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Feeding Bearded Dragons – A Review of Zoo Med Bearded Dragon Food

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Commercially-prepared diets for reptiles have become quite popular lately, but we do not have long-term research concerning the value of most.  However, when used with care, some can simplify the feeding of certain species while contributing to their health.  Reptomin, for example, is used in many major zoos, and I relied upon it heavily during my years working at the Bronx Zoo’s Reptile House.  Success with commercial diets is a matter of choosing one produced by a well-respected company, and pairing it with natural food items in the proper proportions.  Today I’ll review one such product now marketed by a leader in pet reptile nutrition, Zoo Med’s Bearded Dragon Food (Adult and Juvenile).

t204480The Evolution of Prepared Diets

The Inland Bearded Dragon, Pagona vitticeps, is likely the world’s most popular lizard pet.  Yet this fascinating lizard was virtually unknown in the USA, even in zoos, not long ago.  Indeed, many lizard enthusiasts are surprised to learn that all pet trade animals seem to have originated from a small group smuggled out of Australia to Germany in the early 1980’s (please see this article for further information).

Due to the great interest in keeping and breeding this species, hobbyists and pet supply companies have researched its captive husbandry quite thoroughly.  As a result, we now know have a very good understanding of the Bearded Dragon’s dietary needs, health care and reproduction (please see articles linked below).  An interesting offshoot of this work has been the formulation of several prepared Bearded Dragon diets.  Because of the care and research that Zoo Med puts into all of its products, and the company’s outstanding reputation among professional zookeepers and private hobbyists alike, I favor the Zoo Med’s formula over others.

Using Bearded Dragon Pellets

Zoo Med Bearded Dragon Food is not intended to be used as the sole diet for either adult or juvenile lizards.  Rather, it is best viewed as a nutritious part of a well-balanced and varied diet.

Bearded Dragon

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Greg Hume

The product is in pellet form, and contains 24% protein.  Fiber and calcium are also included.  Young Bearded Dragons – up to age 12 months or so – are highly carnivorous in the wild, and likely need comparatively more protein than do adults.  A wide variety of insects should be offered…canned insects mixed into a dish with pellets may encourage them to try the new food.

Adults include a good deal of plant material in their diet, and seem to take readily to the fruity taste of Zoo Med Pellets.  Moistening the food and adding a favorite vegetable will increase acceptability.  Please see the articles linked below, or post any questions you may have, if you’d like detailed information on feeding bearded dragons.

Important Ingredients

I was happy to see that a number of highly nutritious vegetables and greens are used in the preparation of Zoo Med’s product.  Several of these, including kale, mustard greens, dandelion, and collard greens, formed the basis of the herbivorous reptile salad I used at the Bronx Zoo.

p34860It is not recommended that one add powdered vitamins and minerals to Zoo Med Bearded Dragon Pellets, but I would continue to use these on other foods.  My favorites are ReptiCalcium and ReptiVite.  Please post below for further information.

As usual, Zoo Med has posted detailed nutritional information about this new product.  You can view the ingredients list here.

Please check out my posts on Twitter and Facebook.   Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable.  I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

 

Further Reading

Bearded Dragon Care

Bearded Dragon Health: Atadenovirus or Wasting Disease

 

4 comments

  1. avatar

    Wish that I could get a bearded dragon :( They’re adorable and I’d love to have a lizard that is fairly docile.

    Last year my boyfriend let me pick out a birthday present at the pet store, but discouraged me from getting one and I ultimately chose a leopard gecko. Definitely don’t regret getting it, because it’s super cute and has a lot of personality, but it definitely isn’t content sitting on a lap haha.

    Maybe someday :)

  2. avatar

    Hi Paul,

    Leopard geckos are a good choice if you are just starting out…smaller, very hardy, no need for UVB, less temperaure-sensitive. Personalities vary…some bearded dragons resist handling, especially when young, and some leopard geckos are fine with it.

    Diet is critical for leopard geckos…mealworms and crickets alone will not keep them healthy long-term. Please check out this article (has 2 parts) and let me know if you need any further info. Here are a few others that you might enjoy as well:

    Leopard Geckos in the Wild

    The Ideal leopard Gecko Terrarium

    Enjoy, Frank

  3. avatar

    Hello Frank :)

    Thanks for the additional links to leopard gecko diets – I too am a proud owner of a gorgeous six year old leo :)

    However, I recently adopted a five year old bearded dragon from a young (and I’m guessing relatively inexperienced) owner, who reassured me that the beardie was extremely keen to eat a variety of greens, with the odd insect as a treat. I don’t think he was being entirely honest as my new pet hasn’t touched cucumbers, rocket, apples etc. that I have presented to him over the last few weeks. He does eat mealworms very enthusiastically though. Would you have any tips to share with me in order to encourage him to eat properly?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this,

    Naomi

  4. avatar

    Hello Naomi,

    My pleasure…

    It may be difficult to change the animal’s diet if it has been taking mainly insects for several years; try keeping him hungry for several days (a 5-7 day fast will do no harm, and works wonders for the appetite) and then offer a mixed salad with just 1-2 mealworms tossed in to attract his attention. Some ideas for vegetables/greens that may be tried can be found in this article.

    mealworms should only be used on rare occasions; linked to intestinal blockages and are not great, nutrition-wise (please see this article for hints on use). A wide variety of insects should be offered; please see this article.

    Please let me know how all goes, best, Frank

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About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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