February 26, 2021

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Watermelon?

Risks & Benefits

watermelon for bearded dragons
Veterinarian Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Bearded dragons, also called beardies or pogonas by enthusiasts, need plenty of veggies and proteins to stay healthy. Fruits can also be part of a healthy beardie diet, provided that they are only fed in moderation. They certainly have some nutrients and make for an excellent treat/enrichment opportunity for your dragon.

This article will discuss if watermelon is something you should feed your beardie. Humans love this treat because it is refreshing, sweet, and tastes great. But can bearded dragons enjoy this fruit as we can? Are the rinds safe to eat, and what about the seeds?

As you can see, there is a lot to learn. Read on to discover all you need to know about feeding watermelon to your dragon.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Watermelon?

Yes, bearded dragons can eat watermelon. It can be hydrating, nutritious, enriching, and even help constipation. However, feeding guidelines should be followed as the sugar in watermelons may cause obesity and tooth decay. High water content may cause diarrhea, and seeds are a choking hazard. Also,  calcium deficiency is a risk if you feed your beardie too much watermelon.

Having said that, let's dig a bit deeper. An adult bearded dragon's diet should consist of mostly leafy greens and veggies added with about 20-30% of crickets, roaches, and other proteins. It's also imperative that you supplement your dragon's diet with calcium to keep them healthy. Fruits can also be added to the daily diet, but what do you need to know about watermelon before serving any to your pet?

Watermelon makes a delicious and hydrating treat for your pet pogona, especially one that's prone to constipation. However, it's not without its risks.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

First of all, thankfully, if a piece of watermelon was accidentally dropped into the enclosure or habitat, it would not harm your bearded dragon. It is in no way poisonous, and it's definitely safe to feed your bearded dragon a small piece every now and then.

Many pet owners wonder about the rind. We, humans, tend to throw that part away, but the fact of the matter is that the entire fruit is edible, including the rind. But can bearded dragons eat it?

Yes, they can. Most owners will throw it out because it's tough, but you can cut up the rind and serve it to your dragon if you want to. You'll just want to wash the rind carefully and then cut it into small pieces (the smaller, the better to minimize the choking risk). Remember, pogonas don't chew their food but swallow it whole.

Seeds are another one readers ask about: can beardies eat watermelon seeds? The answer is NO- simply due to the risk of choking these seeds present. Seeds, especially the black ones found in watermelon, are tough in texture, which can upset the bearded dragon's digestive tract and cause a blockage.

Readers also want to enrich their baby dragons' lives and ask if watermelon can be fed to baby bearded dragons. It's best to stick with a standard diet of crickets, mealworms, and roaches at this point, plus plenty of calcium. It ensures your juvenile dragon grows up strong, healthy, and with all necessary nutrients. In adulthood, they will have plenty of time to enjoy watermelon every now and then.

By and large, bearded dragons really love the taste of watermelon, but this seemingly innocent fruit still has its caveats when it comes to feeding. Read on to discover why watermelon is a "treat food" for beardies.

Health Benefits: Is Watermelon Good for Bearded Dragons?

92% Water

One thing new bearded dragon owners are surprised to learn is that bearded dragons generally do not drink out of water bowls. In the wild, bearded dragons are used to seeing water droplets slide down various surfaces and lick them up as a means of hydrating themselves.

As you can imagine, this leads to hydration issues for some beardies. Offering water-packed fruits and veg, such as watermelon, is an excellent way for your reptile to stay hydrated.

Read more: Should Bearded Dragons Drink Water? Vet Explains

watermelon slices

Great for Mixing into Salad

Bearded dragons have to eat their veggie salads as a means of getting nutrients, water, and satiation. However, it is harder than you think at times to get your beardie to eat their greens. Although most beardies have healthy appetites, they sometimes need some coaxing to eat all the healthy veggies on offer.

By mixing in a few small pieces of this sweet fruit to your bearded dragon's salad, they become encouraged to eat it. The sweetness of the fruit lures them to the food bowl and helps them get excited about the other foods on offer as well.

Contains Vitamin C

Vitamin C is necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system, and watermelon is just full of it. In 100g of watermelon, you will find 8.1 mg of Vitamin C.

Foods that contain Vitamin C will not only support the immune system but will help prevent conditions like hyperkeratosis (thickened skin due to excess keratin). It is also a powerful antioxidant and helps in tissue regeneration.

Great for Helping Constipation

Beardies have delicate digestive systems, and constipation, which is the failure to produce feces, a common problem often caused by dehydration or poor diet.

If your bearded dragon ends up impacted or even constipated, try offering them a piece of watermelon. The high amount of water in the melon will help your dragon expel fecal matter and feel better fast.

Enrichment for Your Dragon

Enrichment, preventing boredom, and offering a varied diet is something all pet owners worry about. Luckily, different foods can be a solution to all of these problems.

Your bearded dragon is part of your family, and you want them to enjoy life as you do. Offering a special treat every now and then is something both you and your dragon can look forward to. It will not only provide an exciting snack but add diversity to the daily diet.

So, watermelon seems to have quite a few benefits. So why not have it as a part of the daily feeding regime? This is why:

Health Risks: Is Watermelon Bad for Bearded Dragons?

By now, you may be excited about the prospect of feeding watermelon to your dragon. But do not go buying a melon just yet. There are some risks involved with the feeding of watermelon to bearded dragons- read on to discover them.

Due to the high water content in watermelons and their high sugar content, beardies may develop diarrhea.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Has Lots of Sugar

100 g of watermelon contains 6 g of sugars. Sugar is not good for your bearded dragons. The obesity risk watermelon presents to bearded dragons is a big one.

Actually, more and more pet beardies are becoming obese because of poor diet choices. And high sugar fruits like watermelon are one of the main culprits.

A large round belly and a thick tail are two of the first signs to be worried about. If you suspect your beardie may have put on a little too much weight, consult a vet for advice on weight loss and nutrition. Obese beardies may face many health issues, including prolapses, organ dysfunction, and shortened lifespan.

Lacks Vital Nutrients

Watermelon is not meant to be a staple food for bearded dragons of any age. Proteins and fats in the form of crickets, roaches, and mealworms, plus veggies and calcium supplementation, are what bearded dragons really need. Fruits such as watermelons are treats only.

As a responsible pet owner, you need to ensure your dragon is fed a balanced diet that meets its nutritional requirements. Although treats are a lot of fun, you should make sure your beardie doesn't fill its stomach with foods that are lacking in nutrition.

Can Cause Tooth Decay

Soft-bodied insects, soft and sugar-rich fruit, and softened foods (like cooked veggies) can damage a bearded dragon's teeth by causing tooth decay. As a result, watermelon and other fruits should be served rarely to minimize this risk.

Again, a proper diet that meets the dietary requirements these animals have will also support their oral health.

Mouth rot is a bacterial infection of the jawbone, which causes hemorrhaging, swelling, and thick mucus on the gums. If left untreated, it could kill your dragon, so if you notice these signs, contact a vet for more advice.

Can Deplete Your Dragon's Calcium

Watermelon contains both calcium and phosphorus. There is more phosphorus than calcium in the fruit, so it cancels the calcium out. Phosphorus also binds with the calcium and prevents the mineral from going into the bloodstream of the dragon.

If this goes on too long, insufficient calcium will lead to the deterioration of the dragon's bones, also known as metabolic bone disease (MBD). Therefore, you need to ensure you supplement your beardie with calcium and offer foods that have appropriate calcium to phosphorous ratio.

Symptoms of metabolic bone disease include:

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

If you notice such symptoms, we recommend contacting a vet to assess your bearded dragon's health.

Diarrhea Risk

Bearded dragons have adapted to dry environments, and their digestive system can not handle large amounts of watery foods very well.

The high water (and sugar) content of watermelon can cause your dragon to experience diarrhea, which may lead to dehydration. This can be fatal to your reptile. Therefore, you should feed high water foods in very small amounts.

Choking Hazard

The seeds of the watermelon present a serious choking hazard to your bearded dragon. Also, thanks to the sharp form of these seeds, your bearded dragon could experience damage to their digestive tract or digestive trouble as a result of consuming them. Blockages of the digestive tract have also been known to happen.

Feeding Guidelines: Watermelon for Bearded Dragons

Feeding your bearded dragon watermelon is not a difficult task, but it still has some guidelines you should follow to make sure the experience is safe.

It's best to only offer small amounts of watermelon as a special treat for your adult beardie.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Make sure you start by shopping for a watermelon that is free of spoilage and looks safe to eat. As always, it is best to buy organic if you can to avoid pesticides and harmful chemicals.

Then, once you get it home, wash the melon off immediately, even if you do not plan on feeding right away. It will ensure it is safe to eat when you are ready to serve it.

How Much Watermelon Can Bearded Dragons Eat?

Lesser is better when it comes to watermelon and bearded dragons. Offering a few small bite-sized pieces once a month as part of your dragons' veggie salad is OK. They can also be served as a standalone treat.

How Often Can Bearded Dragons Eat Watermelon?

About 3-5 small pieces once per month for an adult dragon will not hurt them.

Watermelon is not a food that you can serve to your bearded dragon daily. This fruit lacks nutrients bearded dragons need to maintain good health, is high in sugar, and has poor phosphorus to calcium ratio.

Compared to roaches, mealworms, crickets, and staple veggies like kale, broccoli, collard greens, and beet greens, this a food that should only be offered on a "once in a while" basis.

Once a month, you could add some small pieces to the top of a veggie salad mix to encourage your dragon to eat it. You could also chop up several small pieces as a treat, once a month.

How to Prepare Watermelon for Bearded Dragons?

After you have purchased a healthy-looking watermelon from your grocery store or farmer's market and washed it, your next step is to cut the watermelon into slices as you would if serving to a human.

Then, cut off pieces of the red fruit part and ensure no seeds are present—the smaller, the better, when it comes to the size. Your dragon naturally has a small mouth and throat, so keep it small to minimize choking hazards.

Next, offer a few small pieces to your dragon and see how they react. Remove anything uneaten watermelon in 30 minutes to prevent overeating and food going bad.

Also Read: How Long Can A Bearded Dragon Go Without Food?

Watermelon

Nutrition Facts

Here are nutrition facts for watermelon per 100g, according to the USDA:

  • 31 calories
  • .78g protein
  • .25g fat
  • 7g carbohydrates
  • 6g sugar
  • 0mg sodium

Watermelon also contains the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

As the name suggests, watermelon is quite a watery fruit. About 90% of the fruit's flesh is just water. As you can see, it also contains quite a lot of sugar – especially when it comes to small creatures like bearded dragons.

Although there is some vitamins and minerals present as well, the sugar content is so high that it outweighs the benefits.

Bottom Line – Can Bearded Dragons Have Watermelon?

Yes, bearded dragons can enjoy watermelon, but only when served as a treat on a rare basis.

Watermelon is high in sugar, lacks nutrients necessary for healthy bearded dragon growth, and can lead to obesity and tooth decay if served in excess. It should only be seen as a "treat food."

Your best bet is to stick with a diet of crickets, mealworms, and roaches, dusted with calcium, plus leafy greens and healthy veggies with the proper calcium to phosphorous ratio. Doing this will ensure your dragon lives a long and healthy life.

Vet's Comment

Watermelon makes a delicious and hydrating treat for your pet pogona, especially one that's prone to constipation. However, it's not without its risks.

Due to the high water content in watermelons and their high sugar content, beardies may develop diarrhea. This may be due to either excessive water in their digestive tract or bacterial overgrowth in their gut due to a surge in sugar for the bacteria to feed on.

Diarrhea in beardies can be rapidly fatal and needs veterinary intervention. For this reason, it's best to only offer small amounts of watermelon as a special treat for your adult beardie.

- 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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