March 2, 2021

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Oranges?

Vets lay out the risks

can bearded dragons eat oranges or not
Veterinarian Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Daniel Ramirez

Vet Approved

Bearded dragons, also referred to as "beardies," mostly consume green veggies, crickets, roaches, and mealworms. However, including some fruit in their diet is a great idea as well. A small amount of fruit every now and then is a nice way to provide vitamins, minerals, and enrichment to a dragon's life.

What about oranges, including mandarin oranges? These are typically known around the world as being healthy and nutritious. They're packed with vitamin C, taste great, and are readily available at most grocery stores.

But what about beardies? Can they eat oranges, or are they something that should not be included on their menu. Stay with us as we explore whether or not oranges are good for bearded dragons.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Oranges?

No, bearded dragons should not eat oranges. Although the Vitamin C in oranges might be beneficial for your beardie, the cons outweigh the pros. The fruit is too high in oxalic and citric acids and should not be fed to beardies. Check out our feeding guidelines, as among other health issues, oranges may cause digestive problems, tooth decay, and obesity.

In short, no.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

As you can see, bearded dragons should never eat any oranges. That means no navel, mandarin, or other oranges you might find for sale.

No variety of orange is safe for the bearded dragon. It's not that there are toxic chemicals or naturally occurring poisonous substances in the fruit; it's because the fruit is naturally acidic. Oranges just have far too much acid and sugar in them. This leads to irritation of the digestive system of the bearded dragon and can lead to diarrhea and dehydration.

You may wonder, "What about orange peels and orange juice?" The answer is still NO. Orange peels often have pesticides on the outside, which is one reason to avoid them. The peel of the orange is very acidic as well, another reason for it to be avoided.

Meanwhile, orange juice is far too sugary, acidic and could lead to diarrhea in your bearded dragon if they drink too much of it.

Others might ask, "Why not mandarin oranges?" After all, these do have a more mild taste, lacking that acidic "bite" we sometimes get with regular oranges. The answer is still no when it comes to these fruits.

Even though they don't have the same acid numbers in comparison to regular oranges, they still have the same negative effects on the digestive systems of pogonas.

Curious about what could happen if oranges are fed to your bearded dragon?

It's not good, that's for sure. By feeding oranges to your bearded dragon, you are setting them up for serious issues related to digestion and even the health of their habitat.

Owners usually think about sharing oranges because it is nice to share a treat with your pet. But your dragon is likely to develop diarrhea, and this could go on for several days. This would require a visit to the vet.

Also, oxyurid parasites that live in the digestive system of the bearded dragon could start to multiply. It's normal for them to exist in your beardies gut, but they get to an unhealthy level if your beardie has diarrhea and has to defecate too often.

Because oranges are pretty sure to cause diarrhea, your best bet is to avoid them altogether.

Health Benefits: Are Oranges Good for Bearded Dragons?

Ok, so there are some risks, but if it's just a small bite? Could there be any benefits to giving a tiny piece of orange to your beardie?

Best to avoid these fruits altogether.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

No. Oranges are NOT acceptable to serve to your bearded dragon, ever. The bad aspects of this fruit outweigh the good.

Oranges on table

For example, you might be wondering how in the world your beardie will ever get enough vitamin C. After all, it is a vitamin that is essential for a healthy immune system.

Or how will I make sure my dragon's skin stays healthy since Vitamin C is good for the skin's health as it prevents it from tearing? It also keeps the gums from bleeding and prevents bruising.

The good news is that there are several healthier fruits rich in Vitamin C that are safe for your bearded dragon to enjoy every now and then. These fruits include watermelon or blueberries, which are both ok to feed to your beardie in moderation.

Even some leafy greens have vitamin C, such as kale, which is great for bearded dragons.

To sum it up, you don't need to worry about serving oranges to your bearded dragon just because you're concerned about vitamin C intake. There are far better fruits and veggies you can offer your dragon.

Also Read: Should Bearded Dragons Drink Water?

Health Risks: Are Oranges Bad for Bearded Dragons?

We already know that you shouldn't be feeding oranges to your pet beardie. But to fully understand why these juicy fruits should not be a part of the diet, let's dig a little deeper.

Oranges Are High in Oxalic Acid

Oranges contain oxalic acid. This isn't good for bearded dragons because oxalic acid impedes calcium absorption. It binds to calcium and exits in the urine.

As you probably know, beardies need their calcium to stay healthy. That is why they should be offered a calcium supplement several times a week. Lack of calcium for your bearded dragon can lead to metabolic bone disease and kidney stones. This can cause bones to become brittle or rubbery, and the body of your bearded dragon will deteriorate, severely decreasing its quality of life.

Symptoms of MBD include:

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

If you notice any of these signs and suspect your beardie may be getting too little calcium, contact a vet immediately to assess your pet's situation.

Causes Tooth Decay

Soft-bodied insects, plus fruit rich in sugar, as well as softened or cooked foods, can damage a bearded dragon's teeth over time.

Coupled with the high acidity of citrus fruits, beardies may develop bladder stones, calcium deficiency, and tooth decay.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Oranges are a fruit that is very high in sugar, and this is one of the many reasons you should never give them to your pet.

Bearded dragons can actually experience plaque buildup, plus tartar accumulation, which can be very harmful to their health. The teeth of the bearded dragon are attached to the jaw directly, which makes it easier for infection or inflammation of the bones to occur.

Make it easier on your bearded dragon, and just avoid feeding oranges and other sugary foods.

Beardies Can Become Obese

If your bearded dragon takes in more calories than they burn, they will gain weight, and it is likely that they will develop obesity if they stay on this path.

There are dangerous consequences that come with having an obese bearded dragon, such as organ dysfunction, a shortened lifespan that, egg binding/retention in females, and a greater risk of prolapses.

The bearded dragon will become less active and move around less and less. You might hear them gasping for air as they try to move.

Fatty liver disease is also a consequence associated with obesity in bearded dragons. They will gradually reduce their appetites, experience problems with hibernation (called brumation), and you will notice a change in the color of their fecal matter. For reptiles in which fatty liver disease has been going on for an extended period of time, they will be in poor shape as well as weak and flaccid in nature.

Because orange contains a lot of sugar, it is a food that might make your beardies gain weight. Another good reason to avoid the fruit altogether!

Digestive System Issues

Oranges are fruits that are naturally high in sugar, which leads to unbalanced gut flora in the stomach of your bearded dragon. Aside from this, the fruit is also high in water.

Excessive water intake can cause diarrhea in your bearded dragon, which could lead to dehydration. Eating too much sugar can also cause your bearded dragon to become unable to digest their food.

Diarrhea is dangerous for beardies, so if you notice any signs of it, it's always best to contact a vet and ask for advice.

They Have Citric Acid

The high acid levels of oranges are another cause for concern. All citrus fruit, including oranges, mandarins,  grapefruits, and lemons, contain citric acid. Orange peels are actually the part that is most acidic.

Citric acid can cause an imbalance to the gut flora of the bearded dragon and cause digestion issues. It may also lead to diarrhea for the reptile, just like the sugar and high water content.

Again, if your dragon is having diarrhea or very loose stool, it's good to have a veterinarian assess the situation.

Feeding Guidelines: Oranges for Bearded Dragons

How Many Oranges Can Bearded Dragons Eat?

Bearded dragons should not eat any oranges, ever. This includes orange peels, mandarin oranges, navel oranges, and other citrus fruits. Don't offer them grapefruits, lemons, or tangerines either, for that matter.

How often can bearded dragons eat oranges?

Bearded dragons should never eat oranges, orange peels, or orange juice. These foods offer some benefits, but the negative consequences associated with feeding your bearded dragon oranges far outweigh them.

How to Prepare Oranges for Bearded Dragons?

You should not ever offer your bearded dragon oranges. Doing so can lead your bearded dragon to experience several health problems, such as digestive issues like diarrhea or dehydration because of the fruit's acidic nature, or mouth rot and obesity due to the high sugar content. Choose a different, safer fruit when it's time to treat your bearded dragon to a fruity snack.

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

orange with peels

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA, here are the nutrition facts for 100g of oranges.

  • 49 calories
  • 1mg sodium
  • 166mg potassium
  • 0.9g protein
  • 8.5 g sugars
  • 0.1g fat

Oranges also contain the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Calcium
  • Iron

Although oranges are full of essential vitamins and minerals and can be considered a low-calorie food for humans, they are simply not suitable for bearded dragons and should be completely off the menu.

Summing up – Can Bearded Dragons Have Oranges?

Bearded dragons cannot enjoy oranges, mandarin oranges, navel oranges, or any other citrus fruits, for that matter.

These fruits are highly praised because they contain several great benefits for humans, such as Vitamin C, and they taste great, but this is not true if you are a bearded dragon.

Eating oranges can result in health problems you'd rather not see your bearded dragon go through, such as diarrhea or dehydration, metabolic bone disease, or mouth rot.

Your best bet is to stick with safer fruits when it is treat-time, such as blueberries, watermelon, or apples.

And remember, a diet of mostly veggies and leafy greens, plus fat and protein-rich mealworms, roaches, and crickets dusted with calcium, is the way to go when it comes to maintaining your bearded dragon's health.

Vet's Comment

In short, no. Oranges are high in natural sugars and acids, which can wreak havoc on their intestines.

Pogonas have oxyurid pinworms that naturally live within their colon. While these are parasites, they tend to not cause any ill-effects unless they over-multiply.  This may occur if your pet eats snacks that are high in sugars that provide energy to the parasites. If this occurs, your pogona could develop colon impaction/constipation.

Coupled with the high acidity of citrus fruits, beardies may develop bladder stones, calcium deficiency, and tooth decay. Best to avoid these fruits altogether.

- 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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