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.
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.
Reason #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.
- Bok choy
- Cactus pads
- Collard greens/Spring greens
- Mustard greens
- Mustard cress
- Pea shoots
- Spring mix
- Turnip greens
- Artichoke heart
- Beet leaves
- Bell pepper
- Carrot greens
- Cucumber, peeled
- Carrot, grated raw
- Clover (pesticide- and herbicide-free)
- Dandelion greens/flowers
- Lemon balm
- Mint leaves
- Rose petals
- Squash, raw
- Sugar snap peas
- Swiss chard
- Yam, grated raw
Fruits (to be used as occasional treats)
- Cactus fruit
For more information on bearded dragon nutrition, hop over to ReptiFiles’ bearded dragon care guide.
What is your beardie’s favorite fruit or vegetable?
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It can. Generally speaking, it’s best to offer greens to your dragon first thing in the morning, which is when they’re likely to be most hungry. It also gives them the opportunity to pick at the greens over the course of the rest of the day.
Does time of day matter?
My bearded dragon, Sydney won’t eat blueberries, but he sure goes crazy for cherries 🍒!!
The good news is that your dragon is still young enough that not eating greens isn’t the end of the world…yet. Continue to offer greens on a daily basis. I recommend offering different types of greens, in case your beardie simply doesn’t like mustard greens. However, it’s also possible that you may be feeding your dragon too often, so it’s not hungry enough to try the greens. Please reference the Feeding page of our Bearded Dragon Care Guide to make sure you’re not feeding your dragon too often. It also has some great recommendations on alternative greens to try offering. If you haven’t read the rest of the ReptiFiles Bearded Dragon Care Guide, I recommend making some time for that as well — there are a LOT of myths and misconceptions about bearded dragon keeping which get busted in this guide.
At the end of the day, however, it’s important to remember that reptiles are different from humans, dogs, and other mammals, and not feeding them for a couple of days really doesn’t harm them. I’ve heard of some bearded dragons so stubborn that they have refused food for up to two weeks before starting to eat greens (and the process did not harm them). It may seem cruel to you, but you need to be prepared to do what’s best for your pet regardless of how it may make you feel.
HIII! I am here today because I have a juvenile he is abt to be 7 months and all I’ve been feeding him are crickets mealworms/ Blueberries and strawberries.. But he wont eat salads I get mustard greens and he wont eat it🥺 I’ve watched a few videos saying that if ur beardie isn’t eating salads to just starve him for a day or 2 and he will have no choice but to eat it.. and I’m only 13 I love him so very much I’ve dedicated all my time to him he Is my baby and I don’t feel right starving him.. so if u could give me any suggestions then that’ll be great!
I’m sorry to hear that, Penny. The problem with superworms is that they seem to be “addictive” for certain bearded dragons, causing them to refuse other food. It’s very important that an adult bearded dragon eats primarily greens rather than insects, as their bodies are not meant for so much protein and calories at that stage of life, and it can ultimately create health problems. I recommend stopping offering superworms as a feeder (or even insects in general!) until he starts eating greens regularly again. But it’s definitely best to get a vet’s input if at all possible. I recommend checking out this list of proven reptile veterinarians to see if there’s one near you that you can try: http://reptifiles.com/reptile-vet-directory.
We would but a few blueberries or strawberries mixed with his greens in his bowl in the morning and give him a few dusted crickets. Mid day he would eat a few more crickets but he would only eat greenies and fruits in the morning only..He was having super worms here and there but I stopped with the crickets because since the covid shut down I could only get these crickets that had a two line on their body and they must of tasted diff because he stop eating crickets then.. It was hard to get supper worms for him so almost lost him.. now i found a place to get supper worms and that is the only insect he is getting now.. I have tried having him eat more veggies but he is picking dude.. I started to raise my own supper worms now but got them in the beetle stage but haven’t gotten eggs yet but trying.. I have the screen on bottom of the tub so eggs will drop down so the beetles will not eat the eggs.. We will see.. I am having issues with my beardie now he has not been eating too much now so its a huge concern to me and I don’t want to lose him.. I have tried to put diff. greenie for him to try out but he isnt eating them now.. I got him some crickets again since they got the other kind here and there and he seems to eat a few of them now but concern about him… his eye keeps watering and read it could be lack of vit a to give him green peas-he will not eat them… tried to give the green peas to the super worms to gut fill them so he would get to him but not working . any ideas for me for my sweet Gary……HElP the vets here don’t know what they are doing at all found out the hard why and lost my female after paying three hundred dollars for nonthing a few years back.. I believed she had issue she was born with..
My bearded dragon loves bell peppers but I don’t feed him them every day because they don’t have that much of a balanced calcium phosphorus ratio.
Thank you for your concern, Anonymous, but actually spinach is healthy for bearded dragons and other reptiles to eat when used as part of a varied diet. Although spinach is high in oxalates, it’s also high in iodine, which is essential for helping combat the negative effects of goitrogenic greens like collard greens, kale, and bok choy, which are commonly fed to herbivores and omnivores. Incidentally, spinach is one of the few greens that are naturally high in iodine. It’s easy to run into health issues if you always use the same 1-3 types of foods with your bearded dragon, since that creates an opportunity for nutritional deficiencies to develop. This is why the concept of “staple” foods can actually do a lot of harm. The best way to ensure balanced nutrition for any reptile is by providing as much variety as possible.
Spinach is a never fed food, so take that off the list.
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. 🙂
What a great list put together, Never tried blueberries and strawberries until i seen this and they work great with other assorted greens! 🙂
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)
Blueberries are like beardie crack!
Pete loves blueberries.