This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act outlines how people must take care of and act towards animals in New Zealand. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Police and SPCA work together to make sure people in New Zealand follow these laws.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) are responsible for making sure the welfare needs of animals in their care are met. Learning about the Five Domains helps us to understand these welfare needs and how we can make sure we provide these. One of the Five Domains is Nutrition. In this section you will learn about this domain and how you can make sure your bearded dragon has what they need for good nutrition.
Bearded Dragons are omnivores. This means they need a diet that includes plants and insects. A bearded dragon’s diet should consist of safe plants, vegetables, insects, correct supplements, and can occasionally include non-citrus fruits.
Some vegetables that bearded dragons love include dandelions (remove the stems), turnips, green beans, alfalfa sprouts, and yellow squash. They also occasionally enjoy small amounts of fruits such as blueberries, apples, plums, and strawberries. Regarding insects, bearded dragons like crickets, dubia roaches, and various types of worms. It’s important to note that the insects you feed your bearded dragon will also need a proper diet to ensure they are nutritious for your bearded dragon. Always check this beforehand.
When offering your bearded dragon vegetables, it’s best to give them a variety, not just one type. Imagine if you could only eat green beans for every meal. Not only would you get bored of the vegetable, but you would also not be getting the nutrients you need to be healthy. Just like you, bearded dragons don’t want to eat one type of food for every meal. You will soon learn what your dragon likes and does not like, but always make sure you’re still giving them a healthy mix of foods to ensure they have a balanced, nutritionally complete diet.
It is essential to make sure that the pieces of food and insects you feed your bearded dragon are small enough to fit in your dragon’s mouth and be comfortably eaten. A good way to judge this is by looking at the space between your bearded dragon’s eyes, if the piece of food is larger than this space, then that piece of food is probably too large. It is also important to make sure to clean up any food your dragon has not eaten from the day before feeding them new food.
It is always best to consult a reptile veterinarian for the best possible diet for your bearded dragon. Always talk to a veterinarian before feeding your dragon anything you are unsure of. Bearded dragons can experience many health problems from improper diets, so regular visits to your reptile veterinarian are an important part of their nutritional health.
There are some foods that you should not feed your bearded dragon because they either have no nutritional value, or they are harmful to your bearded dragon.
Some of the foods that you should avoid are:
There are also a lot of plants that are toxic for bearded dragons and should be avoided. Additionally, if there is a chance that pesticides have been used on the plants, do not give them to your bearded dragon
Before giving your bearded dragon anything new to eat, talk to an experienced reptile veterinarian to ensure it will not make them sick.
A bearded dragon’s diet and how often they eat depends on their age. Growing bearded dragons and adult bearded dragons will require different proportions of insects and plants – be sure to talk to your reptile veterinarian to ensure you are feeding them appropriately. This helps protect your dragon from health issues caused by improper diet and being overweight.
Even though bearded dragons enjoy dry conditions, they still need clean, fresh water every day, just like any other animal.
Some bearded dragons will need to be taught to drink from their water dish. Adding a bit of fresh strawberry, apple, or pear juice to their water can encourage your dragon to use their dish. Be sure that it is 100% juice with no added sugars or artificial ingredients – ask an adult to help you make the right choice. Once they are used to using their dish, you can stop using the juice.
Bearded dragons will sometimes scurry over their water dish or use it as a toilet, so checking their dish multiple times a day and replacing the water as needed is essential. Be sure to thoroughly wash their dish with soap and water each time you refill the water as a dirty dish can lead to illness. It is also safest that your dragon is provided with a water dish that is shallow, as well as large enough for them to fit in because bearded dragons sometimes enjoy bathing in their water dish.
Misting your bearded dragon is also a good way for them to stay hydrated. Using a clean spray bottle filled with room temperature water, you can gently mist your dragon so that they can lick the water that drips off their nose. This mimics how they would get water from rainfall. Always have an adult help you mist your dragon so that your dragon and their enclosure doesn’t become too moist and humid.
Bearded dragons will often need vitamin D3 and calcium supplements to avoid illnesses. These supplements come in different forms and the quantity/how frequently they should be given to your bearded dragon depends on their stage of life. Sometimes food pellets will have supplements already in them, so always check with your reptile veterinarian to see what supplements, if any, your dragon needs and how to give it to them.
It is very important to take care when feeding your bearded dragon. Young bearded dragons can accidentally ingest substrate (the material that you layer the bottom of the enclosure with, such as sand), as they have yet to learn accuracy when eating. This can cause a blockage in their intestines and make them very sick. It's a good idea to use a shallow dish, in an area away from the substrate when feeding your bearded dragon.
It is very important to make sure your bearded dragon lives in an enclosure with proper temperature and lighting, as they help them get the most nutrition out of their diet. Bearded dragons need lights that provide UVB so that their bodies can activate the vitamins from their food after they have eaten. Make sure to check the light bulb label so that you use ones that offer UVB, and to check how long the bulb will last. Also, bearded dragons need to eat in bright light and warm temperatures, so feeding them during the day is best.
You must always make sure that your bearded dragon gets the care and attention they need when you are on holiday. Your bearded dragon is dependent on you, so it’s important they are not left alone.
While you’re away, make sure whoever is caring for your bearded dragon knows about your companion animal’s requirements. Leave a list of care instructions including your veterinarian’s contact details for emergencies.