Bearded dragons are an excellent pet to keep in that they aren't difficult to care for, and their diet is relatively easy to maintain once you get the hang of it.
The key thing to remember about bearded dragons is that they are omnivores and will eat insects and bugs in addition to veggies and fruits. It's important to feed your dragon a balanced diet so they stay healthy.
And veggies really matter, especially in keeping your dragon at a healthy weight and nourished. For a juvenile bearded dragon, you should offer about 20-30% veggies in their diets, and for an adult bearded dragon, it becomes 70-80% of the diet that needs to be vegetables and leafy greens with the occasional addition of some fruit.
Pretty straightforward, right? Not necessarily. How does celery factor in as a veggie to give bearded dragons? Let's find out.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Celery?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat celery. It's a low-calorie veggie that contains water for hydration and has an excellent calcium to phosphorous ratio. Still, follow the feeding guidelines, as celery is high in oxalates, which can cause health problems in bearded dragons. Overfeeding may also cause diarrhea, and if not prepared properly, celery can be a choking hazard.
That said, let's dig a little deeper. Although celery is not a toxic food for bearded dragons, there are a few health concerns related to it. It does have its benefits, and in order to keep your beardie healthy, you should be aware of these.
Celery, as you can see from our article, celery is a wonderful and crunchy treat for your beardie.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Always make sure you're feeding your bearded dragon a balanced diet with insects to give them that much-needed protein and a calcium supplement to prevent MBD (metabolic bone disease). And if you're unsure about your pet's overall diet, consult a vet to prevent any health issues related to an improper diet.
Now, let's talk about celery. It is a crunchy, low-calorie snack that is available at most grocery stores and farmers’ markets. It's cheap and easy to clean, cut, and serve to your dragon. Some bearded dragons really love celery; others won't show any interest in the veg.
Best of all, all parts of the celery are safe to eat, provided you wash them carefully first. Your bearded dragon can enjoy the celery stalks, as well as the leaves.
It's best to serve raw celery to your bearded dragon. Cooked celery becomes soft and might not be as satisfying for them. Plus, nutrients get lost when we cook celery, so that's another reason to keep it raw.
Juvenile beardie can have celery as part of their recommended veggie intake. However, it's important to remember these dragons are still growing, and veggies like celery should only be a part of their diet, not the main food group.
Feeding celery does come with a few concerns. So, what can owners do to give celery to their dragons safely? Before we learn more about the risks, let's have a look at all the benefits celery can offer.
Health Benefits: Is Celery Good for Bearded Dragons?
The answer is yes- celery is good for bearded dragons, but only when we serve it properly and in moderation. Later on, we will talk about how to do that, but for now, let's break down some of the reasons celery is great for bearded dragons.
High in fiber, low sugar, and low calorie coupled with high water content, it may seem like the dream treat for your pogona.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Contains 95% Water
Bearded dragons have adapted to dry environments and don't drink like other animals; they look for moving water droplets on surfaces. Because these reptiles don't always drink from water bowls and dehydration may become a concern.
Since celery is mostly water, offering it helps your dragon get their water and stay hydrated.
Signs like wrinkled skin, the tackiness of saliva, decreased skin elasticity, and sunken eyes are all signs of dehydration. If you suspect your dragon is dehydrated, ask a vet for guidance on how to hydrate your dragon quickly.
Doesn't Have Lots of Sugar
According to the FDA, there are only 2g of sugar per 110g of celery. Your beardie won't be taking in any excessive amounts of sugar, which is better for their health and helps them keep a healthy weight.
Obesity is a growing problem among bearded dragons and is usually caused by a diet that does not fit the dietary requirements of pogonas. A round belly, thick tail base, distended jowl, and fat behind the arms are signs that your beardie is overweight, and you need to change their diet.
If you think your bearded dragon is overweight, consult a veterinarian on how to help your pet lose weight because obesity can cause all sorts of health issues and shorten the lifespan of your dragon.
Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio Is Good
As you probably know, beardies need enough calcium in their diet to support their skeletal health. Many foods contain a good amount of calcium, but things become complicated if phosphorus is in the picture.
Phosphorus binds to calcium, which prevents it from getting absorbed into the bloodstream of the dragon. If your dragon takes in too much phosphorus in relation to calcium, this leaves them open to metabolic bone disease.
The calcium to phosphorus ratio of celery comes in at 1.6 to 1. This is pretty much ideal when it comes to foods bearded dragons should be eating.
Has Antioxidants, Flavonoids and Vitamins
Celery contains antioxidants and flavonoids, which means good news for heart health and for the reduction of inflammation. They fight free radicals and lower oxidative stresses on the body of your bearded dragon. In simple terms, they help your bearded dragon's body function in a more efficient manner and protect it against the toxins and stressors of their everyday world.
Antioxidants help the body fight against molecules intent on causing harm. Inflammation is one of the body's responses to such harm and occurs when the body is presented with toxins, irritants, germs, or allergens. By having these beneficial compounds included in the bearded dragon's diet, such symptoms may be reduced.
Celery is also packed with beta carotene and vitamin C, which are great for the vision, your beardie’s immune system, and reproductive health of your beardie.
Health Risks: Is Celery Bad for Bearded Dragons?
At this point, you may be excited to go out and buy some celery for your dragon, but not so fast. There are some caveats to consider before you do that.
Nutritional Value Is Not Great
Yes, celery is great in many ways- for example, it is low in calories and low in sugar. And it's got plenty of water.
However, this is NOT a staple food for bearded dragons of any age as it lacks the necessary fats and proteins. You will want to serve it only as a small part of a balanced and nutritious diet.
Oxalate Content Is High
Another reason celery is not a suitable staple food for bearded dragons is due to the oxalate levels of the veggie.
Oxalates bind with calcium, which can lead to kidney stones as well as contribute to the development of metabolic bone disease. Eating excessive amounts of celery can quite literally be fatal to your bearded dragon, so be cautious and follow our feeding guidelines.
Metabolic bone disease is one of the most common diseases in beardies. Early signs include:
- Lack of appetite
- Lethargy and weakness
In severe cases, you may see symptoms like swollen limbs, softening of facial bones, fractures, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. If not treated, the disease is fatal.
Luckily proper care and diet will help you avoid this condition in your pet. If you're unsure about the diet, you're offering your beardie, or you notice any of the signs mentioned above, ask a vet to assess your beardie's health status.
By eating too much celery, which is high in water, your bearded dragon could experience diarrhea. This could lead them to become dehydrated, which can be fatal.
Because beardies have digestive systems that can not handle high-water foods in large quantities, your should always make sure to feed watery foods like celery in moderation.
Presents a Choking Hazard
The texture of celery is stringy and fibrous. If you've ever bit off a piece and noticed those little fibers that remain after you've taken the bite, you can understand how this would present a choking hazard to your bearded dragon.
Although beardies have teeth, they don't chew, but swallow their food whole. They also have naturally small mouths and throats that require smaller pieces of food. Therefore, you will want to cut the celery into small cubes for safer eating.
And when it comes to safe feeding, let's talk about some of the guidelines you should follow.
Feeding Guidelines: Celery for Bearded Dragons
Now you know that celery is a fine veggie to serve your bearded dragon. But how exactly do you go about doing this? What is the safest method of preparing celery for bearded dragons? Read on to discover what you need to know.
Feeding too much celery may lead to an apparent calcium deficiency despite your supplementation.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
How Much Celery Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
Celery is a food you don't want to feed as a daily staple, but it is a treat or a topping for your bearded dragon's veggie mix. For an adult dragon, a quarter of the stalk, cut into tiny cubes, and a few of the celery leaves sprinkled in as part of a veggie salad is fine.
How Often Can Bearded Dragons Eat Celery?
Celery just doesn't offer the nutrients bearded dragons need. Also, it contains oxalates that bind to calcium, possibly causing calcium deficiency.
So, it is best to think of it as a "treat" for your bearded dragons. You can offer it to them about once or twice a month by itself or mixed in with other veggies.
How Do I Prepare Celery for My Bearded Dragon?
- Begin by shopping smart. If possible, go for organic celery at the grocery store or farmers’ market. This will help you avoid any harmful pesticides or other chemicals that might harm your beardie.
- Look the celery over to ensure it is not spoiled.
- Once you have brought your celery home, wash it up even if you don't plan on feeding right away. You can chop up and feed the leaves, so be sure to wash those, too.
- When it's feeding time, carefully and finely chop up the leaves and stalks. Aim for small cubes; the smaller, the better. Do not cook the celery to avoid losing any nutrients.
- Now you can serve your bearded dragon the celery. You can offer them a few pieces on their own or add them to their veggie salad.
- Just be sure to remove anything that is uneaten after about 30 minutes, so your dragon doesn't overeat, and the food doesn't go bad.
According to the FDA, here are the nutrition facts for 100g of celery:
- 15 calories
- 0g fat
- 115mg sodium
- 2g fiber
- 2g sugar
- 0g protein
Celery also contains the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
As you can see, celery is a low-calorie veggie. It contains 95% of water, so although it does come with some vitamins and minerals, its nutritional value is quite low.
As you can see, celery is OK for bearded dragons, but it is not everything a bearded dragon needs to live a healthy and happy life. Its low-calorie, low sugar, and high water content are all good things, but too much of a good thing can be harmful.
The main things to watch out for when feeding celery to your bearded dragon is the frequency of the feedings as well as the quality and quantity of the celery you are serving.
You want to keep celery to just once a week or once every two weeks, plus ensure the celery you are buying is fresh and free of spoilage. By doing this and serving it in small bits, your dragon will safely enjoy this crunchy treat.
To keep your pet healthy, it's best to stick with a balanced diet of crickets, mealworms, roaches, calcium supplements, healthy veggies, and leafy greens. Doing this will ensure your dragon lives a long and healthy life.
Celery, as you can see from our article, celery is a wonderful and crunchy treat for your beardie. High in fiber, low sugar, and low calorie coupled with high water content, it may seem like the dream treat for your pogona.
One drawback to celery is the high level of oxalates which bind to calcium and forming crystals that are excreted through the kidneys. These crystals can combine together to form "stones," which can cause blockages.
Another concern is that feeding too much celery may lead to an apparent calcium deficiency despite your supplementation. A small amount of tiny cubes of celery and its leaves once or twice a month is enough for most beardies.
- 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.