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LarrytheBird 12-22-2004 12:40 PM

Bearded Dragon Pellets
I don't own a reptile, but am doing some research as my son really wants a snake or lizard. I have read the articles on kids and reptiles so am leaning towards a corn snake or a bearded dragon. Rest assured that I am the one with ultimate responsibility for any pets in our house so I'm not abandoning a helpless pet to a kid.

With that out of the way, I've been reading about feeding Bearded Dragons and have read some people say that the new pellets they make for these guys are better than crickets and live food. I have birds so am familiar with pellet vs. natural food debates. However, I have read that the prey we purchase may not be as nutricious as wild prey thus making pellets better....

Any opinions on this?

Alika 12-22-2004 01:43 PM

I know with iguanas, the ingredients in the pellets aren't so hot, and if you do feed them, you have to feed them moistened. I've heard that besides the protein requirements, the veggie part of the diet is very similar to a green ig's. That's just what I've heard... not that I'm an expert or anything.

If I was getting a beardie, I'd probably feed crix and mealworms along with the same salad I feed Xander, possibly with herpvite or something added to it. Of course, that's speaking just on what I've heard. If I were to get a beardie, I'd do more research and possibly change my mind... so I'm sorry if that wasn't very helpful.

Ravnos 12-22-2004 08:47 PM

Personally, I think commercial diets for reptiles are generally very poor quality. Majorily fillers and stuff that isn't very digestable to them at all, like corn meal. They have to have artificial scents and colors to even make them palatable, and in the end are often not even accepted then. The level of research and concern about quality and digestability is drastically lower than it is with dog or cat foods and lack of nutrition is often made up with by throwing in a bunch of random vitamin powders.

All in all, beardies are generally not very picky, but a diet of fresh veggies, supplimented with crickets and mealies as treats is probably a better way to go and is probably cheaper too.


JEFFREH 01-23-2005 12:31 PM

Sorry for this being late

I disagree about the mealies, they have a very porr meat to shell ratio and have very little nutrition value whatesoever. In fact, without proper gutload they have less nutrtional value then carboard. With the chitlin conent being high, especially for young dragons, you get an increased chance of impaction. Freshly molted mealworms that have been properly gutloaded are ok on occasion.

I also disagree with you on the pellets. There have been a number of breeders who use pellets and salad only in the beardie diet, and have full grown, happy, healthy dragons. However the pellets must be soaked or they will absorb all the water, therefore the kidneys wont function properly if overfed pellets no moistened.

Rep -Cal pellets are the best most would agree. I myself think a diet with a few pellets offered in the salad ups nutritional valie and adds extra nutrients to the diet, but I still think a main based diet of insects and salad is better. Silkworms are the best feeder insect for beardies, and then you get to crickets which I would add for variety.

I'm interested in where you are getting your info, beardies often readily accept pellets added to the salad even at an early age of life. And I'm interested in where you came about with the info you have on how they make pellets also.

Now when you say "supplemented" with crickets and meaworms I hope you dont mean the entire diet should be salad. Beardies from the ages of 0-6 months should get 2-3 feedings a day each feeding as many insects as it can consume in 10 minutes. A baby beardie can eaily gobble down 50-100+ crickets a day. After the age of 6 months you should begin cutting back on crickets and by the age of 9-10 months thyey should only be getting 15-25 insects a week and the rest of the diet salad. With theis schedule, beardies can reach ovre 20" in less than 6 months. This is a proven method, but there are somethings that make this kind of size possible
-bright light
-dark sleep
-food intake
-Good Gutload! has some of the best for crix
-proper heating (at least 95* to digest, babies prefer 105-115 while adults 100-105 due to higher body fat).

After reaching a healthy size, by lowering insect intake you decrease the risk of heart and liver disease, and you make life more healthy. On a similair schedule there is a dragon who is 12 years old now and still going strong.

To answer you quetion though, pellets can be used as the diet but its generally better if they are kept on mainly live. Although wild caught are healthier, you can make captive bred insects just as heaslthy with a good gutlaod.

CTChin 01-23-2005 08:31 PM

I've did tons of research before I got my beardie and even still on occasion (she is now over 5 years) and it seems many experienced breeders offer veggies daily to their beardies.

A great site for info:

Ravnos 01-26-2005 01:30 PM

Many care sheets give bug feeding numbers, but I think that counting crickets is rather silly. No one counts the number of kibbles their dog eats. Every beardie is going to have a different consumption rate. When you start throwing numbers at people they tend to get confused when their beardie doesn't eat that much, or still wants more.

Yes, baby beardies need more insects in their diet and their diet changes to more herbivorous as they get to adulthood. I still do not believe commercial diets are a solution for complete nutrition in any reptile. My adult beardies are all on a majorily veggie diet, with crickets and superworms added in a few times a week. Superworms have a lot more meat, and a softer chitlin than the little, rather worthless, mealworms. If you want to go for a more natural diet, flowers like hibiscus and so forth would be a better choice, but beardies are omnivorous, they're even known to eat other lizards and rodents in the wild. When you live in such a harsh habitat, you don't turn down anything that can potentially be a meal.

Wild caught insects should not be used unless you happen to live in an area completely free of cars, insecticides, herbicides... I don't know anyone who lives near any city that can guarantee this. The toxic chemicals that many insects can pick up could potentially be harmful to your lizard. Using captive bred insects is much safer. Giving them a varied gut load will make sure they have all the proper nutrition.


JEFFREH 01-26-2005 05:24 PM

You said mealworms are worthless but in the post previous to this you say supplemented with crickets and mealies. Confused now, and yes I agree supers are better than mealies and are good insect treats.

With the dog food, dont they recommedna certain amount to feed through cups? Sure they dont count each bit, because its not nesesary when you can estimate with cups.

I think its good to give numbers so owners know they are feeding a proper amount. If you dont and say "give 2-3 feedins a day to babie dragons, each feeding 10 minutes" they will do this. But ehat if the dragon only gets down about 2 crickets and the owner thinks this is normal consumption when its obviously not? They would not realize the beardie could have some kind of internal parasite (eg. Coccidiosis, pinworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, etc.).

I personally dont count EVERY cricket either. But if you count a few times and get used to it, its easier to estimate and know how much your dragon is willing to consume, that way if any changes occur in how much thyey eat, you have an early warning of possible problems.

And I also agree about pellets as not a part of the entire diet. I use them more for variety and aded nutrients as I have said. I was impling that breeders have raised happy and healthy dragons on the stuff with no problems.

In the wild also they only have an average lifespan of 2-3 years rather than the 8-12 in captivity.

I agree 100% with the wild caught prey aswell. In addition to what you said they can also carry small parasites with them.

Rav, do you have any sites or anything where you got your info about the pellets from?

Ravnos 01-27-2005 12:36 AM

I used the generic term 'meal worm' or 'mealie' and didn't specify the size, sorry. I only feed the 'super' meal worms, sometimes referred to as zoophobas. Which of course, this means that baby beardies would not be eating them.

I get my info on pellets from simply reading the labels. Almost every one I've seen has the first ingredient as corn meal, ground corn, ground wheat, or some variation therein. Largely just filler with various things like "Red Dye #9" or something for the color, and then a list of added vitamins to give it some nutrition. I was looking at Exo Terra's new lizard foods today at the pet store, and oddly enough the bearded dragon diet ingredients are identical to the iguana diet ingredients - and both had corn meal as their first ingredient. I've used Jurassipet, Zoo Med and a few other brands of food as a suppliment on the salad mixture for the adults, but I don't give it to babies. Little guys tend to prefer stuff that moves on its own anyway. :)

Someone else posted a new food they were going to try that was supposedly more appropriate veggie content, and I was hoping they'd post an ingredients list. Definitely something worth looking into. If someone is producing a quality food, I definitely would like to know about it.


JEFFREH 01-27-2005 07:56 AM

I must have been misinformed. After reading the label on the rep cal pellets it does say "artificial color" and "ground corm meal" (i think). I was led to believe it was made of all natural ingrediants. I'll bring it up with Victoria ( and Cheri Smith (

Hopefully this new food isnt that "dragon dust" made by...someone lol. There are 2 people I know know that have used it and their dragons were extremely impacted and surgery was required to remove the beads that formed. Also, I think has that salad topper, never heard anything good or bad about it. Actually never heard of it until I visited the site.

Ravnos 01-27-2005 03:08 PM

That sounds very nasty, but it does go to show what will be marketed as "healthy food" for your reptile, when its just someone randomly trying something. Cat and dog foods have been studied for decades, so they have come down to pretty precise formulas and ingredients. Reptile foods are still in the stone ages.

elfomatic 01-28-2005 07:27 PM

Mine gets a mix of greens and crickets for what it's worth this late in the discussion. :lol: I don't feed artificial foods ... anything natural is bound to be better than processed no matter what type of animal or food type you are talking about. I wouldn't be totally opposed to using it in an "emergency" but for everyday use it seems just as easy to get the proper stuff.

I feed (super) mealworms as a rarity ... I have noticed that mine has trouble digesting them so he doesn't get them nearly as often as crickets. Besides, they are rather fatty compared to crickets so they probably shouldn't be fed in excessive amounts anyway ...

I think the bottom line is finding what works for you and your dragon. It isn't necessarily going to be the same thing that works for the next person. :)

JEFFREH 01-28-2005 10:38 PM

You know there are silkworms out there too if you like to feed worms, they are thought of as the best staple insect for beardies. Only downside is they are a bit pricey. They are big, soft, squishy, and the size rule barely matters because they get all squished up when eaten. Plus they are healthy!

Superworms are ok a couple of times a week in small portions (1 or 2) for adults. I just totally am against mealworms. Btw, superworms and mealworms are different species, so technically they arent caled super mealworms :D.

LoveMyStaffies 02-01-2005 01:25 AM

New to the site, but here is my two cents worth as a relatively new Beardie owner myself.
We fed crickets and veggies from day one. Dusted and the whole rigamarole. His first vet check went great, clear fecal and everything two days after bringing him home.
Two weeks later Coccidia and another flaglyte...two weeks after that, trace amounts of the first two but add in another parasite. (cant remember the type off hand, but not pinworms)
The only thing he had contact with in that time was my family.
The only conclusion our vet and I could come to was that the crickets were carrying the coccidia and parasites.
We have since switched to silkworms and they are a far superior prey insect in my opinion.
He grew only about an inch while on crickets (about a month and a half or so) but since being switched over to silkies, he's grown 2 inches...and that is in a time span of a little over a month....35-36 days perhaps.
Certainly give them a look to see if they would fit into your budget and lifestyle. I also had far less die off with silkies than crickets.
Hope this helps and hope to get to know everyone as time passes.

Ravnos 02-01-2005 02:21 AM

Out of curiosity, where do you get your silk worms from?


LoveMyStaffies 02-01-2005 02:36 AM

I get them from Cheri at SilkiesToGo.
She's been great, spending time answering all of my newbie questions so patiently and giving me advice on how to get them to grow to larger feeding sizes. And her prices are -very- reasonable.

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