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Reptiles/Bearded Dragon food



I recently rescued a bearded dragon lizard - about 2-1/2 weeks ago - and I was wondering if I can feed him only fruits and vegetables and the cat food (Nutrience) that the pet store (which has a whole reptile section) recommended.  Or will he absolutely need bugs and worms?



Hi Larissa,

It saddens me to hear that a pet store is recommending cat food for a bearded dragon.

I would very strongly urge you not to follow that advice. Cats are obligate carnivores and their animal based food is designed for their particular metabolic needs and digestive system. Those needs are  completely different from an omnivorous reptile like a bearded which has a digestive system adapted to vegetation and insect protein.

The levels of fat, protein, vitamins and minerals in cat food would cause both kidney and liver problems over time if fed regularly to a bearded.

I'm puzzled that they did not at least recommend one of the pelleted diets that are designed for bearded dragons. I don't recommend using those exclusively either but at least it would have made more sense then cat food.

If your bearded is adult then the bulk of his diet can be a mix of greens, veg and a small amount of fruit. Insects can be about 30% of the overall diet. You do get used to dealing with them over time! Large mealworms, silkworms and a smaller amount of waxworms (they are high fat) may be easier then crickets. I would still suggest some crickets which provide both nutritional variety and mental stimulation.

If live insects are really a problem then there are canned versions of several different feeder insects, including crickets. They are a bit more expensive. Try mixing them with the salad or hand-feeding those if your bearded does not respond to them.

This is my favourite site for info on Beardeds. Dr. Tosney is a bearded owner and the head of biology at the University of Miami.


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I can answer questions on the proper husbandry and diet of Iguanas, bearded dragons, geckoes, skinks, chameleons, tortoises, box turtles, treefrogs, non-venomous snakes and tarantulas. Also the breeding of some species of feeder insects. I have no experience with venonmous snakes and only limited experience with aquatic turtles.


I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for over 30 years. In addition to my regular job in the medical field I also worked for several years in a pet store that specialized only in exotics. The job entailed both caring for and answering questions on innumerable species. It required constant, extensive research into a wide range of reptiles. I have been called to appear on televised national media (CBC, CTV and Life Channel) as well as CBC radio to discuss the proper care of reptiles and other exotics in captivity. I currently own one or more species of those listed under my expertise with the exception of chameleons. I owned chameleons for years but keep none currently. I keep over 20 snakes comprising 5 species, both Colubridae and Boidae. I bred corn snakes for several years. I have a particular interest in treefrogs and currently have 5 different species. I've raised redfoot tortoises for 10 years and have two iguanas, one for 12 years.

A small and now defunct local magazine called "Pet Vue"

Diagnostic medical microbiology with some parasitology experience.

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