Bearded dragons can eat a variety of insects as the main source of protein especially for baby and juvenile beardies. But it is important to note that not all protein-rich foods are good for them.
So, can bearded dragons eat meat?
The answer to this question is yes. Bearded dragons can eat meat as an occasional treat. But make sure that it is not excessive. This is because in most cases meat is high in fat making it unsuitable for beardies in captivity.
Some bearded dragon owners offer raw meat such as minced beef, lean turkey, and chicken breast to their reptile. While other beardie owners do not recommend feeding meat to their reptiles at all.
Well, both have valid reasons. Personally, I think that a small amount on an occasional basis will hot hurt your bearded dragons. In the wild, they eat meat but they have a lot of physical activities.
In captivity, however, they are less physically active making them prone to health issues when eating too many fat-rich foods.
Related Article: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Ham?
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Is Meat Really Bad for Bearded Dragons?
As mentioned, meat often contains a high amount of fat. As you know, high-fat foods are not good for bearded dragons. In addition, generally, all meats also contain a high level of phosphorus.
These things are valid reasons why most beardie owners rule out meat as protein sources for their reptiles. The good alternative to meat is the Dubia roaches. These insects have a considerable protein content perfect for bearded dragons’ need.
Other live feeders that are healthy protein sources for bearded dragons are crickets, super worms, silkworms, grasshoppers, fruit flies, butter worms, mealworms, and pinky mice.
However, when feeding super worms or mealworms to your bearded dragons, you need to make sure to feed large insects only to adult beardies. Mealworms, for instance, have a hard exoskeleton that is difficult to digest.
Mealworms should not be fed to young bearded dragons because they could potentially cause impaction to them.
Related Article: Are Mealworms Bad for Bearded Dragons?
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Steak?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat steak but only on an occasional basis and in a small amount. If you go in this route, make sure that you do not put seasonings to the meat. But I suggest that you only do it for emergency situations when, for some reason, live feeders are not available.
Remember that meats have high phosphorus content which could potentially dwindle calcium absorption in beardies. In large consumptions, bearded dragons may suffer from several health issues related to calcium deficiency.
The key here is moderation. Make sure that your reptile does not eat too much meat. Choose healthier food options for your pet instead. Remember reptile’s foods in the wild.
Bearded dragons eat both insects and greens. Make sure that you provide them a balanced diet to keep them healthy and safe from health issues.
What Protein Sources Are Safe for Bearded Dragons?
There are numerous protein sources you can choose for your bearded dragons. The best way to do it is to replicate their diet in the wild. This is to make sure that they get healthy food suitable for them.
There are a variety of insects and greens you can offer to your reptile on an occasional basis. In the wild, they eat virtually anything available to them. In captivity, there are a few tricks you can do to keep your bearded dragons interested in their food.
Here are the helpful tips:
One of the best ways to keep beardies interested in their foods is diversity. This means that, when making a salad, for instance, try to combine a variety of foods to make the food more appealing to them.
My recommendation is that mix three to four types of foods (greens, fruits, insects). This makes the salad more colorful and enticing for bearded dragons to eat.
This strategy works well in picky bearded dragons. It is better to go with different food combinations every now and then. This is the key to keep them curious and interested in their food.
2. Food Size
The size of the food (greens and insects) should also be taken into consideration. As you know, bearded dragons are vulnerable to choking and impaction if ingested large chunks of foods.
As a rule of thumb, never feed your bearded dragons foods bigger than the distance of their eyes. When making a salad with hard vegetables, make sure to chop the veggies into small bite-size pieces.
Also, when feeding insects, make sure that they are small enough for the beardies to eat without having digestive problems.
Common Foods that Are Bad for Bearded Dragons
As you know, there are many foods safe for humans that are not suitable for bearded dragons. In fact, most cooked and processed foods are not healthy for beardies.
The following are examples of human foods that are bad for bearded dragons.
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are some of the most common dairy products found in our refrigerator. These foods are also high in calcium. However, these foods are not healthy for bearded dragons.
The reason is that bearded dragons’ digestive systems are not built to digest dairy. Their digestive systems are incapable of producing enzymes responsible for digesting lactose.
As a result, dairy products will not be digested. If beardies eat dairy foods, they will most likely suffer from digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea.
Another thing that you should watch out for is sugar. Sugar is harmful to bearded dragons. This is the reason why sugary foods are not suitable for them. In captivity, sugary foods could only make them fat and obese which will result in other more serious health problems.
Wheat products or starchy items such as bread, rice, potatoes are not suitable for bearded dragons in regular consumption. This is because their digestive systems are not designed to digest these foods.
If digested wheat products over a long period of time, it is most likely that bearded dragons will develop health problems over time.
Dog and Cat Food
Dog and cat foods are not suitable for bearded dragons and therefore should not be offered to them. Dog food for instance is too protein-rich for bearded dragons. So do not feed dog and cat food to your reptile.
Related Article: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Wet Dog Food?
Final Thoughts on Can Bearded Dragons Eat Meat
Bearded dragons can eat meat as an occasional treat. But as long as possible, do not feed your reptile meat. Only offer meat to your beardies when live feeders are not available.
Bear in mind that meats, in general, contain a high level of fat which is not suitable for bearded dragons. So make sure that it is not more than a treat.
Although meat is not toxic to beardies, I strongly recommend feeding them healthier food options such as live insects and greens.
I hope this helps. Thank you for reading.