If you know little about bearded dragons, you should know how important it is for them to eat greens. Since beardies are omnivorous creatures, they need green food to survive. The majority of minerals and vitamins are provided to bearded dragons from the vegetables they eat, it’s no surprise the damage that would occur if they eat less or none of their leafy meals. It’s also well-expected for you to wonder if your beardie can munch some of the vegetables or herbs you eat regularly. Since bearded dragons can eat almost half of the variety of veggies we consume, what about basil? Is it safe for your bearded dragon?
Bearded dragons can eat basil, but only infrequently. The delicious scenting herbs pack a punch of nutritional value that your dragon can benefit from if added to their diet. However, some of these goodies are way over the top and can harm your pet if ingested in high amounts. That is why you must feed your beardie basil in little quantities over time.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the advantages and risks of feeding your bearded dragon basil. Even though it is edible for bearded dragons, it’s very important to understand the limits of feeding basil to your pet.
Is Basil Any Good For Bearded Dragons?
Basil has enough valuable nutrients that bearded dragons can enjoy. However, they can only be fed as treats – a little sprinkle over their salad to give a bit of flavor. Because of its nutritional value, basil is good for bearded dragons.
When you’re considering if a certain plant is good for bearded dragons, the first thing you must assess is the presence of “anti-beardie” nutrients. These elements may be good for you if you consume them but are terrible for bearded dragons. Most of the time, these types of nutrients are the major reasons why you should not feed your bearded dragon certain plants frequently.
Here are some of the most important factors to consider before feeding a plant-based food to your beardie:
The Oxalate Level
Oxalic acids are chemicals that bind to certain elements to regulate the content of the component it binds to – and one of its many victims is calcium. Your bearded dragon needs calcium to grow strong bones. Every molecule of calcium your beardie consumes is highly important to their overall health over time, and oxalic acid is there to shorten that calcium, form oxalates, and cause kidney stones. Thankfully, basil is very low in oxalic acid content. So, your bearded dragon can eat it without risking its precious calcium!
The Phosphorus-Calcium Ratio
Most edible plants contain a relative ratio of phosphorus and calcium which is highly important to the well-being of bearded dragons. Just like oxalates, phosphorus binds to calcium causing a shortage during digestion and metabolism.
In such a case, the amount of calcium must be higher than phosphorus for it to be considered a safe vegetable or herb for your bearded dragon, at least to be eaten regularly. Basil has an impressive ratio of calcium and phosphorus, where calcium is three times greater (3:1).
The General Nutritional Value
The nutrient-dense nature of a plant matters to the health of bearded dragons. Since they run on a fast metabolism, especially during the younger stages, beardies need good value for every meal they eat.
A vegetable with high water content and low nutritional value is bad for bearded dragons as this will cause them to lose nutrients as they go. Vitamins like A, B, C, E, and K are highly beneficial to your bearded dragon’s health to help it fight diseases and reach its optimum growth.
3 Major Reasons Why Basil Is Good For Bearded Dragons
1. Basil Has Anti-inflammatory & Antibacterial Attributes
Basil is rich in essential lipids (oils) that combat inflammatory symptoms of diseases caused by both bacteria and viruses. For example, cuts and bruises could get infected if it’s not noticed in time. The eugenol and citronella in the basil help dragon’s immune system to contain the inflammation and fight off bacteria effectively allowing a faster and safer recovery.
2. Basil Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants work similarly to anti-inflammatory and antibacterial elements, the difference is that they combat free radicals that are harmful to the body on a cellular level. As your bearded dragon experiences the day-to-day life of the modern world, they’re unintentionally exposed to radioactive substances that cause harmful oxygen atoms to disrupt cellular processes. A manifestation of this problem would be cancer and tumors. While this is a little unlikely, it’s nice to know that antioxidants in basil go a long way in combating those radicals.
3. Basil Is Highly Nutritious
Basil contains several vitamins and minerals that promote a healthy and strong bearded dragon. Most of the good stuff (vitamins and minerals) you find in veggies like dandelion greens and mustard greens, basil is highly saturated with them too. In fact, while most plant matter contains more unstable amounts of phosphorus than calcium which is bad for beardies, basil has a 3:1 content of calcium and phosphorus, making them relatively safer than most herbs.
Examples of vitamins found in basil are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Examples of minerals found in basil are:
How To Feed Your Bearded Dragon Basil
Your bearded dragon can eat basil in a salad or as a plain snack. This would depend on if your dragon enjoys it or not, of course. If you keep more than one beardie, you’d know how immaculately different their personalities can be. So similar, and yet so diverse. What one lizard may enjoy, the other one may absolutely loathe.
All you need is fresh clean basil leaves chopped up into smaller sizes for your bearded dragon to eat easily. It’s important to wash the leaves before feeding them to your pet to ensure there are no insect eggs, herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers; these are dangerous to bearded dragons and can either lead to parasite infestation or chronic stomach problems.
How Many Basil Leaves Should I Feed My Beardie?
At most 4 basil leaves are just enough for your beardie. The basil should occupy 30% of the whole salad. So if you’re feeding your dragon basil as a single snack, ensure that the rest of the salad complements the basil treat so that you don’t go over the top with its daily nutrients.
How Frequently Should My Beardie Eat Basil?
Basil can be fed to your bearded dragon twice a month. Remember that its salad already contains all the nutrients your beardie needs in a day. Treats like basil should be fed rarely, especially if your dragon has other delights on its menu.
Are Dried Basil Leaves Safe For Bearded Dragons?
Dried basil leaves or basil powder are not safe for beardies to consume. The level of vitamins and minerals in dry leaves are exponentially multiplied to harmful amounts which will be highly detrimental to your dragon if it should eat them.
The Dangers Of Feeding Basil Excessively To Your Bearded Dragon
Nothing good comes out of anything in excess. When basil is involved, you’d be feeding it to your bearded dragon many times in a week or way too many leaves at a go for something bad to happen.
Basil leaves contain tremendous levels of vitamin A, way too significant for bearded dragons to metabolize in large amounts. Unlike vitamin C which is readily excreted with proper hydration, vitamin A is accumulated by the liver leading to several liver injuries, high blood pressure, and even death.
Also, the oils found in basil leaves can lower blood pressure and reduce the count of platelets in the blood which are responsible for clotting. If taken in excess, it could lead to heart and neurological problems for your beardie. This is very dangerous and is fatal in many cases where no immediate measures are taken.
Alternative Herbs Your Bearded Dragons Can Enjoy
Aside from basil leaves, here are other herbs you can feed your bearded dragon:
The Bottom Line
Basil leaves are fairly safe for bearded dragons to eat. They are highly nutritious and can be a good healthy treat if your beardie enjoys them. However, it’s important to fully understand the detrimental effects of feeding excess basil leaves to your pet. With this discussion, you should be able to navigate through feeding your beardie some of the herbs.
If there is an accident where your dragon eats too many of the leaves, rush to your vet immediately. Do not try to feed it any more salads or try to hydrate it to wash out the content; vitamin A toxicity is dangerous with every minute that ticks by. Good luck!