Monday, September 3, 2012

How to Get Your Dragon to Eat Variety.

What to feed your Bearded Dragon What to feed your Bearded Dragon
Your Bearded Dragon is an omnivore, meaning that he needs a balanced diet of meat and vegetable matter. A hatchling dragon will eat mostly small insects. As your dragon grows, he will start to eat more vegetable matter. The diet of a juvenile dragon (2-4 months of age) will consist of approximately 80% insects and 20% greens. Young dragons should be fed 2-3 times daily. If insufficient food is fed, young dragons may nip at the tails and toes of their cage mate

How to Entice Variety
Pay attention to color and smell, time of day and heat of cage.  Make sure your beardie is sufficiently heated in the morning before offering food.  And after feeding, ensure there is approximately 8 hours of to assist with digestion. 

Slice portions thinly so that they can be wiggled and look like a worm but pinch them before offering so that the moisture and scent is released.

Offer food at a variety of times during the day to determine when your beardie is most hungry or interested in food.

Leave food items in a shallow dish so that they can be easily reached and consummed.  Don't leave them in overnight but remove and replace the next day with fresh items.

Keep notes of what your beardie does eat so that you can build a repertoire of accepted food choices.  Mix preferred foods in with new items to encourage accidental eating and new experiences.  Remember to always try a variety of foods, fruits/veg/meat items.

How Often to Feed
Some people suggest feeding in 'threes'.  Day 1 feed meat sources, day 2 feed a salad and day 3 give a rest.  I have found that my beardie likes a mix of meat and salad items and will voluntarily take a day off food after two or three days of eating.  I maintain the same amount of heat whether she has eaten that day or not.

How Much to Feed
 For a Bearded Dragon more than a year old, there should be roughly 70% salad and 30% insects. At this age a Bearded Dragon should get 50 crickets OR 30 worms a week.  For a Bearded Dragon less than a year old, there should be 70% insects and 30% salad in their diet. A young Bearded Dragon should get between 30-80 appropriately sized crickets (smaller than the space between the Bearded Dragon's eyes) a day. Before the age of 2 to 3 months, young Bearded Dragons should be fed 3-5 times a day. Between 3 and eight months, they should be fed twice a day. After eight months, they can be fed once a day.

Meat Food Sources
Be sure the size of food you feed is proportional to your dragon's size. Malnourishment, seizures, and intestinal blockages can occur if hatchlings and juveniles are fed insects too large for them to capture or digest.  As a rule of thumb, feed nothing bigger than the space between your beardie's eyes in order to avoid intestinal blockages.  Feeder insects should also be "gut-loaded," which means the insects are fed nutritious and vitamin-rich foods before they are given to the dragon. Feed your feeder insects food such as: ground legumes, corn meal, carrots, sweet potatoes, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, apples, oranges, cereals, and rolled oats. Several commercial products, formulated to be rich in calcium and vitamins, may also be used to gut-load feeder insects.

Plant Food Sources
Plant matter should make up approximately 20% of your dragon's diet and should consist mainly of green leafy vegetables. You may also include other vegetables. Fruit should make up the smallest portion of the diet. Shred or tear vegetables and fruits into small pieces and mix them together to encourage your dragon to eat all that is offered, and not just pick out his favorite foods. Following is a list of some popular plant-based dragon foods.
Greens Vegetables Fruit
  • escarole
  • kale
  • collards
  • parsley
  • clover
  • dandelion greens
  • turnip greens
  • mustard greens
  • beet greens-only occasionally
  • spinach-only occasionally
  • NEVER iceberg lettuce
  • broccoli
  • okra
  • peas
  • green beans
  • zucchini
  • squash
  • mashed/grated carrots
  • sweet potato
  • bell pepper
  • frozen mixed vegetables (warm up first)
  • figs
  • kiwi
  • papaya
  • melon
  • apples
  • grapes
  • dates
  • peaches
  • apricots
  • strawberries
    (seeds removed)
  • plums
  • bananas (peeled)

Being September, the blackberries are very ripe and delicious and my beardie LOVES them.  She eats one or two every few days.  This is a delight that she can enjoy for about a month and then they are out of season.  Be careful with seeds with small immature beardies as they can create a blockage.  Also don't let food mix with the cage substrate i.e. sand etc because the small particles caught on the food may also cause a digestion problem.  Use a saucer or small container lid.


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