Since it’s affordable and can be found in any grocery store, it’s only natural to wonder if bearded dragons can eat chicken or not.
This guide breaks down if this is a healthy food for these reptiles, and how you should approach including it in their diet.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Chicken?
Knowing what constitutes a healthy and balanced diet for your bearded dragon is a big part of being a responsible owner. However, it’s equally as important to know about food items that should never appear in your beardie’s food bowl.
Chicken, whether raw or cooked, should never be eaten by bearded dragons. If, for some reason, you’re in a pinch, then giving your beardie a very small amount of chicken is fine, but you should try to avoid doing this if possible.
While it’s true that chicken is a healthy source of protein and other nutrients for many pets, your bearded dragon doesn’t receive any benefits from chicken. Letting your bearded dragon eat chicken may actually lead to severe illness and in the most extreme case, be a cause of death.
There are several reasons why it’s never good to let your bearded dragon eat chicken. The first reason is that the fat and protein in chicken are very difficult for a bearded dragon to digest. This could lead to any number of digestive health issues, including constipation and impaction.
However, the main reason that chicken is not safe for your dragon to eat has to do with the ratio of calcium to phosphorus within the chicken meat. Chicken is very high in phosphorus, but it is very low in calcium. Foods that are appropriate for bearded dragons should offer a high level of calcium as compared to other nutritional components.
A diet that is rich in calcium is very important for a bearded dragon’s health and well-being. Without the proper amount of calcium, a bearded dragon is very susceptible to metabolic bone disease. This disease can cause severe symptoms such as lethargy, a lack of appetite, swelling of the limbs and jaws, broken bones, and debilitating pain. Occasionally, metabolic bone disease may lead to a painful death.
When food, such as chicken, contains more phosphorus than calcium, your bearded dragon’s body will tend to absorb the phosphorus into the blood but won’t absorb the calcium. This results in a low amount of calcium in the bloodstream, so calcium will be pulled from the bones, leading to metabolic bone disease and other conditions.
Even though your bearded dragon can’t eat chicken, there are plenty of other tasty and healthy items to enhance mealtime. Live, feeder insects, such as Dubia roaches are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients. If roaches are illegal in your area, then crickets make an acceptable substitute. Just make sure to remove any leftover crickets as they may bite or scratch your pet.
Waxworms, mealworms, slugs, earthworms, and even tofu can be used as healthy forms of protein for your dragon as opposed to chicken. No matter which protein source you use, it’s recommended that you dust it with calcium powder prior to feeding time. Dusting your beardie’s food is an easy way to ensure that your dragon is receiving enough calcium.
Some bearded dragons even enjoy the taste of scrambled eggs! It’s fine to give your dragon a couple of unseasoned, scrambled eggs, but eggs should never be used as a substitute for other, more nutritious forms of protein. Your bearded dragon may not like scrambled eggs, and that’s alright since they’re only appropriate for an occasional treat.
If you feel that your beardie is getting tired of the same old protein sources and are tempted to try chicken out of desperation, try alternating what’s in its bowl. Adding variety to your bearded dragon’s meal plan will help to keep it interested.
Mustard greens, endive, turnip greens, collard greens, sweet potato, squash, strawberries, and apples are all nutritious and tasty items that bearded dragons love. Try different combinations, switch up the protein and pay attention to what your pet likes and doesn’t like. You’ll eventually come up with non-chicken food options that are pleasing to your beardie.
While bearded dragons can technically eat chicken in very limited amounts or emergencies, it’s a food you should avoid giving them as much as possible. Including it in their diet (even in moderation) can lead to a number of health issues that you don’t want to deal with.
Instead, stick to the alternative options we mentioned above. Your beardie will be much happier and healthier because of it!