Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. They can be picky eaters though. How do you know what to do when a bearded dragon won’t eat greens? This article will teach you how to get your bearded dragon to start eating their greens again.
If your bearded dragon won’t eat greens, feed them by hand, add bee pollen, make them a slurry, introduce them to the greens early, mix the greens up, add salad dressing, give them live greens and be consistent with your feeding. Adding a feeder also helps prevent rejection of greens.
My Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat Greens: The Causes
Some of the reasons your bearded dragon won’t eat greens include the following:
Too much food
Bearded dragons eat both bugs and greens. If there are too many bugs in the tank, your bearded dragon may not want to eat their greens.
The key is making sure that they still have plenty of food choices, but taking some away from them at a time when you need them to start eating more greens again. The best way to do this is by feeding fewer insects and more fruits and vegetables mixed together. This should encourage your pet to go back towards its natural diet which includes both bug-hunting as well as leaf-eating behavior.
Another option would be adding an additional feeder full of crickets or other foods just for variety. That’s because sometimes if they don’t feel like hunting anymore (they’ve been housed with prey items, for instance), then all they’ll really want to eat is greens.
If your dragon has only been eating bugs for a while, then it may take some time before they will be willing to go back and explore their old diet made of greens as well.
Too much of the same greens
Bearded dragons may be reptiles but they too have great taste. They too need to have variety in their diet to enjoy their food. As such, if you give them one type of greens all the time, they will start avoiding it.
Leaving the greens in the cage for too long is also a major mistake given that the greens will easily go bad making it tasteless for the dragons to eat.
Bearded dragons will only eat when they are hungry and if a bearded dragon is not eating, it needs to be seen by the vet. If there is no medical problem with your pet, then greens need to be rotated more often.
How do you know that greens have been around for too long? There are some telltale signs such as green droppings in their cage or tank, wilted leaves from lack of hydration, yellowing leaves and brown leaf tips. Such greens won’t be eaten by most bearded dragons.
They’re at the wrong age for greens
At different ages, the bearded dragon will have different dietary needs. If your bearded dragon is less than a year old, then it won’t be ready for greens. And if you feed them to the younger dragons too soon, they’ll just spit up most of what they’ve eaten.
Bearded dragons between one and two years should have about 60% insect protein in their diet with 40% green vegetables. Once they hit three or four years old, this ratio changes to around 80% bugs and 20% veggies. This might seem like a lot more insects but remember that each bug provides the same amount of nutrients as an equivalent-sized piece of vegetation, so there’s no need to worry.
Not enough UVB light
Your bearded dragon may stop eating greens because of a lack of UVB. UV rays are important for synthesizing vitamin D in your pet’s skin and allow them to digest their food properly. It also gives them an appetite for most foods in their diet.
This can be caused by too few windows or doors blocking sunlight from entering the room where they’re living. This makes it difficult for them to absorb UV light.
To fix this problem, you could buy an ultraviolet light bulb that emits UVA/UVB wavelengths (which is specifically made for reptiles) and position it near your reptile’s basking spot on one side of its enclosure so they have easy access to it while resting at their thermoregulating zone.
This will help to restore their natural vitamin D levels and make them more inclined to eat greens again.
It is also a good idea to change the location of your bearded dragon’s basking spot so they can get closer during these cool winter months when it may be difficult for them to find enough warmth from sunlight alone.
They don’t know greens are food
Some bearded dragons just don’t know greens are food. When the bearded dragon is very young, it might be too small to eat leaves and grasses. Once a bearded dragon grows larger and reaches juvenile age (about six months), it can take on more of an omnivorous diet, including insects, meat or plants, and their growing eggshells.
Once your bearded dragon reaches adulthood, you may notice some change in its appetite, with appetites shifting from mainly plant-based diets to prey-based diets where there’s no particular favorite insect or type of vegetation eaten over another.
Other times, the bearded dragon might not have been introduced to greens by its previous owner. This makes it think the greens you offer aren’t food. In such as case, you need to be clever to introduce the food slowly and with the insects for it to start eating the greens.
Besides the reasons above, your bearded dragon may refuse to eat greens because they have too much supplements, they’re in a poor environment, the food dish is too deep, they’re sick, they’re brumating, or they’re just satisfied each time you offer them greens especially when other foods are available in their cage.
How to get a Bearded dragon to eat greens
Bearded dragons need greens for their nutritional value. As such, when yours won’t eat its veggies, you can use the following methods to make them eat the greens:
Mix the greens up
One way to make your bearded dragon eat greens is to mix them up. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Place the greens in a blender and then serve them as liquid food (make sure they have enough space for all the pieces).
- Serve mixed vegetables on top of their favorite dishes, such as potatoes or lettuce. This works especially well if your bearded dragon has been trained to take its food from one place only.
- Mix half of the green with another vegetable that they like so that some will get picked off while others go untouched until later when there’s not much left but veggies.
Mixing vegetables ensures that your pet doesn’t become bored with eating just one type of green repeatedly. It also means that they’ll be getting different vitamins and minerals, which are good for their health.
If you can’t get your bearded dragon to touch the green, try mixing it with a fruit that has a similar texture or taste (like carrots mixed in orange juice).
If all else fails, don’t forget that there are many ways of making vegetables more tempting such as cooking them until soft and placing a little bit on top of the food they like best.
Add salad dressing to the greens
When the bearded dragon won’t eat greens, add salad dressing to the greens. This simple solution has been known to work for many bearded dragons. The salad dressing will make the eating experience more pleasant and flavorful.
Adding oils from plants like grapeseed or olive oil can help improve flavor and add fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A and E, which are difficult to get in vegetables alone.
The ratio of these ingredients should be about one tablespoon (about 15 millilitres) per cup (240 millilitres) of food. You may need to experiment with different amounts depending on your specific needs/situation. You might also want to add the seasoning of your choice to make the food more appealing.
Make a vegetable slurry
A vegetable slurry is made with water, mashed vegetables and fruit. The mix should be about 50 percent vegetables to 50 percent fruit or vegetable juice. The sweet taste of the slurry may entice the bearded dragon to eat it.
Bearded dragons won’t touch vegetables without a sweet taste, and this is an easy way to make vegetables more appealing. How much you want to feed your beardie depends on its size and age. Consult with a vet for specifics.
The slurry should be made fresh every day or two because it easily gets spoiled given the ingredients.
Feed them by hand
If your dragon won’t eat greens, you can try feeding them the greens by hand. You should not feed them the greens if they are able to eat on their own as this will just cause digestive problems. This encourages them to eat the greens while bonding with you.
Add bee pollen to their greens
Adding some bee pollen to your bearded dragon’s greens will make it more appetizing and help with calcium absorption. Bee pollen has a great taste and it also provides some extra nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. These make the dragons much healthier.
Add feeders to the greens
You should also encourage your bearded dragons to eat greens by adding some feeders to the mix. The feeders have to be a food they love eating such that they learn to eat the greens together with the feeders.
Adding a few pieces of fruit or vegetables, such as squash or carrots can help entice your pet into eating its delicious and necessary food. If you are struggling with getting your pet used to this new diet change, try soaking his current food in water before placing it in front of him so that he is more inclined towards eating due to the extra moisture.
It may also be helpful for you to know what kind of foods your reptile eats normally: kale vs spinach vs collard green? Do they prefer fruits over veggies? What type of meat does he like to eat most? Once you know the answers to these questions, it’s easy to introduce a new food to their diet.
Start feeding them greens at a young age
Start feeding your bearded dragons greens at a young age. Feeding them greens from the time they hatch until adulthood ensures proper growth and health for your beardie pet. Besides that, they develop a good taste for it
Bearded dragons can be fed every day, or at least three times a week. How often you feed your bearded dragon will depend on how old it is and how many other animals share its habitat (though in general if they have access to food, they’ll eat more than once per day). When feeding them greens, ensure enough greens for all the beardies in their tank. Your bearded dragon’s appetite varies throughout the course of its life: when young babies hatch from eggs, they might not want to eat anything but as adults they may begin eating several meals per week.
Be consistent in your feeding
Like children, you have to be consistent with your dragons when you’re training them to eat their greens, especially when they’re of age. If they don’t want to eat, give them a moment and try again.
It’s best to react as soon as you notice that your dragon is not eating the greens. If he spits out what little substance he had in his mouth or tries to find any way of getting away from it, then say goodbye for now because this time there won’t be much chance of success with him/her.
This doesn’t mean that you can stop feeding greens altogether though. The next few times should still involve giving some green leaves but make sure that these are mixed with other foods such as fruit or live insects so that the transition will be easier on their stomachs and also less frustrating for you the owner.
Offer live greens
Offer your beardies planted greens for them to choose when to eat them while still fresh. You can get these at your local grocery store, and they’re full of moisture. Kale is a great option for bearded dragons because it’s soft enough to break into pieces without being too tough on their digestive track.
These methods should help you train and convince your bearded dragon to eat as much greens as possible.
What greens do bearded dragons eat?
Bearded dragons eat various greens including:
- Bok choy
- Celery stalks
- Romaine lettuce
- Fennel bulbs and fronds
- Watercress leaves, stems, or roots
- Collard greens
- Dandelion leaves
- Mustards: both mustards and watercress
- Parsley roots, stems or leaves
- Radishes with their tops removed
- Bell peppers (remove the seeds and ribs)
- Broccoli florets
- Celery heads
- Cactus pads
- cilantro and many others.
Give the bearded dragon any of these greens to gauge which ones are their favorites then feed them more it. Even then, make sure they eat a variety of greens and insects to have a healthy diet.
READ NEXT: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spiders?