When it comes to the diet of your bearded dragon, nutrition is the key to maintaining a happy and healthy companion. Bearded dragons are the furthest thing being picky eaters and will try to chow down on anything and everything you serve them.
This leaves the question of what would be the most appropriate food items to serve your bearded dragons. Adult bearded dragons require a diet consisting of 70 to 80 percent vegetables and 20 to 30 percent protein.
Considering vegetables make up the majority of their dietary needs, you may be wondering what types of vegetables they will eat and how you need to prepare them, such as carrots. Carrots are a delicious and crunchy snack for all animals but how do you serve them to your bearded dragon and can they eat them cooked?
You can serve your bearded dragon cooked carrots or raw carrots. It is important to note that cooking the carrots before serving them to your bearded dragon may take away some of the nutritional value that carrots offer your bearded dragon.
However, as there is no right or wrong way to serve carrots to your bearded dragon and both cooked and raw offer amazing nutritional benefits, you can try serving them both ways and allowing your bearded dragon to decide on their preference.
Bearded dragons are notorious for their love of food and will happily snack on whatever is served to them. Carrots are no exception and will make a great addition to your bearded dragon’s salad a few days a week.
We will be taking a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of serving cooked carrots to your bearded dragon and which cooking technique offers the most benefits. Now, let’s get chopping and peel back the outer layer of the wonderfully bright world of your bearded dragon’s love for carrots and the nutritional benefits that go along with cooking their carrots before serving.
Advantage 1: Softens Texture
If you have ever eaten a carrot before, which the majority of humans have at one point or another, then you understand that carrots are incredibly hard and crunchy and require a certain amount of bite to properly enjoy raw. This concept is no different for your bearded dragon, and although they have powerful jaws, there are still some instances where your bearded dragon may benefit more from having cooked carrots rather than raw, including age and illness.
Baby bearded dragons still have a little ways to go before they gain their powerful jaw strength and they only require around 20 percent of their diet to be made up of vegetables. Serving vegetables to your baby bearded dragon will assist them in gaining a taste for vegetables since adult bearded dragons require a diet consisting mostly of vegetables, around 80 percent of their total diet.
Cooking carrots for your baby bearded dragon will soften them so they are more easily consumed and enjoyed by your baby beardie. Vegetables will become a huge part of your beardie’s overall diet and it is up to you to provide them with the best start to life.
Illness can also be a huge deciding factor regarding how to serve your bearded dragon their carrots. Metabolic Bone Disease is an extremely common, although preventable, disease in bearded dragons resulting from a lack of calcium absorption causing a weakened and deformed jaw, limbs, or tail, lethargy, and a loss of appetite.
Soft or pureed food items would be best for your bearded dragon if they are experiencing this incredibly painful and awful disease and will allow them the opportunity to attempt to eat on their own, depending on the severity of the disease.
Advantage 2: Increase In Nutritional Value
When carrots are cooked, they experience an increase in beta-carotene which is a vital compound for a bearded dragon’s skin health, immune system, and vision. Beta-carotene is also a crucial component in keeping Vitamin A levels low, as increased Vitamin A levels can be highly toxic to your bearded dragon.
Carrots are often recommended in small amounts for your bearded dragon, not only for their high Vitamin A levels, but for their high oxalate levels, which will deplete the amount of calcium the body has stored. Calcium deficiency can be an awful experience for your bearded dragon, causing a horrible, painful, and potentially deadly disease known as Metabolic Bone Disease.
Cooking carrots lowers the amount of oxalates in carrots, in turn making cooked carrots a more appropriate staple item in your bearded dragon’s diet.
Disadvantage: Decrease In Nutritional Value
While cooking carrots offers a number of increases in nutritional benefits for bearded dragons, it also decreases some key vitamins that bearded dragons need. There are ways to cook carrots that will allow the carrots to maintain the majority of their key nutrients and we will discuss those further down.
Depending on the way you prepare your bearded dragon’s carrots will ultimately determine the amount of nutrition they consume and absorb from the carrots. Cooking carrots can cause a decrease in Vitamin C, a vital component in a bearded dragon’s health.
Vitamin C is responsible for the development and repair of body tissues, the preservation of cartilage, bones, and teeth, and a properly functioning immune system; all of which will ensure your bearded dragon’s health and well-being and allow for your bearded dragon to properly thrive.
There are so many wonderful ways to cook carrots and each one has its own benefits that it offers.
Boiling and steaming your carrots will allow the oxalate levels to filter out, leaving a much more appropriate and suitable snack behind for your bearded dragon.
High oxalate levels will cause depletion in your bearded dragon’s personal store of calcium, which can cause Metabolic Bone Disease. Although these are both highly appropriate methods for cooking your bearded dragon’s carrots, it is worth noting that both of these methods will still cause a decrease in key nutrients by about 30 percent.
The most recommended methods for cooking your bearded dragon’s carrots may also prove to be the most simple and quickest methods for preparing the small amount that your bearded dragon will consume, which are microwaving and pressure cooking.
Vegetables that are cooked via the microwave or a pressure cooker retain around 90 percent of their key nutrients and vitamins while still lowering the amount of oxalates and Vitamin A excess.
This is due to the reduced amount of heating time that is needed to properly cook carrots using these methods, less heating time equals more nutrient retention.
The miniscule amount of carrots that will actually be served to your bearded dragon for consumption would make these the quickest and easiest methods for preparation, whether you are preparing for one bearded dragon, several bearded dragons, or for yourself and your bearded dragon.
Do Not Serve Fried Carrots
While you wouldn’t think that there would be a “wrong” way to prepare, cook, and serve carrots considering all of the wonderful health benefits that cooked carrots will offer your bearded dragon, but there is and it is highly inappropriate to cook your bearded dragon’s carrots using this method.
Frying your bearded dragon’s carrots is more than likely extremely obvious when considering the most inappropriate method for cooking your bearded dragon’s carrots but in case it is not, we will discuss it a little.
Not only is the grease and breading required for frying horrible for your bearded dragon’s digestion and health, but the act of frying drains almost all of the nutrients and vitamins out of the carrots as it is cooked at a high temperature and causes some dehydration to occur in the carrot. Fried foods are not healthy for us as humans, and your bearded dragon is no exception to this fact.
Grease and breading of that magnitude can cause a string of health issues, such as impaction, which requires a licensed herp vet to intervene and assist or your bearded dragon could perish. With so many wonderful preparations for carrots, frying them should never be on the list of possibilities.
While bearded dragons will enjoy the crunch and nutritional benefits of a raw carrot; cooked carrots do have their advantages and a delicious taste all their own. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of cooking carrots, as well as the most suitable methods in cooking them, you will be able to make the most appropriate decision regarding whether or not your bearded dragon will benefit from having cooked carrots.
Regardless, cooked carrots will make an amazingly colorful treat for your bearded dragon, cooked or raw, and will offer a number of benefits to their health. Just remember to always wash any vegetable you serve your bearded dragon, cooked or raw, and to be sure never to serve them any pieces that are larger than the space between their eyes to reduce the risk of impaction and choking.