Providing a highly nutritious diet for your bearded dragon is extremely important and may come with a few curiosities when you are on the hunt to find new items to add your bearded dragon’s salad mix. Bearded dragons can safely enjoy a wide variety of different food items, including several types of insects, leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits.
However, when it comes to introducing a new item to your bearded dragon, it is normal to have questions and concerns when it comes to the safety and nutritional benefits of what you are offering your bearded dragon. A common curiosity among owners of bearded dragons is whether or not they can safely consume tomatoes.
In short, yes, bearded dragons can eat tomatoes. Tomatoes offer several benefits for your bearded dragon, such as high levels of vitamin A and low levels of toxins such as oxalic acid.
However, bearded dragons should only consume tomatoes on occasion as they are low in calcium and high in phosphorus.
Serving your bearded dragon tomatoes should not be a daily thing but more of a bright and tasty treat. Bearded dragons are more than happy to receive tomatoes because of all of the vitamin A they absorb from them, which allows for proper vision, promotes growth and reproductive health, aids in protein production, and stimulates healthy skin development.
We will be discussing the appropriate serving amount, which parts and variations of the tomato can be consumed, and how often bearded dragons can consume tomatoes. Considering bearded dragons are the furthest thing from being a picky eater, it is up to their caregiver and/or owner to provide a healthy and nutritious diet.
So, let’s grab our favorite snack and dig into the bright, round world of tomatoes and how to properly use them for your beloved bearded dragon.
Tomato Do’s And Don’ts For Bearded Dragons
Appropriate Parts Of The Tomato
To put it plainly, the only appropriate part of the tomato for bearded dragon consumption is the “meat” of the tomato. Bearded dragons should never consume the leaves, stems, or flower of a tomato as they are highly toxic to dragons.
These parts of the tomato plant are extremely high in alkaloids, like tomatine and solanine, which have a negative impact on bearded dragons due to its toxicity. Although tomatine is found throughout the entirety of the tomato plant, it is much more concentrated in the leaves, stems, and flower portion of the plant.
Tomatine is only slightly toxic, however, if it is consumed in large doses it can negatively affect the liver, gastrointestinal tract, and heart. A rich concentration of solanine is found in these areas as well and is an exceptionally toxic and poisonous compound ultimately affecting your bearded dragon in extreme ways.
When serving your bearded dragon some tomatoes, it is imperative to remove these toxic components before consumption, in order to protect the health and well-being of your bearded dragon.
Appropriate Variations of the Tomato
The most common variations of tomatoes are cherry tomatoes, green tomatoes, and grape tomatoes; but are these just as safe as a regular tomato? Cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes can be safely consumed by bearded dragons as long as they are washed properly and remove any leaves and stems as these are toxic.
Just like with any regular tomato, these should be served as a treat and in moderation. When compared to regular tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes have a much higher sugar content and should not be served frequently or in large quantities.
Large doses of sugar can cause weight gain, diarrhea, and various diseases in bearded dragons and should be avoided as much as possible. Green tomatoes, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs as they are extremely poisonous to bearded dragons.
Green tomatoes are loaded with solanine, the same toxic compound found in the leaves, stems, and flower of any and all tomato plants. Regular tomatoes and cherry tomatoes would be the safest and most appropriate type of tomato to serve your bearded dragon, while only serving grape tomatoes very rarely on occasion and completely avoiding green tomatoes altogether.
Now that we understand a little more about the components of tomatoes and the different types; how often should bearded dragons be served tomatoes? Tomatoes do have some health benefits but they also contain higher amounts of acid, which could cause an upset stomach for your bearded dragon.
Tomatoes also contain a high phosphorus to calcium ratio which can cause MBD and reproductive issues; phosphorus blocks the absorption of calcium which can in turn cause metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons if not enough calcium is being absorbed. Keeping your bearded dragon’s consumption of tomatoes to one or two times a month would be highly recommended to avoid the aforementioned disease and issues.
Generally, vegetables should only make up around 60 to 70% of your bearded dragon’s overall diet; fruits being in the 10% range and protein making up the remainder, along with calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation.
Believe it or not, there is a specific species of worm that are quite fond of the solanine levels in tomato leaves and stems; the tomato hornworm. If you are wondering whether or not you can serve your bearded dragon tomato worms, yes, you can.
Tomato worms are rich in calcium, protein, and moisture, which are all extremely beneficial to bearded dragons. Tomato hornworms have a softer exterior making them ideal for the digestive system of bearded dragons as they can be easily broken down during digestion.
Even though the tomato hornworm is highly nutritious, wild tomato hornworms should be completely avoided as they are extremely poisonous to bearded dragons. Considering wild tomato hornworms feed off of the solanine in tomato leaves and stems, they themselves are rich in solanine, a highly toxic compound for bearded dragons.
If you would like to serve your bearded dragon hornworms, purchasing them from a pet shop or food store would be highly recommended as they are not fed toxic material and will be safe for your bearded dragon to consume. Wild tomato hornworms are also known to eat from other plants in the nightshade family, including tobacco plants, which are highly toxic to bearded dragons and should definitely be avoided to ensure the health and well-being of your bearded dragon.
Preparation of Tomatoes
When it comes to the proper preparation of tomatoes for your beloved bearded dragon, you may be relieved to know that it is a fairly simple procedure and requires no cooking on your part. Keep in mind that a bearded dragon should only be served about a quarter of a tomato in a month to prevent certain health risks.
First and foremost, when it comes to properly preparing tomatoes for your bearded dragon you should always wash the tomatoes thoroughly in order to remove any possible chemicals and/or pesticides that could be harmful to your bearded dragon. Tomatoes should also be served raw to ensure they retain their nutritional value and vitamins that your bearded dragon can greatly benefit from.
Before serving, tomatoes should be chopped into small, bite sized pieces; remember, bearded dragons should not be served any food that is larger than the space between their eyes in order to prevent choking hazards.
Considering the fact that bearded dragons are the furthest thing from being picky eaters, it is definitely your job as their owner and caregiver to ensure they are receiving the appropriate amounts and variety in their diet. Tomatoes are an amazing treat to serve your bearded dragon once or twice a month, no more than a quarter of a tomato in a month’s time, in order to supply some tasty nutrients and vitamins to your bearded dragon.
Even though tomatoes are rich in nutritional benefits for your bearded dragon, they also contain tomatine and solanine, which in high amounts can be toxic to your bearded dragon. Just be sure to follow proper washing techniques when preparing tomatoes for your bearded dragon to decrease the risk of your bearded dragon ingesting chemicals and pesticides which could severely harm your beloved beardie.
It is also worth noting once again that bearded dragons cannot, under any circumstances, consume the leaves, stems, or flowers of tomatoes, or green tomatoes, these are highly poisonous to bearded dragons as they contain highly concentrated and large amounts of solanine. If you are wanting to add a little vibrant color to your bearded dragon’s diet, there are plenty of alternatives that will be appropriate to serve your bearded more often than that of the tomato.
Tomatoes should really only be served as a salad topper and treat to add some color and high amounts of vitamin A into your bearded dragon’s diet. If you are ever concerned about the type of diet you are providing to your bearded dragon, contact your local herp vet and/or pet/food shop with any questions or concerns you may have.