A proper diet and healthy nutrition is a vital part of any animal’s wellbeing, even your bearded dragon. It is extremely simple to find them all of the protein they could ever want from crickets to mealworms and everything in between, but what about other types of food.
Bearded dragons are omnivorous, meaning they consume meat, fruit, and vegetables. This is not always common knowledge and takes extensive research, trial and error, and a few taste tests to discover what else your precious bearded dragon can consume.
It is important to conduct the proper research before you begin introducing new foods into your bearded dragon’s diet, luckily, I have taken the liberty of doing some of this research for you.
Today we will be discussing the different types of vegetables that your beardie may enjoy, how often they should have them, the nutritional benefit, and even some vegetables they should not have. It is important to note and remember which vegetables are safe for your bearded dragon to consume and which are not.
Don’t worry yourself too much, we will be covering these things below and by the end you should be much more knowledgeable to properly care for and feed your bearded dragon.
While this guide will help you on your journey with your bearded dragon, it is important to note that not all bearded dragons will enjoy the same things and you should always pay attention to how your beardie reacts to, responds to, and digests any and all foods you may give to your bearded dragon. Some terms we will be referring to in this guide are phosphates and oxalates, these are calcium binding agents that disrupt proper absorption into the body and should be consumed with caution.
Now, let’s dig in to the wonderfully colorful world of vegetables that are safe and unsafe for your beardie by discussing the different types of vegetables.
Type 1: Dark Leafy Green Vegetables:
Leafy greens are an important part of any bearded dragon’s diet. However, finding the ones that your bearded dragon enjoys will take some trial and error.
While there are some greens that are great to give on a daily basis, there are also some that should be given on occasion and in small amounts. The majority of leafy greens your bearded dragon can safely consume should contain a higher calcium to phosphorus ratio, which will help correct and prevent metabolic bone disease.
Leafy greens that are safe for your bearded dragon to have on a daily basis include: carrot tops, chicory, endive, radicchio, and spring mix. Leafy greens that should only be consumed on occasion and in small amounts due to low amounts of oxalates include: dandelion greens, escarole, kale, mustard greens, and watercress.
Leafy greens that should only be consumed rarely and in very small amounts due to high amounts of oxalates include: beet greens, collard greens, parsley, spinach, and swiss chard.
Type 2: Root Vegetables:
Root vegetables are vegetables that grow underground. Since root vegetables grow under the ground they are packed with nutrients and can be a very healthy addition to your bearded dragon’s diet.
Turnips are a great example of this; they are loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, and also provide calcium and fiber. When giving your beardie turnips, it is safe to give the entire vegetable, just be sure to finely chop the bulb.
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A but should be offered in moderation due to its poor calcium to phosphorus ratio. Radish greens can be given regularly as they are packed with vitamins and nutrients such as vitamins C and B6, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Carrots make a nice, crunchy snack on occasion as they are full of vitamin A and beta carotene, however, too much vitamin A can cause toxicity. When it comes to root vegetables, it is better to err on the side of caution by only providing them on occasion to your bearded dragon, and to thoroughly wash them before giving them to your beardie.
Type 3: Cruciferous Vegetables:
Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins E, C, and K, folate, and fiber. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, rutabaga, and kohlrabi; all of which are completely acceptable to give to your bearded dragon but only in small amounts and on rare occasions as a treat.
Cruciferous vegetables usually have too much phosphorus and not enough calcium, which as we discussed earlier, is the opposite of what is healthy for a bearded dragon. A higher phosphorus to calcium ratio can cause metabolic bone disease, whereas a higher calcium to phosphorus ratio can help treat and prevent this disease.
Always be sure to trim and dice these vegetables into small bite sized pieces for your beardie.
Type 4: Toxic Vegetables
Certain vegetables can prove to be toxic to bearded dragons and should be avoided at all costs. Some can cause something minor like diarrhea while others can poison your bearded dragon.
Lettuce is one that many owners tend to forget about because bearded dragons love the fresh taste and feel of this vegetable. Lettuce should be avoided because it has little nutritional value and is made up of mostly water, causing diarrhea.
Avocado would also seem to be appropriate for your beardie because it is such a super food for humans but this is not the case for bearded dragons. Avocados contain high amounts of oxalic acid, or oxalates, which in small amounts could make your beardie sick, but in large amounts could poison them.
Beet tops are highly nutritious containing magnesium and vitamin A, but they also contain a chemical that will prevent your bearded dragon from absorbing calcium. A bearded dragon that is unable to absorb calcium properly is at risk for metabolic bone disease.
While beet tops are not necessarily toxic to your beardie in extremely small amounts, it is best to avoid this vegetable just to be safe. Rhubarb is another vegetable that is extremely toxic for a bearded dragon and is one that should be avoided no matter what.
If your bearded dragon consumes rhubarb by mistake, immediately give your beardie water and get them to the vet.
Adult: 18 Months or Older:
Adult bearded dragons, which are generally 18 months and older, should be fed at least once a day. Adult bearded dragons should consume leafy greens every day, insects 6 days a week, vegetables 4 days a week, and fruits at least once a week.
To ensure they are receiving enough vitamins, minerals, and calcium, additives containing those can be sprinkled over their food or into their water dish 2 to 3 times a week.
Baby: 0 to 18 Months:
Baby bearded dragons are like any other baby animal; they need to be fed multiple times a day. Bearded dragons under 3 months of age should be fed 5 times a day, 3 to 6 months should be fed 3 to 4 times a day, 6 months should be fed 3 times a day.
By the time baby bearded dragons reach one year of age, they should have worked their way down to eating twice a day. By the time they are 18 months, or an adult, they will have made their way down to once a day.
No matter the age of the bearded dragon or how well-rounded their diet may be, it is imperative to ensure that you provide your dragon with fresh water daily to aid in hydration. All of the fresh vegetables in the world will not be enough for your dragon to maintain optimum health if they are not receiving water daily.
Hydration is key to any animal’s survival, including your bearded dragon.
Vegetables are a staple in the diet of any healthy bearded dragon. To recap a little; carrot tops, chicory, endive, radicchio, spring mix, dandelion greens, escarole, kale, mustard greens, watercress, beet greens, collard greens, parsley, spinach, swiss chard, turnips, sweet potatoes, radishes, carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, rutabaga, and kohlrabi are all safe for your bearded dragon to consume.
Lettuce, avocado, beet tops, and rhubarb are vegetables that should be avoided to ensure the health and well-being of your bearded dragon. Some vegetables should be given in moderation and some are perfect for a daily meal, regardless, it is important to pay attention to how your bearded dragon is affected by each new thing you introduce to their diet.
Knowing which vegetables have the proper calcium to phosphorus ratio and which ones that have too high or too low of an oxalate count can make or break your bearded dragon’s diet. Staying away from those that can cause metabolic bone disease is also extremely important in maintaining the health of your bearded dragon.
If you are ever unsure or would like extra reassurance, it will always be acceptable to contact your local vet for an updated list of safe and unsafe vegetables for your bearded dragon and a complete rundown on a proper diet for their daily needs.