Bearded dragon doesn’t eat greens or vegetables? Here are 6 ways to get your bearded dragon to eat greens.
Causes for Refusal to Eat Vegetables
If your baby bearded dragon won’t eat vegetables, it is normal. Just prior to bearded dragons becoming adults they change to being omnivores, prior to that they are insectivores (Wotherspoon 2007). Juvenile bearded dragons will start eating greens and vegetables and as adults they will eat the most.
If you are dusting vegetation with calcium and other supplements, well they are not very palatable and may well be causing the issue. For help on how much calcium and D3 you need to feed and ways to provide it see Dr Amna Ahmad’s (DVM) post on Creating Healthy Bearded Dragons – Guide to Calcium and Vitamin D3.
Maybe your bearded dragon stopped eating greens or perhaps it never started. Here are some possible causes for refusal of greens:
Inadequate heating will cause a bearded dragon to slow down.
- Poor lighting
This may be inadequate UVA and/or UVB. UVA impacts the way the environment is seen and subsequently has the potential to impact behaviors such as feeding.
- Inappropriate food dish
Wide and very shallow dishes are far better where the food can be seen easily.
- Illness or injury
- Onset of brumation
Brumation may be mild or barely noticeable except for a slow down on eating.
- Too young
Bearded dragons are not omnivores until pre-adulthood and require a good range of insects until this age.
The Pogona minor minor can be problematic with vegetation, try feeding clover and dandelions as growing plants in plant trays.
What To Do If Your Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat Vegetables
If your bearded dragon won’t eat vegetables try:
- Tempting through flavours
- Cutting the food into finer pieces
- Create movement in the salad to attract interest
- Hang up the leafy greens for self picking
- Offer plants
- Hand feed to kick start
Tempting through Flavors
If your bearded dragon has a favorite food in the fruit or vegetable range then use it as a mask on vegetation. It may be berries, apples or any other food from the acceptable ranges. Blend, juice or mash up the favorite food item and spread it over the vegetation. Try to feed some of the flavor enhanced food by hand or leave it with your bearded dragon. Experiment to see which works the best.
Cutting it Fine
When introducing vegetation, cut it up finely. This will help prevent picking and choosing between food items since it will be chopped too finely to be able to separate.
Movement encourages interest from bearded dragons and can be used to attract attention to vegetation. The insects may need to be slowed down first by putting them in the fridge for a few minutes before mixing in the salad. Chop the vegetation very finely and place the insects in the mix. Some bearded dragons are clever enough to sort though and simply target the insects.
Vegetation can presented by tying whole leaves in a bunch and suspending them from the top of the enclosure, held by hand or any other means to secure the leaves so they can be tugged on. This will allow the leaves to be cropped as desired which is more akin to behavior in the wild.
A more natural feeding behavior, grazing, can be provided by offering trays of live growing vegetation. This is particularly easy with plants such as clover, grass, dandelions, basil and other small edible plants. A dozen trays of vegetation should be sufficient to allow for rotation to renew growth. Fertilizers should not be used to promote growth, that will likely result in high levels of nitrates in the food. If the opportunity exists to plant a garden for this purpose outdoors then it may be a better proposition. The plants should be established enough to prevent them being pulled up by the root and subsequently eaten whole with any soil attached.
Variety still remains the key in the long run and this method of providing food does provide an ideal source of fresh food and environmental enrichment.
Hand feeding vegetation can also kick start interest. Try offering vegetation with a worm in a manner that it cannot avoid taking the vegetation along with the worm. Care needs to be taken in how the food is held when offering to ensure you are not accidentally bitten, feeding tongs will provide protection.
Whole leaves can also be offered in this manner. Again using movement such as waving it in front of the bearded dragon to attract attention. The bearded dragon may be tempted to crop at it. Ensure your bearded dragon does not become dependent on hand feeding, this should not be a constant practice.
Withholding food has not been included on the list as a means to encourage eating vegetation primarily because of the stress it is likely to cause the animal. Withholding food is best under veterinary guidance.
Other posts you may like
- Wotherspoon, A. D. (2007). Ecology and management of Eastern bearded dragon : Pogona barbata. Thesis, University of Western Sydney, Richmond. Retrieved from University of Western Sydney Library.
- Wotherspoon, D., & Burgin, S. (2011). Allometric variation among juvenile, adult male and female eastern bearded dragons Pogona barbata (Cuvier, 1829), with comments on the behavioural implications. Zoology, 114, 23-28.
- Wotherspoon Danny, Burgin Shelley (2016) Sex and ontogenetic dietary shift in Pogona barbata, the Australian eastern bearded dragon. Australian Journal of Zoology 64, 14-20. doi.org/10.1071/ZO15019
- Thompson, S. A., & Thompson, G. G. (2003). The western bearded dragon, Pogona minor (Squamata: Agamidae): An early lizard coloniser of rehabilitated areas. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 86, 1-6.
- Ghaly, A. E., Mahmoud, N., & Dave, D. (2012). Nutrient Composition of Dandelions and its Potential as Human Food. American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 8 (2), 118-127. doi:10.3844/ajbbsp.2012.118.127