For some, getting a bearded dragon to eat vegetables is not always easy. This post explores reasons why a bearded dragon may not eat veggies and easy ways to fix it.
7 Reasons Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat Vegetables
Here are 7 reasons your bearded dragon could be refusing to eat vegetables:
1. Bearded Dragon is too Young
Bearded dragons are not omnivores until pre-adulthood and require a good range of insects until this age.
A baby bearded dragon that won’t eat vegetables, 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.
2. Too much Supplements! Yuck
Calcium and vitamin supplements are not very palatable. If vegetables are being heavily dusted it could be putting the bearded dragon off eating its greens and vegetables. 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.
3. Environment Isn’t Set Up Correctly
It the heating is too low it will cause a bearded dragon to slow down and certainly lose interest in food. If the heating is too high then it is at great risk and will not be interested in food.
Inadequate UVA and/or UVB. UVA impacts the way the environment is seen and subsequently has the potential to impact behaviors such as feeding.
4. Food Dish is too Deep
Deep dishes can make it difficult to see the food to make it of interest in the first case. Wide and very shallow dishes are far better where the food can be seen easily and from a distance. Deep food dishes also make for fat bearded dragons. Post of fat bearded dragons here.
5. Illness or Injury
Bearded dragon won’t eat vegetables if it is pain or ill. There could be temptation to eat the odd insect that wriggles but as illness or injury escalates in discomfort that will stop too.
Periodontal disease is common in pet bearded dragons. Check the gums and teeth are clean. For help on cleaning see cleaning bearded dragon teeth.
6. Onset of Brumation
Brumation may be mild or barely noticeable except. Bearded dragon brumation signs may be as subtle as slowing down and no longer interested in eating. More on brumation in the post here.
7. Feeding too Much and too Frequently
Under normal circumstances adult bearded dragons do not need a lot of food and do not need to be fed everyday. For any creature including humans, being fed too much certainly turns us into picky eaters.
7 Tips and Tricks to get Bearded Dragon to Eat Vegetables
Bearded dragon won’t eat veggies? Here are 7 tips and tricks to get your bearded dragon to eat vegetables:
1. Tempting through Flavors
If your bearded dragon has a favorite food in the fruit or vegetable range then juice it, mash it or finely cut it and spread over the other vegetation. Berries, apples and other fruit are often favorites. 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.
2. Cut the food into Finer Pieces
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.
3. Create Movement, Wriggling Salads
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.
4. Hang up the Veggies!
Vegetation can presented by tying whole leaves in a bunch and suspending them from the top of the enclosure. Leaves can also be held by hand or any other means to secure the leaves so they can be tugged on.
In this method bearded dragons can pick at the leaves, cropping them similar to what they do in the wild. So much more fun for picky bearded dragons to be able to eat the greens more naturally.
5. Offer the Vegetation still Planted!
Bearded dragons will naturally graze and promoting natural behaviours is good for keeping stress down and enjoyment up. Offering your bearded dragon trays of live growing vegetation will let them choose the greens they want to eat. This is particularly easy with plants such as clover, grass, dandelions, basil and other small edible plants.
Grow a dozen trays of vegetation to allow for rotation to save the plants, let them regenerate and to keep good hygiene.
Avoid using chemical fertilizers, they will likely result in high levels of nitrates in the food. Not great for the environment either.
If the opportunity exists to plant a garden so your pet bearded dragon can be taken out to choose its own veggies, then how much more fun would that be for both of you! 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.
6. Kick Start with Hand Feeding
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. Take care on how the food is held when offering to ensure your bearded dragon does not accidentally bite you. Feeding tongs will provide protection but beware there is no damage to your bearded dragons teeth. More on looking after bearded dragon teeth in the post here.
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
7. Don’t Feed Everyday
Under normal circumstances adult bearded dragons do not need to be fed everyday. Review the recommendations for feeding schedules.
Share your experience in the comments