Bearded dragons, also known as beardies or pogonas, need a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, and insects like roaches and crickets. Although many veggies meet their dietary needs, it's important to always check before feeding anything new.
While a fruit or vegetable may not be toxic for bearded dragons, some do come with health risks if feeding guidelines are not followed carefully. Even foods that are packed with nutrients may be harmful if they are not fed in moderation.
So what about blueberries? For humans, blueberries are considered a power food containing loads of good stuff. But what about beardies? Will they benefit from those same nutrients, or could this delicious blue treat cause more harm than good?
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Blueberries?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat blueberries. Blueberries contain nutrients like Vitamin C, calcium, and fiber that are beneficial for beardies. Still, blueberries also contain phosphorus and sugar, so you need to follow our feeding guidelines to avoid health issues like diarrhea, obesity, calcium deficiency, and metabolic bone disease. Overfeeding blueberries to your beardie is a health risk.
That being said, as a small part of a healthy balanced diet, bearded dragons can absolutely enjoy blueberries, just not as a staple food. Instead, they should be handled as a special treat.
Blueberries as a special treat are completely safe for a bearded dragon that has a balanced diet.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
For growing beardies, about 50% of their food should be leafy greens, vegetables, and the occasional fruit as a treat. The remainder of their daily food intake consisting of crickets, mealworms, and roaches. For adult bearded dragons, it changes, with 70% plant-based and 30% animal-based food. In addition, you should always remember to use supplements, with the most important ones being calcium and Vitamin D3.
So let's have a look at how blueberries fit this diet. Although they have a couple of benefits for beardies, blueberries also come with a few risks if not fed in moderation. We'll go over the good, the bad, and the feeding guidelines you need to follow to keep your pet safe and healthy.
Health Benefits: Are Blueberries Good for Bearded Dragons?
Bearded dragons can absolutely eat blueberries. These fruits are not toxic to bearded dragons. If some were to fall into your beardie's enclosure, and your dragon ate them, they would not get sick or die.
However, the problem with blueberries is the inadequate nutritional content compared to the needs of pogonas. They have some benefits, but not enough to be considered a staple food for bearded dragons. Later on, in the article, you will learn about some of the risks associated with feeding too many blueberries.
Now, onto the benefits of blueberries!
Strengthens the Immune System
One of the greatest things about blueberries is their Vitamin C content. We all know that Vitamin C is necessary to keep one's immune system functioning in top shape.
For bearded dragons, having adequate Vitamin C helps them stay healthy and avoids deficiency symptoms such as bleeding gums, tearing and separation of the skin, and diarrhea. Most of their Vitamin C will mostly come from leafy greens, but blueberries are a fun way to get this vitamin too.
Helps with Digestion and Prevents Constipation
One great thing about blueberries is that they can help an impacted bearded dragon. The fibers of this fruit, as well as the high-water content, are the key players here.
Impaction happens to bearded dragons for a few different reasons. Some beardies tend to eat their sand substrate as a means of balancing their calcium, and doing this can cause digestive problems. Another reason might be that the temperature of the habitat isn’t right or your beardie isn’t getting enough fluids. Having a warm basking area helps them digest their food easier.
Bearded dragons might also be fed an inadequate diet, and food that is too big to move through the digestive tract of the dragon could cause impaction.
The finer and water in blueberries can help if your beardie has problems with digestion. Still, too many can tip the scale and cause unwanted digestive issues.
Fortifies the Beardie's Dental and Bone Health
Blueberries do contain calcium, albeit in small amounts. While most of the calcium your dragon consumes will be from supplements used to dust the crickets and roaches you feed, this little extra dose of calcium is helpful.
Every little bit helps as a means of preventing metabolic bone disease in your bearded dragon.
Helps with Hydration
Bearded dragons are used to being without water. As natives to the hot and dry climate of Australia, these little fellows know what it means to be thirsty. They may not drink standing water as they are not used to it.
But consuming greens and fruits are easy ways for the beardie to remain hydrated. And as blueberries consist mostly of water, they are a great way to offer some hydration.
Helps them eat their greens
Some beardies simply don't want their greens, even though you know they need them. Mixing in a few sweet blueberries on top of the green salad you serve your dragon can tempt them to eat their greens too. They will go in to eat the sweet berries, but also consume the other stuff as well. It's a win-win!
Health Risks: Are Blueberries Bad for Bearded Dragons?
There are a few benefits of giving bearded dragons these delicious berries. But there are many concerns as well. Let's learn about them.
The trouble with blueberries for beardies is that they contain lots of sugar. We humans can eat an entire container of blueberries, and it's still healthy. Meanwhile, bearded dragons get large doses of sugar when they eat just a couple of blueberries. This can lead to obesity, which carries health risks such as dystocia for females, shortened lifespan, and dysfunction of multiple organs.
The high sugar content in blueberries can lead to obesity in beardies if fed too often or in too large portions.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
In order to avoid unwanted weight gain and health problems related to obesity, you should not feed your beardie too many sugary treats like blueberries.
Metabolic Bone Disease
Perhaps the most important thing to know about blueberries is that although they contain some calcium, they are also high in phosphorus.
Bearded dragons need plenty of calcium as a means of keeping their bones in good health. This is the reason we dust our crickets and roaches with calcium before feeding them to the bearded dragon. Lack of dietary calcium is the number one reason that beardies develop MBD, also known as metabolic bone disease.
Phosphorus, however, prevents calcium from being absorbed into the body of the dragon. Phosphorus binds to calcium, and the calcium then exits the body instead of being used for strengthening bone. When a beardie does not get enough calcium with its diet, it is absorbed from the bones making them weaker.
The ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio for beardies is 2:1. Blueberries, however, have the exact opposite as they contain twice as much phosphorus as they contain calcium.
If a dragon consumes too many foods that are rich in phosphorus, its risk for calcium deficiency and metabolic bone disease (MBD) increases. Because blueberries have a calcium to phosphorus ratio that is not ideal for beardies, they should be fed as an occasional treat.
Blueberries are pretty soft, but an excited bearded dragon could gobble up these berries quickly, so the risk of choking still remains. Because of this, always cut blueberries in half before placing them inside the habitat. This way, it's easier for your dragon to swallow its treat, and there is no risk of him swallowing something too big.
Blueberries contain quite a lot of sugar and water, which bearded dragons can't handle in large quantities. Eating too much of any food that contains either may lead to watery stools or even diarrhea.
Because blueberries are high in sugar, they quickly cause tartar and plaque build-up, which can lead to tooth decay.
Bearded dragons are prone to tooth inflammations, so keeping the sugary treats to a minimum is necessary for their oral health.
The first thing to keep in mind when feeding your bearded dragon blueberries is that they need to be clean. You should wash the blueberries thoroughly before feeding. This will help get rid of any dirt or pesticides that remain on the fruit.
If offering a fruit for the first time to your beardie, you should only offer a small amount and monitor your pet for any signs of adverse effects before offering more.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
How Many Blueberries Can A Bearded Dragon Eat?
Adult bearded dragons can eat up to four blueberries at a time, while younger, growing beardies should eat even less because the lack of calcium too many blueberries cause might affect their bone growth negatively.
How Often Can Bearded Dragons Eat Blueberries?
Bearded dragons can enjoy blueberries at most, once a week.
Just keep in mind you should not feed fruit more than once a week because of the high sugar content. Meaning, you can't give bananas one day and then blueberries the next and then kiwi the following day "because you are feeding them once a week."
Because it's important to offer a variety of different veggies and fruits to provide a mix of different nutrients, you shouldn't really feed blueberries more than once a month. Make sure you're choosing another fruit or berry as the other weekly fruits in between.
Preparing and Serving Blueberries for Your Beardie
Ready to learn about the steps involved in feeding your bearded dragon blueberries? Keep reading to discover the safe way to help your dragon enjoy the fruit.
- Choose organic and do a quality check – Smart feeding starts at the grocery store or farmers market. Begin by checking the blueberries over for any mold spots or areas that look rotted. If you would not eat the blueberries, you should not feed them to your bearded dragon, either. Choosing organic is always better since pesticides and chemicals may be harmful to your beardie.
- Wash them – Now that you have them home, begin by washing them, even if you don't plan on serving your dragon that day. This way, they will be clean and ready to go when it's time, and you won't forget to wash before serving.
- Slice in half – The third step is going to be to cut the berries in half to make bite-sized pieces. This minimizes your pet's risk of choking, and your beardie might even think they are getting more. Four berries become eight pieces to enjoy! Cutting the berries in half also brings out the delicious inside of the berry, tempting your beardie to have a try.
- Use a shallow bowl – always use a shallow dish that doesn't tip over easily because it gives your dragon the easiest access to its food.
- Mix it up – Mixing up the berries with other fruits and veggies and mashing the berries on top will prevent your pet from picking only the tastiest bits to fill their tummy.
- Watch for any adverse side effects – Is your beardie eating around them or just avoiding them altogether? Or is he not acting like himself? If this is the case, remove the blueberries. He might not enjoy them. Not all dragons like blueberries! Also, when feeding something new, it's important to start with very small pieces and monitor how your pet reacts.
- Take out uneaten fruit within 30 minutes – After 30 minutes has gone by, reach in and get rid of old fruit. This prevents mold and foul smells from culminating in the enclosure.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Frozen Blueberries?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat frozen blueberries after they have been thawed. Just make the blueberries you feed your beardie are naturally preserved with no chemicals, and your beardie can happily munch on some blueberries from your freezer.
Sometimes pet owners think they shouldn't be feeding their pet frozen fruits or veggies because they contain preservatives and lack the same nutrients. However, this is actually not true. Most frozen veggies, fruits, and berries actually have more vitamins than fresh ones because the vitamins and minerals are preserved when the produce is fresh, and the nutrients haven't started degrading.
Most frozen berries are actually OK for beardies to enjoy because they are naturally preserved using freezing techniques with no added preservatives.
If you're worried about preservatives and pesticides, you can always check the label. Rarely will frozen berries contain any preservatives, and buying organic is the best option no matter if you're choosing fresh or frozen blueberries.
Curious about what's in 100g of Blueberries? Check it out:
- 84g water
- 57 calories
- 0.74g protein
- 6 mg calcium
- 12mg phosphorus
- 1mg sodium
- 0g vitamin D3 and D2
- 0.052mg of vitamin B6
- 3 µg of Vitamin A
- 19.3 µg of Vitamin K
Although blueberries contain many healthy vitamins and minerals, they do not provide bearded dragons with everything they need from their diet. Blueberries should not be a staple food for beardies, but it can be offered as an occasional treat –similar to what candy is to humans.
A good beardie diet consists of leafy greens, vegetables, roaches/crickets dusted with calcium, and the occasional treat like blueberries.
The most evident problem with blueberries is the calcium to phosphorus ratio, which is far from ideal. There should be twice as much calcium than phosphorus in foods you feed beardies, but blueberries have the exact opposite ratio.
However, here are a couple of nutritional benefits blueberries do have:
- Vitamin C boosts the immune system and supports growth, reproduction, and vision.
- Vitamin K promotes heart and bone health.
- Antioxidants reduce inflammation and support heart health.
- And since blueberries are 84% water, they can offer some hydration too if your pet is dehydrated and needs foods with high water content.
Bearded dragons can certainly enjoy blueberries.
However, it should be treated the same way we humans treat candies, cakes, and cookies. They should be kept to a minimum and not eaten as a staple food.
Blueberries lack sound nutritional value for bearded dragons considering their dietary requirements. Keep the diet of your bearded dragon mostly to one of leafy greens, crickets, and roaches dusted with calcium and the occasional treat, and you will find that your dragon remains healthy and happy.
Ah, blueberries, those tiny nutritional powerhouses, at least for humans.
Blueberries are packed full of vitamins but they're also high in sugar and water. Some beardies have sensitive tummies which may make them prone to diarrhea when fed sugary foods or foods high in water.
The high sugar content in blueberries can also lead to obesity in beardies if fed too often or in too large portions.
One or two blueberries as a special treat are completely safe for a bearded dragon that has a balanced diet, once cut into bite sized pieces to prevent choking. If offering a fruit for the first time to your beardie, you should only offer a small amount and monitor your pet for any signs of adverse effects before offering more.
- 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.