Understanding your Bearded dragon’s diet from their juvenile stage to when they are fully grown up is essential in giving you ideas on how best to care for them. As the most popular exotic pet here in the US, questions on Beardie’s diet have been arising and in this article, I’ll be answering the following key questions;
- Can bearded dragons eat butternut squash?
- What do Bearded dragons eat?
- What are the nutritional benefits of Bearded dragon eating butternut squash?
- What are the drawbacks of feeding your beardie a butternut squash diet
- How to feed and how often to feed butternut squash to your beardy
- Other alternative diets for bearded dragons?
First, what is a bearded dragon?
If you are new and just starting your research on how to care for Bearded dragons, you should know that they are beautiful, fascinating creatures that make wonderful pets.
They are a type of lizards that were moved to the US in the 90s from their native habitats in Australia. They thrive in hot, dry environments and can grow to be about 2 feet long.
Bearded dragons have a ‘beard’ around their chin area that they puff out when they are angry, threatened, or trying to scare off predators.
They also have spines down their back that stand up when they are agitated. As juveniles, these spines tend to be very sharp but as they get older, they become blunt.
What do bearded dragons eat?
Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. In the wild, their diet consists of a variety of insects, small mammals, and vegetation.
As pets, their diet should consist of about 50-60% insects and 40-50% vegetables. You should note that their preferred diet changes during their lifetime. When they are juveniles aged 6 months or less, they prefer a heavy-protein diet with at least 80% protein and 20% vegetables.
When they are fully grown, they can do with a diet that is 50% protein and 50% vegetables.
The type of insects you feed your beardie will also change as they grow up. As juveniles, they should be fed small insects such as crickets, roaches, and mealworms.
As adults, they can eat larger insects such as cockroaches, locusts, and grasshoppers.
You should also note that Bearded dragons love to eat live food but if you are squeamish about having bugs running around your house, you can opt to feed them frozen/thawed insects.
The vegetables you feed your beardie should be chopped into small pieces so that they can easily eat them.
You should also note that Bearded dragons need a calcium supplement to help them with their growth and development. The best way to do this is to dust their food with a calcium powder before feeding them.
The insects that you feed your beardie should be no bigger than the space between their eyes. The most common insects fed to beardies are crickets, dubia roaches, mealworms, superworms, and hornworms.
As for vegetables, you should offer a variety of dark leafy greens as well as vegetables that are high in beta-carotene such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers.
You should also offer them a variety of fruits such as mangoes, papayas, figs, and apricots.
It is important to note that you should not feed your beardie avocado as it is toxic to them.
You should also avoid feeding them iceberg lettuce as it has very little nutritional value.
You should feed your beardie 2-3 times a day for juveniles and 1-2 times a day for adults.
Can bearded dragons eat butternut squash?
Bearded dragons can eat butternut squash as it is a good source of beta-carotene, which is important for their growth and development. Butternut squash is also a good source of fiber, which helps with their digestion.
The carbs contained in butternut squash may present challenges if you pet’s overall diet is not balanced and may result in obesity or diabetes if not controlled.
The other drawback to feeding your beardie butternut squash is that it can be a little bit hard for them to digest if they are not well cooked. If you do decide to feed your beardie butternut squash, you should cook it until it is soft and mash it up into small pieces before feeding it to them.
Butternut squash also contains minimal calcium, only 0.048% and it is important that you dust their butternut squash meal with calcium supplements.
How much should I feed butternut squash to my Beardie?
Beardies should eat butternut squash as part of a balanced mix vegetable diet with salad being at least 4 strips. For example:
- One cup of mixed vegetables with 50% butternut squash,
- 30% dark, leafy greens and 20% other vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, etc.
A good rule of thumb is to offer your beardie 2-3 inches of vegetables per day.
Generally, bearded dragons typically eat about 10-15% of their body weight in food every day. So, if your beardie weighs 100 grams, they will need to eat about 10-15 grams of food every day.
A good rule of thumb is to offer them as much food as they can eat in 10 minutes.
How should I feed butternut squash to my Beardie:
While I found some literature claiming that you can feed your beardy raw butternut squash, I discourage anyone from feeding them raw. It may be difficult for them to digest and could cause gastrointestinal issues.
I would highly recommend cooking the butternut squash until it is soft and then mashing it up into small pieces before feeding it to your beardie.
You can either bake, steam, or microwave the butternut squash before mashing it up.
Mashed butternut squash can be a great addition to a salad mix for your beardie.
You should also dust their food with calcium powder before feeding them.
When feeding your beardie butternut squash, you should offer them a variety of other vegetables and fruits as well. A good mix would be 50% butternut squash, 30% dark, leafy greens, and 20% other vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, etc.
You should also offer them a variety of fruits such as mangoes, papayas, figs, and apricots.
What is Butternut Squash for Beardies?
It is a form of winter squash that is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They taste sweet and ‘nutty’ with taste close to those of pumpkins. You’ll find plenty of butternut squash in countries such as the UK.
Butternut squash has orange flesh with seeds at the bulbous end of the fruit. Although butternut squash is commonly known as a vegetable, it is technically a fruit since it is used in food preparations. It can be prepared into delicious butternut squash soups or used in casseroles and roasted dinners.
Storage conditions of a butternut squash:
- Can stay fresh for up to 3 months
- Need optimal temperature of around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of around 50%
- Best cooked when it has been stored for at least 2 months
- Skin can be eaten if roasted but can also peel the skin.
Nutritional Profile of Butternut squash:
Butternut squash is made up of 86.41% water content with only 2% fiber, 1% protein, and 0.1% fat. It is also a good source of vitamins B6, C, and E, as well as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Health Benefits of Butternut squash for Beardies:
The beta-carotene found in butternut squash can help to improve your bearded dragon’s vision. It can also help to boost their immune system and protect them from harmful UV rays.
The vitamin C found in butternut squash can help to improve your bearded dragon’s joint health. It can also help to boost their immune system and protect them from harmful toxins.
The fiber found in butternut squash can help to improve your bearded dragon’s digestive health. It can also help to regulate their blood sugar levels and prevent them from becoming overweight.
The potassium found in butternut squash can help to improve your bearded dragon’s cardiovascular health. It can also help to regulate their blood pressure and prevent them from developing kidney stones.
The magnesium found in butternut squash can help to improve your bearded dragon’s bone health. It can also help to relax their muscles and prevent them from developing cramps.
Drawbacks of Butternut squash for Beardies:
Butternut squash does contain a small amount of oxalates, which can bind to calcium and contribute to kidney stones. Oxalates make up 2.36 mg/100g. However, this is only a concern if your bearded dragon is not getting enough calcium in their diet.
Butternut squash does contain a small amount of sugar, which can cause problems for beardies that are diabetic or prediabetic.
Overall, butternut squash is a great food for bearded dragons. It is packed with nutrients that can help to boost their health in a number of ways. However, it is important to note that you should only feed your beardie butternut squash in moderation. This is because it does contain a small amount of sugar and
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org