Babies SHOULD eat their salads

This forum is for advanced discussions on Dietary Needs. Advanced discussions are those that are not necessarily for the general hobbyist, contains practices that should not be applied by those lacking experience, or may be for theoretical discussions that we do not want to have confused with recommended care.

Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby claudiusx » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:32 pm

    Baby dragons should be eating their salads
There is an arbitrary ratio floating around in the beardie world that growing dragons should eat 80% insects and 20% salad. Even if this ratio was based off anything viable, let's be honest, many young dragons are lucky to eat a few leaves a month. That's far from the 80/20 rule anyways.

So many people use the rational that a young dragon really only needs the insects because it's growing so quickly. This can't be further from the truth, and touches on a thought process that I believe to be backwards. So many people are concerned with their dragons growing quick, putting on weight fast, becoming adult size by 6 months, that the term "good health" becomes an afterthought.
We have 1 obligation to these creatures - Give them a good long healthy life. There are many roads to do this, but keeping health in mind over fast growth is a good start.

Why it's important for dragons to eat their salads


I always recommend variety in the diet. Variety with feeder bugs, and variety with salad items. The reason is because there is not 1 single food that provides everything that these creatures need. A varied diet helps mitigate the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Simply put, there just isn't any way to feed a diet of only insects without there being a lack of some micro nutrient.

A dragon that starts off eating salads from an early age, tends to continue to eat salads on a regular basis for it's entire life. A lot of times, when babies aren't fond of salads, they grow into adults who don't want salads either. And because of this, we get a lot of adults that are way over fed on fats and proteins. And this can lead to some serious health complications, sooner or later.

Salads are important too for the growth of a baby dragon. Protein may be the building blocks of muscles and growth, but that protein needs the proper micronutrients available in the body to be shuttled into the cells. Not to mention, there is a lot more that goes into the health of any living creature than just the ability to grow and mature. And lets not forget, that salad items are great for hydration, roughage, and good gastrointestinal health.

So how do I get my baby to eat salad?


This is what is making this a topic for the advanced discussion. I've raised hundreds of dragons at the point, and iv'e raised over a dozen as pets well into adulthood. There is one method I've used on every single one of these dragons, that has made them eat salad from a very early age.

Hatchlings typically are relatively eager to eat salad items. Especially once they start seeing clutchmates chomping. Personally, I haven't had to do much to get hatchlings to eat their salads besides provide it to them.

What happens if you got a dragon past the hatchlings phase, as most of you will. Lets say 1 or 2 months old (or even older). The first thing to do is allow your dragon to settle into it's new home. Allow the relocation stress to subside, and let your dragon eat what it wants. After this period has passed, the method is simple. Either they have already been eating their salads (you should have been offering them a salad every day from day 1) or they haven't. If they haven't ate their salads at all in the few weeks you've had him/her, it's time to stop with the bugs.
Stay with me here, I promise you no ill will come to your growing dragon from missing a few bug meals. You aren't starving him here. He has the option to eat if he wants. And he will eat when he wants. Sometimes it only takes 1 missed feeding. Sometimes it takes a day of missed feedings. I've had a few dragons take 2 or 3 days of missed feeding before eating their salads finally. But they always do. And 99% of the time, once that initial barrier is broken, they will continue to eat their salads.

I've done this with every single dragon I've ever owned, and it's worked on every single one of them. And not one of them has ever been what some might call a "slow grower". In fact, I've compared my dragons growth rates and sizes at certain ages to members here. To other owners who don't care about their dragons eating salad. And guess what? My dragons grow just as quick, and just as big. In some cases, my dragons outgrow the others on here eating only insects. But quick growth isn't my goal. Health is my goal. And a long healthy happy life at that.

Conclusion


Lets be honest here. Even if you believe in the 80/20 rule, you're not following it if your dragon never eats it's salads. The method I laid out above is simply 1 method to fix this. A method I've used over the past ~20 years with success. I'm sure other people have their ways, but too many people don't even have "a way". If you need to stop feeding insects for a day or 2 to get your dragon to start eating salads, then I believe you should.
I truly believe, that a few days without insects is a lot lesser of an evil than a dragon not touching salad the entire time it's body is maturing.

-Brandon
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby Drache613 » Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:23 am

Hello Brandon,

I totally agree about babies needing to eat greens. A real problem of course, is that so many
people get their dragons when they are past that stage who were never taught to eat their greens
previously. So when you get an older dragon who never ate greens it makes it so difficult to get
them to change their preferences! LOL
The long term health is definitely greatly affected by too much protein & fat just like it is in humans
too. I guess a lot of people just don't think about it much.
Great post, thanks for always contributing.

Tracie
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby ksk810 » Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:14 am

Hi Brandon,

I've been trying this method for two days and no luck just yet but I know he's hungry (and obviously getting hungrier)...should I go for day three? He's five months old and getting pickier by the minute it seems.
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby claudiusx » Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:23 am

Hi there,

2 days really isnt too much time. He's just being stubborn at this point. I'm sure he is hungry, but he isnt that hungry yet. As long as a nice salad is always available to him, he will eventually go for it once he gets hungry enough.

I would continue on for a few more days as long as your husbandry is ok and he was healthy before hand :)

Tomorrow if he still hasn't ate any salad, you can try grabbing a piece and kind of waving it in front of his face. Sometimes just simply the movement of the item is enough to get them to want to eat it. Same goes from dropping the salad leaves into his tank.
Good luck :)

-Brandon
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P.S. We have lots of pictures ;)
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby ksk810 » Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:30 am

Thank you for all your tips! Yes, his temps have been approved and he's very active and has a good amount of weight stored on him. I still bathe him every few days to make sure he's getting water. He did eat three pieces I dropped in front of his face yesterday, so hoping he'll go for it on his own soon!
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby claudiusx » Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:33 am

Ok great that is a good sign! Let me know how it goes :)

-Brandon
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby Linzloohoo » Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:55 am

Kai never really ate salad when he was little. Maybe a few bites here or there. He did grow very fast, and is almost adult sized at 7 months. However his eating habits have changed. He prefers his greens over bugs now. Which I found odd. I’m guessing that their taste changes instinctively as they get older?
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby ksk810 » Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:01 am

I've heard of that happening but haven't witnessed it yet! Do you just dust his salads with supplements? I've wondered how to get him calcium and vitamins when he's refusing to eat certain things.
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby Linzloohoo » Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:49 pm

ksk810 wrote:I've heard of that happening but haven't witnessed it yet! Do you just dust his salads with supplements? I've wondered how to get him calcium and vitamins when he's refusing to eat certain things.


Yes I dust his salads. Although he’s doing the semi brumation thing right now, so he’s not eating much.
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby ksk810 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:26 pm

Just want to clarify- how much of his salad should he eat before I start bugs again? He's snuck a few bites here and there but nothing substantial yet.
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby claudiusx » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:37 pm

If it's only been a few bites I would wait longer. There is no set amount, but you'll know the difference between "eating" his salad and "nibbling" at his salad.

What are your salads consisting of currently? Have you tried hand feeding him some leaves?

-Brandon
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby ksk810 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:44 pm

I've done a combination of the following: carrots, little pieces of broccoli stalk, bok choy, cilantro, bell pepper (yellow and green), non-lettuce leaves from a spring mix, and some date/apple pieces to tempt him. When I offer by hand he'll usually take an exploratory lick and then do his signature staring-off-into-space and pretending he doesn't see 😂 It's so infuriating! (He also does this with crickets when he gets bored of them) The few items he's eaten, I've dropped a little piece in front of him and walked away. When I come back it's gone. But then when I do it again he won't eat it a second time. He is seriously so stubborn! But definitely still just nibbling at this point. I think I've trained him by giving in too easily in the past.
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby claudiusx » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:46 pm

ksk810 wrote: I think I've trained him by giving in too easily in the past.

YUP! That is the key right there. They are quite smart, and learn real quick that they can hold out to get what they want. Conversely, they will learn they can eat their salad and still get bugs :)

-Brandon
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Re: Babies SHOULD eat their salads

Postby ksk810 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:50 pm

Well I'm determined to win this time! I'll keep you posted.
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