The required plant-based diet for bearded dragons is separated into two major parts; the main-course veggies and the treats. The main salad includes the vegetables beardies can eat daily like collard greens and dandelion greens. Meanwhile, the treats comprise a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and even flowers that can only be fed to beardies occasionally, sometimes rarely.
When bearded dragons are fed the wrong variety of plant-based foods frequently, they are exposed to several illnesses that could lead to their death. It’s highly crucial to fully acknowledge everything your dragon eats so that you can keep your pet out of harm’s way as much as possible.
Bearded dragons can eat dandelions! The leaves and flowers of dandelions are highly nutritious, however, the flowers should be fed infrequently. Not as a staple food choice like the dandelion greens. Dandelion flowers are great sources of important vitamins that can improve the quality of your pet’s health as long as it’s fed with care.
If you’d like to feed your beardie some delicious dandelions, it’s best to know how to go about it, the risks, and benefits the flowers pose to your pet so that nothing takes you by surprise. Let’s get into it!
Are Dandelions Any Good For Bearded Dragons?
Dandelions have several benefits your dragon can enjoy. So, they are good for bearded dragons. Delicious and unique, dandelions can easily be your bearded dragon’s favorite snack. One upside to this fact is that dandelions are pretty easy to grow.
You may have dandelions hanging around your yard distracting your pet from crawling away without a bite. For this reason, the only thing you’d have to worry about is how safe the dandelions are; if you treat your yard with pesticides or herbicides, you may need to seek other spots without the influence of chemicals to pick your dandelions. Chemicals are dangerous for beardies and will cause your pet to fall sick.
Moving on, here are the nutritional values per 100 grams of dandelion flowers that your bearded dragon can get a boost from:
- Calories: 45
- Carbohydrates: 9.2g
- Fiber: 3.5g
- Protein: 2.7g
- Fat: 0.7g
- Vitamin A: 5.68mg
- Vitamin C: 35mg
- Vitamin E: 0.19mg
- Vitamin K: 0.535mg
- Iron: 0.9mg
- Calcium: 100mg
- Potassium: 397mg
The nutritional value of dandelion flowers and dandelion greens is a little different. Dandelion leaves are much more nutritious compared to the flowers. For instance, the calcium in dandelion flowers is less than the calcium in the leaves, and the same thing goes for folate and phosphorus. This confirms why dandelion flowers shouldn’t be a staple item in your dragon’s diet.
Essentially, the above-listed values highlight the most significant elements extracted from the dandelion flowers. Further studies from the USDA have verified the nutrients found in the complete dandelion plant, but since your pet absolutely enjoys the flowers, let’s quickly move into how dandelion flowers are good for your beardie!
5 Great Reasons Why Dandelion Flowers Are Good For Bearded Dragons
Dandelion flowers, basically petals, are rich in important elements that can contribute positively to your pet’s life if they’re fed the correct way. Here are the advantages of feeding them your dragon:
1. Dandelion Flowers Contain Anti-Fungal Properties
Biochemical studies have proven the existence of cysteine in dandelion flowers which is a type of protein that helps to combat fungal infections. Aspergillus and candida are notorious fungi known to distress the health of beardies and may result in inflammation of body parts, infection of the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth including respiratory problems. These fungi are directly linked to poor husbandry but could be a result of other situations that may be exposing your pet to fungus.
Dandelions can help your dragon reinforce its immune system against fungal infection, or help it to heal better in case it has contracted the disease. If the latter is the case, you must seek professional treatment. Dandelion flowers may have antifungal properties, but they are not a reliable treatment for your beardie!
2. Dandelion Flowers Contain AntiInflammatory Traits
Dandelion flowers are rich in flavonoids that actively specialize in reducing or regulating inflammation. When there is blunt force trauma, an injury, or an infection, the immediate response of your beardies immune system is to inflame the area for treatment to occur. In some cases, this inflammation can be excessive and lead to other problems. Flavonoids work to inhibit the enzymes responsible for inflammation thereby reducing swelling.
3. Dandelion Flowers Are Rich In Antioxidants
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative stress. It’s normal for bearded dragons to develop free radicals from inhaling cleaning products, prolonged stress, and diseases. These free radicals can trigger abnormal growth in cells causing cancers or tumors to form. With the help of antioxidants, the formation of free radicals is properly regulated protecting your dragon from the possibility of cancer.
4. Dandelion Flowers Are High In Fiber
Fiber is a gut-loving ingredient that fulfills several beneficial properties. They aid in smooth digestion and excretion by providing a bulk load needed to sustain the proper poop consistency. The fiber in dandelion flowers also helps to feed and multiply good gut bacteria that are needed to break down toxins and aid metabolism. The more fiber your beardie eats, the better its digestive health!
5. Dandelion Flowers Are Simply Delicious
One of the best ways to improve your dragon’s mood is by feeding it treats, and what’s a better treat to feed than a healthy one? Most bearded dragons enjoy dandelion flowers to the moon and back. Adding them to your dragon’s diet will improve its eating habit especially if the flowers are its favorite treat. You can entice your pet to eat by adding dandelions to its salad to make it eat more of the portion. Dandelion flowers can also be used as a bonding tool if you are trying to settle your dragon in its new surrounding.
The Downside Of Feeding Dandelion Flowers To Bearded Dragons
Dandelion flowers must be fed moderately for the safety of your beardie. This is because the flowers are saturated with oxalic acid that binds to calcium forming calcium oxalates. This unwanted procedure shortens the amount of calcium your bearded dragon needs to grow healthy bones and affects the kidney by forming kidney stones. The effect of prolonged or excessive intake of dandelion flowers by bearded dragons could lead to metabolic bone disease, kidney infection, terrible impaction by kidney stones, and if severe, painful death.
It is highly important to regulate how much your dragon eats this flower so that you don’t expose it to complications. If you suspect your beardie has eaten too many dandelion flowers by mistake, rush to the veterinary doctor for analysis and treatment, especially if your dragon is young or recovering from an illness.
How To Feed Your Dragon Dandelion Flowers Safely – Preparation, Frequency & Rations
Dandelion flowers are delicious and nutritious for beardies, but they must be fed the correct way for the benefits to take place. Your pet should not eat any more than it is supposed to as this can lead to the health problems mentioned earlier.
Remember, the dandelions must be fresh and chemical-free. Most people would rather kill off the “pesky weeds” with pesticides and have their yards all green. You must ensure that if you go dandelion picking for your beardie, you don’t mistakenly pick out flowers that have chemicals on them. Some of these pesticides are so strong that small animals like your pet may die from the toxicity. So, safety first!
Once you have your dandelion flowers, proceed to wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt, or again, chemical residue. Your dragon must eat safe and clean flowers only to prevent poisoning.
To prepare the flowers for your dragon, I recommend chopping them into smaller pieces. I have witnessed some dragon owners feed their beardies the whole flower, and usually, the poor thing would take business days chewing and swallowing it. This, of course, isn’t that much of an alarm. However, impaction is one of the most common stomach problems bearded dragons in captivity suffer from.
Pet beardies do not have access to open space all day as they would in the wild to run around and relieve the impaction. If impaction is prolonged, it could lead to other problems that your dragon will surely suffer from. It’s much safer for your beardie if you chop up the dandelion flowers into bite sizes before you feed them to it.
Rations & Frequency
Adult bearded dragons should eat at most 3 dandelion flowers a week while juvenile bearded dragons should eat 3 dandelion flowers a month. I do not recommend feeding dandelion flowers to baby dragons because of the high levels of oxalic acid. It’s much safer to allow them to grow through the hatchling stage before they are exposed to calcium-binding plants so that they don’t develop metabolic bone disease or kidney problems.
Ensure that you include calcium supplement powder (view on Amazon) in their salad to stabilize and replace the amount of calcium devoured by the oxalic acid in the dandelion flowers. Your beardie needs to have calcium in its system so that its bones do not hurt from the loss.
Wrapping It Up
Feeding dandelions to your bearded dragon is fun to experience. You get to bond with your pet and the treats are packed with nutrients– it’s almost a win-win situation! However, you must ensure that you regulate how much dandelion flowers your beardie eats so that it doesn’t fall sick. Remember to contact the vet if you suspect something out of place like a choking hazard or a change in demeanor after your dragon eats the treats. Good luck!