Strawberries are one of nature's little goodies. Who doesn't love a juicy berry on a hot day, or as part of a good breakfast or snack? Pretty much everyone loves these, and bearded dragons are no exception.
These reptiles love treats, and fruit like strawberries are just one of many great choices you can give to your dragon in moderation.
But how should you feed them, and how much is in a portion? Read on to find out all you need to know. You may be surprised about what you learn when it comes to beardies and berries!
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Strawberries?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat strawberries. When fed in moderation and cut into small pieces, strawberries and strawberry tops are healthy treats containing Vitamin C, calcium, and water to prevent constipation. However, follow our vet-approved feeding guidelines as overfeeding strawberries may lead to weight gain, diarrhea, dehydration, and tooth decay.
Beardies eat a diet that consists of 80-100% of bugs and healthy plants, out of which the majority should be vegetables and leafy greens. Strawberries do not provide the nutrition needed by bearded dragons. Eating a strawberry will not make bearded dragons sick or feel ill. However, strawberries are naturally high in sugar despite being very healthy foods.
So yes, bearded dragons can have strawberries. But how much and often - that is another thing. We'll get into that a bit later.
Health Benefits: Are Strawberries Good for Bearded Dragons?
Feeding your bearded dragon a strawberry every now and again is OK. There is nothing wrong with strawberries, but they should only be offered in strict moderation as it lacks nutritional value for reptiles.
Strawberries are a hydrating treat for your beardie but should only be fed occasionally and in small amounts.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
There are some small health benefits to feeding your beardie a strawberry every now and again. For starters, the mental health of the dragon is improved because a fun treat provides enrichment. There are also many healthy nutrients that your beardie can benefit from.
For starters, strawberries do contain calcium, which bearded dragons absolutely need in their diets. Lack of calcium leads to metabolic bone disease, with dragons becoming deformed and unable to move as a result of it.
Secondly, strawberries are high in Vitamin C. Bearded dragons need vitamin D3 the most, but vitamin C is still necessary for a healthy bearded dragon. Other fruits, such as oranges, are far too high in citric acid and can upset the digestive system.
The strong antioxidant properties of strawberries make them an excellent fighter against free radicals. These antioxidants can help to prevent tumor growth and reduce inflammation in the body.
Having your bearded dragon eat the occasional strawberry is a great way to help him reduce the risk of inflammation and possibly cancer.
Ever dealt with a constipated beardie? It's not fun! The poor little fellow is in serious discomfort, and for the owner, it's hard to help him feel better sometimes. One way to get things moving in the right direction is to offer up a strawberry.
Fruits high in water are a great way to hydrate the bearded dragon and keep him going regularly. Strawberries are also loaded with fiber, which will also help get your dragon's digestion moving.
You may also like: Do Bearded Dragons Drink Water? Vet Explains
Health Risks: Are Strawberries Bad for Bearded Dragons?
Health risks still remain, even when it comes to healthy food like strawberries. Here's what to watch out for when you give your bearded dragon some of these delicious fruits.
Moderation Will Prevent Weight Issues
We've said it before, but we can't stress enough that for bearded dragons, you must exercise moderation and give some strawberry as a treat just once or twice a month.
These fruits are quite high in sugar, for starters, which can lead to an overweight reptile. Also, these fruits do not have nutritional values sufficient to keep a bearded dragon healthy.
Diarrhea and Dehydration
Too much sugar may cause an upset stomach on your beardie and, as a result of diarrhea, reptiles risk dehydration.
"These fruits are high in sugar, which can lead to dental decay and tummy upsets. ", says veterinarian surgeon Dr. Edele Grey. "Sugar ferments in a beardie's gastrointestinal tract which can lead to intestinal flora imbalance and disturbances in regularity, including diarrhea. Diarrhea can rapidly dehydrate your beardie and even be fatal in some cases.", Dr. Grey continues.
Feeding too many strawberries at once is, therefore, not a good idea. The risks may quickly outweigh the benefits if your beardie eats too much of sugary foods.
Tooth Decay is a Risk
Bearded dragons are prone to tooth decay if they eat too much sugar, and strawberries definitely fall into that category. Just like for humans, sugary foods cause your beardie plaque buildup, which becomes tartar and negatively affects its teeth.
Remember that for bearded dragons, strawberries are considered candy. Just like for humans, candy should be restricted to an occasional treat for your pet.
Pesticides Are A Danger
A group by the name of the EWG, or Environmental Working Group, makes a list of the veggies and fruits which contain the highest amounts of pesticide residue. These are known by the group as "The Dirty Dozen," and many times, strawberries are placed high on that list.
It means that if you would like to feed your bearded dragon strawberries, you should do so only after you have washed the berries thoroughly – or buy organic strawberries at your local market. It will help lower the risk of your beardie ingesting a harmful chemical.
Feeding Guidelines - Strawberries for Bearded Dragons
The trick with feeding your pet cabbage is to feed small quantities at a time. Wash thoroughly before cutting and serving any cabbage to your pet.
Once or twice a week is plenty.
Strawberries can get pretty big, so stick with a smaller berry. One small berry per week or once every two weeks is plenty for most adult bearded dragons.
You can safely feed your bearded dragon strawberries by bringing them home, washing them thoroughly, and storing them properly. After they've been washed, take a berry and cut it up into small pieces, making it easier for your dragon to eat.
Place them on a ceramic plate or dish for your bearded dragon. Observe your dragon to make sure they like the berries and remove any uneaten food to prevent your pet from eating something that has gone bad.
What About the Leaves?
Strawberry leaves are OK for the bearded dragon. Some owners remove them because of the fear of pesticides, but if you have washed them thoroughly, they will not present a problem for your dragon.
What About Strawberry Products (jam/jelly, dried strawberries?)
Do NOT feed your dragon these foods – they have heaps of added sugar and can really make your bearded dragon sick.
While a natural strawberry in moderation is OK, strawberry jam or jelly must be avoided at all costs for reptiles. Dried strawberries are also a NO because they often have higher sugar content (thanks to added sugar).
Phosphorus to Calcium Ratio
Strawberries have a high phosphorus to calcium ratio, which can reduce the amount of calcium available for your beardie's body to use.
As a result, strawberries should not be fed as a replacement for your pet's calcium supplement even though they do have calcium. It will not be sufficient to give your dragon what they need.
Curious about what makes a strawberry so nutritious for beardies?
Here is what you get per 100g of strawberries:
- 91g of water
- 32 Cals
- 2g fiber
- 16mg calcium
- 24mg phosphorus
- 58mg Vitamin C
- 153 mg potassium
Calcium is essential for bearded dragons as they need it to maintain healthy bones. Beardies get most of their calcium from a supplement dusted on their insects, but eating fruits with the nutrient may help them to get adequate levels of this important mineral.
This helps keep fluids in the body balanced and may help prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones. A diet high in potassium may also lower blood pressure.
Phosphorus is needed for healthy bone growth, along with calcium. However, dragons need more calcium than phosphorus, which a good reptile supplement can provide. One reason berries should not be fed often is that they have a higher phosphorus to calcium ratio, which can lead to a mineral imbalance in bearded dragons.
Fiber is an excellent thing because it keeps your bearded dragon feeling full (perfect for beardies who need to lose weight), keeps your dragon eliminating on a regular basis, and helps them digest.
After all, dragons are known to eat insects that have chitinous or hard external coverings, and this can be difficult to digest for some beardies.
The benefits of Vitamin C are numerous. This vitamin aids in keeping the immune system working in good order and keeps the skin of your bearded dragon in great health.
To sum it up, strawberries make a great once in a while treat for your bearded dragon. They taste great and are entirely safe to eat from top to bottom. The berries themselves are loaded with nutrients.
Their water content is no substitute for a constant supply of water but does help them maintain their hydration. Even if your bearded dragon accidentally eats a strawberry, it is comforting to know that they should not end up sick as a result of doing so.
Lastly, these berries are available everywhere, so they are easy-to-find treat everyone can give their dragons.
Can bearded dragons eat strawberry tops?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat strawberry tops. Greens are an essential part of a beardie's daily diet, and strawberry leaves can certainly be included as a part of your pet's selection of veggies and leafy greens. However, strawberry leaves should be fed as an occasional treat rather than a staple food.
Diabetes is exceptionally rare in reptiles, which is great, but recently another disease has been found that seems to cause or is related to blood sugar spikes in bearded dragons.
These are gastric neuroendocrine tumors (GNT) and as yet aren't well understood, and we don't know exactly what causes them. These tumors aren't limited to the stomach but spread to other organs such as the liver. Signs are non-specific and include not wanting to eat, losing weight, lethargy, and vomiting.
As we don't know everything about this emerging disease right now, it's best to err on the side of caution and ensure your beardie is fed a balanced, appropriate diet, maintains a healthy weight, and has the occasional treat which can include strawberries.
You can even include strawberry leaves to your beardies treats as they are lower in sugar than the fruit while still tasty.
- 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.