Adult bearded dragons need a variety of dark, leafy greens to eat on a daily basis. In addition to some crickets and other insects, these greens provide the vitamins and minerals they need to stay strong and healthy.
What dark, leafy greens can I feed my bearded dragon?
Bearded dragons should eat a variety of different dark, leafy green vegetables. Different greens have different vitamin and calcium contents. By mixing up what you give your lizard, you can make sure you are feeding him a balanced diet. The majority of the greens that you offer should have a higher calcium to phosphorous ratio and include:
- Endive (escarole) (has a 1.9:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Chicory (has a 2.1:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Spring Mix (romaine, oak leaf lettuce, endive, chicory)
- Carrot Tops
Greens that contain low amounts of oxalates and bind calcium should be offered in small amounts and not excluded entirely from the diet:
- Mustard Greens (contains 7.7 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens)
- Watercress (contains 10 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens, has a 2:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Kale (contains 13 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens, has a 2.4:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Dandelion Greens (contains 24.6 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens, has a 2.8:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Escarole (contains 31 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens)
Greens that contain high amounts of oxalates and bind calcium should only be offered on a rare occasion and in very small amounts (if at all). Some people recommend avoiding them all together:
- Swiss Chard (contains 645 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens, has a 1.1:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Spinach (contains 600-750 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens, has a 2:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Beet Greens (contains 610 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens, has a 3:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Parsley (contains 100 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens, has a 2.4:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
- Collard Greens (contains 74 mg of oxalates per 100 g of greens, has a 14.5:1 calcium to phos. ratio)
Romaine, iceberg, red, and green lettuces should only be offered in small amounts (yes, spring mix contains some of these). They are primarily made of water and if large amounts of these lettuces are eaten your bearded dragon will most likely have diarrhea. On the other hand, if your beardie is dehydrated or doesn't have access to water for some reason it is great to feed these lettuces.
What if my bearded dragon won't eat these greens?
Many bearded dragons develop preferences for certain greens and become picky when it comes time to eat. They may only want what isn't good for them, but that doesn't mean that's what they should live off of. When dealing with a finicky eater, continue to offer a variety of greens mixed up as a salad. If your beardie normally eats insects with no problems, try adding them to the salad to get his attention. If that doesn't work, you can also try adding small amounts of red fruits such as red raspberries or strawberries as "sprinkles" on top of the salad. The red color often draws his attention to his salad and may entice him to eat.
Some people have had luck with adding in some colored bearded dragon pelleted food from the pet store.
W hat else should my bearded dragon eat?
In addition to a variety of greens, your bearded dragon should get plenty of gut-loaded crickets and other insects, some fruits, and vegetables such as squash and bell peppers.
Bearded dragon pellets are not recommended as a staple food but are okay to offer alongside the greens and other foods that are more natural than pellets.
Adding a dusting of calcium powder to your dragon's salad a few times a week is also a good idea to make sure he is getting adequate amounts of the important mineral.