Bearded Dragons, or “beardies,” are a species of lizard known to make great pets. Being in many households, one may ask, “Can Bearded Dragons eat chicken, and if so, would it need to be raw or cooked?
Bearded Dragons can eat cooked chicken occasionally as a treat or a small part of their diet, but it should not be their main source of protein. Chicken is not recommended as a staple food for bearded dragons as chicken is not as easily digestible as insects or specially formulated dragon diets.
That being said, if you decided to feed a small piece or two no more than a couple of times every couple of months (something minimal like that), it should be okay- but it is still a risk.
Never feed a Bearded Dragon raw chicken.
You know how raw chicken can make people sick, right?
Well, it’s the same thing for bearded dragons. Chicken is just as dangerous for them as it is for us humans.
The risk of food poisoning is high from eating uncooked foods.
So, the fully cooked chicken must be free from any spices, oils, or outer breaded coating- free from any extras, to put it simply. Avoid feeding too much in one serving, as it is difficult for your bearded dragon to digest.
Nutritional Value of Chicken for Bearded Dragons
Chicken is a food packed with all nutrients and is high in protein- great food for humans.
However, although chicken may fill our bellies and grant people much-needed protein, it contains a heavy amount of phosphorus, which adds an element of danger to the beardie (among other reptiles).
Bearded Dragons require phosphorous in their diet, but when phosphorous levels get too high, it overtakes calcium levels, proving deadly for Bearded Dragons. In beardies, phosphorous depletes calcium.
So, a food with equal parts of phosphorous and calcium will end up contributing more to the phosphorous levels than it would to the calcium.
At this low level (a 1-to-1 ratio per se) it is enough to make the beardie ill or to cause physical ailments like brittle bones, weakness, paralysis, or other calcium-deficient symptoms. Again, this is under conditions where there’s an intake of equal parts calcium and phosphorous.
On the other hand, chicken contains a calcium-to-phosphorous ratio of 1 to 16, far too much phosphorous for a Bearded Dragon to deal with properly.
Recommended Serving Size and Frequency for Feeding Beardies Chicken
Bearded Dragons can eat chicken, but no more than a couple of very small pieces or nibble of chicken per serving should be given to the beardie.
Further, no more than a serving per month (some experts extend that time to a couple of servings every couple of months) should be given to feed the dragon.
If you feed your Bearded Dragon chicken, the word “sparingly” is the first thing that needs to come to mind. A Beardie’s diet is key to maintaining good health, and extras like chicken can become a problem.
Possible Health Concerns When Bearded Dragons Eat Chicken
Aside from the nutritional issues associated with feeding chicken to Bearded Dragons, they have difficulty digesting it. Constipation can cause a domino effect of health concerns that stem from that alone.
But, as presented above, chicken has an overwhelming amount of phosphorous that the lizard’s system can’t handle. One way its body will attempt to deal with the phosphorous is to extract much-needed calcium from other places, like its bones.
A skeletal structure in a Bearded Dragon, when calcium levels become deficient, can form misshapen bones, brittle or easily fractured limbs, swelling in the limbs and its jaw, a massive decrease in appetite alongside lethargy, and difficulty moving. At worst, the result can wind up being paralysis and death.
Alternative Foods for a Bearded Dragon
One alternative that is directly related to chickens would be chicken eggs. Chicken eggs are far safer for Bearded Dragons than the chicken itself. Recommended serving size would be about half an egg per serving every other week or so.
The egg can be scrambled; make sure to use a nonstick pan rather than cooking it in butter or oils, as they are not good for the beardie. Owners feeding scrambled eggs to their Bearded Dragons often mix it up in their leafy foods or veggies, making a salad of sorts.
Other Sources of Protein for your Bearded Dragon diet
Your beardie should be getting all the protein it will need from its natural diet of grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, spiders, wax worms, slugs, earthworms, and on special occasions, silkworms. Dragons love Dubia roaches a good choice for fully matured adult beardies.
All of these are great natural sources of protein. When bought from a pet store, some of these options, like grasshoppers and crickets, are fed things that will add to the overall nutrition intake for the beardie.
Vegetable and Fruit Options that Can be Offered to a Beardie
The majority of the vegetables that a Bearded Dragon can eat are greens. Fruits should be reserved as a special treat and shouldn’t be fed to them as regularly as vegetables.
Vegetables Good for your Bearded Dragon
Broccoli, collard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, bok choy, watercress, kale, bell peppers, green beans, dandelions, mustard greens, alfalfa hay, cabbage, and more, should represent the majority of your beardie’s diet.
You can throw sweet potato (cooked), cactus, different types of squash, cucumbers, peas, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, corn, and parsnips in with their green leafy veggies, but to a lesser degree.
Fruits Good for your Bearded Dragon
Bananas (including its peel), raisins, star fruit, dates, melons, pears, mangoes, apples, grapes, peaches, tomatoes, guava, and kiwi, are all healthy choices for your Bearded Dragon.
Feed your dragon these fruits less frequently and in a lesser quantity than any vegetables.
No matter how you slice it, feeding Bearded Dragons chicken is just a bad idea, an unnecessary idea, and an idea that might cause your pet beardie to give up the ghost.
All food items available will be better for the animal, most of which are cheaper, healthier, and easier to prepare than chicken.
Give your Bearded Dragon the right stuff to keep it healthy, contributing to a long and happy life.
Metabolic bone disease is no joke, and with all the options available to an omnivore, why risk it?
1. Bearded Dragon – Seattle. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/AnimalShelter/care-guides/care-sheet-bearded-dragon.pdf
2. How to care for your bearded dragon. RSPCA. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/other/beardeddragon