Bearded dragons are a fascinating and funky-looking species of reptile to keep. They may look a little daunting but actually make wonderful pets. Gentle, active, and curious, this little animal is one of the most popular lizards to have as a pet.
It's loads of fun watching your little beardie single-mindedly chase after a cricket. But what else do they eat? These lizards are omnivores and need more than just insects to stay healthy.
Vegetables should make up about 60% of an adult beardies diet with fruit offered as an occasional treat. Some fruits may be toxic to your pet, though, so it's a good idea to check before feeding.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Apples?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat apples. Bite-sized apple pieces are healthy, low-oxalate treats for beardies offering A, C, E, K, and B vitamins. Still, be sure to follow our vet-approved feeding guidelines as too much apple may cause diarrhea, obesity, and tooth decay in bearded dragons. Also, the seeds are toxic and pose a choking hazard.
These cool-looking lizards will happily snap up apple if given a chance. And yes, apple is safe to feed. Just make sure to cut it into chunks small enough for your lizard to eat comfortably. "A good rule of thumb is never to feed anything larger than their mouth.", says veterinarian surgeon Dr. Edele Grey.
Remember always to cut treats into small cubes as dragons swallow their food whole, and it could cause choking if too large.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
It is because lizards don't really chew their food and tend to swallow it whole. It's best to peel apples as the skin can be difficult to digest.
A word of caution. Apples are safe for your lizard, but you need to take care not to overfeed. There are all sorts of problems that can occur if your lizard consumes too much fruit. So yes, bearded dragons can have apples, but how much and how often is another thing. We'll get into that a bit later.
Health Benefits: Are Apples Good for Bearded Dragons?
We know that bearded dragons are omnivores, and so fruit should be a part of their diet, but just a small part. Apple is on the list of safe fruits for your lizard and contains nutrients beneficial to your lizard's health.
A Good All-Round Source of Vitamins
Apples are not superdense in any one specific nutrient. What makes them shine is the fact that they contain a whole range of vitamins. True, they are in smaller quantities. But a single serving of apple will provide a much larger selection of vitamins and minerals than many other fruits.
Vitamins A, C, E, and K are all present in apples. So are several of the B vitamins, which means that your bearded dragon is getting quite a lot of nutrition out of a single serving. The only ones completely lacking are vitamins D and B6.
Some vitamins cannot be obtained from meat sources. Vitamin C is one such example. So to keep your lizard healthy, you need to feed it fruit and veggies too. Apples, with their wide selection of vitamins, are a good treat choice.
Low Oxalate Content
Many fruits are high in oxalates, which is a problem for bearded dragons as it can lead to calcium deficiency. Oxalates will bind with calcium, preventing the lizard's body from absorbing it. Your lizard's diet may have plenty of calcium, but if it also includes high levels of oxalates, it won't be beneficial.
Unlike grapes and many berries, for example, apples hardly contain any oxalates. It makes them safe for your bearded dragon to consume. Apples themselves don't contain any calcium. But the fact that they have no oxalates means they'll allow your lizard absorb it from other foods.
Equally Broad Mineral Selection
Just as with the vitamins, apples are not a single-mineral fruit. They contain many of the essential minerals required by your lizard but in smaller amounts.
Adding some apple to your bearded dragon's diet will supplement his intake of magnesium, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus. Each of these minerals has a role to play in your lizard's health, and are essential. Bearded dragons generally find apples tasty and will happily gobble them up.
Apples Help Keep Your Pet Hydrated
Bearded dragons are native to the hot, desert regions of Australia. They have evolved to survive in an environment with little water. We sometimes forget this with our captive lizards. While you may never see your bearded dragon drink, they should have a shallow bowl of fresh water in their enclosure at all times.
In the wild, bearded dragons will drink water only during certain times of the year. They will do this instinctively during the rainy seasons. Throughout the rest of the year, they get all the water they need from their food.
Apples are about 85% water. Keeping in mind that bearded dragons absorb their water from food, apples are an excellent choice. They will keep your lizard well hydrated, even if it's not actively drinking water.
Also Read: Do Bearded Dragons Need Water? Vet Explains
Health Risks: Are Apples Bad for Bearded Dragons?
Apples are generally a good, safe fruit to feed your pet lizard. They are also readily available and cheap. You don't need to empty your pockets at a specialty reptile store to get them, but there are a few things you need to know when feeding apples to your bearded dragon.
Apple Seeds are Toxic
One thing to know is that apple seeds are thought to be toxic to lizards in general. Although there are no confirmed problems, some people worry about apple skins too. The safest way to deal with this is to peel and core the apple and remove the seeds before feeding.
Apple skins may also hold traces of pesticides. It's best to wash before serving. Of course, you can avoid the whole issue by buying organic produce.
Apples Contain Acid
Bearded dragons need some fruit in their diet, but too much can cause health problems. One of the reasons for this is the acid found in fruits. Too much acid ingested at once can upset your lizard's gut flora, causing diarrhea that can eventually lead to dehydration. This problem is made worse if a fruit contains a lot of water in addition to the acid.
Being 85% water and quite acidic, apples fall in this category. Feeding your bearded dragon too much will do more harm than good. To avoid potential diarrhea and dehydration, feed apple in small quantities.
High Sugar Content
All fruits, apples included, contain a lot of sugar. This comes with some extra risks for bearded dragons.
- Your lizard could start suffering from tooth decay if it eats too much sugar. Yes, it can eat some, but only in limited quantities. The bulk of its diet should still come from live food and low-sugar greens.
- Too much sugar in the diet can cause diarrhea because the sugars can ferment in a beardies tummy. This could then lead to dehydration and leave your lizard feeling listless and weak.
- And finally, obesity. Captive lizards don't get nearly as much exercise as their wild counterparts. A high-calorie diet full of sugar will lead to obesity and associated health problems.
Feeding Guidelines - Apples for Bearded Dragons
By now, you're wondering just how much apple is safe for your bearded dragon. As a general guideline, fruit should only be offered as an occasional treat.
Apples are a nice treat for your beardie, but only occasionally.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Give a Couple of Cubes
There are no hard and fast rules on how much apple to feed a bearded dragon. Everybody agrees that it shouldn't be much, but it's hard to give precise instructions. Play it safe and keep the serving size to a couple of small, peeled cubes. They should be cut small enough for your lizard to swallow easily.
Don't Feed Too Often
Apples (and all other fruit) need to be fed only occasionally. Again, while everybody agrees on this, actual interpretations vary. Feeding your bearded apple once or twice a month should be reasonable enough.
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Apples can be summarized as lots of water and small amounts of many minerals and nutrients. They don't contain explosive quantities of any one nutrient, but they are overall a healthy snack for your dragon.
High Water Content
85% of an apple is water. The protein and fat content is so small it's negligible. Apples do contain 14 grams of carbs per 100, of which 10 grams is sugar. There are only 2.4 grams of fiber to balance this out, hence the need to feed only small amounts.
Many Nutrients in Small Quantities
This fruit offers a selection of nutrients that will help your bearded dragon stay healthy. Vitamins A, C, E, K, and several from the B complex are all present. So are the minerals phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. These vitamins and minerals are all present in fairly small quantities, but because of the variety, apples are a pretty healthy snack for your pet.
Being omnivores, bearded dragons require some fruit and veggies in their diet. Apples are a good choice. With low oxalate content and plenty of water, they'll keep your lizard hydrated and won't interfere with calcium metabolism. They will also boost your beardies vitamin and mineral intake in a tasty treat.
Just remember to remove the toxic seeds and keep the serving size small. Feed your bearded dragon on his apple (or any other fruit) at most a couple of times per month to avoid any health problems caused by excessive consumption of sugar.
Can bearded dragons eat apple skin?
Bearded dragons can eat apple skin in the sense that it is not toxic to them. However, you should not feed your beardie apples without peeling them–or the peel itself– because it can be hard to swallow and digest. Also, apple skins may contain pesticides, which is another reason not to feed them to your beardie.
Apples are crunchy treats for beardies and can provide some extra vitamins and minerals for your pet.
Always cut them into small cubes (smaller than their mouth), peeled and cored with no apple seeds.
Luckily apples are low in oxalates, which won't interfere with calcium metabolism, but they are also high in sugar, which can cause blood sugar spikes and dental disease. We often forget that beardies have teeth as they don't seem to make much use of them when they swallow crickets whole. While dental disease is rare, avoid too much sugar as it encourages plaque to develop on their teeth.
Sugar also ferments in their tummy, which can cause overgrowth of some bacteria within the gut and cause illness and diarrhea, which can be fatal.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Edele Grey, BSc, MVB, PGCertESM, MRCVS was born and raised in Ireland on a farm, so she was destined for veterinary-related work from a young age. Dr. Grey attended the only veterinary university in Ireland, the University College Dublin, and graduated in 2013. Since graduation, Dr. Grey has worked with a range of exotic, companion, and production animal species.
NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your bearded dragon's specific dietary needs (based on his weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.