As an owner, you know just how much bearded dragons love to eat insects!
But can bearded dragons just eat insects and nothing else? Or do you need to provide a wider range of food to keep them healthy and allow them to live a long and happy life?
In this post, we will look at the facts provided by reptile experts and vets and ultimately decide just how safe eating only insects is for a bearded dragon.
So can bearded dragons just eat insects? Bearded dragons shouldn’t only eat insects and nothing else. There are many reasons for this including the need for a high calcium diet that is more easily obtained through the consumption of greens and vegetables.
Read on to learn…
- The 3 main factors why bearded dragons shouldn’t just eat insects
- What percentage of their diet should be insects vs greens
- How to get your beardie to eat more veggies and greens
Can Bearded Dragons Just Eat insects (A Closer Look)
As we mentioned above, bearded dragons should just eat insects. In fact, Tex Vet Pets recommend that around 50% of a bearded dragons diet should come from greens and 20% from vegetables.
This percentage should actually vary depending on the age of the bearded dragon and we will go into this in greater detail further on in the post.
There are several important reasons why your bearded dragon should only eat insects, let’s take a closer look at each of them…
Bearded Dragons Need Calcium From Greens & Veggies
Calcium is extremely important to bearded dragons. Pet-MD report that serious conditions such as metabolic bone disease occur when dietary calcium is too low.
Insects such as crickets are high in calcium with around 171mg of calcium per 100g.
Even though this is the case, greens such as kale, for example, has around 254mg of calcium per 100g.
Adding highly nutritious, calcium dense foods such as kale to your bearded dragons salad bowl are highly recommended to allow them to more easily reach their daily calcium goal.
The great thing about having greens and vegetables in a salad bowl is that they can nibble at any point of the day and intake calcium throughout the day.
I’ve recently written a post that shares everything you need to know about calcium as a bearded dragon owner that you can check out right here.
As well as providing high amounts of calcium in your bearded dragon’s diet it’s also highly recommended that you supplement calcium as well.
VCA-Hospitals recommend that you supplement calcium at least 2-3 times per week.
Supplementing calcium as well as providing a high-quality calcium-rich diet will ensure your beardie stays healthy without contracting serious bone conditions.
The supplement we recommend is ‘Rep-Cal’ as this is the most trusted on the market by far in our opinion.
Head over to our post that lists the exact Rep-Cal product we recommend and why.
Greens Are high In Vitamins & Minerals
Another advantage of feeding your bearded dragons a balanced diet consisting of greens and veggies and not just insects is that they will consume much more vitamins & minerals.
Offering a wide variety of nutritious greens such as grape leaves, mustard greens, turnip greens, watercress, collards, dandelion greens and endive as recommended by Vetmed will provide a wide range of vitamins and nutrients.
These nutrients, for the most part, wouldn’t be available in insects and therefore your bearded dragon would be missing out on many minerals that help with a skin condition, eyesight, cardiovascular health and much more.
The bottom line is that providing highly nutritious greens and veggies is important to the longevity of your beardie and the quality of its life.
Too Many Insect Can Cause Kidney Problems
One major factor why you need to feed your bearded dragon greens is the fact that they can suffer from kidney problems if they consume too much protein.
To back this up veterinarypartner.vin.com published an article on kidney problems in reptiles that states that among other factors, a high protein diet can cause kidney disease in reptiles.
The takeaway from this is that only feeding insects will likely give your beardie a higher chance of suffering from kidney disease or other kidney-related problems.
This is especially true when they get older and they have stopped growing.
When a bearded dragon reaches adulthood and stops growing they actually need less protein and more greens as opposed to when they’re young and the opposite is true.
Here’s a post with charts and tables that shows exactly how fast a baby bearded dragon grows.
In the paragraph that follows we will look at how much insect protein vs greens both baby and adult bearded dragons need.
How Much Insect Protein Vs Greens Should a Bearded Dragon Consume?
The amount of insect protein a baby bearded dragon should consume is actually greater than what an adult should consume.
This is because baby and juvenile bearded dragons are growing at rapid rates and they need more protein to fulfil the demand for growth.
Adults, on the other hand, have stopped growing and as we mentioned before can actually get kidney problems if overfed insect protein the older they get.
For this reason, their diet should have a percentage increase in greens and a decrease in insect proteins.
Please look at the charts below to get a visual idea of what percentage of insect proteins Vs greens a baby and adult bearded dragon should consume as a general rule of thumb.
How to Get Your Bearded Dragon to Eat More Greens
It can often be hard to get your beardie to consume healthy and nutritious greens and veggies.
This can be quite distressing for owners considering how important they are to their overall diet and wellbeing.
Let’s look at some tips and strategies to encourage your beardie to eat from the salad bowl and consume those vital nutrients.
Offer Fruits With The Greens
One simple but often effective trick you can use to entice your bearded dragon over to the salad bowl is to add chopped fruit on the top.
Bearded dragons love fruit as it’s sweet, juicy and smells great. Adding fruit such as figs can encourage your dragon to start eating from the bowl.
Figs are high in calcium and as far as fruit goes they are one of the best according to VCA-Hospitals who names them in their list of top fruits.
You shouldn’t do this every day for weeks on end as nearly all fruit is high in sugar, however, doing this for a few days may just get your dragon used to eating from the bowl.
Add Treat Worms On The Greens
Another pretty simple trick to encourage your beardie to wander over to the salad bowl and start eating is to add treat worms on top of the salad.
Adding hornworms or wax worms etc will certainly get your dragons attention and they won’t think twice about eating from the bowl.
This not only helps them to notice the bowl but they will usually greedily pick up and eat some greens as they grab the worms without noticing.
The trick to this is to very finely chop the greens so they can almost eat them without trying.
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