragons will partake of these foods, however. Water dragons that do not eat vegetables or fruits can be fed an additional ten percent feeder animals instead.

Crickets can be a main part of a water dragon's diet.
Crickets can be a main part of a water dragon's diet.

Earthworms are generally considered a beneficial part of a water dragon's diet, since they contain large amounts of the protein, phosphorous, and calcium that water dragons usually need. Some experts suggest that earthworms alone can make up as much as 20 percent of a water dragon's diet. Other types of insects, generally meal worms and crickets, can make up 40 to 50 percent of the lizard's diet. A mineral supplement for reptiles should usually be sprinkled over the insects at least once a week, to ensure that the water dragons get enough calcium and phosphorous in their diets. Without adequate mineral intake, these creatures can become seriously ill.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary component of a water dragon's diet?

Water dragons are omnivorous reptiles, with the primary component of their diet being live insects. According to experts, about 80% of their diet should consist of live prey such as crickets, mealworms, and king worms. These insects should be gut-loaded (fed nutritious foods) before being offered to the dragon to ensure a well-rounded diet.

Can water dragons eat fruits and vegetables?

Yes, water dragons can and should eat fruits and vegetables, which should make up about 20% of their diet. Leafy greens like collard, mustard, and dandelion greens are excellent choices. Fruits such as figs, papaya, and mango can be offered occasionally as a treat due to their higher sugar content.

How often should I feed my water dragon?

The feeding frequency for water dragons depends on their age. Juveniles require daily feeding due to their rapid growth, while adults can be fed every other day. It's important to provide a balanced diet at each feeding and to avoid overfeeding, as obesity can be a health concern for captive water dragons.

Do water dragons need supplements in their diet?

Yes, water dragons require dietary supplements to maintain optimal health. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are crucial to prevent metabolic bone disease, a common issue in captive reptiles. Dusting their food with a calcium supplement 2-3 times a week and providing a UVB light source will help ensure they can metabolize calcium properly.

Is it safe to feed water dragons wild-caught insects?

Feeding wild-caught insects to water dragons is not recommended due to the risk of pesticides and parasites. Instead, it's safer to provide captive-bred feeder insects that are free from harmful chemicals and diseases. This ensures a controlled diet for the insects, which in turn benefits the health of your water dragon.

How do I ensure my water dragon is properly hydrated?

Water dragons require a constant source of clean, fresh water for drinking and soaking. They often prefer to drink water droplets from leaves or decorations, so providing a drip system or misting the enclosure can encourage hydration. Additionally, a shallow water dish large enough for them to soak in should always be available.

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    • Earthworms are considered a beneficial part of a water dragon.
      By: Dusty Cline
      Earthworms are considered a beneficial part of a water dragon.
    • Crickets can be a main part of a water dragon's diet.
      By: viter
      Crickets can be a main part of a water dragon's diet.