No matter how familiar you are with bearded dragons, fretting over their health, especially their diet, is a normal concern. Factors such as what they’re being fed, how much they eat in a week, and how often they eat in a day are crucial in helping these reptiles stay healthy. One of the most common things you’ll need for a bearded dragon diet is a huge number of crickets, much more than you’d expect! Learn how many crickets to feed a bearded dragon when you continue reading.
Proper Bearded Dragon Diet
Bearded dragons are omnivorous reptiles who need to eat a wide variety of plant life and live food to help them grow strong.
In the wild, bearded dragons mostly consume things that are easy for them to catch such as crickets, cockroaches, and feeder worms. They also eat a lot of healthy vegetation when it’s available to them.
Because this is the food that their bodies were made to have, it's important to replicate this diet while they’re under your care. A proper bearded dragon diet includes a healthy mixture of live food and vegetables, fed in varying amounts.
Bearded dragons can eat all kinds of insects, fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. As long as they have a healthy source of protein, regularly eat vegetables, and have a clean water source, your beloved beardie will be well-taken care of.
Crickets are very easy to find and buy in bulk. They’re also not that difficult to maintain as long as you keep them in a tall container and feed them well.
As food for your bearded dragon, they have a good amount of protein and iron with little fat content, which is important in keeping it healthy. Crickets are also very active, making it fun for your bearded dragon to hunt around its enclosure. This helps satisfy your beardie’s hunting instinct while giving it the food it needs to grow.
Bearded dragons also seem to favor crickets over other live food insects, which is a huge bonus too.
That said, when feeding your beardie crickets, you’ll need to make sure you got them from a clean source to avoid feeding your beardie with something carrying a parasite.
Additionally, it’s important to remove the crickets from your bearded dragon’s enclosure after feeding time is over to avoid the cricket from attacking and wounding your beardie. The cricket could also die or drown in the enclosure and, if your beardie eats it, it could damage their health.
You should only feed your bearded dragon with live insects that came from a reliable source rather than anything you hunted from outside or has recently died. This means that if you’re squeamish around insects, a reptile pet might not be the best choice for you.
To learn exactly how much you’ll need to feed your bearded dragon, the amount and feeding times will largely depend on its age.
A bearded dragon’s diet will change as they grow older, with a specific balance between veggies and live food.
Their bodies need different things at different stages of life. Young bearded dragons require to be fed more food more frequently, with a diet largely made up of a live protein source. As they grow older, their diet will require a more vegetable-focused feeding plan.
To give them the right diet, make sure that you have a good estimate of how old your bearded dragon is. When in doubt, it's best to consult your vet before committing to a feeding plan for your beardie.
Feeding Plan Per Age
1. Three Months And Below (≤ 3 Months)
Bearded dragons that are three months old and younger should be fed as many crickets as they can in a 10-minute feeding time, as much as three to five times a day.
There’s no specific limit for how many crickets they can eat, rather they should be allowed to eat as much protein as they can to grow strong. At this age, they can eat around 30 to 70 small crickets each day.
Once their feeding time is up, keep them safe by removing all the leftover crickets. As these bearded dragons are very young, you’ll also need to protect them by making sure not to feed them any crickets that are larger than the space between their eyes.
At this age, owners need to be very involved with their care since they’ll need multiple feedings daily.
2. Three To Eight Months (3–8 Months)
Bearded dragons around three to eight months old, also known as their juvenile age, should still have a good amount of protein in their diet but they will have fewer feeding times in a day.
The healthy number of crickets to feed them is around 25 to 50 crickets every day, over two feeding periods. This gives them an average of 13 to 25 crickets per feed.
Again, since they’re still developing, they should be able to eat as much protein as they can each feeding period. While they’re slowly needing less feeding times throughout the day, a protein-rich diet is still important.
Up to this point, their recommended diet contains 70% protein and 30% vegetables.
3. Eight To Twelve Months (8–12 Months)
Bearded dragons around eight to twelve months old will still need protein but, since they’re approaching adulthood, they’ll need to gradually be introduced to more vegetables and less frequent feeding times.
At this stage, bearded dragons should only be fed once every day with a 10-minute feeding time. Even with less feeding times, they still manage to eat 30 to 80 crickets each day thanks to their rapidly developing bodies and growing appetite.
As they approach adulthood and slow in their growth rate, they’ll need much less protein. Although they’re still allowed to have a protein-heavy meal plan, it’s important to start transitioning them to feeding off of more vegetables, leafy greens, root crops, and fruits.
4. One Year And Older (12+ Months)
After one year, their cricket consumption should be less frequent. Rather than filling them up with protein, put them on a feeding plan with a healthy focus on consuming vegetables and fruits.
This is to help fill them up with nutrients rather than protein. At this point, bearded dragons will near adulthood and slow in their growth rate. Keeping them on a protein-heavy diet could result in overfeeding and negatively impact their health.
Thankfully, they’ll have a much less involved feeding schedule. They only need to be fed live food every other day. On the days that you do feed them crickets, they should only consume around 10 to 20 crickets within a 10 to 15-minute feeding time.
Their recommended feeding schedule follows a three-day cycle, with one day for a single cricket feeding time, one day for a large amount of salad, and one day of no feed before repeating. With this schedule, they should only consume up to 50 crickets each week.
In order to keep them healthy, having a salad-focused diet with 80% vegetables and 20% protein is the most recommended way to go.
If you feel that this big change in diet has negatively affected your beardie, consult your vet on what to do next.
A proper diet plan is one of the best ways to keep your bearded dragon healthy. These reptiles require a lot of protein from live food in order to grow healthy, with their preferred feeder insect being the cricket.
During their early years, they’ll need a very involved feeding schedule with several cricket feedings each day. As they grow up, this lessens and they’ll slowly transition to a more independent feeding schedule with a salad-focused diet.
It's easy to avoid overfeeding or underfeeding your bearded dragon when you commit to a feeding plan. As long as they’re on a proper diet and you make sure to consult professionals when you notice anything odd, your bearded dragon will grow up to be a very healthy and happy reptile!
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