What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?

Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule

The below recommendations are based on Dr. Jonathan Howard’s research on bearded dragons, summarized in his interview on the Reptiles and Research podcast, The Ultimate Bearded Dragon Care Guide!

  • Hatchlings (0-3 months old)
    • Insects 1x/day, as many as the dragon will eat
    • Vegetables daily, as much as the dragon will eat
    • Calcium powder on all insects and salads
    • Multivitamin powder on salads 2x/week
  • Juveniles (<12″/25cm long)
    • 5-6 head-sized insects daily, or equivalent portion
    • Vegetables daily (3x larger than insect volume)
    • Calcium powder on all insects and salads
    • Multivitamin powder on salads 2x/week
  • Subadults and Adults (>12″/25cm long)
    • 3-4 head-sized insects 2x/week, or equivalent portion
    • Vegetables 3x/week (one portion = size of dragon’s head)
    • Calcium powder on all insects and salads
    • Multivitamin powder on salads 1x/week
  • Gravid females
    • 4-5 head-sized insects 2x/week, or equivalent portion
    • Vegetables 3x/week (one portion = size of dragon’s head)
    • Calcium powder on all insects and salads
    • Multivitamin powder on salads 2x/week

To put this in percentages, you’re looking at roughly 60-80% protein for hatchlings, 60% for juveniles, and 15-30% for adults. These numbers are based on data collected by Judith Badham’s 1971 thesis and discussed in a post by Dr. Jonathan Howard here

(NOTE: Based on Badham’s data, adult males appear to need less protein than adult females, likely due to the fact that wild female dragons need the extra nutrients for developing eggs.)

This gradual reduction in dietary protein is proportional to the rate of the dragon’s growth, as they don’t need as much protein and calories from bugs when they’re older as they do when they’re younger. It also helps prevent gout and obesity, two conditions that are extremely prevalent in the US bearded dragon population due to rampant overfeeding and poor breeding practices.

If your bearded dragon has a bad habit of not eating their greens, that still means that your dragon’s diet is 100% high-protein sources. For tips on getting a stubborn bearded dragon to eat their greens, read my article: Help! My Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat Greens.

Overfeeding and over-supplementing, although well-meant, can kill your dragon — for one example, read the section on Yolk Coelomitis.


Even hatchling bearded dragons should be offered a salad of nutritious greens and vegetables every day. While they may not lick the bowl clean, it’s best to offer some for snacking, and that will make the transition to a main diet of vegetables later on easier. Since bearded dragons are omnivores like humans, they need a variety. Feeding a variety of veggies gives your dragon a good balance of the nutrients s/he needs to keep bones healthy and immune system going strong. Fortunately, the list of dragon-safe vegetables is a long one.


  • Arugula/Rocket
  • Bok choy
  • Cactus pads
  • Collard greens/Spring greens
  • Endive/Chicory
  • Escarole
  • Kale*
  • Mustard greens
  • Mustard cress
  • Pea shoots
  • Spring mix
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress

*There is a common myth that kale is high in oxalates and as bad as spinach. However, according to multiple studies, kale is quite low in oxalates, and is recommended by kidney health experts as a “safe” green for those prone to kidney stones. So although all things must be fed in a rotation, kale is quite safe to be offered regularly.

Wild plants and flowers (aka “weeds”) can add some highly beneficial variety to your dragon’s diet (after a thorough washing, of course). However, not all found plants and flowers are safe for feeding, and some are deadly. So if you’re unfamiliar with the plants in your area or you’re in a highly urban area, it’s good to grow your own “wild” plants for your dragon to munch on even if all you have is a window box. Arizona Tortoise Compound and ProRep both offer excellent seed mixes for a very reasonable price. Use organic potting soil and no pesticides for optimally edible results.

Mixers (to be fed occasionally):

  • Artichoke heart
  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Beet leaves
  • Bell pepper
  • Carnations
  • Cilantro
  • Carrot greens
  • Cucumber, peeled
  • Carrot, grated raw
  • Clover (pesticide- and herbicide-free)
  • Dandelion greens/flowers
  • Fennel
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint leaves
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansies
  • Parsley
  • Radicchio
  • Rosemary
  • Rose petals
  • Spinach (valuable source of iodine!!)
  • Squash, raw
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Thyme
  • Yam, grated raw
  • Zucchini


  • Avocado
  • Onion
  • Mushrooms

Vegetables should be sliced into thin, bite-sized pieces than your beardie can grab with his/her tongue. Wet or slimy vegetables like cucumber and cactus may frustrate your dragon since these don’t stick to tongues very well. You can hand-feed these to him/her, but your dragon may accidentally bite you in the effort to get it.

bearded dragon eating flower


Fruit should be offered only as rare treats in small quantities, not a “staple” or routine part of your dragon’s diet.

Why? Fruits have a high sugar content, so they can contribute obesity, which in turn contributes to other health problems. Also concerning, “Prevalence and risk factors for dental disease in captive Central bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) in the United Kingdom” by Rebecca Mott et al. found that “fruit could be the main dietary risk factor for dental disease,” and concluded that fruit should be altogether excluded from pet bearded dragons’ diet.

If you want to give your dragon a bit of a treat, however, a little bit of fruit every once it a while is unlikely to be harmful as long as it’s rare (think 1x/month rather than daily or weekly). And beardies will certainly go crazy for fruit! Here are some safe options:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Cactus fruit (aka “prickly pear” or “tuna fruit”)
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Papaya
  • Peaches


bearded dragon insects

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.

Good feeder insects include:

  • Black soldier fly larvae
  • Crickets
  • Dubia roaches
  • Discoid roaches
  • Grasshoppers/Locusts
  • Hornworms (captive only; wild are toxic!)
  • Silkworms
  • Snails
  • Repashy Grub Pie gel mix

ReptiFiles’ preferred online feeder insect retailers are Dubia.com, Ovipost, and Beastmode Silks.

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 well `+fed and gut-loaded is with a rotation of Lugarti Dubia Diet and Grassland Grazer.

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.

Treat Insects:

  • Mealworms
  • Superworms
  • Butterworms
  • Waxworms
  • Pinky mice (no more than 1x/month)

Beware of feeding your dragon wild-caught bugs! These may be coated in poisonous pesticide/herbicide, or may be naturally toxic. If you choose to collect wild-caught bugs, this article is a helpful resource on how to do so safely. BeardedDragon.org has a very helpful chart of insects are are toxic for beardies to ingest. Not listed, however, are box elder bugs, which are also toxic.

Supplements for Bearded Dragons

arcadia reptile 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 supplements

Generously dust feeder insects before feeding. Most people 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. 

  • Tip: Many people assert that black soldier fly larvae don’t need to be dusted with calcium (including the distributors themselves), but they store their calcium in their indigestible exoskeletons, so black soldier flies still need to be dusted with calcium powder like other feeders.

The following are supplements and supplement combos that ReptiFiles recommends for use with bearded dragons:

Use these supplements (with the Arcadia supplement schedule being an exception) according to the following schedule:

  • Hatchlings, Juveniles, and Gravid Females
    • Calcium powder on all insects and salads
    • Multivitamin powder on salads 2x/week
  • Subadults and Adults (>12″/25cm long)
    • Calcium powder on all insects and salads
    • Multivitamin powder on salads 1x/week

Some will tell you that bearded dragons don’t need calcium powder on their salads. What they’re missing here is that many of the veggies commonly fed to beardies are high in phosphorus and low in calcium, which is a problem because Pogona vitticeps evolved to munch on the high-calcium vegetation plentiful in its natural environment. Adding a bit of calcium powder helps fix that problem. (Just make sure not to go overboard — put supplement on your beardie’s salad like you salt your food. It shouldn’t look like a blizzard just landed in your pet’s food bowl!)

It is alright to occasionally skip a dusting so your bearded dragon’s system doesn’t become overloaded.


There is a common misconception about bearded dragons that they shouldn’t have water bowls because they don’t readily drink water from bowls/can’t see standing water. Or you may have heard that water shouldn’t be provided because it will make the humidity “too high”. Both are false.

Part of good reptile husbandry is making sure that your pet has free access to clean drinking water. Dehydration is a major problem in bearded dragons, and giving them a water bowl helps prevent that.

Use a medium-sized, shallow water dish. It shouldn’t be big enough for your dragon to soak in, or deep enough for it to potentially drown.

Make sure to provide tap water, not distilled, reverse osmosis, or softened (too much salt). Filtered and spring water are fine.

collard greens for bearded dragons

Soaking greens is an easy way to help your dragon get extra water if you’re worried about dehydration, and it helps 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, pat dry the leaves, and store between layers of paper towel.

How often do you need to soak/bathe your bearded dragon?

We mentioned that it’s a good idea to provide a water bowl large enough to facilitate soaking, and at this point you may have heard from other sources that the best way to keep a bearded dragon hydrated is by regular 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 using the abovementioned method.

It’s a good idea to give your bearded dragon opportunities to soak voluntarily in its enclosure. It’s a bad idea to force it to soak by giving it regular “baths”. This is because water — especially warm water — has a laxative effect on bearded dragons, which can cause them to poo before they’re done fully digesting or poo more often than they should, which can actually encourage dehydration.

So how often should they be soaked/bathed? Honestly, no more than 1x/month — unless your bearded dragon really needs to get clean, or it likes to swim, as supervised swimming is a great way to encourage exercise.

  • PRO TIP: Since bearded dragons have a tendency to occasionally soak and poo in their water bowls, make sure to use a veterinary disinfectant like F10SC or Rescue when cleaning to make sure you get rid of all the nasties.


Keep reading about bearded dragon care:

  1. Introduction to Bearded Dragons
  2. Bearded Dragon Shopping List
  3. Terrarium Size & Cohabitation
  4. Heating & Lighting Requirements
  5. Substrate Options
  6. Enclosure Decor & Environmental Enrichment
  7. What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
  8. Handling Tips
  9. Common Diseases and Other Health Info
  10. Additional Resources

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