Insects, Supplements & Water

Protein

Hornworm, excellent bearded dragon insect

Photo credit: jortiz9758 on BeardedDragon.org

  • Hatchlings under 2 months: 2x daily
  • Juveniles between 3-4 months: 1x daily
  • Juveniles between 4-12 months: 4x weekly
  • Subadults between 12-18 months: 3x weekly
  • Subadults between 18-24 months: 2x weekly
  • Adults: 1x weekly

When choosing bearded dragon bugs, make sure that they are no bigger than the space between your dragon’s eyes. This rule can be bent for insects such as superworms and hornworms, but is extremely important for roaches, crickets, and pinky mice. More on crickets in a minute.

Good feeder insects include:

All feeder insects should be gutloaded for at least 24 hours before feeding to your bearded dragon. Ideally, they should come pre-gutloaded from the breeder. If they weren’t, or you buy your feeder insects in bulk, the easiest way to keep them fed and gut-loaded is with Repashy Veggie Burger or Grassland Grazer powder. Note that if you give your insects a dry gutload, they will need a source of water. Gel water crystals work perfectly for this purpose.

Every once in a while, you can give your dragon a nice, high-fat treat. Your dragon will become obese if fed these too often, but hey, that’s why they’re called treats.

Treats:

  • Hornworms
  • Butterworms
  • Waxworms
  • Pinky mice (restrict)

Don’t feed your dragon wild-caught bugs! These can have parasites that will transfer to your dragon, may be coated in poisonous pesticide/herbicide, or may be naturally toxic. Listed below are toxic insects for bearded dragons. Not listed are box elder bugs, which are also toxic.

toxic bearded dragon bugs

Thanks to BeardedDragon.org for creating this chart!

Supplements

Rep-Cal bearded dragon supplements

To ensure that your beardie is getting all the vitamins and minerals they need, you need to keep two forms of supplementation on hand: calcium powder and multivitamin powder.

How to use calcium supplements

Generously dust feeder insects before feeding. I prefer the shake-and-bake method of dusting, where you stick all the bugs in a bag or disposable plastic container and shake them until they are evenly coated in powder. Calcium sticks better to some bugs than others, and if you’re feeding phoenix worms, you don’t need to dust them at all, as they are naturally high in calcium.

Our favorite calcium supplements are:

How to use vitamin supplements

Dust on salad once (maybe twice for juveniles) per week. This is especially important in northern climates or other places where produce quality is poor. You may have to stir it around, since some dragons are sensitive to the taste of the powder and need convincing. I like keeping my bearded dragon vitamins in a salt shaker for easy application.

Our favorite multivitamins are:

Water

collard greens for bearded dragonsBearded dragons generally do not readily drink water from bowls. In the wild, they get most of it from their diet and drops of dew. Since misting your dragon’s terrarium increases humidity, it is a practice best avoided.

Some keepers have success conditioning their beardies to drink from water bowls. If yours will drink from a dish, great! Just be sure to provide tap water, not distilled, filtered, or softened. Here’s why.

You may have heard that the best way to keep a bearded dragon hydrated is by soaking. I’m not sure where this rumor started, but a common misconception among beardie owners is that they are able to absorb water through their cloaca. This is a myth!! Bearded dragons get water only by ingesting it. If you are concerned about dehydration, help your dragon get water through its food.

Soaking greens is an easy way to help your dragon get extra water, as well as keep your greens fresher for longer. It’s a win-win situation! Just cut off excess stem, slice the leaf lengthwise through the central stem, cover with water, and then store in the refrigerator. After 24-48 hours, pour out the water!


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