Can Bearded Dragons Overeat? Keeping Your Bearded Dragon Healthy
Feeding a bearded dragon can be a fun and rewarding task, however, like lots of other pets, we have to be very careful as to what we feed our bearded dragons in terms of the volume of food and frequency.
Can bearded dragons overeat? Yes. It’s possible, however not that many bearded dragons will actually do this, the majority of the time most owners feed their bearded dragons between once and three times per day for around 10 minutes depending on their age, and the bearded dragon will usually stop and return to basking once he’s had his fill.
Bearded dragons have very different dietary requirements depending on their age, a baby bearded dragon will need much more live insect food matter than a fully grown adult.
However, that being said all bearded dragons are a little bit different, some will absolutely gorge on their food and eat as much as they can in an as shorter time as possible, whilst other bearded dragons will take a much more relaxed approach.
Another point to mention about overeating is that it’s less about the quantity of food they eat and more about the quality of their diet, you need to make sure you provide a healthy and balanced diet for your bearded dragon so it can thrive.
Feeding a Bearded Dragon Correctly Requires Common Sense
So whilst it is possible to be the proud owner of a particularly greedy bearded dragon, most of the time you will find that the bearded dragon will just stop when full, however, what is very important is to make sure that you are feeding your bearded dragon a staple diet and not too many treats.
Just like humans, bearded dragons need a balanced diet that is healthy, as humans, if we eat fatty foods all the time we will eventually just put on a tonne of weight and be hit with health problems later on in life.
It’s pretty much the same for bearded dragons, whilst you’re not going to be feeding them McDonalds any time soon, it is actually possible to give them foods which are just too fatty to eat everyday, this can then lead to an overweight bearded dragon.
Diet Differences Depending on Age
With bearded dragons their dietary requirements will change drastically depending on their age, I wrote quite a bit about this in an article I created about feeding baby bearded dragons.
A baby bearded dragon will typically need three meals per day which consist of a diet rich in protein, this basically equates to approximately 60% protein in the form of insects such as crickets and dubia roaches, and 40% vegetation such as leafy chopped greens.
As bearded dragons mature into fully grown adults their dietary requirements will almost be reversed, the aim will be to feed them much less protein than a baby or juvenile, and they will then eat more leafy greens as adults.
Staple Feeders and Treats
In terms of what is considered a part of a staple diet and what is considered a treat, I have compiled a list.
This may vary depending on age as younger bearded dragons require more protein, but this is based on an average adult bearded dragon.
The staple diet basically means something that the bearded dragon will eat on a regular basis, whereas a treat is just something you give him every so often.
Staple Foods for Adults
The following are foods that are recommended as part of a staple diet for your bearded dragon.
- Collard Greens
- Dubia Roaches
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Potato
Treats for Adults
The following are foods that are considered treats and should only be fed to your bearded dragon on occasion.
- Phoenix Worms
- Wax Worms
How Often to Feed an Adult Bearded Dragon
Usually, it’s perfectly fine to feed an adult bearded dragon once per day, babies and juveniles can be fed up to three times as much in a single day, but since they are still growing much more rapidly it’s important for them to receive a much larger source of protein in the form of insects.
Adults will be fine to be fed once per day, I usually start with offering greens first thing, and then maybe an hour later I will provide some live insects for around 10 minutes or until he’s had his fill.
Bearded Dragons Need to Learn to Like Greens
Bearded dragons are not too dissimilar to children, if you feed them treats all the time, they will only want treats and nothing else.
Don’t overfeed your bearded dragon with treats, it’s OK to give them staple insects during feeding times, but don’t just constantly throw in Wax worms in-between meals, this will leave you with an overweight and overfed bearded dragon.
This is why I always offer the greens first, if my bearded dragon wakes up and is particularly hungry, then hopefully he will eat the greens first.
What Foods Should You Avoid Feeding an Adult Bearded Dragon?
There are some foods which you should just absolutely 100% never feed your bearded dragon, and to new owners, these foods might not be as obvious as you would think.
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Beet Tops
Lettuce is almost all water and provides nothing for your bearded dragon, for this reason, it’s a complete waste of time to feed this to your bearded dragon.
Avoid avocados altogether, never ever feed these to your bearded dragon. A small amount will make your bearded dragon ill and a large amount will just outright kill him, so just totally avoid.
One common sense approach to adopt is that if you don’t know if you can or can’t feed your bearded dragon something, then don’t until you have done further research.
But to clarify once more, no avocados!
Never let your bearded dragons eat fireflies, these little critters are extremely toxic and will result in the death of your bearded dragon if he consumes one.
Again, avoid Rhubarb, this is also very toxic and will result in your bearded dragon becoming very sick and almost certain death.
Spinach and Beet Tops
Spinach and Beet Tops contain a calcium-binding chemical, meaning that your bearded dragon cannot extract the calcium requirements he needs from these foods.
If you were to feed your bearded dragon these foods, overtime your bearded dragon would develop a calcium deficiency which would most likely then lead to metabolic bone disease (MBD)
Some owners do feed this to bearded dragons from time to time but I really don’t recommend it, it’s best to just steer clear of this one for obvious reasons.
Can some foods really cause injury to a bearded dragon?
Yes! Some foods are just very poisonous as mentioned above and should just be avoided.
Another issue is feeding your bearded dragon something that is just too big/hard for him or something he is unable to consume without injury, so never feed your bearded dragon any insect that is larger than the gap between his eyes.
Will a bearded dragon drink much?
A bearded dragon won’t drink much as they are used to hot arid conditions, however, they will still need to be hydrated.
Usually a bearded dragon can extract the water content from any moist leafy greens or fruit, as well as properly gut loaded insects, however, it’s still important to provide a bowl of water when keeping bearded dragons in captivity.
You may rarely see your bearded dragon drinking, but as long as you’re misting him, providing a water bowl, providing leafy greens, a good staple diet and fully gut loaded insects then your bearded dragon will be fine!
Oh and you might also find that you might need to clean the water bowl out several times per day, sometimes they like to poop in there! (Gross I know!)