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Feeding Baby Bearded Dragons

by | Mar 25, 2019 | Food | 0 comments

Before you bring home your baby bearded dragon for the first time, it’s important to do some preparation and research to understand what foods are the most suitable, you need to make sure that you have a feeding routine in place so that you can provide the appropriate nutritional value for your bearded dragon.

Bearded dragons are omnivorous, meaning they eat invertebrates (live insects) as well as vegetation (greens),  so what are considered the best options when 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.

In the following article I will go over my typical routine and what you should be feeding your baby bearded dragon, it’s a pretty simple process but there are some aspects that you should probably understand to avoid any issues down the road.

One point to note is that a baby bearded dragons diet is very different from an adult, as a baby he will require much more protein in the form of live insects and rely less on vegetation, this is almost opposite when they are fully grown adults.

Baby Bearded Dragon Daily Feeding Routine

In terms of what insects and vegetation you need to provide, the typical diet will consist of live crickets, caterpillars and dubia roaches along with leafy greens such as rocket, watercress, dandelion, sweet potato and many more options I will list below.

It’s important to provide fresh water daily and remove any uneaten salad at the end of each day, it’s also extremely important to not leave excess food in your bearded dragons enclosure that could potentially rot.

It’s always a good idea to provide your baby bearded dragon some vegetation first, just like our own children baby bearded dragons much prefer a big juicy snack like a caterpillar over some greens, but as responsible parents we have to convince our bearded dragons to eat vegetables as soon as possible.

I have found the best approach is to add leafy greens first thing in the morning, this way if your bearded dragon wakes up with an appetite then it will be easier to convince him to eat vegetation first.

I will leave the vegetation in his enclosure for most of the day and remove it before we turn the lights out and go to sleep, the golden rule here is to make sure the vegetation is fresh every day.

After an hour or so of introducing the vegetation I will then provide some live foods, either dubia roaches, caterpillars or crickets usually.  In terms of the size of the insect, don’t feed your bearded dragon an insect that is bigger than the space between the bearded dragons eyes, anything larger can be difficult for your bearded dragon to swallow.

So to summarise, provide greens first thing in the morning to entice your bearded dragon to eat these first, then around an hour later introduce some live foods such as dubia roaches, caterpillars or crickets

Since your bearded dragon is still a baby you will need to offer insects three times per day to ensure he is getting the correct amount of protein, if your dragon doesn’t seem bothered about the third meal then that’s fine, he’s probably just full.

How Many Insects Should a Baby Bearded Dragon Eat?

As mentioned above, you should be feeding your baby bearded dragon three times per day, sometimes two depending on their appetite.

During each feeding session you should aim for the session to last around 10 to 15 minutes, and during this time you can give your bearded dragon as many insects as he wants.

Baby bearded dragons have a huge appetite, so make sure you bring a nice juicy supply of insects for them to tuck into.

Once the 15 minutes is up, make sure you remove any insects that are remaining, don’t let them just roam around inside the enclosure as some insects bite and can cause injury to your bearded dragon.

One other point to note is that sometimes insects can drown in the bearded dragons water bowl, if this happens be sure to clean out their bowl and dispose of these dead insects.

The bottom line is even though we are feeding live insects to our bearded dragons, we still want to make sure that their enclosure remains hygienic and free from any unwanted critters.

Preparing Vegetation for a Baby Bearded Dragon

A bearded dragon can eat a huge amount of vegetation, try to stick with the leafy greens with maybe additional extras on top from time to time.

Here are some examples of greens that are considered part of a staple diet for your bearded dragon.

  • Rocket
  • Watercress
  • Collard Greens
  • Endive
  • Dandelion
  • Opuntia Pads
  • Pea Shoots
  • Butternut Squash
  • Spring Greens

You can also provide the following in smaller quantities.

  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potato
  • Peppers
  • Kale
  • Parsnips

Fruits are also great for your bearded dragon, but due to the natural sugars within them it’s a good idea to limit these and consider them mostly as tasty treats. 

In terms of preparation, you just need to make sure that all salad is washed, fresh and chopped up small enough for your baby bearded dragon to consume, remember to keep the food chopped small.

Preparing Live Food for a Baby Bearded Dragon

Baby bearded dragons eat a lot of insects, as they get older and more mature the amount of insects that they eat will gradually decrease and the amount of vegetation they eat will increase.

Here are a list of insects that are great for a baby bearded dragon.

  • Crickets
  • Dubia Roaches
  • Earthworms
  • Locusts
  • Super worms
  • Red worms
  • Butter worms
  • Black Soldier Fly Larvae
  • Small Caterpillars

Never feed your bearded dragon insects that you may have caught yourself, wild insects can carry all sorts of pesticides and infections which are harmful to your pets!

You will need to feed your baby bearded dragon three times each day, a typical feeding session will last around 10 to 15 minutes and during this time just feed your bearded dragon as many insects as they want.

Babies have especially large appetites and can consume anywhere between 20 to 60 per day!

Gut Loading and Dusting Live Insects

Before feeding insects to your baby bearded dragon we need to prepare them correctly.

Firstly, we need to keep the live insects in a secure container, be careful as some insects can chew right through plastic over a period of time resulting in some horrific sites when you wake up to a room full of roaches and insects (ewww!)

Keep the insects in a secure, and well-ventilated container and feed them some of the greens that you are also feeding your bearded dragon, this is whats known as ‘gut loading’ which will essentially pass on the nutrients to your bearded dragon.

Just remember, whatever you put into your insects will end up in your bearded dragon.

You will also need to ‘dust’ your insects before feeding them to your bearded dragon, a common problem with bearded dragons is calcium deficiency which can lead to bone disease.

To combat this we can ‘dust’ the insects with calcium and multi-vitamin powders in a bag before we feed them to our bearded dragons, this ensures we are giving our pets an extra boost.

It’s advised not to mix supplements, so on one day you could use the calcium powder on the live food and then switch to multi-vitamin the day after and just keep rotating supplements this way.

Baby bearded dragons up to six months of age will need supplements daily, once they are a little older you can start to reduce this down.

Other Great Options to Feed a Bearded Dragon

There are some additional foods that you can provide for your baby bearded dragon, the same rules apply, don’t give them something that is to big for them to consume, even if they can’t consume what you give them they will give it a good try which can cause some complications, just make sure to chop up any foods if necessary.

You can provide them with a list of the following fruits, however don’t go crazy with these as they contain natural sugars and should be given sparingly as treats.

  • Figs
  • Apples
  • Melon
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Kiwi
  • Dates

Try to stick with soft fruit and be sure to chop the fruit up into small chunks, also I only provide fruit to my bearded dragon once or twice per month.

What You Should Never Feed a Baby Bearded Dragon

Baby bearded dragons have a ferocious appetite and will literally eat anything you give them, so it’s down to you to make sure that you never pass on anything harmful to your dragon.

Here are a list of foods that are not for bearded dragons, do not ever feed these to your bearded dragon as they will result in sickness and in some cases be fatal.

  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Spinach and Beet Tops
  • Wild Insects from the Garden
  • Fireflies
  • Avocados
  • Rhubarb
  • Bracken
  • Buttercups
  • Daffodil
  • Holly
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Oak
  • Poppy

A few notes about some of the items in the list above.

Iceberg Lettuce is just water and has almost no benefits for your bearded dragon, so there is literally no point in feeding him this.

Fireflies are toxic to bearded dragons, so never feed these to them.

Avocados are very toxic to bearded dragons, even a small amount will result in a very poorly dragon and a large amount will be fatal.

Rhubarb is also very toxic, once again avoid this at all costs.

If you’re unsure about a certain item being toxic to your bearded dragon, then simply don’t feed it to them.

Related Questions

How Does a Bearded Dragons Diet Change as It Gets Older?

As your bearded dragon matures from a baby (0 to 6 months) and then into an adult (18 months+) his diet will change considerably.

As they age through these early stages into an adult they will transition from eating 60% insects down to around 25%.

Juveniles will eat around 50% insects, whilst adult bearded dragons should eat even less protein at around 25% and will eventually be reduced down to one meal per day.

This can be judged by just looking at the bearded dragon, if he starts to look overweight then try reducing the protein intake and opt for more salad.

Fresh salad should still be provided every day, and this is why it’s important to get your bearded dragon familiar with salad from an early age.

Once a bearded dragon is more mature, they are able to consume slightly larger insects, the rule of only giving them something the size of the space between their eyes still applies, but you can also introduce insects such as mealworms.

Mealworms have a slightly harder exterior, so it’s not advised to give these to a baby bearded dragon as they might struggle to consume them, but as they get a little older they are more capable of consuming them.

If you’re having trouble with your bearded dragon not eating then take a look at the following article which may provide you with a little more help.

How much fresh water does a baby bearded dragon need?

It’s always a good idea to give your baby bearded dragon a water bowl, however don’t expect him to drink an awful lot as they don’t really need it.

Remember that bearded dragons thrive in hot temperatures, and for this reason they tend to get most of their moisture in the form of live foods, especially if they are gut-loaded.

Also, be sure to place the water dish at the cool end of the enclosure, and remember to replace this at least once per day or when it becomes contaminated with faeces or dead insects.

What todo if your bearded dragon isn’t eating?

This can happen when you first bring home a bearded dragon and a lot of times this can be down to just climate change.

Bearded dragons are very sensitive to changes in their environment however small, so you need to check that he has the correct temperatures when it comes to basking spots, ambient temperatures and cooler spots.

Make sure you have thermometers to measure these various ranges in your enclosure and also keep an eye on the humidity.

If you have any doubt after a day or two and are worried then I would always advise you consult a vet who can assist you with reptiles, it’s always better to be overly cautious.

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