When it comes to the idea of feeding pinkies (feeder mice) to bearded dragons, there is a lot of conflicting information available on the internet.
It is amazing how much debate there is over this one topic. Some say pinkies are good for the bearded dragons and others say that pinkies can cause harm to your bearded dragons.
So, which is it?
You should not feed your bearded dragon mice pinkies on a regular basis. The high fat and protein content pinkie mice contain can cause health problems for your bearded dragon if fed too often.
The answer to this question should be simple, but there is a lot of conflicting information on the topic. Let’s break everything down so that you can make an informed decision on pinkies.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Pinkies?
The literal answer to this question is yes, bearded dragons can eat pinkies.
Should they be fed pinkies is another thing.
Let us look at the various points to see if it is a good idea and/or if it is necessary for us to feed our bearded dragon pinkies.
In captivity vs. Free
When the bearded dragons are in the ‘wild,’ roaming around freely on their own with no space limitations and no one spoon-feeding them food, they eat whatever they want and whenever they can find it.
This means that if a bearded dragon chances upon a baby animal, it will pounce (literally) on the opportunity to eat. They are like a treat, and in the wild, a bearded dragon never knows when or what their next food source will be.
When in captivity, however, it is strongly advised not to feed your bearded dragon pinkies, because you are already feeding it a healthy and nutritious diet. Pinkies aren’t healthy for bearded dragons and don’t add any value to your bearded dragon’s diet.
If you’re only feeding pinkies once every few weeks or so, it should be okay. There are better options, however:
Hornworms, for example, are an excellent treat that provide a good source of calcium. (Linked is my guide on when and how often you should feed hornworms.)
Pinkies are high in protein and fat, making them a poor source of nutrition for your bearded dragon. However, the smaller the pinkie, the less the fat content.
The digestive system of the bearded dragon is not built to digest a lot of fat at once. Any fat that it does eat is either digested or stored. The stored fat isn’t typically burned by exercise, but it can be used as energy if you ever forget to feed your pet.
The perfect pinkie would be a one-day- to three-day-old pinkie.
If they are older then three-days, they will be too big for your bearded dragon to consume effectively. Also, their bones aren’t as soft as before, and your bearded dragon might have trouble digesting them.
Additionally, pinkies should only be fed to an adult bearded dragon.
What Are Some Healthier Options for Bearded Dragons?
Pinkies may be a controversial treat, but there are plenty of better options available for you to feed your beardie.
In order to have a healthy bearded dragon, it is important to feed them a versatile diet consisting of greens and live insects.
In the wild, a bearded dragon’s diet is normally 70 to 75 percent meat or insects and 20 to 25 percent fruits and vegetables.
In captivity, you may need to tweak the diet a bit, because they don’t get as much exercise as they would in the wild.
Here are a few healthier options for your bearded dragon. (Though this is not an exhaustive list.)
Just note that whatever you are feeding your beardie, avoid feeding them anything wider than the space between their eyes.
Bearded dragons can eat a wide variety of insects. Cockroaches, mealworms, crickets, waxworms, earthworms, and locusts are all good choices.
Just be sure to dust them with vitamin powder before feeding.
When feeding live insects to your beardie, make sure you don’t leave insects that it doesn’t eat in its enclosure. Crickets and other bugs can seriously injure bearded dragons if they are given the chance.
The main insects that a lot of people feed their bearded dragons are crickets. These are more readily available than other bugs, and easier to find locally as well.
Make sure that you are feeding your beardies gut-loaded crickets.
You can either use fruits and/or vegetables you have laying around for this, or you can buy a special commercial gut loading meal that has vitamins your bearded dragon needs.
Roaches can be more filling then crickets because of their size. Like with crickets, you want to make sure you feed gut-loaded roaches.
There are a few kinds of worms that you can feed your bearded dragons. The most popular ones are mealworms and superworms. These are the easiest to take care of and come in various sizes. This makes them easier to handle and feed.
The other worms that you can feed your bearded dragon occasionally are waxworms and butterworms. These are fed only occasionally, because they have a higher fat content. These worms would be great to feed a pregnant or underweight beardie.
Hornworms are another good option, but they should be fed only occasionally, due to their high moisture content.
There are a number of greens that the bearded dragons eat. These include: kale, cilantro, parsley, mustard greens, collard greens, for example.
Some of the veggies that you can feed your bearded dragons are okra, sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans and bell pepper, to name a few.
Just make sure that you cut these vegetables into bite size pieces so that they are easier for your bearded dragon to eat them.
There are also a few fruits that you can feed your bearded dragons. These include: Dates, Figs, Plums, Kiwi, Apples, Melons and etc.
This should give you an idea of some of the other things you can give your bearded dragon instead of pinkies.
What Are Some Things That the Bearded Dragon Should Not Eat?
There are a number of things that you should avoid feeding your bearded dragons. Here are some that you should avoid.
Insects You Caught:
You should never feed your bearded dragon insects you caught yourself. The insects could have parasites or other diseases that could then be transferred to your beardie.
Another thing you want to keep in mind is that not all insects can be fed to your bearded dragon. There are some insects that will make your beardie sick and can potentially kill them.
Examples of insects that you want to avoid are Light Bugs, Fire Flies, etc. These glowing insects have a chemical in them that can be harmful to your beardie.
Vegetables and Fruits:
There is a great selection of veggies that the bearded dragons can eat, but there are some that should be avoided. These include Iceberg Lettuce, Avocadoes, Spinach, Rhubarb, and Beet Tops.
Some of these are actually harmful, and others (like lettuce) just contain no nutritional value and would better be replaced by a healthier vegetable.
How Often Should You Feed Your Bearded Dragon?
Bearded Dragons should be fed according to their age. Just like human and other animals, they have different dietary requirements at each stage of their lives.
- A baby bearded dragon should be fed a combination of greens and live food.
- Live food should be fed at least twice daily until they are six months of age.
- When they are young, they need more of the protein, fats and vitamins that insects provide, so insects should make up a majority of their diet.
- A juvenile bearded dragon can be fed live food once daily along with other food.
- Their diets should consist of roughly 50% insects and 50% fruits and vegetables.
- An adult bearded dragon can be fed lots of greens, fruits and vegetables, but live food should only be fed three times each week.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mice?
Bearded dragons can eat pinkies, but it’s healthiest for them not to. Better options for treats would be hornworms, roaches, or vegetables.