A hungry Bearded dragon will almost eat any food that is offered to them. Being omnivorous, various food options are available. In both the invertebrate and greens groups of food, there are some items that should not be fed.
Insects that should not be fed to Bearded dragons
When it comes to feeding invertebrates, the options should rather be limited to commercially available insects and the occasional pinkie mouse. Wild-caught insects can either be poisonous, or poisoned, have hard/dangerous exoskeletons, and often carries parasites. Fresh flying ants can be fed with caution. Fireflies, centipedes, butterflies, bees, houseflies, ants and wild maggots, and insects that excrete nasty-smelling scents should especially be avoided.
Commercial insects that contain high amounts of fat and low relative calcium levels should be fed with caution. Insects with high levels of fat include mealworms, Superworms, butterworms, and waxworms.
Greens that should not be fed to Bearded dragons
The problem often lies with feeding greens (plant-related food groups) to Bearded dragons. We love to experiment a bit with fruits, vegetables, flowers, and leafy plants. This group can have items that are either unhealthy, poisonous, or even lethal. Some greens can be fed in limited quantities with other greens, while others should rather be avoided. For a list of safe greens also see what greens to feed Bearded dragons.
With only a very few exceptions, it is generally assumed that if a plant (the leaves, fruit, and/or the roots) is not fit for human consumption, it should not be fed to Bearded dragons in any form. This includes all plants that are known to be poisonous.
Parts of plants that grow in your garden should almost always be avoided. Even if a garden plant is known to be safe for humans, caution must be taken with Bearded dragons. Greens that are fit for human consumption, but definitely not for Bearded dragons are Avocados, Beetroot tops, Elderberry, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Juniper, Onions (and garlic), and Rhubarb. This list also contains greens that can be safely consumed by other animals but not by Bearded dragons. These include Acorns, Lettuce, and Spinach.
Acorns, or oak nuts, are the nuts of oak trees. These nuts can be consumed raw or processed by humans and are consumed as an important part of their diet by some animals. Because of their dangerous tannin content, they should not be fed in any form (even crushed) to Bearded dragons.
Avocados (also known as Avocado pears) are the fruit of the Avocado tree. It is a common and healthy fruit that can be consumed by humans, but not by all species. Avocado contains a protein called persin, which is known to cause heat-related deaths in birds. The general consensus is not to feed it to Bearded dragons.
Beetroot tops are the leafy parts of beetroot vegetables. Beetroot is very nutritious and popularly consumed by humans. It contains good levels of magnesium and vitamin A. Beetroot tops, on the other hand, contains a chemical that inhibits calcium absorption in Bearded dragons and should be fed in moderation.
Elderberry is a popular plant used for medicinal purposes. Humans can consume the leaves and berries in small quantities and under certain conditions. Under uncontrolled circumstances, Elderberry is considered poisonous and should not be fed to Bearded dragons in any form or quantity.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit root is used in alternative medicine and is edible (only after drying and cooking) Fresh roots contain high concentrations of calcium oxalate and are considered to be dangerous. Jack-in-the-Pulpit should not be fed to Bearded dragons at all.
All Juniper trees produce berries. For humans, the berries of only the Common juniper tree are used for their flavoring abilities. The rest of the species have berries that are either bitter and/or poisonous. Juniper berries, from any Juniper tree, should not be fed to Bearded dragons.
Lettuce is a leaf vegetable very popular for its use in salads for human consumption. As food for Bearded dragons, lettuce is mostly water and not nutritious at all. It can be fed in small quantities together with other leafy greens, but should not be relied on as a staple.
Spinach is another food to avoid. It is considered healthy for human consumption and contains relatively high amounts of iron and calcium. In Bearded dragons, however, spinach acts as a calcium binder and can reduce the amount of this important mineral available for their physiological needs.
Onions & garlic
Onions, also known as the common onion or bulb onion, and garlic are vegetables commonly consumed by humans for their taste enhancement properties. In some species (such as dogs and cats) these vegetables are considered toxic in certain quantities and cause the breakdown of red blood cells. On top of this, onions and garlic are considered to be too acidic to be fed to Bearded dragons and should rather be avoided in any form and/or quantity.
Rhubarb is a leafy vegetable plant with a thick stem. The stems are commonly eaten by humans. Although the stem is readily consumed by humans, the leaves contain Anthraquinone glycosides and Oxalic acid which makes it poisonous. For this reason, the entire Rhubarb plant should rather not be fed to Bearded dragons.
Apart from these food items mentioned in this article, there might be many more that is safe to consume for humans and other animals. When in doubt, rather stick to food items that have been reported as safe to feed to Bearded dragons. For a list of safe foods for Bearded dragons, also see the what and how to feed your pet Bearded dragon and what greens to feed Bearded dragons.
If you know of any food items that should be on this list, please let us know in the comments section below.