While it is pretty common for wild bearded dragons to prey upon and eat other smaller lizards, it presents many unpleasant risk factors in captivity.
What should you do if your beardie happens to chow down on another lizard, and why is it so unsafe for them?
If your bearded dragon eats a wild lizard, you need to watch for choking and check them for parasites. Wild lizards often carry diseases and parasites, which will be passed on to your pet if consumed. In addition, large prey is very difficult for your pets to eat safely without choking or becoming impacted.
If your dragon has managed to eat a wild lizard, don’t panic; you’re in the right place.
Keep reading to learn more about handling this and how to prevent your beardie from eating such unsafe foods in the future.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Wild Lizards?
It is common for reptile owners to think it is safe for their bearded dragon to eat the same foods they typically consume in the wild.
In their natural habitats, beardies eat many things they wouldn’t normally eat in captivity, including:
- Large insects
Bearded dragons are not very picky eaters, and their natural environment is quite harsh, making it challenging for them to maintain a proper, healthy diet.
This is also part of the reason why wild beardies typically don’t live as long as dragons in captivity do, as they do not receive the same level of care, nutrients, or even regular feedings.
While captive beardies tend to be plump, well-fed, and a bit lazy, wild dragons are often scrawny, hungry opportunists who will eat whatever wanders close enough for them to get into their mouths.
Unfortunately, much of what they eat in the wild carries health risks such as parasites, deadly diseases, and even certain pesticides or poisons, including other, smaller lizards.
Additionally, wild beardies often take risks when hunting large prey, which commonly results in them sustaining injuries in the ensuing struggle.
Prey, such as other lizards, spiders, and frogs, will fight back, and they fight hard.
It is typical for them to bite, scratch, and otherwise attack in an attempt to escape the hungry dragon’s grasp.
In rare cases, wild dragons will sustain life-threatening injuries when hunting large prey, contributing to their shortened life spans in their natural habitat.
You should never feed your bearded dragon other live lizards in captivity, as there is no nutritional need for them to eat them.
There are far more nutritious live foods with lots of protein for your beardie to safely hunt and eat without choking, becoming impacted, or running the risk of parasite infestations or diseases, like crickets or various kinds of worms, for example.
Additionally, feeding your beardie such large live prey is widely considered by most of the reptile community to be animal cruelty, as it is potentially painful for both animals involved.
Watching your bearded dragon struggle to eat a wild lizard is quite gruesome and upsetting, and it is an extremely stressful ordeal for your dragon.
Don’t feed your beardie other lizards in captivity, especially wild lizards.
There are plenty of other ways to closely emulate your lizard’s natural habitat without introducing them to such unnecessary dangers.
Check out our bearded dragon food list for better alternatives for your pets diet.
Is It Safe For Bearded Dragons To Eat Captive Lizards?
Since it is unsafe for your bearded dragon to eat wild lizards due to parasite risk and disease, you might mistakenly believe feeding them captive-bred lizards is just fine.
Unfortunately, this is also not recommended, as it is still very risky and provides little to no nutritional benefits.
A few somewhat nutritious feeder lizards are available from breeders and pet stores which your bearded dragon is technically capable of eating with fewer risks.
Still, there are many other, better sources of protein much more readily available for them, usually as insects.
Plus, the aspect of animal cruelty when feeding live prey to their pet is rather unpleasant for many bearded dragon owners.
Though they are quite hardy animals, even adult dragons will easily become impacted if the foods they eat are too large.
Your beardie will potentially even choke while attempting to bite off and swallow parts of the lizard or, worse, eat it whole.
Plus, as we touched on earlier, your dragon will derive no real health benefits from consuming other lizards.
Reptile diets, including your beardie’s, typically include various types of insects, fruits, and vegetables, so other lizards need not be on the menu.
Your dragon will get enough animal-based proteins from the insects they consume.
It is important to remember wild beardies, due to their dangerous and risky lifestyles, typically only live one to three years or so, which is barely long enough to grow to sexual maturity, breed, and ensure the continuation of their species.
Wild beardies eat whatever they can find to survive another day.
Meanwhile, captive bearded dragon diets require a wide variety of nutritious foods for your lizard to live 8 to 10 years or more.
Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Large Food: Risk Factors
Keep in mind wild lizards aren’t the only kind of large prey you should avoid feeding your beardie.
Whenever possible, give your lizard bite-sized pieces when feeding fruits and vegetables.
You should also avoid other kinds of animal matter like large spiders, scorpions, and frogs.
Some reptile owners occasionally feed their beardies frozen pinky mice, but this is also unnecessary and can potentially be risky due to their large size.
Never feed your dragon any kinds of wild animals, including wild insects, as they all have the potential to carry illnesses and various types of deadly parasites.
Even if they are captive-bred, though, it is still dangerous, as impaction and choking are always possible with large foods, especially if they are alive and struggling while your lizard is attempting to eat them.
How To Handle It When Your Bearded Dragon Eats A Wild Lizard
It isn’t completely unheard of for a bearded dragon to eat a wild lizard and be fine afterward.
Still, as a responsible beardie owner, you should contact your reptile veterinarian for advice if this happens.
If you notice another lizard or something they shouldn’t eat within their reach, separate them immediately, as bearded dragons are fast hunters.
If it’s too late and you’ve already watched your dragon take a bite (or a lot of bites) out of a wild lizard, be sure to watch them carefully for any signs of choking or difficultly swallowing.
Provide fresh water for your dragon to drink if they are thirsty, and very closely monitor their behavior until you are able to get them to a reptile vet.
Even if your beardie seems fine immediately after eating another wild lizard, you shouldn’t let your guard down just yet, as there is still a significant risk of them having consumed a parasite load, contracting diseases, or becoming impacted later.
Seek advice from your vet as soon as possible, as they will likely recommend collecting a stool sample to examine for the presence of parasites and observing your dragon for any signs of illness.
Preventing Your Beardie From Eating Other Lizards
The best way to prevent your beardie from eating other lizards is always to supervise them closely any time you take them outside for enrichment and exercise.
Prevention is the best medicine, so take great care when it comes to providing your dragon with a varied diet made up of healthy, vitamin-rich, nutritious food items, such as a range of insects, leafy greens, fruits, and other vegetables.