What to feed your bearded pet dragon, so he remains healthy and happy?
From bobbing its head to waving its hand in circles, a bearded dragon has its way of communicating.
It can, therefore, be a fun creature to bring home as a pet. It is not as fast as most other lizard species, and therefore you do not have to dread about running behind your bearded dragon all over the house. What do you feed this lizard so that you provide it the optimal nutrition and have it growing healthy?
- Scientific name – Pogona (there are 8 different species in this genus)
- Habitat – these reptiles are of Australian origin. From woodlands to shores and savannas there are many places where these can be found
- Lifespan – up to 12years
Besides parasitic infection, bearded dragons are also vulnerable to metabolic bone disease, prolapsation, and other issues when they do not receive the best care. When they are out in the wild, all they have to do is to protect themselves from the prey.
When you bring home a bearded dragon raised in captivity, you should be very careful about what you feed. It is an omnivorous animal, and therefore the list of food items you can give your bearded dragon is long.
What can you feed it with?
Livefood and greens form the essential components of the everyday diet for a bearded dragon. The proportion of live feed should be higher than the greens for the young lizards.
Watercress, bell peppers, butternut squash- grated, rocket are among the commonly recommended greens. You can also let your bearded dragon munch on some clovers or dandelions when you let it out in the garden.
When it comes to feeding live feed, invertebrates are the safest and healthiest options. Crickets, calciworms, Dubai roaches, locusts, spiders, butter worms, grasshoppers, and even silkworms are healthy options. Any insect you feed should be fed with water and fresh vegetables (gut-loaded) to let the bearded dragon enjoy a wholesome meal.
Adult pogonas require one meal a day, preferably during the morning. For the younger pogonas, two meals per day would be necessary. Whether it is an adult or young lizard that you take care of, cut the greens into tiny pieces and monitor the size of the feed.
It is a good idea to keep a dish filled with clean water for the bearded dragon in its habitat. Place it on the cool side created in the tank and replace the dish with fresh water every day.
Your bearded dragon, however, might not always drink from this dish. The moisture content in food items you feed would often be sufficient for the bearded dragon.
What should you not feed?
Knowing what not to give your bearded dragon is even more critical than knowing what to give. This is a great list to know because when you have a pet at home and when your pet longingly looks at you while you are munching on your favorite snack, you should not be tempted to give a bite. The following food items can be harmful to the pogonas.
Does your bearded dragon love to munch on insects? Whose doesn’t! However, make sure that there is not a single firefly that is in the insect lot you feed your little fellow. This is one insect that can be toxic for this reptile.
Garden rhubarbs are commonly available, and these are other ingredients that can be harmful to pogonas.
Oxalic acid in avocados can kill a bearded dragon. This is one of the main fruits to avoid feeding them.
Avocados, rhubarb, and fireflies are the food items that you should avoid at all costs. Besides these, other items might not create lethal effects but might cause some form of health hazards in these lizards.
Lettuce is the kind of vegetables that is not beneficial to these lizards in any way. They can sometimes lead to diarrhea
Bearded dragons who eat beet tops and spinach might suffer from calcium deficiencies. This is because this food item meddles with healthy calcium absorption in the lizard’s body. Metabolic bone disease is one of the common health conditions that a bearded dragon can suffer from.
Therefore it is best to avoid spinach and beet tops that can aggravate the risk of acquiring this condition. Even if you have a healthy pogona at home, avoid including lettuce, beet tops, and spinach in its mealtime planning.
Health concerns and causes
As discussed above, metabolic bone disease is a health hazard to know about. This can be a fatal condition if not diagnosed early
The one huge benefit of nurturing pogonas is that they are not very fussy when it comes to accepting the food items you provide. This can also be a problem because they sometimes eat food that is too large or difficult for them to digest. Impaction is the condition that occurs where the lizard cannot digest what it consumed.
This can sometimes be a serious problem where the improper digestion can directly strain the spinal cord. To make sure that the insect you feed is of the right size, keep the distance between the eyes of the lizard as a size for reference. Any food item small, then this should be easy for the lizard to handle.
- Food items mentioned above as inducers of calcium deficiencies can lead to hypocalcemia
Knowing about the health concerns will help you know whether your bearded dragon is growing healthily. Weighing the pogona regularly can also be another way to tell whether it is receiving optimum nutrition. On studying the health concerns, you would be able to narrow down the causes and then supplement the meal with the right food that tackles the illness. Some of the symptoms might be subtle, and some of them can be dangerous.
Weeks after bringing home your bearded dragon, you would be able to interpret the behavior. Signs, like bobbing the head and waving hands, are common. These could be signs of submission or, sometimes, dominance. If you find your bearded dragon swell its throat and make its beard appear large, then it is a warning sign that shows that the reptile is feeling threatened.