Beardies are not a demanding pet and are fun to keep. Their diet isn't difficult to get right either. You just have to remember that they're omnivores and will feed on bugs and worms as much as fruits and veggies. A balanced diet is key in keeping your beardie healthy.
A young beardie needs to have about 25% of their diet made up of veggies, and for an adult, that figure goes up to 50%.
But lizards are so different from us, and so are their digestive systems. How can you tell which veggies are good for your beardie, and which aren't?
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat broccoli. In bite-sized pieces, broccoli is a healthy, low-sugar treat packed with Vitamin C and many essential minerals. However, check our feeding guidelines as broccoli does not have ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio, and overfeeding may lead to health problems like calcium deficiency.
Broccoli is a great vegetable to feed your bearded dragon.
- Leonie McKinlay, DVM
Apart from the various vitamins and minerals it offers, broccoli also contains more protein than you may think.
Just as with all good foods, too much is not a great idea. Broccoli may be healthy and actually a nutrition powerhouse, but there are a couple of things about it that your beardie will not benefit from if it eats too much or too often.
Health Benefits: Is Broccoli Good for Bearded Dragons?
Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables around, and there is a lot your beardie can get out of it.
And while it may not be a favorite with us humans, most beardies tend to like the taste and will readily eat some when given a chance.
Broccoli Is Low in Fat and Sugar
Bearded dragons are naturally active and curious little animals. But when kept in captivity, they don't have nearly as much chance or reason to go running around, hunting for food or escaping predators.
A beardie that eats a diet too rich in fat and sugar is likely to become overweight, which can bring with it a whole host of health complications. Not only do you not want your pet to suffer, but vets that understand beardies may also be hard to come by if you do get a problem.
Sugar, in particular, can upset the natural balance of flora in your pet's gut, causing digestive upsets. Beardies simply aren't designed to consume large quantities of sugar.
Loaded with Vitamin C
Bearded dragons can synthesize their own vitamin C in their kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, but a deficiency can still occur. Signs of a lack of vitamin C include bruising, bleeding gums, and tearing and separation of the skin.
The best way to prevent such a problem is by feeding your beardie vegetables and fruit rich in vitamin C, and for this, broccoli is one of the best you can find. A regular serving of broccoli can help keep your beardie's vitamin C levels optimal.
Excellent Source of Vitamin K
Broccoli also contains a very good amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K actually refers to a group of vitamins that play a critical role in the body. Usually, vitamin K is produced in a beardie's intestinal flora.
But if your beardie has recently been on oral antibiotics, its intestinal flora can be severely affected, leading to a lack of vitamin K.
Even if your beardie is healthy, an occasional vitamin K top-up in their diet won't hurt. Broccoli is a rich source of this and many other essential nutrients that your beardie will thank you for.
Contains Essential Minerals
Broccoli is known as a nutrition powerhouse for a good reason. Unlike many other vegetables and fruits that are rich in just one or two nutrients, broccoli contains tens of them.
Besides containing several vitamins and being low in fat and sugar, broccoli contains many of the vital minerals, each one with an important function in keeping your bearded dragon healthy.
In short, feeding your beardie one serving of broccoli is an excellent way to get a whole lot of essential vitamins and minerals into your pet's digestive system in one fell swoop.
Surprisingly High in Protein
Broccoli may be a vegetable, but it is quite rich in protein for a plant and contains more than you may guess. Did you know that this vegetable offers 2.82 grams of protein for every 100 grams?
Beardies are omnivores, so they need both animal and plant protein for an optimal, balanced diet, and broccoli is a great protein source for them. Coupled with its low fat and sugar levels, it is a food full of goodness that is not likely to make your beardie gain unwanted weight.
Also Read: How To Give Bearded Dragon Water?
Health Risks: Is Broccoli Bad for Bearded Dragons?
We've really sung praises for broccoli here, and it truly is a healthy, nutritious vegetable for your bearded dragon.
But take a moment to read through this section before you rush off to pull some out of the fridge and give your pet a nice, sizeable portion.
Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio Is Not Ideal
Bearded dragons that consistently eat more phosphorus than calcium end up developing health problems. Beardies generally require more calcium in their food. This is especially true of young, growing animals.
Broccoli contains more than twice as much phosphorus as it does calcium, which goes against the natural dietary requirements for this species.
Feeding broccoli occasionally won't upset the balance, unless you neglect to supply your lizard with sufficient calcium on a general basis.
But prolonged feeding of broccoli in large amounts can result in phosphorus levels going too high, which will earn you a sick lizard that needs to go to a vet for assistance.
Broccoli Contains A Lot of Water
This vegetable is low in fat and sugars, which is great. The price to pay for this, though, is the high-water content. Broccoli is over 90% water, which is where the problem for beardies comes in.
Bearded dragons do need water as part of their everyday diet. But when this water comes from a vegetable like broccoli, it can cause bloating. This may not seem like a big deal, but bloating can lead to serious complications with beardies.
Be Careful with Beardies And Oxalic Acid
Broccoli contains a compound known as oxalic acid. This can bind with calcium and other trace minerals, effectively making them unavailable for your bearded dragon, even if he has eaten plenty.
So much as broccoli contains lots of useful, important nutrients for your beardie, go easy on the quantity. Eating too much will simply negate the numerous benefits and can even cause your pet health problems.
Feeding Guidelines: Broccoli for Bearded Dragon
By now, you know that broccoli is overall a healthy and nutritious vegetable for your bearded dragon. But you also know that too much is not good, which begs the question: how much is too much?
Wash and Chop or Shred Before Serving
- First, it's good to start by washing the broccoli under clean, running water to remove any traces of dirt and pesticides that may be lingering on it. Both leaves and stalks are okay for your pet to eat.
- Before you get to the feeding bit, chop or shred the broccoli to small-sized pieces that your bearded dragon can comfortably pick up and eat. Beardies don't stop to chew their food, so an oversized piece of broccoli may choke your pet.
Don't Make It A Daily Food
Broccoli may be a nutrition powerhouse, but it shouldn't be a daily addition to your bearded dragon's diet. This is because it contains oxalic acid and a lot of water, neither of which are great for beardies.
You can offer your bearded dragon broccoli once a week or so. Be sure not to mix it with other veggies that are also high in oxalates, like beet greens, swiss chard, and spinach.
Broccoli may not be a fan favorite with human beings, but most beardies like it well enough. And it's wonderful that they do. This vegetable is an all-rounder and packs a whole lot of nutrition in even the tiniest serving.
Rich in vitamin C and vitamin K, it also contains several of the B vitamins. Add to that the fact that it holds just about every trace mineral your beardie needs, and you have a real winner.
The main reason your beardie shouldn't eat too much broccoli is the fact that it contains oxalic acid, which can bind with calcium, preventing your pet from absorbing enough of it into his system.
Broccoli is a great all-rounder. It provides your bearded dragon with a lot of the essential vitamins and minerals he needs in one compact serving. And since most beardies like broccoli, there's no reason not to feed your pet some.
Just remember that too much of anything is bad, and broccoli is no exception.
Broccoli contains oxalic acid that can prevent your pet from absorbing adequate calcium, and it also contains a lot of phosphorus, which is another problem for beardies. For the best results, feed broccoli in moderation.
Broccoli is a great vegetable to feed your bearded dragon, but it shouldn't be fed more than about once a week.
As omnivores, bearded dragons need a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of different food items, from insects to fruits and vegetables. Of the fruits and vegetables they get, about 80-90% should be vegetables or flowers, and only 10-20% should be fruit.
It's very important that bearded dragons get the right amount of calcium and phosphorus in their diets to prevent health problems, and it can be tough to do this with diet alone. Their food should also be lightly sprinkled with calcium powder several times a week, and they should also get a general reptile mineral supplement once a week.
- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM
Dr. Leonie McKinlay has always had a special fondness for animals and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Calgary and then her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Since graduation, Dr. McKinlay has been working at the same small animal practice, caring for dogs and cats.
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.