February 25, 2021

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cucumbers?

Risks and Benefits Explained

Veterinarian Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Cucumbers are one of life's most versatile veggies. They can be chopped up and included in your salads, they can be made into pickles, or you can chop them into slices and dip them in dressing for a healthy snack.

Indeed, the veggie has many uses. But how does it fare when we talk about it in the context of feeding it to your bearded dragon? Is it OK to give your beardie cucumbers, and are there any reasons you shouldn't?

Let's find out.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cucumbers?

Yes, bearded dragons can eat cucumber. It's a low-calorie veggie that provides nutrients and hydration and can help with constipation in beardies. However, follow our feeding guidelines because cucumber has a low nutritional value, it may cause diarrhea, and it has more phosphorus than calcium, which could lead to calcium deficiency and metabolic bone disease when overfed to bearded dragons.

Cucumber is safe for beardies, but it's time-consuming to prepare compared to other veggie treats.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

That said, we can state that bearded dragons can definitely eat cucumbers, and there is nothing in the vegetable that is toxic to the reptile.

The outlook is good. Bearded dragons can enjoy this veggie as long as it is served in reasonable amounts, washed carefully before consumption, and it is cut into small enough pieces for your dragon to swallow it.

However, one should take extra care to avoid serving cucumbers to bearded dragons with seeds or peels. These are both dangerous to bearded dragons. Bearded dragons are not able to chew the peels, so if swallowed, your beardie could experience a blocked digestive tract (also known as gut impaction).

The same goes for the seeds. Seeds need to be scooped out when you serve the cucumber to your bearded dragon because they can cause impaction and are also a choking hazard.

There are also steps you need to follow when it comes to preparing the cucumber for your bearded dragons to eat, such as washing it and what size to make the pieces.

As you can see, it's not as straightforward as you might think when it comes to feeding bearded dragons' cucumbers. So, what else is there to know?

Stick with us as we discuss the benefits, risks, and how much cucumber you can feed to your dragon without adverse consequences.

Also, always keep in mind that you should feed your pet a balanced diet that includes insects, leafy greens, healthy veggies, an occasional treat of fruit, and a calcium supplement to support healthy bones.

Health Benefits: Is Cucumber Good for Bearded Dragons?

The good news is that cucumbers are quite good to eat, especially for bearded dragons. Add this to the fact that they are inexpensive and sold at most supermarkets, and you have a winner when it comes to veggies that are safe for bearded dragons.

Cucumber contains some important vitamins and minerals, but because it is made up of 96% water, its overall nutritional value is not very high.

However, bearded dragons should keep their cucumber intake to an occasional treat. This will help you maximize the benefits of the cucumber while avoiding all those unpleasant side effects that can come about if too much of the vegetable is consumed.

But first, let's get into some of the benefits:

Very Low in Calories

As our upcoming nutrition facts will show, the cucumber is naturally low in calories. This is good news if you have a bearded dragon that is obese or overweight and needs snacks and treats that won't hinder his weight loss progress.

It is a delicious way to add something new to your beardie's green salad once in a while – something that is exciting and enriching but does not add unnecessary calories or carry risks for making your bearded dragon become obese.

cucumber slices

Being overweight may lead to serious health issues, and obesity is a common and growing problem among pet beardies. Always consult a vet if you think your dragon may have gained a bit too much weight.

Great for Providing Hydration

Did you know that a cucumber is made up of 96% water? With that much water involved, it is a great way for your bearded dragon to maintain hydration. This is a benefit because many bearded dragons do not drink directly from water bowls.

Since they come from a very hot and dry climate, it is rare for them to see pools or puddles of collected water. They instead prefer to drink water droplets that roll off surfaces, hence why many caretakers mist the habitats. This can present a problem with your dragon getting enough water, which then leads to dehydration.

Giving your pogona some cucumber is a great way to ensure they get some water if you suspect they are dehydrated. Wrinkled skin, sunken eyes, and decreased skin elasticity are signs of your pet getting too little water. Ask a vet for advice if you suspect dehydration because it can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Can Help A Constipated Bearded Dragon

Got a bearded dragon who is impacted? Or a bearded dragon who hasn't done a poo in a few days? If you've tried the standard methods of helping, such as giving your beardie a warm bath, it may be time to offer up some helpful veggies.

By offering some finely chopped cucumber pieces, you can help your bearded dragon expel his fecal matter and get back to feeling good again.

Signs of impaction in beardie's include

  • slight bump along the spinal area
  • inability to excrete regularly
  • bulging or tender tummy

If you notice these symptoms, your bearded dragon may be constipated. Just remember that, as with any health matters, contact a veterinarian to assess your pet's health status first before trying to help.

Contains Helpful Minerals and Vitamins

There are lots of good minerals and vitamins in cucumbers. For example, fiber is present, which guards against constipation. You will also find Vitamin C, which helps your bearded dragon maintain a healthy immune system, good vision, and reproductive health. Vitamin K is included too, and it aids in blood clot formation.

Potassium is also part of cucumbers, which helps keep kidneys healthy, reduces water retention, and helps with healthy muscle function.

Another useful mineral is manganese, which is helpful against inflammation, as is magnesium, which is good for the health and function of the brain and muscles.

Health Risks: Is Cucumber Bad for Bearded Dragons?

At this point, you are probably excited to run out and purchase some cucumbers for your bearded dragon. But these awesome veggies are not without risks – after all, too much of a good thing is not good at all.

Read on to discover what you need to know about the risks of cucumbers for bearded dragons:

Diarrhea and Dehydration

Cucumbers are high in water, so if you give too much of it to your bearded dragon, they could experience diarrhea. Remember, cucumbers are mostly water, and bearded dragons have digestive systems that are not used to such watery foods.

While it may help rehydrate intestinal contents if your beardie is constipated, too much could cause diarrhea.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Diarrhea may then lead to dehydration, which can be fatal if not treated. Only feed cucumbers in moderation, so you don't have to worry about your dragon getting sick.

They're Not A Staple Food

Cucumbers are a great addition to the green salad bearded dragons need, but they are NOT a substitute for all the different veggies and leafy greens that form a well-balanced, nutritious, and nourishing diet. Roaches, mealworms, and crickets, all of which need to be dusted with calcium, also belong to a healthy daily menu.

Cucumbers are not enough to feed your dragon on their own as they do not provide the proteins and fats dragons need to stay healthy. Also, their nutritional value is quite low.

Only feed cucumber in small amounts because if your pet fills up their stomach with foods that have a low nutritional value, they may suffer from nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition in the long run.

Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio Is A Concern

When providing veggies to your bearded dragon, you want to look for veggies that have lots of calcium and less phosphorus. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus in cucumber is 1: 1.5. The problem with this is that phosphorus will bind to calcium and exit the body through the urine.

As you are probably aware, beardies need calcium for healthy bones. If you feed too many foods that are high in phosphorus and low in calcium, your pet will develop calcium deficiency and even metabolic bone disease (MBD) as the calcium their body needs is extracted from their bones, making them fragile.

Symptoms of MBD include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Limping
  • Bowed legs
  • Softening of the lower jaw
  • Difficulty raising the body off the ground

If you notice any of these signs, contact a vet. Proper care and diet are needed since the metabolic bone disease can be fatal if left untreated.

Seeds, Size of Veggie and Peels Present A Choking Hazard

Bearded dragons do have teeth, but they don't chew their food and instead swallow it whole. Therefore, anything they eat needs to be small enough to fit their mouth and throat.

The skin of the cucumber isn't easily digestible, and large seeds may present a choking hazard to your pet.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

In the next section, you will learn that peeling the cucumber and removing the seeds really matters. The peels are not chewable by the beardie, and the seeds may be caught in the throat of your bearded dragon if swallowed. This goes for serving size, too- make the pieces small, so your dragon can comfortably eat them.

Feeding Guidelines: Cucumber for Bearded Dragons

How Much Cucumber Can A Bearded Dragon Eat?

For an adult beardie, you can cut two thin slices off the cucumber, pick out all the seeds, and cut the skin off. You can then cut the pieces into small chunks and sprinkle them over your dragon's veggie salad, or you can offer them on their own.

How Often Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cucumber?

It's best to keep feeding cucumber to just once a week or once every two weeks. You don't want to offer this every feeding day because of the risks we discussed earlier, but it is fine when offered in moderation.

How to Prepare Cucumber for Bearded Dragons?

Begin by shopping smart for your cucumbers. Look for fresh cucumbers free of spoilage at the grocery store. Go organic if you can because this will minimize contact with pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Once you get it home, wash it right away, regardless of whether or not you will feed your dragon that day. Then, store it in the fridge until it's time to feed. When you are ready to serve the cucumber, cut off the end and then cut a small slice or two, removing all seeds and peel. Then cut it into small bite-sized chunks and offer it to your bearded dragon.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the diameter of the chunks smaller than the distance between your bearded dragon's eyes.

Also Read: How Long Can I Leave My Bearded Dragon Alone For?

sliced cucumbers

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA, here are the nutrition facts for 100g of cucumbers:

  • 15 calories
  • .65g protein
  • .5g fiber
  • 3.6g carbs
  • .037g fat
  • 1.67g sugar

Cucumber also has the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin K
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A

As you can see, cucumber is very low in calories. It contains some important vitamins and minerals, but because it is made up of 96% water, its overall nutritional value is not very high.

Bottom Line – Can Bearded Dragons Have Cucumbers?

Now you know what the scoop is when it comes to feeding your bearded dragon cucumbers. The most important points to remember are that they are OK when served once a week or once every two weeks, with peels and seeds removed and cut into small bits.

But they're no staple food. Keep your beardie satisfied with healthy greens, roaches, mealworms, and crickets dusted with calcium and a treat of fruit every now and then, and they are sure to enjoy good health.

Vet's Comment

Cucumber is safe for beardies, but it's time-consuming to prepare compared to other veggie treats.

The skin of the cucumber isn't easily digestible, and large seeds may present a choking hazard to your pet; thus, both need to be removed.

Similar to watermelon, cucumber has a high water content; while it may help rehydrate intestinal contents if your beardie is constipated, too much could cause diarrhea.

- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Dr. Edele Grey Veterinary Surgeon

Vet-Approved by
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.

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