Does your bearded dragon turn up their nose at the deep dish of vegetables in its enclosure?
Chances are they are quick to consume their range of insects and treats, but they probably leave those leafy greens to languish in the bowl.
Getting them to eat greens is important for their health and helps prevent major health issues like a metabolic bone disease.
The real question is how to convince them these greens are tasty snacks.
Bearded dragons can learn to love greens if you start them off as babies.
Convince them to eat more by mixing it up, making a smoothie in your food processor, or adding small quantities of fruit or bee pollen.
If all else fails, refuse to feed them anything until they eat their greens.
Getting your bearded dragon to eat his greens is challenging, but it is not impossible.
If you are feeling stuck and frustrated, these ten tips and tricks might help.
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#1 Start Them Off Right
If you have a baby bearded dragon, it is important to introduce them to greens early on.
Do not let them grow accustomed to eating nothing but feeder insects or mealworms.
They need various vegetables like dandelion greens, Swiss chard, collard greens, and even sweet potato.
Consider it this way.
Live insects or mealworms are like the equivalent of a fast-food source.
They are delicious and have some nutritional value, but you need to eat more than insects or fast food burgers.
The same is true for your bearded dragon.
Teach them from an early age: vegetables are a good thing, and you will have a much easier time convincing them to eat greens as they get older.
After all, eating vegetables helps them get the right ratio of calcium to phosphorus.
This prevents major health issues like metabolic bone disease (caused by calcium deficiency), hindering them later in life.
How young is too young to feed your beardie vegetables?
A baby bearded at least one to two months old can start eating vegetables chopped into small pieces no bigger than the space between their eyes.
Remember to keep those morsels small to prevent them from choking.
#2 Hand Feed Them
You want your bearded dragon to eat mustard greens, but they have no interest?
You might be able to get their attention by hand feeding.
Cut up your leafy greens and have a nice selection to choose from.
This simulates their usual prey drive and convinces them to stalk what you are offering.
Now, you need to make sure you are not going to get bitten when doing this.
Pet stores carry special tools like long tweezers you use to hold the staple food up for your bearded dragon.
There is only one problem with feeding your beardie by hand.
They may grow accustomed to this way of eating and refuse to nibble their green beans out of their bowl.
Not only are they picky eaters, but they are also picky about how they eat.
Make sure to only do this occasionally to prevent your bearded dragon from becoming too high maintenance.
#3 Mix Things Up A Bit
If you are struggling to get your bearded dragon to eat the food items you put in their enclosure, you might need to switch things up.
These reptiles have the potential to be quite picky about what they like and dislike.
They might also get bored of the selection from time to time if you feed them the same things daily.
You might find your bearded dragon refuses to touch his Swiss chard.
However, he might dive right into a bowl of mustard greens.
Much like a toddler, you may have to explore which foods your reptile prefers before they are going to be willing to eat their greens regularly.
Check out our list of the best salads for bearded dragons for some options to add variety.
#4 Needs More Heat Or UVB
Managing your bearded dragon’s enclosure might be quite tricky if you have never done it before.
They need just the right temperature and the right amount of UVB to have the energy they need for digestion.
Without the proper amount of both heat and UVB, their bodies may slow down their digestive process.
As a result, they might need less to eat due to a decreased appetite.
If you are feeding them everything on the food list with no success, consider checking the temperature of their enclosure.
It should be 105 to 115° degrees Fahrenheit (46° C) on their basking spot.
Measure this with either a temperature gun or a digital probe thermometer placed on the basking spot.
UVB is also important.
There should be a UVB bulb spanning at least half of the average enclosure size.
It should be positioned about 12-16″ inches away from the area where your beardie basks.
Always mount this on the underside of the mesh on the top of the terrarium.
When either of these two things is off, you might encounter a bearded dragon who refuses to eat much of anything.
A suddenly decreased appetite should be your first clue something is off about your bearded dragon.
If you correct these two issues, but their appetite does not improve, consider taking them to the veterinarian for closer observation.
A veterinarian may also be able to offer you some feedback about your enclosure and their diet.
#5 Mix In Some Live Feeders
Convincing your bearded dragon to eat their live feeders is probably no problem for you.
They tend to gulp down their prey without a second thought.
This is a trick to attempt if you have lots of vegetables on hand, but your reptile refuses to touch them.
Rather than allowing these food items to rot, you need them to go to good use nourishing your beardie.
All you have to do is toss in a few live feeders.
Now keep in mind live feeders do move around.
You need to keep them in the bowl with the rest of the food.
Do not just put them on top.
Make sure to mix them thoroughly with the greens.
This ensures your adult bearded dragon is likely to nab some greens when they aim for the feeder.
The best way to keep your feeders in the dish with the vegetables is to disorient them a bit before placing them in the enclosure.
Do this by placing them in a bag and shaking them for a few seconds first.
If you do not relish the idea of shaking the feeders, simply place them in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes before feeding.
This should stun them and slow them down as well.
Here is our list of the best feeder insects for bearded dragons to help you pick the optimal choices to feed your pet.
#6 Add Some Bee Pollen
There are few things your bearded dragon loves more than the taste of bee pollen.
Sprinkle a little bit of this sweet powder over any fruits and veggies to spruce up their meal.
It transforms these greens into a tasty snack as well as boosting your bearded dragon with vitamin supplements.
Bee pollen packs a powerful punch for your bearded dragon’s diet.
It is packed to the max with protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
This supplement is great for your bearded dragon’s immune system, especially if it also convinced them to eat their healthy greens.
#7 Make A Smoothie
You might be feeding your bearded dragon their favorite fruits and vegetables, but it can still be quite difficult to get them to eat.
It might be easier to get those veggies into them by mixing up a quick smoothie in your food processor.
What is the secret to getting your bearded dragon to drink their green smoothie?
You have to sweeten it up just a little bit.
Remember, too much sugar is bad for your bearded dragon.
It can lead to obesity and general digestive system upset.
They may develop a bad case of diarrhea which can result in dehydration.
Fructose is particularly difficult for your bearded dragon to digest, so keep it to a minimum.
To make the smoothie sweeter, consider adding a couple of strawberries or some bee pollen.
While too many strawberries are bad for your beardie, the occasional treat is just fine.
Bee pollen is an excellent additive to sweeten it up without the health consequences associated with fruit.
#8 Mix In More Fruits
Your bearded dragon uses their sense of smell to determine what foods appeal to them.
The truth is sweet fruits are going to have a more appealing smell than leafy greens.
By mixing in a few bites of fruit, you might entice your beardie over to the food dish.
The best thing to do is to experiment and find out which fruit is their favorite food.
They love a lot of things in these food categories, so let them sample.
Hand feed them a few bites of different types of fruits to see what interests them the most.
Then, take their favorite and use it as a topper for the rest of their salad.
Remember, bearded dragons should not have too much fruit.
They need balanced calcium to phosphorus diet to prevent them from developing metabolic bone disease.
Too much sugar can cause digestive upset and obesity.
However, small quantities every once in a while will not hurt them.
Eventually, you might be able to scale back the amount of fruit you use and still have your bearded dragon consume their greens.
Check out our post on what fruits you can feed bearded dragons for a list of excellent options.
#9 Cut Back The Insects
The reason your bearded dragon may not be eating his greens is that he is already too full.
Figuring out the right ratio to feed your beardie is a challenge, particularly for first-time owners.
Many people are quick to drop in insects like mealworms or crickets in addition to their deep food dishes filled with vegetables.
Chances are, your bearded dragon needs fewer insects than what you are offering.
Babies need the most insects and protein when they are under six months old.
Almost 80 percent of their diet should come from bugs.
Juveniles (six months to one year) should be consuming half of their diet in insects.
Adults need even less than juveniles.
Only 20 to 30 percent of their diet should come from insects.
The rest should all be fruits and vegetables.
#10 Be More Stubborn Than Your Bearded Dragon
This is not the first line of treatment, and you should never use it with baby bearded dragons.
However, there comes a time when you simply have to stand your ground with your beardie.
They may not want to touch their leafy greens, but they will almost certainly eat when they get hungry enough.
This means you stop feeding them wax worms, mealworms, and live feeders for a few days.
Freshen up their bowl of greens so the veggies included are as fresh as possible.
Make an appealing food mixture, so they have some foods to select from.
If your beardie is an adult with a healthy weight, sticking to your guns and refusing to give in should work.
For those who have a skinnier bearded dragon or a juvenile, you will want to resort to some of the other tricks in this article.
Switch up their food list if you want to encourage an unhealthy or baby dragon to eat.