What Greens Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
Best Greens For Bearded Dragons
Veterinarian Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM
Junuary 10, 2023
Bearded dragons love to munch on fresh crispy greens, which are a significant part of the diet for adult beardies. Greens and other veggies make up about 80% of the diet of a fully grown bearded dragon, and they are essential for their survival as they deliver much-needed minerals and vitamins.
Bearded dragons can eat a wide variety of greens ranging from cactus pads to more commonly found collard greens and many more. Fresh greens are preferred mostly, but you can feed cooked, canned, or frozen greens as long as no preservatives and flavors are added.
Always feed the greens experts recommend because they are the most nourishing and safest for your pet.
– Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM
If you are a bearded dragon owner and want to select the best greens for your beardie to satisfy their hunger and promote good health, you have come to the right place. In this article, we explain to you all about the best greens for your pet, so keep reading.
- Should You Feed Greens For Bearded Dragons? Greens As A Part Of The Bearded Dragon Diet
- 5 Things To Consider Before Feeding Greens To Your Beardie
- What Greens Can Bearded Dragons Eat Daily? Best Greens For Bearded Dragons
- What Greens Can Bearded Dragons Eat Occasionally?
- Summing Up – What Greens Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
- Vet's Comment
Should You Feed Greens For Bearded Dragons?
Greens As A Part Of The Bearded Dragon Diet
Yes, you should feed greens daily along with other veggies and insects.
Bearded dragons belong to an omnivorous group of animals and love to devour greens as much as they like insects. For an adult beardie, leafy greens should make up the majority of their diet, meaning they need 80% of their food to be plant-based – and the majority of that should comprise leafy greens.
Many greens are considered a staple food for bearded dragons, including collard greens, mustard greens, carrot tops, watercress, etc.
Greens satisfy their hunger and provide them with the necessary vitamins and minerals important for their survival. In addition, the calcium in greens lowers the possibility of developing MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease), which makes bones frail.
Also, bearded dragons don’t drink much water because, in their natural habitat, they get nearly all the water from their food, so ingesting greens helps keep them hydrated.
5 Things To Consider Before Feeding Greens To Your Beardie
Following are the factors that you should consider before feeding greens to your beardie:
1. Calcium content of the greens
Calcium is an essential mineral for bearded dragons. You need to supplement their food with calcium, but in addition, you need to feed them foods that are high in calcium. Without sufficient calcium levels, your pet will risk calcium deficiency and a painful condition called metabolic bone disease (MBD).
2. Calcium to phosphorus ratio
The greens you feed beardies need to be high in calcium but also low in phosphorus. Ideally, the ratio should be 2:1 or better. This is vital because high phosphorus levels will hinder calcium absorption in the body, consequently causing MBD.
3. General nutritional profile
The greens you feed your bearded dragon should have the essential nutrients needed to keep your pet healthy. In addition to important vitamins and minerals, greens also help beardies get fiber to keep their bowel movements regular and to stay hydrated.
4. Oxalate levels
Oxalates also deprive the body of calcium by lowering its absorption. Therefore, greens that are low in oxalates are better for your scaly pet.
High levels of goitrogens may cause iodine deficiency in the body, leading to thyroid problems.
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What Greens Can Bearded Dragons Eat Daily?
Best Greens For Bearded Dragons
1. Cactus pad (leaf) or prickly pear (fruit)
One of the excellent greens for bearded dragons, prickly pears contain loads of calcium and have very little phosphorus. These cacti are found in South and North America.
They can be a healthy and cheap food choice for your scaly friend if they thrive in your area. Due to low sugar, low fat, low phosphorus, and high calcium content, prickly pears or their leaves, known as cactus pads, can be fed as a staple food with other green leafy veggies.
This prickly cactus is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and vitamin B1 (thiamine). Different minerals like iron, magnesium, and potassium are also abundant along with fiber, which improves gut health and keeps bowel movements regular.
Beardies can consume both cactus pads and prickly pear regularly. You can also plant the cactus in your beardies enclosure to provide it a more natural feel but make sure to remove all spines before doing it and regularly monitor the plant for new ones so your pet won’t hurt itself.
For the fruit (prickly pear), you should wash it, remove all the skin and seeds because seeds can lead to constipation, and chop the fruit into tiny little pieces which your dragon can eat comfortably.
For the leaves (cactus pads), remove all the spines carefully, wash thoroughly after that, cut them into bite-size chunks, and serve them to your bearded dragon.
2. Collard greens
Bearded dragon owners widely favor collard greens as a staple food source for their pets. Collard green is a leafy plant belonging to the cabbage and broccoli family but way more nutritious than them.
The characteristic which makes collard greens a staple for beardies is their high calcium content. The calcium to phosphorus ratio is ideal in collard greens, and every 100 grams of collard greens contains about 232 mg of calcium which is perfect for bearded dragons.
Vitamins like A, C, E, and K are also present in sufficient quantities, along with fiber. You can add collard greens with calcium-poor veggies and insects to prevent calcium deficiency.
Just wash the leaves and serve to your bearded dragon either sliced thinly or as a whole leaf. Feed raw collard greens and avoid cooking them for better availability of nutrients.
Commonly used as fodder in the large animal sector for dairy and beef cattle, it can also be fed to bearded dragons but in the fresh form, not as hay.
Beardies love to munch on fresh and crisp alfalfa. All parts of this green are edible, but sprouts should be avoided or fed rarely due to their high phosphorus level.
The rest of the plant can be fed on a more regular basis. Alfalfa offers valuable nutrients to beardies, including minerals, fiber, and different vitamins. Fresh alfalfa has a high moisture level which can hydrate your dragon, but feeding too much can cause loose stool.
4. Dandelion greens
These are commonly found in most parts of the world and are an acceptable food source for bearded dragons.
Dandelion greens have the best possible calcium to phosphorus ratio, which is 3:1. Regularly feeding these greens prevents MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) from developing. Also, these greens contain plentiful amounts of vitamins A and K.
Vitamin A helps with vision and reproduction, while vitamin K is required for blood clotting in the body. However, large amounts of vitamin A can lead to vitamin A toxicity, and if you feel your bearded dragon is suffering from nausea, losing its appetite, and becoming lethargic, reduce dandelion greens in the diet and try some other food.
Never feed stems of dandelions as their sap can upset the stomach of your pet. In addition, the flowers should also be fed in moderate quantities.
5. Mustard greens
Rich in calcium and other nutrients, mustard greens are regarded as a superfood for humans. Fortunately, you can also feed these to your bearded dragons. Give raw mustard greens to your beardies as these offer the most nutrients.
Elevated levels of calcium prevent calcium deficiency, and mustard greens also have vitamins like A, B6, C, and K. These vitamins, along with plenty of fiber, will keep your bearded dragon fit.
Read Next: How Often to Feed a Bearded Dragon?
What Greens Can Bearded Dragons Eat Occasionally?
There are many leafy greens bearded dragons can eat but which are not recommended as a daily staple. How often you can feed a certain green depends on the plant.
As a general rule, it is always best to rotate many different veggies and offer your pet a mixed salad every day.
– Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM
As a general rule, it is always best to rotate many different veggies and offer your pet a mixed salad every day. Combining high-calcium veggies with ones that do not have the ideal nutritional content is also advised.
Beardies can consume following greens on a periodic basis:
● beet greens
● bok choy
● celery leaves
● grape leaves
● Swiss chard
● Turnip Greens
Due to their soft texture, turnip greens are easily digested. Also, these greens keep your dragon hydrated with their increased moisture level.
The calcium to phosphorus ratio is not ideal but is still acceptable when only fed a few times a week. Turnip greens have loads of vitamin C and A, which improve immunity, boost vision, and help in other body functions. These greens should be fed raw because cooking them will deplete their nutritional profile.
Kale is a leafy green that is often found controversial among bearded dragon owners.
It contains way more calcium than phosphorus, about 150mg per 100 grams, which makes it a good source of calcium, particularly for young beardies.
Also, kale has a low level of oxalic acid, but goitrogens are the main cause of concern. Occasional feeding causes no harm because kale also has iodine which makes up for the iodine lost from goitrogens. It also provides fair amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Kale also contains an exemplary amount of water which hydrates your beardy’s body but can cause diarrhea if overfed.
Still, although kale is sometimes recommended as a staple food, it should be restricted to a couple of times a week.
Wash the kale and slice it up nicely before feeding it to your pet. You can also sprinkle supplemental calcium on it before feeding.
Read Next: How Long Can Bearded Dragons Go Without Food?
Summing Up – What Greens Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Greens are very important to keep your beardies healthy and growing. They play an important role by supplying the body with the necessary minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients.
Greens are a big part of an adult bearded dragon’s diet (70 to 80 %), and many greens can be fed as a staple diet to beardies.
Always wash the veggies to remove dirt, debris, and any chemicals like pesticides before feeding. Finely chop them into bite-size pieces or strips so beardies can eat them with ease.
Assessing the nutritional value of different foods to ensure proper intake of calcium can be challenging. To make sure you are providing enough calcium to your pet to prevent metabolic bone disease, you should always supplement your beardie’s food with calcium. For sufficient calcium, try this Fluker’s Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3.
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A diet full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients is the key to good health, and this is not only true for humans but also for animals.
Greens contain a lot of calcium which ensures good bone development and decreases the possibility of diseases like MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease).
Always feed the greens experts recommend because they are the most nourishing and safest for your pet. If you observe any bizarre behavior or lack of appetite, try changing your beardie’s diet or consult your veterinarian.
– Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM
NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.