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.


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.

Follow along with all my beardies. Check out my thread here!: Claud's Crew
P.S. We have lots of pictures ;)
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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.

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