Vegetables are so important to bearded dragons and their health and we all know it’s vital that they eat them on a daily basis.
The question is, can bearded dragons only eat vegetables? Or do they need food from other sources such as insects?
Let’s take a look at this very question and see what reptile nutritionists and vets recommend.
Before we take a deep look at all aspects of the question, let’s answer the main question…
So can bearded dragons only eat vegetables? Bearded dragons shouldn’t only eat vegetables and nothing else. There are many reasons for this including the lack of protein that their diet would contain without the inclusion of live insects such as crickets.
Read on to learn…
- The 6 reasons why only feeding vegetables isn’t a good idea
- If baby bearded dragons can eat only vegetables?
- If adult bearded dragons can eat only vegetables?
- What percentage of a bearded dragon’s diet should be veggies Vs insect protein
- If bearded dragons can eat only vegetables for a short period of time?
Can Bearded Dragons Only Eat Vegetables (A Deeper Look)
As we mentioned above, it’s not advised that bearded dragons only eat vegetables and nothing else.
Greens and vegetables are a vital part of a bearded dragons diet and they contribute greatly to your beardies overall daily calcium intake.
When we conducted our research for this article we saw that every source we could find pointed out that even though greens and veggies are much-needed, they should never be the sole source of food.
One such expert is VCA-Hospitals who says that approximately 50% of your bearded dragon’s diet should come from plant-based material and the other 50% coming from animal-based material.
They also state that this will differ slightly depending on the age of your beardie.
Another veterinary expert that we researched was Tex Vet Pets who advise that 50% of your beardies diet should come from greens and a further 20% from veggies.
Although there’s no mention of what should take up the other 20% we can only assume it’s insect protein and one thing is for sure, they certainly don’t recommend 100% vegetables and greens.
Later in this post, we will take a detailed look at what percentage of your beardies diet should come from veggies Vs insect proteins depending on what age they are.
Now let’s take a look at the 5 reasons why it’s not a good idea for your beardie to only eat vegetables.
Eating Only Vegetables Wouldn’t Provide Enough Protein
If you were to only feed your bearded dragon vegetables then you would be running the risk of not providing your beardie with the protein it needs to be healthy and grow.
This is especially important for baby and juvenile bearded dragons who are growing at amazingly fast rates.
Here’s a post that details exactly how fast bearded dragons grow and at what age they stop growing.
Protein provides that platform for growth and sadly, even though vegetables and greens are both healthy and important to a beardie they don’t give them the protein they need to grow.
Even though adult bearded dragons are recommended to eat less protein than baby bearded dragons, they still need their fair share.
Mazuri (Exotic Manual Nutrition) states that proteins are vital building blocks for all living organisms, and they are needed when the body forms muscle, enzymes and antibodies.
We have included a table below that shows the amount of protein 100g of crickets contains compared to 100g of kale.
Amount Of Protein Per 100g (Crickets Vs Kale)
|Name||Protein Per 100g|
Vegetables Contain a Small Amount Of Fat
When you first look at this heading you probably think that less fat is a good thing right?
Well up to a certain point that might be correct, however, bearded dragons like nearly all living creatures need a certain amount of fat in order to function correctly.
Feeding your beardie on vegetables and greens alone wouldn’t provide the fat required for both a growing and adult bearded dragon to be healthy long term.
We understand it can be expensive to source good quality crickets for your bearded dragon.
We have researched and listed the best providers and places to get crickets from online in this post here.
The fat that bearded dragons consume is ultimately the calories they use as energy.
Without these calories, they would be lethargic and weak.
The right amounts of fats in their diet also contribute to healthy skin, brain function and overall health.
Again, this is especially important for growing bearded dragons that need extra calories to support growth.
We have used the same studies from we used earlier in this post to share the amounts of fat per 100g for both crickets and kale.
Amount Of Fat Per 100g (Crickets Vs Kale)
|Name||Fat Per 100g|
Lack Of Mental Stimulation
In the wild, bearded dragons are used to a pretty full-on lifestyle.
They have to try and hunt their own food on a daily basis and find greens to eat all while trying to stay out of the clutches of the many predators they may encounter.
In captivity, it’s a little different. There are no predators to worry about (which is obviously a good thing) and food is brought to them daily.
The problem is that this can lead to a lack of mental stimulation.
It’s important to let your beardie hunt their own live insects to keep them feeling like they have a purpose.
Feeding only veggies and greens takes this away from them and can leave them stuck in the same surrounding day after day with nothing to get them excited.
We’ve written a great post here that explains how bearded dragons can get bored and how you can stop this from happening.
Calcium Supplementation Is Recommended By Experts
Even if you were adamant that you were going to feed your beardie only veggies only (not that we recommend this) then you would still have to supplement with calcium.
Vets and reptile nutritionists recommend that even feeding your beardie a healthy diet of live gut-loaded insects and calcium-rich greens and vegetables you should supplement with calcium.
One such expert is Pet-MD who says that calcium supplementation is essential for reptiles.
This means that following the advice from vets, you would need to increase your beardies calcium intake with supplements and simply just feeding greens and veggies wouldn’t be sufficient.
Here’s an easy to follow guide that details everything you need to know about your bearded dragons calcium needs.
Failure to provide enough calcium for your dragon can result in serious health conditions such as MBD or metabolic bone disease.
This is extremely serious for reptiles and can include failure to grow, generalized weakness, swollen/thickened bones, fractures, tremors/muscle and much more according to Vetstream.
You should always supplement with a high-quality brand. The one we would always recommend is Rep-Cal.
Head over to this post where we list the exact Rep-Cal supplements we recommend you use and well as our recommended vitamins as well.
Most Bearded Dragons Only Pick at Vegetables
You probably already know this, but most beardies will just pick at their salad as opposed to gobbling up insects as fast as they can.
If your dragon munches on greens and veggies until the whole bowl is empty then that’s great but it’s also very unusual.
The fact of the matter is, unless you can get them to do this and eat multiple bowls per day then they are going to be significantly low on their protein and fat when compared to a diet consisting of live insects.
Having greens and veggies on offer all the time is great and encouraging your dragon to eat them daily is highly recommended, however, providing insect proteins is a much simpler and convenient way of supplying a balanced diet.
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Only Eat Vegetables?
As we mentioned earlier in this post, eating only vegetables is probably more counter-productive for juvenile bearded dragons than adults.
This is due to the fact that they are growing rapidly and need the extra protein that insects provide to support their growth.
They also need the extra fat and calories that are abundant in insects such as crickets when compared to popular greens and veggies such as kale and dandelion greens.
Feeding a baby or juvenile beardie only vegetables and greens would almost certainly result in growth and health problems.
Remember you can take a look at the charts and tables we have provided that show you exactly how fast your bearded dragon is expected to grow in this post here.
Can Adult Bearded Dragons Only Eat Vegetables?
By the time a bearded dragon reaches around 2 years old and has stopped growing they need less protein than in the first 2 years.
This, however, doesn’t mean that they don’t require any protein at all. The protein that they need at this age isn’t strictly for growth but for maintenance for muscle.
It also helps to form enzymes and antibodies as we mentioned earlier. Feeding an adult beardie only on veggies still wouldn’t provide them with the balanced diet they need to be healthy throughout the rest of their life.
To give your dragon the best chance of being healthy and living to an old age we believe it best to provide fresh greens and vegetables that are high in calcium, feed high-quality gut-loaded insects such as crickets and also supplement with calcium too.
Remember, we list our recommended places to purchase crickets and other insects online in this post.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Only Vegetables Short Term?
Ok, so we now know that both baby, juvenile and adult beardies shouldn’t eat only vegetables in their diet.
But would it be ok if your beardie only ate veggies and nothing else over a short period of time?
I guess the answer to this is that you should never purposely cut out insects from your bearded dragon’s diet for a certain period of time.
There could possibly be times when you had run out of crickets because of a late online delivery or there was a snowstorm and you were stuck in the house.
In these kinds of circumstances, with no way of sourcing live insects then feeding veggies and nothing else might be your only option.
This should only be for the shortest period possible and even then I think there are better options.
Even though I don’t recommend feeding pellets as a long term option, then can be a lifesaver for unexpected situations such as these.
You can store them in a cupboard until you need them and this way you always have an emergency supply of food containing protein and other nutrients.
Another good emergency option is to keep a ‘Can ’O Grasshoppers’ or ‘Can ‘O Worms’ by Zoomed in the cupboard as beardies tend to love these more than pellets.
Ultimately, even feeding your dragon veggies and greens and nothing else should be out of desperation and not through planning in our opinion.
What Percentage Of a Bearded Dragons Diet Should Be Insects Vs Vegetables?
Baby and juvenile beardies need slightly more protein in their diet than adults due to their need for growth.
Check out the charts below that show the approximate percentage of insect protein and greens that both bay and adult bearded dragons need in a healthy and balanced diet.
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