Your bearded dragon’s diet is crucial to their overall health and wellbeing.
As a reptile owner, you have probably considered feeding your lizard live prey at some point, and anoles might seem like a good choice.
But are there potential risks involved with feeding your pet live prey, such as anoles?
As a general rule, bearded dragons should not eat anoles. While it is common for bearded dragons to eat smaller lizards and other animals in the wild, avoid this in captivity as they commonly sustain injuries and contract parasites from live prey. Smaller feeder insects are preferable.
Keep reading to learn more about anoles and why feeding them to your bearded dragon comes with more risks than benefits.
We’ll also cover the food bits you should be giving your lizard instead.
Is It Safe For Bearded Dragons To Eat Anoles?
In the wild, bearded dragons commonly feed on various types of live prey, such as insects, spiders, and even other lizards.
However, their lifespans are also much shorter in the wild due to stress, predators constantly hunting them, and drastic measures they must take for survival in such a harsh natural habitat, as food is often scarce.
The animals they consume in the wild often carry parasites, pesticides, and other diseases which commonly kill them prematurely.
Anoles also present a clear choking hazard.
Any food you give to your beardie should be smaller than the width of the space between their eyes, and anoles are far larger than the majority of feeder insects, and other foods beardies commonly eat.
So, while your bearded dragon is certainly capable of eating another lizard such as an anole, it should be avoided in captivity.
Some reptile owners insist on keeping their beardies’ diets as close to their “natural” diets.
After all, the food chain exists to help species thrive.
But there are far better feeder insects which won’t harm your lizard or potentially cause them to choke, contract diseases or parasites, or sustain painful bites and scratches.
While anoles are a fairly common feeder lizard in some reptile species enthusiast circles, they are also quite controversial.
Some people see the practice of giving live prey to their beardies as unnecessary animal cruelty.
This is a frequently debated topic in communities of lizard owners.
In the end, it is up to you whether you feed your dragon larger prey like anoles, mice, and spiders.
However, it is recommended to avoid them since there are far better, more nutritious, and less dangerous feeder options available at most pet shops.
What Should You Do If Your Bearded Dragon Eats Another Lizard?
Generally, in captivity, you won’t have to worry about your beardie eating foods they aren’t supposed to, as they will spend most of their time either supervised or in their tank.
However, if you frequently take your dragon outside for enrichment, there’s a chance they might end up chowing down on other lizards they encounter, and anoles are common wild lizards in many locations.
So if you want to avoid that possibility we have a post listing other enrichment activities for bearded dragons you can choose from.
If you have fed your bearded dragon anoles before or have accidentally let your lizard eat one at some point, don’t panic just yet, as they will likely be fine.
Check them for any injuries and monitor them for unusual behavior or illness, and at your next vet check-up, it will be a good idea to mention the anole (or anoles) they have eaten.
Your vet might check your dragon’s stools for common parasites carried by live prey, and most parasites are easily treatable with medications.
If your dragon does sustain any injuries from experience, they will likely be minor, but you should have your vet examine them for possible infections anyway.
These infections may turn out to be severe, even causing death in rare cases.
In the future, avoid feeding your beardie anoles; sure, your dragon may be fine, and yes, in the wild, it is common for them to eat such large prey, but in captivity, it doesn’t make much sense and generally presents more issues than benefits.
You can read more about what to do if your bearded dragon eats a wild lizard in this article.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Live Lizards or Rodents?
Another commonly debated topic amongst reptile owners is whether or not feeding live prey like lizards, mice, and spiders are safe for bearded dragons.
As mentioned earlier, it is very common for wild beardies to eat a variety of food items.
Since food is often hard to find in their harsh and unforgiving natural habitats, they will feed on anything they come across and deem weaker than them, including geckos, small rodents, and even tarantulas.
However, as we discussed with anoles, larger prey is dangerous for them to eat.
In captivity, you have far better, more accessible options to provide your lizard with a healthy and balanced diet.
Like with anoles, some owners see no issue with giving their dragons larger prey like mice and geckos as long as they supervise them closely during feedings and purchase the feeder animals from a reputable source.
Additionally, if you’re an animal lover, you will probably find it very difficult to watch your dragon eat another lizard, rodent, or even a large spider.
If you have a weak stomach, you won’t enjoy watching an animal fight for its life as your lizard struggles to eat them.
Again, sure, this is typical in the wild, but in captivity, it simply isn’t necessary.
Are Frozen Lizards, Mice, or Spiders Safe For Bearded Dragons to Eat?
Some owners opt for frozen prey to avoid potential injuries.
While this might seem like a reasonable option, it still presents more risks than benefits.
Again, they are simply too large of a food item for your beardie to safely eat consistently, and there are much better, more nutritious, and safer options available for their diet.
You’ll also find smaller prey, such as insects, are far cheaper to purchase than mice, lizards, and spiders, so you will save money over time by choosing smaller, safer, more readily accessible insects.
Overall, it is best to avoid large prey entirely, whether live or frozen, in favor of insects.
If frozen food appeals to you check out our post on freeze dried foods for bearded dragons.
What Live Prey Is Safe To Feed To Your Bearded Dragon?
While anoles, large spiders, rodents, and lizards, in general, should be avoided, there are still plenty of live prey options you will be able to safely feed your beardie.
Adult insects are an excellent source of protein, and if purchased from reputable sources like pet shops or breeders, you won’t encounter any risk of parasites or diseases.
There are lots of bugs packed with protein and vital nutrients to your dragon’s diet.
The best and easiest to find insects for your pet lizard include:
- Dubia roaches
Thankfully, all of these are commonly found cheaply at pet shops and from online retailers and breeders.
These insects are small enough for your dragon to eat without much of a fight, and they are usually bred for the specific purpose of being eaten by reptiles like your dragon, making them excellent choices for a proper diet.
Eating smaller prey also presents less of a risk of impaction, as bugs are easier to digest than lizards, rodents, and spiders.
To keep your dragon safe, happy, and healthy, you should limit their food intake to vegetables, fruits, and insects small enough to eat without a struggle.
Here is our post on the best insects to feed bearded dragons if you want to learn more.