If there were a contest for the most loved vegetables, cauliflower would be topping the finals like a pro. The majority of veggie enthusiasts enjoy a delicious addition of cauliflowers to different meals, and for good reasons too. They contain amazing nutrients that pump bonus values to our meals and a savory earthy flavor that can make any dish taste and look interesting.
Bearded dragons, just like us, need vegetables to survive. The bulk of the nutrients your bearded dragon needs for its growth is gotten from greens. If your beardie can eat vegetables just like you, you must be wondering if it’s missing out on the goodness of cauliflower, and rightly so.
Bearded dragons can eat cauliflower, but only infrequently and in very small amounts. Cauliflower contains many nutritious values but they also contain additions that are not exactly beneficial to beardies and are even risky. It’s safe to say that for the nutrients cauliflower provides, your bearded dragon would be taking risks to enjoy them.
There are several things you must consider before you add any “seemingly good” item to your bearded dragon’s food menu. It’s crucial to understand the dangers and benefits of what your pet eats so that your dragon doesn’t fall into avoidable accidents.
Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon Cauliflower?
Since we’ve established that beardies can eat cauliflower, it’s only safe to wonder if they really should be fed the vegetable. The cauliflower curd may be edible for bearded dragons, but I strongly do not suggest feeding them to your pet. Like many other veggies, cauliflower contains nutritional benefits that we’d be discussing later in the article. However, to address the elephant in the room, let’s quickly dive into the reasons why it may not be the best decision for your bearded dragon.
The Phosphorus To Calcium Ratio
Before you can feed your bearded dragon any plant-based food, you must be sure that calcium is not forsaken in the process. Phosphorus binds to calcium during metabolism, shortening the calcium that your beardie needs to build strong bones. The compound created by phosphorus binding to calcium sometimes forms kidney stones and painful urates that can cause other complications to your dragon’s health.
Aside from your bearded dragon falling ill with metabolic bone disease from the uneven amount of calcium and phosphorus, your pet is also prone to impaction and internal injuries. Calcium has to supersede phosphorus for the listed health hazards to be avoided, and unfortunately, cauliflower has twice the amount of phosphorus than calcium. In diets where calcium is lacking, calcium supplements (view on Amazon) must be included in to ensure that your pet is not endangered by MBD.
The Presence Of Goitrogens
Goitrogens are organic substances found in cauliflower that are harmful to the thyroid glands of most animals. Bearded dragons are more exposed to the danger of goitrogens because of their relatively small body mass. When goitrogens are ingested in high amounts, they disrupt the equilibrium required by pituitary glands to synthesize thyroid hormones appropriately.
Just like phosphorus stealing the position of calcium from bearded dragons, goitrogens bind to the thyroid gland in place of iodine causing complications. This leads to an unstable release of the growth hormone resulting in goiters and body defects in beardies. A published article by the veterinary professors of the UK confirms the dangers of iodine deficiency in captive reptiles like our lovely bearded dragons caused by feeding them high-goitrogen and iodine-competitive plants like cauliflower.
5 Ways Cauliflower May Benefit Bearded Dragons
Cauliflower is a brassica plant that most of us enjoy. So, you are correct to be interested in how your bearded dragon can benefit from 100mg of cauliflower, which is approximately one cup full of greens, just like you do. I have carefully explained the benefits below.
1. Cauliflower Is Saturated With Vitamins
Vitamins are highly essential for a bearded dragon’s survival. They’re responsible for metabolism, cell repair, growth, and immunity from diseases, including the neurological and dental well-being of your beardie.
Without vitamins, your dragon is exposed to all sorts of bacteria and malfunctions that would be highly fatal considering the conditions. Cauliflower contains most of the vitamins needed for them to function according to the situation that is introduced to your bearded dragon’s immune system, especially vitamins C and K which are required for the formation of red and white blood cells. The table below contains the vitamins found in cauliflower and their values per 100mg.
|Amount per 100mg
2. Cauliflower Contains Good Minerals
Minerals are responsible for energy conversion. When your beardie basks under the UVB lamp, the vitamin D needed for its bones is produced by the teamwork of minerals on a cellular level. Cauliflower is rich in minerals that control your pet’s cellular function and help it synthesize and regulate important chemicals or vitamins needed for its growth. The table below contains the mineral content found in cauliflower.
|Amount Per 100g
3. Contains Choline That Improves Organic Breakdown Of Nutrients
In cauliflower, there is also the presence of a non-mineral non-vitamin organic chemical called choline that works similarly to the vitamin B complex providing building blocks for metabolism. The compounds of choline are broken down and then used to form other compounds which are necessary for your beardie’s metabolism.
4. Comprises Fibre For A Healthy Digestive Tract
The cauliflower curd is majorly made of fiber which aids digestion and prevents constipation. Fiber is responsible for the smooth digestion through the intestinal tracts of your bearded dragon. If your beardie has been experiencing unstable digestion (diarrhea or constipation), the fiber in cauliflower can help smoothen out the situation for faster relief.
5. The Texture Is Great For Breaking Plaque And Improving Dental Health
Dental plaque in bearded dragons is a common scenario especially if the little lizard has been eating a lot of soft foods that get stuck in their teeth. If this goes on without a solution, your bearded dragon could develop dental problems like periodontal disease due to the buildup of bacteria around the teeth. Feeding your beardie, cauliflower once in a while can serve as a mild toothbrush to help brush away the residue that may have been wedged in your dragon’s teeth, saving them the dreadful visit to the dentist later along the road.
The Problem With Feeding Beardies Cauliflower Despite The Nutritional Value
You must be wondering what could go so wrong since cauliflower is obviously packed with vitamins and minerals. The issue is that your beardie can only eat 6 – 10 grams of cauliflower curd in a month. That’s similar to 10% of the entire salad adult bearded dragons eat in a day. Aside from the nutritional value being highly insignificant to your beardie, you’re also exposing it to phosphorus and goitrogens. Your pet would have to eat at most 20% of cauliflower in their daily salad to be able to benefit from the nutrients that come with the vegetable.
This is why I suggest that cauliflower shouldn’t be a go-to choice. There are other vegetables bearded dragons can eat that can offer your pet a safer method of consumption and comparable nutritional value.
A Much Safer Alternative For Your Bearded Dragon – Cauliflower Leaves
Cauliflower leaves are the best alternatives your beardie can get in place of the curd. The greens contain a higher amount of calcium and a lower amount of phosphorus which is just right for bearded dragons to consume. Every other week, you can include cauliflower leaves in your bearded dragon’s salad as a treat to give your pet the luxury of change.
However, you still have to be careful of the goitrogens in the cauliflower leaves. I suggest feeding this treat to adult bearded dragons only. If your beardie is still growing into adulthood, its health is seriously fragile and in need of protection from plants that could pose a threat. Thyroidism can occur at any stage of a bearded dragon’s growth, but during the earlier stages, it is highly susceptible and much more difficult to cure. I’m pretty sure your baby beardie wouldn’t mind if it misses out on a few cauliflower greens since there are other delicious treats and its diet is majority protein.
More Options Of Healthier Treats For Your Bearded Dragon
If you’re considering a better and safer way to spice up your beardie’s lunchtime, you’re in great luck. There are several savory items that pass as healthy treats for bearded dragons to enjoy.
Some flowers are safe for bearded dragons to eat and can serve as appetizers. Sometimes, beardies are more attracted to the way the treat looks than how it tastes. Particularly brightly-colored flowers. If you’re trying to entice your pet into eating its greens, you can feed it a few slices of geraniums, hibiscuses, or dandelions.
Fruits are as well great treats for beardies and even better sources of vitamin C. Some bearded dragons even have their favorite fruits, and will desperately scramble toward the fruits trying to eat them before they escape. There are several fruits your dragon can enjoy. You just have to be fully aware of which types to avoid. Beardies are known to love mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and bananas. Enjoy this little snippet of an overjoyed beardie munching on its blueberry!
If you must feed your bearded dragon cauliflower, invest in the leaves only. Cauliflower curd (or bulb) is bad for bearded dragons. It’s crucial to discern what you feed your bearded dragon so that you acknowledge its detrimental and nutritional value. This way, you’d be able to weigh out whether or not the vegetable is worth the trouble for your pet. You have to ensure that every salad bite counts so that your beardie is provided with all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
At the end of this article, we can all agree that cauliflower curds belong to pizza slices and soups, and not your dragon’s cute little belly. Good luck!