One of the most common concerns among bearded dragon owners is that, although bearded dragons are supposed to be omnivorous, their pet doesn’t show interest in salad. This can get stressful when you see other bearded dragons enthusiastically going after their greens on YouTube and Instagram, but nothing you try is working with yours!
If this sounds like you, here are a few pro tips to solve the problem:
If you’re giving your beardie huge salads every day, it’s possible that your pet actually is eating their greens, but because they’re not cleaning their plate and you’re not around to see them eat, it could look like they’re not eating greens at all. Try offering smaller salads to make the difference more noticeable. If this doesn’t work, you may want to install a motion-triggered webcam to keep an eye on your dragon’s daily habits.
Bearded dragons under 1 year old may not be very interested in greens. This is because, biologically speaking, they’re generally more motivated to eat high-calorie insects to get the energy and nutrients that they need to fuel the rapid growth that happens in their first year of life. However, even if you have a young bearded dragon, it’s important to still provide greens every day so they can munch on them as they feel like it. This also increases familiarity and the likelihood that they’ll learn to recognize vegetables as food.
Try Something New
If you ate the same thing every day, you’d probably eventually get sick of it. Bearded dragons are the same way. While they are biologically hardwired to eat whatever is available, they’re also programmed to accept a variety of foods in order to get a wide variety of nutrients. If you offer the same 1-3 types of greens to your beardie, it’s quite possible that they’ve lost interest in salads simply because they’re craving something new.
Here are some ideas for shaking up your bearded dragon’s salad routine in a nutritious way. One of the keys to a healthy reptile is providing as much variety in their diet as possible!
- Bok choy
- Cactus pads
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Mustard cress
- Pea shoots
- Spring mix
- Turnip greens
- Artichoke heart
- Beet leaves
- Bell pepper
- Carrot greens
- Dandelion greens/flowers
- Lemon balm
- Mint leaves
- Rose petals
- Sugar snap peas
- Swiss chard
If you have difficulty finding the right greens at your grocery store, try growing your own! Options include: dandelion, clover, alfalfa, marigold, snapdragon, bergamot, campanula, geranium, globe thistle, hollyhock, and viola.
(Note: Your beardie may need a few days to get used to the new food, so don’t get too discouraged by initial rejection.)
It May Be Time for Some Tough Love
If you’ve tried all of the above and your bearded dragon still won’t eat greens, the next most likely cause is that they’re simply not hungry. In other words: you’ve been feeding them too much. After all, a hungry dragon is not a picky dragon.
Fully-grown (older than 1 year) bearded dragons should only eat insects as 15% of their diet, unless they’re working on eggs or recovering from laying them. If your beardie isn’t eating their greens at all, that means 100% of their current diet is insects, and that’s a major problem long-term. If you’re offering bugs more than 1-2 days/week, cut back. If you already are and your dragon still isn’t eating salad, reduce the number of bugs you offer per feeding.
This may result in your dragon not eating anything for a few days — or maybe even a couple of weeks! Although this may seem cruel, your dragon has the fat reserves to get through it. When they get hungry, they’ll eat.
There are several potential reasons why bearded dragons refuse to eat vegetables, but at the end of the day, it’s not healthy for them to only eat bugs for the rest of their life. Use these tips to re-balance your bearded dragon’s diet for increased health and longevity.
If your dragon isn’t eating at all, double-check your husbandry with our Bearded Dragon Care Sheet, and see an experienced reptile vet.