How Much Should My Beardie Be Eating (and What Do I Do?)

Flailing At Life

New member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Annie
Hello!!

My daughter (age 5) has been saving up for a pet for over a year. We finally got her a beardie on Saturday. But while I’ve done a ton of research, I’m finding a lot of it to be conflicting and am just worried about how much Annie (the dragon) is eating.

On Saturday when we brought her home, the guy at the pet store told us to fast her overnight and then to feed her 5 crickets in the morning and 5 at night and to offer greens as well, and to dust everything with calcium. So Sunday she received (and very eagerly ate) 10 crickets. She also ate through most of the salad we provided.

I read a bearded dragon care manual, which said we should be feeding as much as she’ll eat in 30 minutes, and that if they won’t eat in front of you (which she won’t) to drop them in and collect them at the end of 30 minutes, and bump up if she eats them all. So Monday we offered 8 crickets in the morning and 8 at night, which she ALSO devoured, as well as a few fly larvae midday that she did eat.

After THAT, I read in a DIFFERENT source that we should be feeding her 3-5 times a day, not just twice, and that she should be eating anywhere from 20-100 bugs per day.

Tuesday morning I gave her a salad with the fly larvae on top in the morning. She ignored it completely.

Tuesday afternoon, we removed the larvae that were there and replaced them with new ones that were definitely wiggly/active. She ignored those as well.

Tuesday night my husband came home and offered her about 8 crickets, and she devoured them QUICK. So I figured she just didn’t like the fly larvae.

Yesterday, I dropped in 8 crickets in the morning (with a salad), and she ignored them completely. At lunch we offered some more fly larvae and cucumber and strawberries just to try to entice her. She ate a bite of cucumber and ignored the rest. At dinner, my husband gave her 6 crickets; she ate those.

This morning we gave her 6 crickets; she only ate 3 of them. We went back to the store and picked up more crickets and also mealworms and wax worms… and then I read that she’s too young for the mealworms, so I guess those are useless.

We put two wax worms in her bowl hoping that they’d entice her to eat and that the high fat content might help her if she’s fasting; she is ignoring them.

Other than the lack of hunger, she SEEMS (from the POV of someone who has never had a pet before) relatively healthy. She moves throughout the enclosure, spending most of her time in her basking spot without seeming, like, reluctant to go to the other side of the tank. She doesn’t super hide from us when we come near, but is alert. She has good energy. She has pooped about every other day, which is on the low side of normal from what I can tell. Poops aren’t super dry or completely liquid, so I’m not concerned about those.

We’ve been putting calcium on her food once a day and have a multivitamin that we added to her food on Tuesday and plan to do Tuesday/Saturday with. And we have roaches being shipped in this weekend.

I don’t think she’s super stressed out or anything. I mean, probably some from the new tank, but we’ve been giving her space, and we don’t have any other pets or tiny children around. Our daughter has been VERY good with her—no loud noises or sudden movements or anything—and she spends most of her day at school anyway.

Tank is 115 at its hottest point at 75 at its coldest point; vast majority of the tank is 80s-90s. We have been spraying her with hot water in the morning and warm water at night to make sure she hydrates. Tank is not falling below 70 at night.

Am I missing something? I read some beardies don’t eat much the first couple of days because they’re stressed, but she WAS eating the first couple days. She also IS eating SOME; she just doesn’t seem to have MUCH of an appetite.

I think we have a 10W UV light… I’ll be honest that we got a starter kit to… start… her tank with, and I didn’t keep the box from the UV bulb, so I might be off about that. But it’s not like we didn’t give UV.

Just not sure what I’m doing wrong and/or how concerned I should be about the amount she’s choosing to eat.

Do I just need to give her more time? Are some beardies just not as hungry as others? Am I offering the wrong variety of foods?

Please advise.
 

KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 6 and Blaze is 4
Hello!!

My daughter (age 5) has been saving up for a pet for over a year. We finally got her a beardie on Saturday. But while I’ve done a ton of research, I’m finding a lot of it to be conflicting and am just worried about how much Annie (the dragon) is eating.

On Saturday when we brought her home, the guy at the pet store told us to fast her overnight and then to feed her 5 crickets in the morning and 5 at night and to offer greens as well, and to dust everything with calcium. So Sunday she received (and very eagerly ate) 10 crickets. She also ate through most of the salad we provided.

I read a bearded dragon care manual, which said we should be feeding as much as she’ll eat in 30 minutes, and that if they won’t eat in front of you (which she won’t) to drop them in and collect them at the end of 30 minutes, and bump up if she eats them all. So Monday we offered 8 crickets in the morning and 8 at night, which she ALSO devoured, as well as a few fly larvae midday that she did eat.

After THAT, I read in a DIFFERENT source that we should be feeding her 3-5 times a day, not just twice, and that she should be eating anywhere from 20-100 bugs per day.

Tuesday morning I gave her a salad with the fly larvae on top in the morning. She ignored it completely.

Tuesday afternoon, we removed the larvae that were there and replaced them with new ones that were definitely wiggly/active. She ignored those as well.

Tuesday night my husband came home and offered her about 8 crickets, and she devoured them QUICK. So I figured she just didn’t like the fly larvae.

Yesterday, I dropped in 8 crickets in the morning (with a salad), and she ignored them completely. At lunch we offered some more fly larvae and cucumber and strawberries just to try to entice her. She ate a bite of cucumber and ignored the rest. At dinner, my husband gave her 6 crickets; she ate those.

This morning we gave her 6 crickets; she only ate 3 of them. We went back to the store and picked up more crickets and also mealworms and wax worms… and then I read that she’s too young for the mealworms, so I guess those are useless.

We put two wax worms in her bowl hoping that they’d entice her to eat and that the high fat content might help her if she’s fasting; she is ignoring them.

Other than the lack of hunger, she SEEMS (from the POV of someone who has never had a pet before) relatively healthy. She moves throughout the enclosure, spending most of her time in her basking spot without seeming, like, reluctant to go to the other side of the tank. She doesn’t super hide from us when we come near, but is alert. She has good energy. She has pooped about every other day, which is on the low side of normal from what I can tell. Poops aren’t super dry or completely liquid, so I’m not concerned about those.

We’ve been putting calcium on her food once a day and have a multivitamin that we added to her food on Tuesday and plan to do Tuesday/Saturday with. And we have roaches being shipped in this weekend.

I don’t think she’s super stressed out or anything. I mean, probably some from the new tank, but we’ve been giving her space, and we don’t have any other pets or tiny children around. Our daughter has been VERY good with her—no loud noises or sudden movements or anything—and she spends most of her day at school anyway.

Tank is 115 at its hottest point at 75 at its coldest point; vast majority of the tank is 80s-90s. We have been spraying her with hot water in the morning and warm water at night to make sure she hydrates. Tank is not falling below 70 at night.

Am I missing something? I read some beardies don’t eat much the first couple of days because they’re stressed, but she WAS eating the first couple days. She also IS eating SOME; she just doesn’t seem to have MUCH of an appetite.

I think we have a 10W UV light… I’ll be honest that we got a starter kit to… start… her tank with, and I didn’t keep the box from the UV bulb, so I might be off about that. But it’s not like we didn’t give UV.

Just not sure what I’m doing wrong and/or how concerned I should be about the amount she’s choosing to eat.

Do I just need to give her more time? Are some beardies just not as hungry as others? Am I offering the wrong variety of foods?

Please advise.
Ok please no meal worms as shes not interested them anyway - the wax worms are fatty so if shes not eating them either dont fret - its too bad shes not interested in the BSFL as they are a great staple for babies and a good lure to the salad bowl - please start dusting the crickets 5 x per week w/ calcium D3 only ONCE per feeding lightly coated on the insects - vitamins w/ beta carotene 2 x per week ONCE per feeding lightly coated on the insects- she should be eating 20 - 25 crickets per feeding - so if she eats more that is great -10-15 time frame as many as she will eat -- PLease do not listen to the pet store people they dont know anything about taking care of dragons- its good you have come here you will get good advice about the care here - now for the most crucial thing in your tank the surface basking temps 105-110 taken w/ a digital probe thermometer - UVB NO coils --- long tube fixture we can post links for good ones --- placement will determine by the screen on the tank - this is the key to having a healthy dragon - shes going thru relocation stress so her eating is going to be off till she adjust to her tank and surroundings but this lighting I just went over is the key here - if this is off she will stop eating all together - dragons get most of their hydration from their salads - if shes not eating her salads please drop water on her nose or spray her head to see if she will lick you can also use a eye dropper to get her to drink I would do this a few times a week - bathing will stress her out - 115 is too hot please adjust the temp and get it w/ a digital probe thermometer please place where she sits for basking leave 10 min or so get the temp -- 65-75 for ambient temps at night -- your dragon is going to be mainly taken care of by you--- have your daughter assist but they are a complex animal and she is too young for care my her alone - if you want the links for the UVB please but this needs to be changed out if its the coil I am thinking of as soon as possible
 

Flailing At Life

New member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Annie
Yes, we fully expect to be in charge of taking care of Annie. I don’t think I’d put a 5YO fully in charge of any live animal. 😅 It’s “her” pet in that she had to do some work to prove she was mature enough for a pet (and that she wouldn’t get bored a week after getting one), but my husband and I are dedicated to keeping Annie safe and healthy as well.

Yeah, I think I had the mealworms mixed up with calciworms when I picked them out today, but I had already read that those weren’t the right ones.

We are doing exactly what you said with the vitamins already. We grabbed the fatty worms today on purpose because we don’t think she’s eating enough and thought that might give us enough of a stopgap to figure out why.

Sounds like the UV is the most likely culprit. Can you link me to the type I should be buying for a 20 gallon long tank… and then is it the same kind when I move her up to the bigger tank in a few months, or is there something else I need then?

Also. The hottest part of her tank is a little too hot but the coldest is also too cold. How do I fix that? I just figured she’d move to whichever part of that gradient was comfortable for her…
 

KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 6 and Blaze is 4
Yes, we fully expect to be in charge of taking care of Annie. I don’t think I’d put a 5YO fully in charge of any live animal. 😅 It’s “her” pet in that she had to do some work to prove she was mature enough for a pet (and that she wouldn’t get bored a week after getting one), but my husband and I are dedicated to keeping Annie safe and healthy as well.

Yeah, I think I had the mealworms mixed up with calciworms when I picked them out today, but I had already read that those weren’t the right ones.

We are doing exactly what you said with the vitamins already. We grabbed the fatty worms today on purpose because we don’t think she’s eating enough and thought that might give us enough of a stopgap to figure out why.

Sounds like the UV is the most likely culprit. Can you link me to the type I should be buying for a 20 gallon long tank… and then is it the same kind when I move her up to the bigger tank in a few months, or is there something else I need then?

Also. The hottest part of her tank is a little too hot but the coldest is also too cold. How do I fix that? I just figured she’d move to whichever part of that gradient was comfortable for her…
Ok the 20 gallon is going to be hard to keep temps but the 100 watt is too hot for that tank but you want a digital probe thermometer to get that temp of 105-110- shes not going to be in the tank long so I am going to see if I can find the Zoo Med fixture its going to be the best best for now w/ the 20 gallon--- you can use the 5.0 bulb that comes w/ that fixture its going to need to be unobstructed tho w/ your basking decor directly under it 6-8 inches -- 24" fixture your lucky they have them in stock Zoo Med ReptiSun T5 HO High Output Terrarium Hood they were out everywhere I looked last time please get this ordered right away - when you move her into a bigger tank 120 gallon preferred for a adult dragon you will need to change the bulb out to a Reptisun 10.0 T5 bulb - it will need to go inside the tank - I will post a pic of Blazes tank when he was in his 20 gallon tank - I took the screen off and placed the UVB width across the tank and used the lamp clip on the side of the tank it was a 75 watt bulb - if you want to use the screen place everything on one end w/ the UVB going width wise and the basking bulb sitting on the screen have the UVB on almost the end w/the screen butted up to it - the light hanging is a ceramic heat emitter used for a day or two after I got him --
 

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J4ckdaw-

Sub-Adult Member
Beardie name(s)
Leo
Hello!!

My daughter (age 5) has been saving up for a pet for over a year. We finally got her a beardie on Saturday. But while I’ve done a ton of research, I’m finding a lot of it to be conflicting and am just worried about how much Annie (the dragon) is eating.

On Saturday when we brought her home, the guy at the pet store told us to fast her overnight and then to feed her 5 crickets in the morning and 5 at night and to offer greens as well, and to dust everything with calcium. So Sunday she received (and very eagerly ate) 10 crickets. She also ate through most of the salad we provided.

I read a bearded dragon care manual, which said we should be feeding as much as she’ll eat in 30 minutes, and that if they won’t eat in front of you (which she won’t) to drop them in and collect them at the end of 30 minutes, and bump up if she eats them all. So Monday we offered 8 crickets in the morning and 8 at night, which she ALSO devoured, as well as a few fly larvae midday that she did eat.

After THAT, I read in a DIFFERENT source that we should be feeding her 3-5 times a day, not just twice, and that she should be eating anywhere from 20-100 bugs per day.

Tuesday morning I gave her a salad with the fly larvae on top in the morning. She ignored it completely.

Tuesday afternoon, we removed the larvae that were there and replaced them with new ones that were definitely wiggly/active. She ignored those as well.

Tuesday night my husband came home and offered her about 8 crickets, and she devoured them QUICK. So I figured she just didn’t like the fly larvae.

Yesterday, I dropped in 8 crickets in the morning (with a salad), and she ignored them completely. At lunch we offered some more fly larvae and cucumber and strawberries just to try to entice her. She ate a bite of cucumber and ignored the rest. At dinner, my husband gave her 6 crickets; she ate those.

This morning we gave her 6 crickets; she only ate 3 of them. We went back to the store and picked up more crickets and also mealworms and wax worms… and then I read that she’s too young for the mealworms, so I guess those are useless.

We put two wax worms in her bowl hoping that they’d entice her to eat and that the high fat content might help her if she’s fasting; she is ignoring them.

Other than the lack of hunger, she SEEMS (from the POV of someone who has never had a pet before) relatively healthy. She moves throughout the enclosure, spending most of her time in her basking spot without seeming, like, reluctant to go to the other side of the tank. She doesn’t super hide from us when we come near, but is alert. She has good energy. She has pooped about every other day, which is on the low side of normal from what I can tell. Poops aren’t super dry or completely liquid, so I’m not concerned about those.

We’ve been putting calcium on her food once a day and have a multivitamin that we added to her food on Tuesday and plan to do Tuesday/Saturday with. And we have roaches being shipped in this weekend.

I don’t think she’s super stressed out or anything. I mean, probably some from the new tank, but we’ve been giving her space, and we don’t have any other pets or tiny children around. Our daughter has been VERY good with her—no loud noises or sudden movements or anything—and she spends most of her day at school anyway.

Tank is 115 at its hottest point at 75 at its coldest point; vast majority of the tank is 80s-90s. We have been spraying her with hot water in the morning and warm water at night to make sure she hydrates. Tank is not falling below 70 at night.

Am I missing something? I read some beardies don’t eat much the first couple of days because they’re stressed, but she WAS eating the first couple days. She also IS eating SOME; she just doesn’t seem to have MUCH of an appetite.

I think we have a 10W UV light… I’ll be honest that we got a starter kit to… start… her tank with, and I didn’t keep the box from the UV bulb, so I might be off about that. But it’s not like we didn’t give UV.

Just not sure what I’m doing wrong and/or how concerned I should be about the amount she’s choosing to eat.

Do I just need to give her more time? Are some beardies just not as hungry as others? Am I offering the wrong variety of foods?

Please advise.
👋 Hi there, welcome to the community!

First I’d like to clarify that YOU and your partner are the primary caretakers, a 5 year old child won’t be able to comprehend the level of responsibility and knowledgeability that a reptile needs to thrive in captivity.

Onto feeding:

You’ll find mixed opinions across this forum on this topic, and, it really just depends on your bearded dragon’s appetite. So you’d say he/she is eating about 10-15 crickets a day?

That’s fine, in the wild they can go a long time with very limited food. The bare minimum I’d say is 18 crickets (6 crickets 3x a day) but if he/she is hungry enough you can feed him/her up 20 crickets per feeding 2x a day.

Just keep in mind, if you decide to feed him/her in higher amounts multiple times a day he/she WILL grow substantially faster and you’ll have to upgrade to a larger enclosure much faster (minimum for adults is 120 gallons).

Don’t listen to the people who say he/she can eat as much as she wants per feeding, that will almost undoubtably lead to obesity which can be INCREDIBLY dangerous for a bearded dragon or any reptiles in general.

In captivity we grow our bearded dragons WAY quicker than they would naturally in the wild, that’s fine and all but just a fair warning they can get up to two feet long in captivity in under a year. They are big.

Waxworms should never be fed as a staple insect, they are treat bugs to be fed in small amounts. They are lizard twinkies, too many of these and it’s almost certain your baby will be overweight which you should try to avoid.

Mealworms are a fine staple insects but I’d say for dragons over 5-6 months of age, don’t listen to any false claims about them lacking nutritional content or anything. Just know they should be fed in smaller amounts.

Other great staples are silkworms (pricy), superworms (5-6 months+ only, cheap), roaches (cheap), crickets (cheap), phoenix worms (cheap, jsyk most of their praised calcium content is the indigestible skins.)

Onto husbandry:

You need to replace the coil bulb stat, those things are inconsistent and can easily ruin a bearded dragon’s quality of life. This is non-negotiable for bearded dragons and most other reptiles.

The best brands for the ideal UVB fixture are Reptisun and Arcadia, get a long bulb that covers 3/4 of his/her tank. It’s best to be strapped to the inside of the enclosure. Karrie can help you with placement.

The things to look for are the labels D3+, ho, t5 if you want it above the mesh and t8 if you want it inside, wattage varies depending on size, and the % should never exceed 14% and never be lower than 12%.

What are you measuring her basking temps with? Stick-ons and temp guns are inaccurate, best bet would be a digital probe thermometer, most brands work the same. Get two and put it on either side.

Your basking spot is too hot, maximum should be 110 degrees. Ideally it should sit at exactly 107.6 degrees but 105-110 degrees work just as well (keep in mind this is all being measured in Fahrenheit).

good luck 👍
 
Last edited:

Axil

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Beebz
when I move her up to the bigger tank in a few months, or is there something else I need then?
You got good advice on the rest. Just chiming in to say your Dragon may well outgrow that enclosure a lot faster than you anticipated.

Between shipping times and getting the enclosure set up I ended up having Beebz in a much too small enclosure far longer than anticipated. So avoid my mistakes and start looking into that sooner than you think you need to.
 

Flailing At Life

New member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Annie
OP here! Thank you for all the great advice.

1.) Yes, my husband and I know that we are the primary caretakers. Our daughter’s role is to help us, not to do anything by herself 🙃

2.) We ended up ordering a better UV as many suggested. It should be here in a couple of days.

3.) We are hoping to primarily feed roaches, but we’ll see what she’ll eat!

4.) We do know that we’ll need a larger tank relatively soon. We’re already looking at options :)
 

J4ckdaw-

Sub-Adult Member
Beardie name(s)
Leo
OP here! Thank you for all the great advice.

1.) Yes, my husband and I know that we are the primary caretakers. Our daughter’s role is to help us, not to do anything by herself 🙃

2.) We ended up ordering a better UV as many suggested. It should be here in a couple of days.

3.) We are hoping to primarily feed roaches, but we’ll see what she’ll eat!

4.) We do know that we’ll need a larger tank relatively soon. We’re already looking at options :)
Perfect! Sounds like your good to go
 

KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 6 and Blaze is 4
OP here! Thank you for all the great advice.

1.) Yes, my husband and I know that we are the primary caretakers. Our daughter’s role is to help us, not to do anything by herself 🙃

2.) We ended up ordering a better UV as many suggested. It should be here in a couple of days.

3.) We are hoping to primarily feed roaches, but we’ll see what she’ll eat!

4.) We do know that we’ll need a larger tank relatively soon. We’re already looking at options :)
If you need links for tanks please ask -- if you have any questions regarding the UVB please ask
 

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