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Should You Feed Bearded Dragons in a Separate Tank?

Bearded dragons enjoy a diet with a variety of live feeder insects and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Feeding time for beardies is generally a simple task, and it is an excellent time for you to bond with your pet.

However, this does not mean there aren’t occasional complications in feeding, especially when it comes to live insects.

Would it be easier to feed your beardie in a separate tank?

As a general rule, feeding your bearded dragon in a separate tank is a great way to avoid any complications of feeding live insects, such as bugs biting your pet. Feeding in a separate tank also makes cleaning up the mess left behind from fruits and vegetables much easier.

A separate feeding tank will also allow you to monitor what your beardie is actually ingesting more closely.

Keep reading for some common issues which arise during feeding and how using a separate feeding tank alleviates most of these problems.

feed bearded dragon in separate tank

Common Issues When Feeding A Bearded Dragon Live Insects

If you are feeding your bearded dragon, multiple live insect feeders, some of them might escape the feeding area before your beardie has a chance to catch and eat them.

Crickets are especially adept at quickly getting away and hiding underneath or behind the decor in your beardie’s tank.

This could be very dangerous for your lizard.

Crickets are known to harass bearded dragons, and they may even nip at your pet and cause physical injury.

The noise and movement of the crickets will also stress your beardie out if they are left in the enclosure.

It’s not uncommon for a couple to escape at cricket feeding time. 

When they do, it’s hard to track them down; I often find crickets under rocks days later when I thought I’d gotten them all. 

This undue stress to your beardie is one of the reasons why you should remove any uneaten live feeder insects from the cage after the lizard has had a chance to feed. 

A good rule of thumb is to wait for 20 or 30 minutes for your beardie to finish eating.

You should monitor your beardie for the entire time it is eating to ensure your pet is getting enough food items and keeping an eye out for escaping insects.

Other insects, such as mealworms and dubia roaches, are also excellent escape artists, and they will burrow into the loose substrate or under rocks to hide.

Feeding your bearded dragon one insect at a time using special feeding tongs will help with some of these issues, but there is still a chance the insect could escape and hide somewhere within the enclosure.

Using a separate feeding tank for live insects eliminates these problems entirely because there is nowhere for the insects to escape to in a bare tank.

Common Issues When Feeding A Bearded Dragon Fruits And Vegetables

While feeding vegetables and fruits to your beardie are much less complicated than feeding them live insects, there are still a few issues.

Your bearded dragon might run across its food dish and spill its food all over the enclosure.

It is vital to clean up any leftover food pieces as soon as your beardie is done eating.

Rotting food is a breeding ground for harmful germs and bacteria, which will make your beardie very sick. 

Rotting fruits and vegetables also start to smell bad, making your lizard’s environment (and your home) very unpleasant and stinky.

If you’ve been having problems with your bearded dragon’s smell then check out our post on why your bearded dragon stinks for some quick solutions.

Never allow your bearded dragon to eat any leftover fruits or vegetables. 

This avoids any illnesses in your beardie caused by spoiled food. 

The fruits and vegetables you feed to your beardie should always be fresh.

Using a shallow feeding dish relieves some of the issues associated with feeding fresh vegetables and fruit, but it doesn’t solve these problems entirely.

A separate feeding tank is handy for fruits and vegetables because it allows for easy cleanup when your beardie is done eating.

Setting Up A Separate Feeding Tank For Your Bearded Dragon

Getting a feeding tank set up isn’t nearly as complicated as setting up the tank your beardie lives in because there isn’t any type of decor to worry about.

Since the separate tank is all about feeding, it should be as bare as possible.

Adding a smooth substrate, such as paper towels or reptile carpet, adds a little comfort for your beardie and makes cleanup very easy. 

It also avoids any risk of impaction, which usually happens when a reptile ingests foreign material such as sand from a loose substrate.

Heat lamps and lighting are unnecessary because your beardie will only be in the feeding tank for a short time, but don’t place the tank in a cold room. 

Bearded dragons need heat to digest their food correctly, and they will have stomach issues if their feeding tank is at a much lower temperature than their “home” tank.

You also don’t have to worry about adding any hides, branches, or other decor pieces to the tank. 

Your bearded dragon won’t be in the feeding tank long enough to use these items, and they only serve as a place for live insects to hide.

The feeding tank size also does not have to be as large as the enclosure your beardie lives in since the only purpose of the tank is to feed your lizard. 

A 10-gallon tank offers plenty of room for your beardie to eat comfortably since there isn’t anything in the tank to clutter it up.

We have a separate post on 10 gallon tanks you can read if you’re going to get one.

Being placed in a separate container at feeding time might seem strange to your bearded dragon at first. 

However, over the course of a few feedings, your beardie will learn to associate being placed in a separate area with tasty food, and it will happily accept the change.

Your bearded dragon may even learn to tap on the glass when it is finished eating to let you know it is ready to go home now.

How Often Should You Feed Your Bearded Dragon?

A baby dragon and juvenile bearded dragons are constantly growing, so they need to eat more often than adult dragons.

The juvenile and baby bearded dragon diet also include a higher ratio of insects than the adults, usually 80% animal protein and 20% vegetables and leafy greens. 

You will gradually incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your beardie’s diet as they get older.

You should feed young bearded dragons at least three times a day to ensure they are receiving enough nutrients to grow and thrive.

Their diet consists mainly of crickets dusted with calcium and multivitamin powder supplements. 

Mealworms and other insects are introduced later when the beardie’s digestive system is a bit more developed.

An adult bearded dragon should be fed only once per day, with a diet composed mainly of vegetables and greens with a smaller amount of protein.

Commercial foods such as pellets and such are fine, but natural greens, vegetable matter, and fruits are much healthier. 

Collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens are exceptionally healthy and high in calcium.

Warning! Cat food is NOT a good option. 

Once your beardie reaches sexual maturity around 18 months of age, its diet should consist of 20% animal protein, with the other 80% being made up of fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. 

Since fruit contains large amounts of natural sugar, it should only make up around 10% of the plant material you offer to your beardie.

Don’t forget to sprinkle on multivitamin supplements or calcium supplements to increase calcium levels in their diet and avoid health problems such as metabolic bone disease. 

And if you want to learn more on how often to feed bearded dragons read our other post going into great detail that you’ll find very helpful.

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