What do Dragons eat?
Dragons are usually depicted as carnivorous and with a rather large appetite! As such, they will eat pretty much any animal that is unfortunate enough to cross their path while they're hungry. Being massive creatures, they will often hunt for the largest animals such as: cows, pigs, horses and even elephants or whales (depending of their habitat, of course). And yes, they also have human for lunch sometimes, hence the famous quote: "Be kind to dragons, for thou art crunchy when roasted and taste good with ketchup".
However not all dragons are meat eaters, some are omnivorous and the most peaceful dragons feed only on plants.
So, that was the short answer. However there are many kinds of dragons, each with their own eating habits. We've done some research on the various kind of dragons (Chinese, European, Norse...) and compiled our findings in this article.
What do Western Dragons eat?
European and more generally western dragons tend to be fearsome and ruthless creatures. As such, they eat meat 🥩, and, if the prey is still alive, all the better. Any sizable animal is fine for western dragons: sheep, cows, goats, pigs, you name it... And, oh, I was about to forget, you can put humans in that list too.
They also have a particular taste for blood. Apparently fresh blood gives them a big energy boost allowing them to fly faster and increasing their strength. This is likely the reason why they enjoy eating their prey alive. It also explains why they sometimes leave bodies behind after sucking out the blood. Gives me the shivers just writing about it. 😨
What do Chinese Dragons eat?
In Chinese mythology, dragons are considered as gods and associated with water 🌊. For instance, the four dragon kings of China (the Azure Dragon, the Red Dragon, the Black Dragon and the White Dragon) live in and protect the four seas. As such, they eat fish, crustaceans, sharks, whales and seaweed. It's worth noting that, unlike their European counterpart, eastern dragons are usually benevolent. Therefore they do not attack or eat human beings. Phew! 😌
Another interesting fact is that Chinese dragons often have the ability to shape-shift. For example, Ryujin, a sea god that lived in an underwater palace, had the ability to morph into human form and would occasionally visit the surface. His daughter Toyotama-hime, had the same ability and eventually married the hunter prince Hoori on the surface. So Chinese dragons, when in their humanoid form, eat just like us humans!
What do Fire Breathing Dragons eat?
Fire-breathing dragons need a special diet in order to produce their powerful flames 🔥. There are a few theories explaining how dragons breathe fire. One theory is that they produce phosphine, a highly flammable gas, by slowly digesting certain types of rocks that contain it. Another theory is that they have some kind of biological flame-thrower mechanism, allowing them to store and expel oil at a fast speed.
This explains why dragons sometimes "eat" rocks or other mineral substances: they are a key element in their ability to breathe fire.
What do Baby Dragons eat?
Hatchling dragons obviously do not have the ability to hunt until they are several years old. Still, their diet consists mostly of meat provided by their mother. The dragon mother will feed the most tender meat she can find until the juvenile dragons start to grow their teeth.
Among the most ruthless species of dragons, baby dragons will fight each other to death, leaving only the strongest one alive. This behavior is not uncommon in real animals too: it has been observed among eaglets for instance. So one of the first thing these dragons will eat is actually their own siblings... ☠️ cruel, cruel world. Definitely makes you not want to mess with their grown-up version!
What do Dragons eat in Game of Thrones?
You might be asking yourself "what do dragons eat anyway?", the answer's simple: "whatever they want!". Alright, alright, get outta there! More seriously, dragons in GOT are clearly carnivorous. Their dentition, composed exclusively of long and sharp canines, leave little doubt on the matter. They eat most types of meat (sheep, goats, horses and of course humans) but only if it's cooked 🍖. Luckily they are equipped with a rather efficient cooking mechanism.
They eat considerable amounts of food as is shown when Daenerys says that her dragons have lost their appetite, having eaten only "18 goats and 11 sheep" for lunch.
A few other questions about Dragons' eating habits
How much does a Dragon eat?
While it clearly depends on the dragon's size, we can try to make an estimate of the amount of food a dragon needs to go through the day. Let's take the example of Smaug or Daenerys' dragons which size is approximately 200 feet long. An animal that big would weight between 100 and 200 tons (about the weight of the largest whales which are "only" 100 feet long but whose body is much denser).
Now we can apply a formula, known as Kleiber's law, to estimate the amount of calories such an animal would need. I'll spare you the math but the result for a 150 tons dragon is about 357,200 kcal / day. In terms of meat, that's a hefty 440 pounds per day...
Probably one of the reasons they need to hoard so much gold; with the price of organic meat these days (and a respectable dragon always eats organic), the food bill has to be quite expensive!
Why do Dragons eat Gold or Gems?
However strange it might seem, some dragons eat, ingest, consume, whatever the right term is, precious metals like gold or silver and gemstones 💎. This is especially weird considering that dragons tend to enjoy hoarding such precious metals. The reason seems to be that they can metabolize these materials in order to strengthen their scales and improve the color of their hide (always nice for the mating season). This is very speculative but we could not find any other explanation for this quite bizarre eating habit some dragons have.
That'll be all for today, hoping this article has shed some lights on the question of what do dragons eat. The answer is clearly not straightforward and varies from culture to culture which makes it even more interesting.
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