Caring for such a loving and docile reptile as the bearded dragon comes with many rewards, as well as some worry. It is understood and common knowledge that diet and hydration are key components to a healthy and happy life for all living creatures, and that fact is no different for your bearded dragon.
It can become worrisome while deciding on what type of items to incorporate into your bearded dragon’s diet and what items to completely avoid. It is important to note that an adult bearded dragon’s diet should consist of 70 to 80 percent vegetation and only 20 to 30 percent insects.
Bearded dragons will benefit from most of the same things that we benefit from, but not all. When we think healthy eating, we think of salads and greens, like romaine lettuce.
But does that mean your bearded dragon can have romaine lettuce or if it even carries any nutritional value for your bearded dragon; let’s take a look.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Lettuce?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat lettuce but it is not exactly good for them and should be avoided, especially as an everyday part of their diet. While romaine lettuce can make a beautifully colorful and crunchy addition to a salad, it offers little to no nutritional value and can even cause some upset for your bearded dragon.
It may be shocking to hear that lettuce offers little to no nutritional value for your bearded dragon considering the amazing benefits it offers us as humans, but as shocking as it may be, it is very true and should be taken seriously. There are key components when it comes to the diet of your bearded dragon that absolutely cannot be left out and it is crucial to the health and well-being of your bearded dragon to ensure they receive the appropriate food items that will give them these nutrients.
Is Romaine Lettuce Good for Bearded Dragons?
Romaine lettuce just does not offer your bearded dragon the nutrients and vitamins he or she needs to fully thrive and live their best life. We will be discussing why romaine lettuce should be avoided and the key components that it lacks for your bearded dragon.
So, let’s settle in with our favorite healthy snack and dig into the surprisingly less than nutritious world of romaine lettuce and how it affects your bearded dragon.
Reason 1: Poor Nutrition
Bearded dragons are just like any other living creature, they require a balanced and healthy diet full of nutrients and vitamins in order to grow to their full potential and live their best life possible; romaine lettuce does not offer your bearded dragon what he or she needs in order to do these things. Lettuce is made up of around 94 percent water which leaves little room for any nutritional benefit outside of hydration.
Bearded dragons are native to the arid and hot deserts of Australia, through evolutionary processes, the bearded dragon does require as much water as you would. Providing your bearded dragon with romaine lettuce on a regular basis can cause an excess in hydration for your beloved companion which can cause diarrhea and in turn, dehydration.
Dehydration is just as dangerous for your bearded dragon as it is for any other animal; not requiring large amounts of water does not mean they can survive without water. Providing romaine lettuce daily can ultimately cause your bearded dragon to dehydrate and lose those vital nutrients and vitamins they gain from other foods and cause any number of health issues and even death if not addressed immediately and appropriately.
Reason 2: Low In Calcium
Bearded dragons require a certain amount of calcium and vitamin D3 in order to grow to their full potential and avoid a serious condition called Metabolic Bone Disease. Romaine lettuce is extremely low in calcium.
Providing lettuce as a regular and main food item can cause your bearded dragon to experience depleted calcium levels and ultimately Metabolic Bone Disease, which could result in an extremely painful life and death for your bearded dragon. By providing the plenty of other foods that would make for an amazing source of calcium, along with calcium supplement powders, you can ensure you are giving your bearded dragon their best chance to avoid such a debilitating disease and allow them to fully thrive and live a long and healthy life.
Calcium is required for your bearded dragon to develop strong bones and powerful jaws; Metabolic Bone Disease can cause deformities in their limbs, tail, and jaw and is extremely painful for them to endure. When it comes to ensuring your bearded dragon remains happy and healthy, you must first understand that leafy greens with high oxalates and phosphorus are harmful to your bearded dragon.
High oxalate and phosphorus levels will prevent your bearded dragon from properly absorbing calcium and will actually cancel out any calcium that is being consumed. If your bearded dragon becomes calcium deficient, their body will begin to pull from their personal stores of calcium, causing Metabolic Bone Disease.
Alternative Leafy Greens:
When providing leafy greens for your bearded dragon’s daily vegetation consumption, it is important to focus on greens that have a higher calcium to phosphorus ratio in order to prevent and/or correct Metabolic Bone Disease. These leafy greens will include, mustard greens, kale, carrot tops, and chicory, and can be consumed daily.
These greens contain higher calcium counts and lower phosphorous counts, which will allow for proper calcium absorption and ensure your bearded dragon does not experience Metabolic Bone Disease. Watercress, dandelion greens, and escarole can be given on occasion in small amounts due to their low oxalate count which can bind calcium and disrupt absorption.
Spinach, parsley, and collard greens should be treated like romaine lettuce by offering it to your bearded dragon rarely and in small amounts. There are ample amounts of alternatives that will be more than appropriate for your bearded dragon to consume, and while it may take some trial and error efforts, finding the most suitable vegetation for your bearded dragon will be very rewarding for not only your bearded dragon, but for you as well.
When you are deciding on which vegetables will become a part of your bearded dragon’s daily diet, it is important to take note of certain key factors regarding the vegetable’s nutritional value, calcium levels, phosphorus levels, oxalate levels, and water content percentage. Bearded dragons are not picky eaters and are known to eat just about anything that is placed in front of them; this is both a good and bad trait.
It is up to you as their owner to do the appropriate research on which vegetables will provide your bearded dragon with the proper vitamins and nutrients he or she requires. Certain vegetation, like romaine lettuce, can cause your bearded dragon to become overly hydrated and experience a number of health issues, including diarrhea.
Bearded dragons rely on certain nutrients in order to properly absorb calcium into their system, without calcium your bearded dragon can experience Metabolic Bone Disease, which is extremely painful and can ultimately result in death.
Romaine lettuce just does not offer any nutritional benefits to your bearded dragon for this vegetable to be used as a daily food item and can actually cause more harm than good. There are so many alternatives that are cheap and easy to come by that excluding romaine lettuce from the list of options for your bearded dragon should not be a problem.
As aforementioned, bearded dragons are the furthest thing from being picky eaters and are happy to consume almost anything you place in front of them. The good part about this fact is that while conducting a trial and error experiment to find the best vegetation for your bearded dragon, it shouldn’t take too long and should offer a lengthy list of appropriate results.
The bad part about bearded dragons not being picky eaters is they will eat anything that is served to them, even if it isn’t good for them or worse, poisonous. It is your responsibility as their owner and caregiver to provide the most appropriate types of vegetation to your bearded dragon in order to ensure he or she will not only grow to their full potential, but will also live their healthiest and happiest life.
Just as you have grown to depend on your bearded dragon for much needed companionship, your bearded dragon has grown to depend on you to provide them with everything they need and to keep their best interests at heart. If you are ever concerned about the health or well-being of your bearded dragon, or if you have questions or concerns regarding an appropriate diet, contact your local herp vet for any tips and guidance to further your education in providing the best possible life for your beloved bearded dragon.