Owning a Bearded Dragon means learning the intricacies of how to feed one. Unlike dogs and cats, you can’t open a can of “Bearded Dragon food” and be done with it, because there’s no such thing. You need to feed your new reptilian pet similarly special food, like live crickets, mealworms, and king worms. Since they’re omnivores, you must also feed your Beardie vegetables and fruit. But what about baby mice, often referred to as pinkies? Adult Bearded Dragons can eat pinkies occasionally but offering them this food comes with some caveats.
Read on to learn more about feeding pinkies to your Bearded Dragon, including how often, why not to feed them fuzzies, and several other fascinating facts that will make you a better Beardie benefactor!
How Often Can You Feed Pinkies to Your Bearded Dragon?
As you might imagine, pinkies are high in fat and protein, which is why they can be a good occasional addition to a Bearded Dragon diet. How occasional? Most experts agree that you generally shouldn’t feed pinkies to your Bearded Dragon more than once a month. If they’re served more often, the excess fat in pinkies may cause your pet to become obese, and the high level of protein might contribute to the development of gout.
The top Bearded Dragon candidate to feed pinkies would be a pregnant female or one that had just laid eggs and needs the extra fat and protein boost to recover more quickly. Feeding to pinkies to beardies that are underweight and suffering from malnutrition can also be beneficial. We recommend speaking to your veterinarian for advice on feeding pinkies to your individual pet.
What Are Fuzzies (and Why Can’t Bearded Dragons Eat Them)?
The smallest mice babies are called pinkies because of their pink color. Baby mice stay pink for a very short time, between birth and 5 or 6 days. At about the 6-day mark, most pinkies start growing hair, which makes it look like they are covered in fuzz.
As you might have already guessed, these baby mice are called fuzzies. The difference between pinkies and fuzzies, while slight for us, is huge for your Bearded Dragon; pinkies don’t yet have a hardened skeleton, claws, or teeth. That makes them much easier and safer for a Bearded Dragon to eat and, more importantly, digest.
Fuzzies, on the other hand, have a harder skeleton, and their teeth and claws have started forming, which are much more difficult for a Beardie to digest. For that reason, you can feed 1 to 3-day-old pinkies to your Bearded Dragon, but once they turn 6 days old and have fuzz, you shouldn’t.
Can Pinkies Cause Health Issues for Your Bearded Dragon?
There’s another problem pinkies can cause a Bearded Dragon: digestive tract impaction. Impaction is when something gets trapped or impacted in your Beardie’s intestines or another part of their digestive system.
A Bearded Dragon with a digestive tract impaction may have reduced mobility and, in severe cases, won’t be able to move their rear legs. They will stop passing feces, lose their appetite and are usually very lethargic. Of course you must contact your veterinarian straight away if your Bearded Dragon develops any concerning signs.
For this reason, you must only give the smallest pinkies to your pet. They should be no older than 3 days and, even better, 1 or 2-day-old pinkies when possible. Some vets don’t recommend feeding pinkies to a Bearded Dragon at all and say they’re unnecessary for them to stay healthy and well-nourished.
How Should You Feed Pinkies to Your Bearded Dragon?
Pinkies are usually frozen, and you can purchase several and keep them for a few weeks or months in your freezer. Feeding pinkies to your Bearded Dragon is thus rather easy and, thankfully, not as horrific as you might think. To feed pinkies to your Beardie, follow the step-by-step instructions below.
- Take a single pinkie out of the freezer.
- Thaw the pinkie in a bowl of warm water for about 20 minutes. It must be between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit to feed your Bearded Dragon.
- Don’t cut or chop up the pinkie. Most adult Bearded Dragons will eat them whole with no problem.
- Using tongs or, if possible, a set of chopsticks, dangle the pinkie in front of your dragon to entice them. Chopsticks are much less bulky if you can use them.
- Watch while your pet swallows the entire mouse.
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Pinkie Mice?
While adult Bearded Dragons can eat pinkies on occasion, you shouldn’t feed them to lizards younger than 6 months old. First, young Bearded Dragons aren’t big enough to eat an entire pinkie. Also, they can more easily have an impaction from eating a pinkie, and impaction in young Bearded Dragons can be a serious, life-endangering issue.
Most veterinarians recommend waiting until your Bearded Dragon is at least 1 year old before giving them an occasional pinkie. If you’re unsure of your Beardie’s exact age, a good rule is to wait until they’re at least 10 inches long.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Pinkie Mice in Their Diet?
If you’re not enthused about feeding baby mice to your Bearded Dragon, you’ll be glad to know that they’re not necessary for their diet; baby mice are not part of a Beardie’s diet in the wild. While Bearded Dragons are omnivores because they eat a diet of plants and animals, they eat more insects than mice and other small mammals. They barely eat mice in the wild but eat a lot of ants, beetles, crickets, worms, cockroaches, and other insects.
What Diet Is Best for a Bearded Dragon?
Pinkies comprise only a small part of your Bearded Dragon’s diet, or at least they should. Since they’re omnivores the best diet for any Beardie must be as diverse as possible. That means they need a wide range of plant and animal foods.
Crickets, Dubia roaches, and mealworms are a good place to start from an insect point of view. Safe vegetables include watercress, rocket, chicory, and butternut squash. They can also have a small amount of fruit included in their diet. It’s important to carefully research safe insects, plants, vegetables, and fruits for your lizard as a varied diet is best to keep your Bearded Dragon happy and healthy.
The ratio of insects to plant matter will change depending on their life stage. Young Beardies require more insects than plant material, but this flips once they are adults.
Like most reptiles, bearded dragons eat many foods, including plant and animal food, since they’re omnivores. Feeding frozen pinkies to Bearded Dragons is usually okay if it’s done in moderation, no more than about once a month. However, remember to thaw the mice out before serving them to your pet.
Baby and younger Bearded Dragons shouldn’t eat pinkies because of the risk of impaction. The same risk goes for adults, which is why veterinarians recommend that pinkies be no more than 3 days old when fed to your dragon. When prepared correctly and fed appropriately a pinkie can be a good boost of protein and fat for some Bearded Dragons. As a general rule, we would recommend speaking to your veterinarian to get the best diet plan for your pet which will be based on their unique needs.