Bearded dragons are without a doubt one of the most popular pet reptiles in America. As pets, they have a fair share of specific care requirements, which includes their dietary needs. These vibrant lizards are omnivorous and eat a diverse diet of insects, certain fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens.
Knowing what to feed and what not to feed a bearded dragon can be a matter of life and death. While they may be able to eat a variety of vegetables, onions are completely off the table. Bearded dragons should never be allowed to eat onions in any form whether they are raw, dehydrated or cooked.
The Dangers of Onions
Bearded dragons are not able to tell the difference between what they should eat and what they should avoid, so it’s your responsibility to make sure you do not offer any foods that could potentially cause them any harm, including onions.
Onions are dangerous to the bearded dragon because of their heavy acid content. Bearded dragons have highly sensitive digestive systems that are not equipped to handle this type of acidity. Eating acidic foods like onions and citrus fruits can lead to stomach irritation and severe gastrointestinal upset.
In addition to the acidity, onions have a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio that is not appropriate for bearded dragons. While calcium and phosphorus are both essential nutrients in their diet, the amount of phosphorus in onions is much higher than that of calcium and bearded dragons thrive on a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1.
Other Foods to Avoid
A Bearded Dragon’s Diet
Bearded dragons eat a varied diet that will change as they age. When they are young, they will require more protein sources from insects and worms. As they age, they will gradually become more herbivorous and consume up to 80 or 90 percent plant-based foods, including pellet food that is crafted specifically for them.
The reason that pet bearded dragons consume less meat-based foods as they age is that they are not nearly as active as their wild counterparts. Consuming large amounts of meat sources can lead to obesity in captive bearded dragons, but it makes up most of a wild specimen’s diet because it provides the sustainable energy that is needed for life in the wild.
Most don’t realize how complex and specific the diet of exotic pets like bearded dragons can be. It’s very important to be aware of this and fully prepared before taking on the responsibility of owning this type of pet.
Recommended Vegetables and Leafy Greens
Vegetables and leafy greens are vital components of your bearded dragon’s diet. As they age, they will begin to eat more leafy greens and veggies and fewer feeder insects. Always talk to your exotic veterinarian about which foods are best to feed and how often, but here’s a list of some of the most popular vegetables and leafy greens that are appropriate for bearded dragons.
Bearded dragons can be fed a wide variety of fruits. Because fruit is high in sugar content, it should only be offered sparingly and in smaller amounts to prevent obesity. Here’s a list of some of the acceptable fruits you can offer your bearded dragon:
Best Protein Sources
When your bearded dragon is young, it will require a diet that consists mostly of protein sources from feeder insects and worms. As they age, the ratio of protein to vegetables and leafy greens will change, but you will continue to offer these kinds of foods throughout your bearded dragon’s life.
Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedules by Age
Baby (0-4 months)
It is recommended that baby bearded dragons be fed approximately 4 to 5 times per day. Their diet should consist of about 80% feeder insects (offered 3 times a day) and 20% vegetables and leafy greens. Fruits should always be given sparingly and in small amounts. Calcium supplements can be dusted onto the food once per day for 5 days a week.
Juvenile (5-12 months)
Juvenile bearded dragons between 4 and 12 months of age can be offered a diet of 70% feeder insects and 30% vegetables and leafy greens. Fruits can also be offered sparingly and in small amounts. The necessary calcium supplement can be dusted onto their food sources every second per day. Juveniles should be fed approximately 3 times per day.
Sub-Adult (12-18 months)
Bearded dragons are considered sub-adults from 12 to 18 months. During this time, they can be fed twice per day and their diet will consist of 30% feeder insects and 70% plant matter. As usual, fruits should only be offered sparingly and in smaller amounts, and calcium supplementation can be dusted on the food every second per day.
Adult (18+ months)
By the time a bearded dragon reaches adulthood, its diet should consist of about 20% feeder insects and 80% plant-based food. This ratio will last them for the rest of their lifetime. You will continue to supplement the calcium as usual and keep limits on the amount of fruit offered.
When it comes to feeding bearded dragons, onions should not be part of their diet. The good news is, there are plenty of other food options to choose from that will provide a healthy and well-balanced diet for your beardie. It’s important to feed your bearded dragon the appropriate ratio of foods depending on its age.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay