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The Best Veggies for Your Bearded Dragon

Our post about the captive care for bearded dragons provides insight to beardie lovers. It also includes some particulars about what to feed them. In this article, we will delve slightly deeper into the subject of a beardie’s diet. Read on and learn more about the best veggies for your bearded dragon and factors you should consider when figuring out what to feed them. 

Bearded dragons like veggies

Photo by Ben Greene on Unsplash

The nutrition profile changes with age

As a bearded dragon grows older, their nutritional profile changes. Their taste buds also change. Young beardies (often under six months) require plenty of protein to aid growth. They have a ravenous appetite for insects and seem not to care much about veggies. But it is vital to feed your youthful reptile friend on veggies. They need vitamins and minerals

Mix some green leafy veggies with little beardie’s favorite meal of bugs. It won’t change the taste (at least not that much), and it is healthy.  

As the beardie grows into adulthood, the taste for gut-loaded insects wanes, and they develop a liking for veggies. Green leafy vegetables consist of as much as 80 percent of an older bearded dragon’s diet. The reasons are clear: they are no longer growing, and due to their laid-back nature, they don’t need lots of energy. Keep reading to know which are the best veggies for both young and older bearded dragons. 

Which are the best vegetables for a bearded dragon and why?

Fresh, dark green, leafy vegetables are the best for beardies. We insist on fresh veggies because frozen foods often lose nutritional qualities. Also, avoid cooking. It has a similar effect as freezing. Prepare fresh-cut, soft, green leafy vegetables. 

The critical factors to consider when choosing veggies for your bearded dragon are: availability and nutritional qualities. Stick to vegetables that you can find at a store nearby and are available throughout the year. Concerning the nutritional qualities, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus is vital. Bearded dragons, like most reptiles, are vulnerable to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Reptiles can develop this disease due to consuming foods rich in phosphorus and low in calcium or vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight helps counter the development of MBD. But, do not put the vivarium under direct sunlight. Choose a vivarium that heats and cools well and has UV-B lighting

Green leafy variety

The following dark green leafy veggies have a high ratio of calcium to phosphorus. They help to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease, and you can include them in the reptile’s daily diet: 

  • Carrot tops
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Radicchio
  • Spring mix (Many spring mixes can contain spinach; Spinach is ok in small amounts occasionally but should not be a consistent diet item.)
  • Collard Greens
  • Bok Choy

Some leafy greens may look sumptuous, but they contain oxalates that bind calcium. Therefore, beardies should only feed on these occasionally or rarely. Choices like dandelions, kale, mustard greens, and watercress have low oxalate content. If you have to give the beardie these veggies, do it occasionally. When it comes to spinach for your bearded dragon and other green leafy vegetables, feeding on these should be rare, as these foods have high oxalate levels. 

Root veggies 

The following root vegetables would be excellent additions to beardie’s diet:

  • Turnips
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Radish greens

These veggies supply the beardie with plenty of fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and B6. They are a rich source of minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. However, when feeding the beardie, ensure you chop up the veggie to a comfortable size. Also, give root vegetables sparingly. 

Cruciferous veggies

You may fancy cruciferous veggies. But greens like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rutabaga, and kohlrabi are rich in phosphorus. They can accelerate Metabolic Bone Disease. Therefore, it is best to keep them off the diet. 

Unsafe and harmful veggies for your bearded dragon

Apart from accelerating Metabolic Bone Disease, some veggies can trigger discomforts such as diarrhea, and others are toxic. Veggies like celery, romaine, and iceberg are high in water content. Feeding a beardie on these could trigger diarrhea. Other veggies like lettuces, rhubarb, onions, and fruits like avocados could make your bearded dragon sick. They contain compounds that, if the beardie consumes too much, could be poisonous. 

Veggie variety

Photo by Tom Brunberg on Unsplash

Getting your beardie to enjoy eating veggies

Learning about which veggies are best for your reptile buddy is an excellent step. But it does not mean that the beardie will automatically like them. Here is where your friendship and patience counts. Serve the nutritious veggies along with their favorite gut-loaded insects. Or you can serve the veggies as salads. Be patient, consistent, creative, and watchful. The beardie will develop a taste for the veggies, and you will learn which ones are its favorites. 

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