Feeding a bearded dragon

Bearded dragons are omnivorous — in the wild they would eat small spiders, locusts, mealworms, earthworms, snails and crickets. They would also graze on plant materials.

In captivity bearded dragons should be fed a diet of insects and fresh leafy vegetation every four to five days. Pam Mansfield, founder of the Exotic Pet Refuge in Market Deeping, Cambridgeshire, recommends a diet of live insects, mainly crickets, with the occasional mealworms and locusts added for variety. These should always be fed live — a bearded dragon will not eat dead insects. Larger bearded dragons can be fed on dead pinkie (baby) mice, but these are not always taken.

It’s important to remove any uneaten insects at the end of the day as they might bite your bearded dragon during the night when he is less active. Monitor how many you put in each time you feed him, and how many are left so you know roughly how many per day he needs to fulfill his appetite. Like many pets, bearded dragons can become obese so monitor his condition carefully.

The insects fed will need to be treated with vitamins, particularly calcium, in order to keep your bearded dragon healthy. "We use a product called Cricket Plus," says Pam. "Twice a week the crickets are dipped in this prior to feeding so the vitamins and calcium are ingested along with the cricket."

Grated cuttlefish added twice a week to the vegetation is another good source of vitamin C.

Bearded dragons also need fresh, washed, green and vegetables including dandelions, spring greens and flowers. These should be provided daily and removed if not eaten by the end of the day.

Clean, fresh water in a heavy-bottomed dish should always be available.

If you have more than one bearded dragon living together, remember to provide separate water and food stations to avoid resource guarding.

Feeding juveniles

Juvenile bearded dragons will require a higher percentage of insects in their diet, these should be smaller to allow for your dragon's size and should be offered daily, along with plenty of fresh plants. Ensure that the diet contains the correct amount of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C, to ensure your bearded dragon grows into a healthy adult. The RSPCA recommends that grated cuttlefish be added to a juvenile bearded dragon's diet every day.

Pet care advice