If you own a pet bearded dragon, then naturally you will have questions about what they can and cannot eat. But what about grass? Whether you have a general curiosity, or if your beardie has attempted to eat some – either way its important to know for sure. Intrigued, I decided to do some research. Here is what reptilian experts, veterinarians and owners have said.
So, can Bearded Dragons eat grass? Bearded Dragons can eat grass, however it not an ideal food source and should be fed sparingly. While bearded dragons are omnivorous, sharing a carnivorous and vegetarian diet – grass does not provide as much nutrition as other foods. In the wild, beardies will eat anything that is easy for them to find. However, when we keep them in captivity as pets, we can offer and provide them with more nutritious green vegetables and fruits. You need to be careful of Lawn grass in particular, as it can be sprayed with chemical agents (like herbicides/insecticides) that are harmful, if not deadly, to bearded dragons.
Bearded dragons are popular pet lizards to keep and are generally easy to manage and take care of. They also make an excellent companion to have around.
As pet owners, we often have a lot of questions when it comes to their management and it is our responsibility to ensure they remain healthy. As they are omnivores, we need to consider what foods we offer – in terms of safety, preference and also benefits.
What is good for them should not depend on what is easily available to us, but ensures they meet their nutritional needs and requirements. Grass is eaten by many pets; and is by nature a form of green vegetation, but this does not necessarily mean we should offer it.
Let us now take a closer look at whether or not you should feed grass to your beardie, along with providing you with some information on the most commonly asked questions on the topic. We will be covering:
- Do Bearded Dragons Eat Grass?
- Should Bearded Dragons Eat Grass?
- What Kinds of Grass Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
- Can Bearded Dragons Have Too Much Grass?
So, be sure to keep reading to the end to find out all you need to know!
Do Bearded Dragons Eat Grass?
Bearded Dragons generally eat all sorts of things – including grass if provided or accessible.
Because their diet is so diverse and they are keen to try new foods, a lot of owners believe they are able to eat most things. This is especially true if the food is green vegetation. However, this is not necessarily true.
Out in the wild, Bearded Dragons will eat grass if this is what is available to them.
Young Bearded Dragons tend to have a diet that is about 80% insects, while the other 20% consists of different kinds of plant matter. They are predominantly carnivorous in nature; having a higher protein requirement then their elder counterparts.
This is ideal for the young beardies because they need to put on as much weight as possible, along with hydrating correctly, both of which are functions that insects provide. They also happen to be very delicious and palatable for them.
In the wilderness, the first taste of grass that they have tends to relate to other foods that they are consuming.
Usually, they will accidentally eat grass while hunting for an insect that is laying on it, or even eat grass when no insects are available.
Their preference is usually not specifically for grass, but it does include survival, so they will eat anything that is easily accessible. They would rather be eating berries or leaves, along with their healthy dose of delicious insects. But, if they must eat grass – they do.
The diet of a bearded dragon changes as they grow older. Adult bearded dragons are more herbivorous – preferring more plant matter as their protein requirements fall.
In the wild, and as the seasons change, grass may be eaten exclusively with nothing else.
By this stage, their vegetable intake grows considerably, and they may need to consume more greens than when they were young.
Because of this, even though they still prefer leaves and fruit, they will start consuming more grass, if needed.
But, wild grasses are very different to the grasses we typically have available. Grass is used as a term to describe a whole plethora of different types – and the grass that beardie will eat in their wild environment is quite different.
For us, our main understanding and potential food source is from the lawn.
If you catch your beardie eating grass, don’t worry! Its usually fine in small amounts.
Just make sure that you check on them attentively to make sure that it did not carry anything that might cause them harm.
Of course, not all bearded dragons will eat grass if provided or if it is accessible. This is especially true if you are feeding them appropriately and they are meeting all of the nutritional needs and requirements.
Should Bearded Dragons Eat Grass?
While bearded dragons can and sometimes do eat grass when available, this does not necessarily mean they should. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Residential grass, as previously mentioned, is not like wild grasses. It does not generally contain the fibers, vitamins, proteins or minerals that wild grasses can offer.
That is not to say it is completely devoid of such, or your beardie cannot obtain some nutrition by eating it, but for the most part – better foods are available.
Grass in general is very hard for Bearded Dragons to digest. They do not have the digestive systems quipped to be able to digest grass easily.
Most animals who regularly eat grass have an entire digestive system primed for it (cows for example have several stomachs). This helps them to destroy the fiber from the grass and use the nutrients.
However, beardies do not have these kind of organs, and it can be very difficult for them to digest grass appropriately.
They may occasionally eat grass in the wild, if it is available. But these instances usually happen out of an accident, as we mentioned before, or because no other source of food is available anywhere. Its survival, so we should not confuse it as being optimal.
Even if a beardie was to consume grass, they don’t receive many actual benefits – it does not contain the specific nutrients they naturally need to stay good and healthy.
Bearded Dragons really like (and need!) their exercise though. You might want to let your beardie roam around the yard for a bit. And that’s good! However, you need to make sure that they do it safely.
It is important than these walks are supervised, and you do not take them to an area with treated grass.
If your lawn has not been treated, and you see them snacking on some grass, don’t worry! It is normal for them to be curious and want to try and see how it tastes.
An occasional grass snack should not do them any harm, but it won’t provide them with any nutrients either. So, don’t encourage them to eat grass if you can avoid it. For this reason, bringing in lawn clippings to feed your beardie is not really advised.
Above all, do not let them snack on grass that has been sprayed with any type of pesticide or insecticide. This can cause issues with a bearded dragon if consumed, especially if they’re young.
Take them to a pesticide-free area, and let them roam free (with supervision of course!), and be careful with how much grass you let them consume.
It can sometimes happen, that they’ll try to consume some fruits or leaves that have fallen down trees, and eat grass in the process, especially if they are allowed outside without the proper supervision.
If this happens, make sure to keep an extra eye on them, to make sure than the combination of fruits, leaves, and grass does not cause any adverse effects.
We must remember that beardies are very delicate, especially if they grow up in a controlled environment. We need to take this into account with the foods that we feed.
Can Bearded Dragons Have Too Much Grass?
As with humans, sub-optimal food is okay for Bearded Dragons, if they are consumed in moderation and are getting a healthy diet.
As mentioned before, grass doesn’t really offer Bearded Dragons the appropriate amount of nutrients that they need, so they should probably limit their consumption of it as much as possible.
It is possible that if they overeat grass, they might not want to eat the things that are good for they (like vegetables and insects) and this might cause a nutrient deficit.
Nutrient deficits and malnutrition can lead to several other issues – spanning from growth issues all the way through to lethargy. As an owner you need to be careful that these do not develop.
Another potential issue with high grass consumption is the digestive complications. It can lead to impaction and constipation as they are unable to appropriately and effectively break it down.
If you suspect your beardie is suffering from digestive problems or is not pooping as much as usual, it is best to take them to a vet as soon as you can.
What Should Bearded Dragons Eat?
We must also try to replicate the food a beardie consumes from their native habitat; this will help to make sure that they will grow up healthy and happy.
Of course, this will mean providing a diet that suits their age, size, nutritional needs and preferences.
For baby beardies this will mean higher protein, and for old beardies, higher vegetation. As a guideline, this averages out so that a bearded dragon’s diet should be around 50% plant-based material and 50% animal-based material.
In nature, when they are young, they are able to capture insects at will, so it is important that you as an owner provide a sufficient supply of insects for them too. Variety is key too.
They do best on a diet that includes insects like: grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, hoppers, among others.
Try feeding them good quality insects that can provide them with the vitamins, minerals, and hydration that they need to stay healthy, strong, and develop a good immune system.
Remember: buy insects that have been specifically breaded and do not catch any insect that is in your yard to feed them.
It can be very dangerous and as you cannot be sure if they have been exposed to harmful insecticides that could kill them or seriously hurt them.
As they grow older, it is ideal to replace some of the protein that they obtain from insects with vegetables and fruits.
These should contain high amounts of nutrients that help to support their health.
Instead of grass, a good source of vegetable nutrients include: kale, collard greens or dandelion leaves. They all are very nutritious, and they are also delicious to them!
Other sources of nutrients that can help them grow strong and healthy include a large variety of fruits. Grapes, apples, carrots, and tomatoes, make great additions to their diets.
Remember to wash everything you feed them, regardless of where you source it from. Pesticides can make your Bearded Dragon very ill, even if they consume a small amount.
It’s better not to risk it – so source organic if possible and you can afford it!
While bearded dragons can safely eat grass, so long as it has not been treated, this does not necessarily mean they should.
A small amount here in there should not cause any issues – and wild bearded dragons have been known to consume grass in their natural habitats.
However, these grasses are very different to the ones we grow on our lawns. Equally, they only opt for grass as a means of survival. Its not optimal food.
Remember: fertilizers, pesticides, or insecticides tend to remain in the soil, even years after they were applied.
This means that even if you think that they will be safe eating the grass that grows there, it could still cause issues. Therefore, it is better to avoid any potential risks altogether.
Prevention is always better than cure and beardies are generally quite delicate – we need to be careful as owners.
Ultimately, grass fails to provide the nutrition a bearded dragon really needs. There are much better foods available – especially insects, fruits and vegetables. A small amount may be safe – but it is not preferable!
Can bearded dragons eat leaves? Any leaves that are edible by humans should be safe for a bearded dragon to eat. So, most leaves that fall from trees should be okay. Grapevine and Mulberry leaves are some of the better options as they carry more nutrition.
Can bearded dragons eat flowers? Most flowers are great to offer to bearded dragons as a treat. Specific flowers bearded dragons enjoy include: geraniums, carnations, dandelions, hibiscus, nasturtiums, and roses. Flowers can be home grown or purchased directly from florists.