The bearded dragon diet is an area where great improvements can be made since nutritionally related disease remains the biggest cause of health issues.

Nutritional Value of Insects and Other Feeders

Data is based on feeders in a fasted state except the silkworms. Significant nutritional value can be added by providing specifically targeted gut-loading diets.

All insects have an array of nutrients not detailed in this list, such as linolenic acid in mealworms which reptiles have a small requirement for.

Rusty Red Cockroach nymphs – Blatta lateralis Live food cricketsCricket adult – Acheta domesticus Live food silk worm for bearded dragon diet Silkworms – Bombyx mori Black Soldier Fly larvae – Hermetia illucens

(aka Reptiworm)

live food mealworm beetleMealworm beetle – Tenebrio molitor
Estimated # per 2.5 g 6 5 2 30 18
Moisture 1.73g 1.73g 2.07g  1.53g  1.59g
Protein 0.48g 0.51g 0.23g 0.44g  0.59g
Fat 0.25g 0.17g  0.04g 0.35g  0.14g
Calcium 0.96mg 1.02mg 0.44mg 23.35mg 0.58mg
Phosphorus 4.40mg 7.38mg 5.93mg 8.90mg 6.93mg
live food superworm

Superworm – Zophobas morio

bearded dragon waxworm

Waxworms – Galleria mellonella

live food earthworms

Earthworms – Lumbricus terresstris

bearded dragon butterworms

Butterworm – Chilecomadia moorei

live food mealworm

Mealworms larvae – Tenebrio molitor

Estimated # per 2.5 g 4 8 12 6 20
Moisture 1.45g  1.46g 2.09g  1.51g 1.55g
Protein 0.49g  0.35g 0.26g 0.39g 0.47g
Fat  0.44g  0.62g  0.04g 0.74g 0.13 g 
Calcium 0.44g 0.61mg 1.11mg 0.31mg 0.42mg
Phosphorus  5.93mg  4.88mg 3.98mg 5.63mg 7.13mg
 Complete nutrient content of four species of feeder insects, Zoo Biology 00:1-15 M D Finke, 2012 Complete nutrient composition of commercially raised invertebrates used as food for insectivores, Zoo Biology 21:269-285, M D Finke, 2002

Top 10 plus foods with the highest water content

How often do they drink?

Bearded Dragons World conducted a survey of 73 bearded dragons to identify how often they are drinking water in their captive environments. It was found that 66% were provided continual access to water. Out of those 7% had been observed drinking on multiple occasions, 31% were seen to drink occasionally (less than once a week), 54% had never been observed drinking directly from the water dish and 8% were only observed to drink when assisted.

Foods Not Recommended

Foods High in Fat Foods high in fat impede calcium metabolism.
Acacia erioloba Exceedingly high in Oxalates. Raw 476 mg/100g. All parts toxic. Known to have caused the death of human infants after consumption. May cause mutations and birth defects.
Acacia glaucescens Accumulates nitrate. May rise to toxic levels dependent upon growing conditions. ‘Very high’ nitrates bracket.
 Asparagus  Exceedingly high levels of Oxalates, boiled 675 mg/100g. Contains saponin considered toxic to ectotherms, levels unknown.
 Avocado  All parts toxic. Do not feed. Contains persin. Seek veterinarian treatment immediately if consumed.
 Bamboo Shoots  Contain high levels of cyanogenic glucosides, sweet varieties can contain up to 50 times less HCN than bitter with some as low as 20 mg per kg.
 Beets boiled (beetroot)  Contain saponins considered toxic for ectotherms, estimated 3.1-3.5 g/kg.
 Beets raw (beetroot)  See Beets boiled.
Beet Greens Extremely high in oxalates with varieties differing from 777.1 to 1224.0 mg 100g.
 Blue Couch (Cynodon)  Contains saponins considered toxic to ectotherms, 0.14-1.3 g/kg. Nitrate data unknown, however considered to be in the ‘very low’ bracket.
 Broad Beans  Known to accumulate sufficient quantities of cyanogenic glycosides to resulting in poisoning of livestock.
 Cassava (Yucca) root raw  Known to accumulate sufficient quantities of cyanogenic glycosides to resulting in poisoning of livestock.
 Hollyhock (Althaea rosea) leaves and flowers  From the Nightshade family. Glycoalkaloid levels higher than that of tomatoes and aubergine. Contain caffeic acid and proteinase inhibitors.
 Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense)  Contains saponins considered toxic to ectotherms, 0.14-1.3 g/kg. Nitrate data unknown, however considered to be in the ‘very low’ bracket.
 Lambsquarters  From the Alliaceae family. Contains saponins which are considered toxic to ectotherms. Esimated 1.0 g/kg.
 Leek  Known to accumulate sufficient quantities of cyanogenic glycosides to cause poisoning of livestock.
 Native Couches (Brachyachne)  Risks of high oxalic acid (1.5 mg/g) and cyanogenic glycoside with young shoots being as high as 7700 mg HCN/kg. Cooking aids reduction. Processed and canned shoots are likely to have low to undetetable traces.
Okra Known to accumulate sufficient quantities of cyanogenic glycosides to cause poisoning of livestock.
Orange Citrus fruit are not recommended.
Pokeweed High in Oxalates.
Potatoes Known to accumulate sufficient quantities of cyanogenic glycosides to resulting in poisoning of livestock. Small portions may not cause issues, however not recommended.
Purslane Oxalic acid levels extremely high. Some studies averaged leaves at the 16 leaf stage up to 45% lower than the younger 8 leaf stage. Phytates are exceedingly high (8.236 mg/g). Best not fed or fed with extreme caution.
Rhubarb Exceedingly high levels of oxalate. Do not feed. Stewed 860.0 mg/100g. Canned 600mg/100g.
Sorghum spp. Contains saponins considered toxic to ectotherms, 0.14-1.3 g/kg. Nitrate data unknown, however considered to be in the ‘very low’ bracket.
Soybean & products including Tofu Soybeans contain saponins considered toxic to ectotherms, between 0.9-43 g/kg. High in phytates. Tofu is high in fat, approx 7% and 1.3 mg/g oxalates (very high). See research article link for further information on Soy from humans perspective. “…trypsin inhibition decreases with processing. The problem is that the methods used to remove or decrease the isoflavones can create troublesome side-effects for man…” Cambridge International Institute for Medical Science, The Physician’s Concise Guide to Soy Fiction
Spinach Exceedingly high levels of oxalates. High in nitrates, caution required. 5064 mg/kg leaves, 5910 mg/kg stalks.
Sudan Grass Contains saponins considered toxic to ectotherms, 0.14-1.3 g/kg. Nitrate data unknown, however considered to be in the ‘very low’ bracket.
Swiss Chard Known to accumulate sufficient quantities of cyanogenic glycosides to resulting in poisoning of livestock.

Antinutrients

While research in reptile nutrition has a long way to go, there is certainly enough information in existence to support bearded dragons into their 2nd decade of life. Nutritional disorders are very common and are not typically detected until symptoms become clinically apparent. Nutritional disorders may be caused by environmental factors such as small enclosure size, poor lighting, cohabitants and substrate or directly by food. All nutritional diseases are avoidable. The prevention of nutritional disorders is possible through understanding naturally available foods in the native environment, staying informed on scientific advances in nutrition and putting in practice good husbandry.

Excluding foods for various antinutritional factors is a necessary part of diet control, however goitrogens and oxalates are given so much attention that it results in other nutrients and antinutrients being ignored. In addition, studies have shown that some of these elements that have been labeled as antinutritional can also have positive effects.

Providing foods known to be high in an antinutrient (such as a cruciferous vegetables  high in goitrogens or insect high in fat) is not out of the question, it must simply be balanced out with other vegetation. The best way to protect overdoing any antinutritional element is to stay within the bounds of foods that are generally considered safe and most of all to ensure variety.

Can Bearded Dragons eat Eggs?

Providing any food comes down to the assessment of why, what are the benefits and potential harm. When it comes to hen eggs most will point to protein being the reason to feed them, yet insects generally provide far more protein. A mealworm adult can provide 0.237 mg/g protein, or an adult cricket 0.250 mg/g protein, yet eggs provide only 0.125 mg/g protein. The protein requirement for bearded dragons in their second year as they become omnivores is far less than that of the young.

Eggs of any fowl are not known to be eaten by bearded dragons naturally. Whilst it is obvious that the bearded dragon diet natural is replaced in captivity providing something more akin to what nature gives them is less likely to introduce health issues later down the track.

Regardless, at this point we cannot even claim hen eggs are good for humans let alone our pets. For the human perspective, which has some relevance, check out M.D. Michael Greger (Physician, author and professional speaker reviews and discusses the world’s nutrition research) at NutritionFacts.org.