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Help! My Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat Greens

One of the most common questions I get on Instagram is, “My bearded dragon won’t eat greens. What am I doing wrong??!” Beardies refuse greens for different reasons, but as long as they’re still eating bugs, it’s easy to fix.

bearded dragon won't eat greens - blog graphic

Yes, that is poo. WHY, Nabooru?!

Reason #1: Age

Bearded dragons’ nutritional needs change as they grow. They need a lot of bugs in their first year of life to fuel rapid growth, so don’t be too concerned if they aren’t interested in vegetables yet. Greens can be an acquired taste, so one of the best ways to introduce your beardie is by keeping a bowl of fresh salad (finely chopped) in the terrarium at all times.

  • Hatchlings (0-6 months old): Insects 2x/day, vegetables daily
  • Juveniles (6-12 months): Insects 1x/day, vegetables daily
  • Adults (12+ months old): Insects 1-2x/week, vegetables daily

Reason #2: Too Much Food

This is related to Reason #1. If your bearded dragon won’t eat greens, there’s a good chance that you’re feeding him/her too many bugs. After all, hatchlings should be getting 60-80% of their diet as bugs, juveniles need 50-60%, but adults only need 20-30%. If your dragon isn’t eating bugs, then that’s a diet of 100% bugs! See the problem?

Keep to a strict schedule with the bugs, and a dragon that is used to getting fed more often will have no choice but to try the salad.

bearded dragon won't eat greens, but she will eat strawberriesReason #3: Low Basking Temps/Not Enough UVB

Bearded dragons require hot surface basking temperatures between 105-115°F, as measured by a temp gun or a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking spot under the heat source. In terms of UVB, the average bearded dragon housed in a 4x2x2 enclosure needs an Arcadia or Zoo Med T5 HO Desert UVB bulb, long enough to span half of the enclosure, and positioned 12-16″ (30-40cm) away from the basking area, mounted on the underside of the mesh.

When a bearded dragon isn’t getting enough heat or UVB, it doesn’t have all of the energy that it needs for healthy digestion. This results in diminished appetite.

Reason #4: Boring Options

Bearded dragons have tastebuds just like we do, and so they also have taste preferences. If your bearded dragon won’t eat greens, and you’ve been offering the same thing for a while, mix it up! Try a different kind of greens or add fruit. Red or orange fruits are especially appealing.

Reason #5: Doesn’t Know What Salad Is

This is a common problem with rescue beardies who have only been fed bugs for years, so . Putting small insects in the salad, like mealworms or black soldier fly larvae (aka Phoenix worms or calcium worms) are bound to get your beardie’s attention. Eventually they will miss the bug and grab a leaf by accident. That will help them realize that greens are food.

What kinds of fruits and vegetables should be offered?

Certain fruits and vegetables are less nutritious than others, and can even be poisonous to bearded dragons. The following is a short list of safe options that should be rotated for maximum benefit. All fruits and vegetables should be offered in thin, bite-sized pieces.bearded dragon won't eat greens - bearded dragon eating cilantro

Greens

  • 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

Vegetables/Occasional Mixers

  • 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
  • Squash, raw
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Thyme
  • Yam, grated raw
  • Zucchini

Fruits (to be used as occasional treats)

  • Banana
  • Cactus fruit
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Apples

For more information on bearded dragon nutrition, hop over to ReptiFiles’ bearded dragon care guide.


What is your beardie’s favorite fruit or vegetable?

Tell us in the comments! Then be sure to follow ReptiFiles on Instagram and join our mailing list with the form below.

5 Comments

  1. Bearded dragons tend to go crazy for berries! Just make sure not to offer them too often, as all the sugar in fruit isn’t good for their teeth and can lead to excessive weight gain. 🙂

  2. What a great list put together, Never tried blueberries and strawberries until i seen this and they work great with other assorted greens! 🙂

  3. Our new little gal (or guy) seems to love fresh green beans! (We have yet to try blueberries, but I’m anxious to when they come into season here)

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