A bearded dragon makes an excellent pet for all reptile lovers. They are sweet-natured, gentle, and react well to being picked up and handled. Caring for a bearded dragon is relatively easy, as long you feed them regularly, give them enough attention, and keep them clean and healthy.
If you have a bearded dragon at home, you probably wonder what exactly you can feed them. Are you thinking of feeding them scraps of meat, like chicken, perhaps?
Can bearded dragons eat chicken? The short answer is yes, they technically can eat chicken, but only the smallest of scraps, and not more than maybe once a month. You will need to keep certain pertinent information in mind if you decide to feed your bearded dragon some chicken, like which part of the chicken he can digest, and whether to feed it to him raw or cooked. Read ahead to find out more about feeding your pet some chicken.
What Do Bearded Dragons Normally Eat?
Bearded dragons are omnivores, and a balanced diet ideally consists of 50% plant-based and 50% animal-based material. Baby bearded dragons are mainly carnivorous when they are young before turning omnivorous as they mature. The vegetables you feed your pet should rich in nutrients and vitamins, and low in fiber. Green leafy vegetables like iceberg lettuce and celery, zucchini, squash, and fruits like apple slices are great choices.
Animal-based protein sources mainly include crickets and grasshoppers, and other small insects and worms that are calcium dusted to provide adequate nutrients.
Why Is Chicken Not Recommended?
Chicken is a great source of protein and lean fat… for humans.
But for your bearded dragon?
Chicken contains too much fat and is too rich a source of fat and protein. The meat is also very difficult to digest if your bearded dragon does eat it. It does not form a natural part of your beardie’s diet, so feed him chicken like you’d feed your dog cake- very little, very rarely, and cautiously.
Similarly, chicken contains high levels of phosphorus. Excessive intake of phosphorus from chicken will hinder your bearded dragon’s ability to absorb and consume calcium. The perfect calcium-phosphorous ratio should always be 2:1, and chicken measures at a ratio of 1:16.7.
When the intake of phosphorous via chicken increases, the calcium is consequently bound within the intestinal tract, making much less doses available for your bearded dragon’s body to absorb.
Your beardie requires a goodly amount of calcium in his daily diet to avoid the risk of MBD or metabolic bone disease, a condition that poses a very common health hazard to reptiles.
Your bearded dragon will have digestive issues if his daily intake of vitamins and nutrients is too high or too low. If your beardie’s diet is too rich in fiber, fat, and protein and too low in calcium, he will have a hard time digesting his food, and subsequently, a hard time to process other nutrients his body needs.
Animal-Based Alternatives to Chicken to Feed Your Bearded Dragon
It is really not necessary to feed your bearded dragon scraps of chicken in the first place. There are many other animal-based alternatives you can give him. Here are some animal-based food you can feed your bearded dragon:
- King worms
- Mealworms- but only to adult bearded dragons.
You can even feed him tofu…that’s supposed to be like chicken, right? Just keep off the chicken as much as possible. You have many, many options when it comes to feeding your beardie. But, if the circumstances are unavoidable, and you really must feed him chicken, then only do so in extremely small amounts. Only once a month, at the most.
Raw chicken meat is particularly risky to feed to your bearded dragon as it presents a high risk of salmonella. Boiled meat is only relatively better. Don’t even think of sneaking him some fried chicken.
While your bearded dragon can technically eat chicken, it is not advisable to feed chicken to him, except under the rarest of circumstances. Instead, you can feed him a veritable slew of veggies, fruit, and other animal-based protein (like crickets and other insects) which will provide him with a well-rounded diet that his body needs. Feeding your bearded dragon too much chicken will increase his phosphorous intake and reduce his calcium consumption.
So, only feed him chicken if you absolutely and unavoidably must, and even then, only a thumb-sized scrap, no more than once a month.