Bearded dragons may be one of the most popular pet reptiles of all, but they're not always the easiest lizards to feed.
Youngsters require a diet consisting primarily of live insects, with a small amount of vegetable matter. As they grow, however, the rations swap around, with adults taking far more plant matter, supplemented with a few insects here and there.
From handling live insects, to providing a balanced diet of fresh salad and vegetables, keeping your bearded dragon properly fed can take considerable time and effort. Fortunately, however, there are some tips which can make the whole process a lot easier...
1. Create a Routine
The first tip for feeding your dragon is establishing a regular routine. Not only does this ensure you don't forget about your lizard's food, but your beardie itself will also get familiar with it.
Personally I aim for twice-daily checks; firstly, just before I leave for work in the morning, and secondly as the first thing I do on arriving home after work. After a few weeks I have found most bearded dragons get used to the routine, and may often be found awaiting your visit to see what tasty morsels you've brought!
2. Chilled Insects
There's no escaping the fact that handling live crickets isn't easy. Worse, escaped crickets can be the cause of much lost sleep, as they hide annoyingly out of reach, chirping away all night!
However there is a trick that can make handling crickets so much easier, and that's to chill them gently before feeding. Simply place the cricket tub into your refrigerator for 10-15 minutes and you'll find that the insects move more slowly, making them easier to manage.
3. Grow Your Own
A full-sized beardie can get through a surprising amount of fruit and veg each day. As a result, there's nothing worse than getting home in the evening to find little more than a shrivelled lettuce leaf in your fridge. What to do?
To help avoid such situations, as well as keeping my costs down, I now have a small vegetable garden in which I grow all sorts of delicious morsels. Each day during Spring, Summer and Fall I take a visit to my garden to harvest food for my beardie. As a result, I'm able to not only offer a huge range of foods (important for avoiding vitamin deficiencies) but it's also about as fresh (and therefore nutritious) as possible.
4. Live Salads
Don't think that you necessarily need a large yard to grow food for your beardie. Even apartment-dwellers can grow plants in containers on the windowsill.
Indeed, planting up a range of salads in this way can actually make your life even easier. Rather than carefully harvesting food you can simply place the entire container into your beardie's cage.
Assuming you don't leave the container in too long, it can then be returned to the windowsill to regrow. This therefore makes for an ongoing supply of food with minimal effort.
(Stumpy the Dragon Witch, One of our 2016 Halloween Costume Entries)
Commercial Dried Foods
Lastly, we need to sing the praises of commercial diets. These pellets offer a perfectly balanced diet with the absolute minimum of mess or fuss. I recommend that everyone keeps a tub on hand, as its probably the simplest and most cost-effective way of all to keep your beardie happy and healthy. Rep-Cal is one of the best-known and most trusted variety on the market.
Whether you use this as your base food, which is a practical idea, or just keep a tub for "emergencies" no modern bearded dragon owner should be without a supply