How to Get a Bearded Dragon to Eat: 4 Proven Strategies for Success

It isn’t uncommon for a bearded dragon to develop picky eating habits and essentially shun their fruits and veggies, especially if they’re young and you’ve recently transitioned them to a less protein-dense diet.

However, bearded dragons can also shun certain feeders as well!

Regardless of whatever your bearded dragon is choosing not to eat, rest assured, there are strategies you can adapt that will show you how to get a bearded dragon to eat again. Just keep reading!

When it comes to understanding how to get a bearded dragon to eat, it is important to consider their overall health and state of their habitat.

Bearded dragons that are shedding, preparing to brumate, impacted, or sick will usually have a suppressed appetite.

While those with inadequate cage temps and insufficient UVB exposure will also have suppressed appetites.

However, healthy beardies with a good cage setup refusing to eat? You can almost always chalk it up to them just being stubborn!

Bearded Dragon Refusing to Eat Vegetables

Because of this, it is so important to consider the current overall health and behavior of your dragon, as well as their cage setup.

If everything checks out, you most likely just have a picky albeit healthy dragon whom will likely begin eating again if you follow one or more of the strategies below!

With that being said, if your dragon is healthy and of a good weight, not beginning to shed or brumate and has the right cage setup, then just keep reading below to discover what you can do to get them to start eating!

Also, feel free to use the Table of Contents below for easy and quick navigation to the section that most accurately describes your concern.

Strategy #1: Consider an Appetite Stimulant

Zilla Reptile Health Supplies Jump-Start Appetite Stimulant, 4.25-oz.

I recommend this only as a last resort as it is not an ideal end game strategy. The goal is to get your bearded dragon to eat on their own, so using a stimulant isn’t exactly accomplishing that.

Nevertheless, you can encourage them to eat with a stimulant while you figure out what foods they prefer OR if there are other issues (health, cage setup, etc.) going on.

Feeding with a stimulant will help if they begin to get weak or lose too much weight. The best stimulant is going to be Zilla appetite stimulant or Reptaid.

Reptaid uses herbal extracts to help bearded dragons fight off parasites and viruses, but also works to stimulate their appetite and get them eating again.

It’s a great option for a short term solution while you wait to take them to the vet or figure out why they’re not eating.

Strategy #2: Offer a Varied Diet

Bearded dragons eating a varied diet

Bearded dragons can be similar to humans in that, if fed the same thing over and over, they can begin to get bored and essentially lose their appetite.

This is especially common when it comes to feeding them greens and veggies!

So, if your bearded dragon won’t eat greens anymore, try offering them a new kind of green to taste.

Ideally, you will stumble upon a type they’ve never tried before and see to your delight, a curious bearded dragon gobbling up a new food!

Strategy #3: Try to Make Their Feeding Experience Fun

Hand feeding a bearded dragon

If you have time, you can always try handing feeding your bearded dragon greens to encourage them to eat them.

Some dragons love being hand fed and will only eat their greens this way.

You can also wet their greens to give them a new texture as well, or sprinkle in a little unsweetened apple sauce to provide a new and exciting flavor.

Additionally, adding wiggly feeders (think super worms) underneath greens can provide a movement that stimulates their hunger and interest in greens if they were previously shunning them.

Strategy #4: Hold Your Ground

Hungry looking bearded dragon

As long as your bearded dragon is healthy and a good weight, considering holding your ground until they begin eating.

You may want to also stop feeding them feeders for a few weeks until they eventually realize they need to eat their greens.

Once they’ve started eating their greens, you can very slowly reintroduce feeders.

If your dragon is an adult, consider offering them feeders just 2-3 times a week and greens daily. Just make sure you monitor their weight at all times.

Bearded dragons like to essentially shun their food in the hopes of getting something better, so if you give in, you’ll only be reinforcing this bratty behavior all the more.

How to Force Feed a Bearded Dragon

Only under serious conditions should you be concerned about “force feeding” a bearded dragon.

If your bearded dragon is sick, extremely malnourished or you’ve been instructed to force feed by a reptile vet, this is when you’re going to want to work on feeding them yourself.

First, you’ll need a small syringe like this (without a needle) which you can feed them with.

Second, you’ll need specific types of baby food like squash, pumpkin, or pea puree.

You can also soak bearded dragon pellets in organic, non-sweetened apple juice as well.

In Conclusion

​So there you have it! I hope this article gave you a better understanding of the strategies you can implement for how to get a bearded dragon to eat.

Again, it is important to always examine many things when your bearded dragon stops eating, so you can rule out any serious habitat or health issues.

Ensuring your beardie is healthy and has the right temps and exposure to UVB is crucial in getting them to eat again! And when in doubt, it never hurts to take them to a reptile vet.

Read These Articles Yet?

How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Food?

How Often to Feed a Bearded Dragon at ANY Age

Top 9 Best Live Food to Feed Bearded Dragons

13 thoughts on “How to Get a Bearded Dragon to Eat: 4 Proven Strategies for Success”

  1. My family is still new to bearded dragons, we adopted an approximately 5yr old dragon that sadly has had a rough life. He’s been changed owners over many times, so not 100% sure of his background. The owner we got him from said he loves superworms but has always needed to be “force fed” his greens. We have had Smaug (named after the dragon in the Hobbit) now for just about 8wks, just this week we’ve. Finally been able to feed him greens without it being puree in a syringe. He will not eat ANYTHING on his own. His veggies and proteins have to be hand fed and somewhat forced. Would you suggest any tips or tricks of helping us transition him to eating on his own??

    • I am in the same boat with my new 6 year old bearded dragon. Did you figure anything out or get an answer? Any advice is appreciated

  2. I have a baby bearded dragon that I got a few months ago and out of nowhere he stopped eating and he keeps going black and he isnt eating any more, walking anymore, or even hardly opening his eyes. I have to move him places where he would normaly walk to because he just wont get up anymore. It is scaring me a lot and I dont know what to do. Does anyone have any advice?

  3. My bear die is 2 years has been fine with eating until lately he wasn’t eating veggies so I had to force feed lettuce in his mouth. And I didn’t get any live food for him. So, now the onlyway he will eat is if I force feed him veggies and he won’t eat any live food. Help!

    • Beardies can’t eat lettuce! It isn’t nutritious enough and has too much water. Get something like collard greens, mustard greens or dandelion greens. Also consider getting a reptile multivitamin to get his body in better shape.

  4. You need to see a vet immediately it could be caused by a few things including a bacterial bug which is too much and in need of antibiotics

  5. I have a bearded dragon that refuses to eat anything that doesnt move (only eats horn worms, crickets, meal worms, etc.) I need some help on how to get him to eat his other food. We have tried a couple different brands and we currently have Zoo Med Gourmet Bearded Dragon Food. I have tried putting his meal worms over the food and he picks out the worms and leaves everything else to dry up and just sit there. Does anyone have any tips on how to get him to eat his food and veggies?

  6. My juvenile bearded dragon won’t eat his bugs anymore he won’t eat crickets nor dubia roaches which I just bought and he only wants meal worms which aren’t good I’m worried he’s not getting enough protein he eats greens very well but not protein I need help.

    • I would start with hand feeding him to start, and then maybe try taking mealworms away for a few days. Make sure your Beardie is healthy and a little bit older to do this tho! Once he is used to having no mealworms I would try to feed him some other worms. Maybe try putting them in his food bowl with other things he likes to eat?

  7. Help needed
    Our 6 month old bearded dragon has completely lost interest in eating any live staple bugs. He won’t touch crickets or locusts, now won’t touch dubia roaches 😭 he’s constantly going crazy in his vivarium and constantly wanting out. Had a phone consultation with vet but it didn’t help. This is now day 4 of not eating any bugs and only picks little bits of his salad. He’s starting to lose weight. Please can someone help? He has adequate heating and lighting in his vivarium


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