Bearded dragons have a wide range of food options to choose from, especially the ones in captivity. They can eat flowers, fruits, but most importantly vegetables and bugs. Vegetables provide minerals, vitamins, and fiber which are all highly essential for their metabolism while the bugs bring in the protein that is needed for them to grow muscles. Although beardies need veggies, not all greens are healthy for them. So, it’s right to wonder whether zucchini is any good for bearded dragons, and we’d conclude that in a jiffy!
Zucchini is good for bearded dragons and will make a good addition to their diet. They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, as well as fiber that is needed for your beardie to stay healthy. However, zucchini is not a staple diet choice and should be treated as such. This is because feeding your pet too much zucchini can cause it to fall severely sick.
Let’s quickly get into the benefits and possible dangers of feeding zucchini to your bearded dragon, and how best you can feed your beardie the vegetable!
Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon Zucchini? – Genuine Answer And Nutritional Values
Zucchini is a great side dish for beardies, so you should feed it some for the sake of variety. It is advised to feed your pet beardie several food options so that your dragon has a good relationship with food. While this may seem doubtful since bearded dragons in the wild have little to no food options and do just fine, there is certainly a reason why pet beardies outlive them. In the wild, a bearded dragon is expected to live for 5 – 8 years compared to captive dragons that can reach 15 years of age.
So, another great benefit of feeding your beardie a balanced diet of side dishes and main meals is that your bearded dragon has a great tendency to live a long and healthy life. In addition, you get to keep the vet bills at bay!
According to the USDA, one cup of sliced raw zucchini (approximately 113 grams) contains:
- Water: 85 grams
- Calories: 17
- Protein: 1.4 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3.1 grams
- Fiber: 1.0 grams
- Sugar: 2.4 grams
- Vitamin C: 16.2 milligrams
- Vitamin B6: 0.2 milligrams
- Vitamin K: 8.4 micrograms
- Riboflavin: 0.1 milligrams
- Folate: 19.2 micrograms
- Potassium: 261 milligrams
To appreciate these values, you must understand how the vitamins and minerals benefit your bearded dragon. They each play different roles in ensuring your pet is healthy and strong.
7 Fascinating Reasons Why Zucchini Is Great For Bearded Dragons
Zucchini holds several benefits for your bearded dragon. Asides from being an easy vegetable to get, plant, and store, here are the ways zucchini is good for your pet:
1. Zucchini Is High In Potassium
Potassium plays several important roles in metabolism and the function of several systems in your bearded dragon’s body. It functions as an “enabler” during several operations with other enzymes and organic matter in the system.
Potassium regulates the electrolyte and hydration in the cells, facilitates muscle and nerve function, improves bone health, aids in calcium absorption, digestion, and excretion. A potassium deficiency means that your dragon’s body falls short of performing several metabolic functions, which results in severe malnutrition, lack of immunity against diseases, and organ failures!
2. Low-Fattening Diet
Vegetables that are low in calories are a plus for bearded dragons, especially those in captivity. Since they move less and have higher tendencies of getting fat in comparison to wild dragons, your dragon should stick to low-calorie treats like zucchini.
3. Smooth, Nice Digestive Rides
In your beardie’s diet, vegetables are the only source of fiber they have, and fiber is highly important for their health. Fiber provides the nutrients needed for good gut bacteria to multiply and provides the bulk load needed to regulate bowel movement excretion.
This means that the nutrients your dragon ingests are properly absorbed by the support of the fiber as well as providing a smooth and healthy excretory system.
4. Highly Hydrating
Zucchini is a high-water-content vegetable that can be used to hydrate your reptile friend in cases where it’s dehydrated. Sometimes, rescue beardies are placed on high-water content vegetables that also contain vitamins and minerals to help resuscitate the bearded dragon and nudge it toward a quicker recovery.
5. Helps To Facilitate Red Blood Cell Formation
The red blood cells play major roles in transporting oxygen all around your dragon’s system, and they need Vitamin B6 to replicate. Vitamin B6 supports the production of hemoglobin via a rather complicated process with the bone marrow. It represents the final ingredient needed for the synthesis of red blood cells, and zucchini happens to be saturated with this vitamin. Again, for recovering dragons that require an extra boost of hemoglobin, zucchini might be one of the best veggie choices to add to their diet now and then.
6. Contains Very Little Oxalic Acid
Oxalic acid is one of your bearded dragon’s enemies. It is highly toxic to beardies and is unfortunately bountiful in some fruits and vegetables, all of which you must avoid. The acid binds to calcium causing shortages that your dragon doesn’t need. Fortunately, zucchini has a low oxalic acid content which means your beardie’s calcium intake is secure.
7. Your Dragon May Love Zucchini
Bearded dragons love to experiment with different tastes and textures. They could easily get bored with a particular meal and will protest when they see it on their plate. Yes, beardies are much smarter than they seem! By including zucchini in your dragon’s list of desires, you’d be keeping it entertained especially if your pet particularly likes this veggie.
The Terrible Detriments Of Feeding Your Dragon Too Much Zucchini
Zucchini is considered a side dish for bearded dragons and for good reasons. When you feed your pet an occasional meal more than it should eat, you’re unknowingly replacing the staple nutritious items that your dragon needs to stay healthy.
Zucchini Is Not All That It Seems
The kicker is that while zucchini carries several nutritional benefits, your beardie cannot eat enough at once to fully enjoy them. Since dragons should eat only small amounts they will miss out on the full effectiveness of the vegetable. Remember that all the nutritional values we’ve listed are for a whole cup of zucchini, and your beardie will possibly eat only a spoon out of it.
The Phosphorus Content is Bad For Your Pet’s Health
Another problem is the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. The recommended ratio is 2:1 or 1:1 for calcium and phosphorus because phosphorus readily binds to calcium. When your beardie eats anything with an improper ratio of calcium and phosphorus, they are at a shortage of calcium which is one of the most important minerals they need to grow their bones. If this process is prolonged, your dragon could fall ill with metabolic bone disease.
Unfortunately, zucchini contains a 1:4 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio which supports the very scenario we’d prefer to go against. This is another reason why zucchini can’t be fed in large amounts to your beardie.
Too Much Water
Zucchini is a high-water veggie that precisely is not the best for bearded dragons. Beardies are not heavy water drinkers; they can take a few licks and be comfortable for the next two days. In fact, feeding your dragon too much water can cause it to fall sick with diarrhea and malnutrition. So, bearded dragons are advised to stay clear from vegetables like zucchini or lettuce, or at least eat them moderately.
How To Feed Your Bearded Dragon Zucchini Without Causing An Emergency 6 Important Points
To reduce the possibility of your dragon falling sick from eating too many treats, you must feed zucchini to it safely. Here are the few points you must adhere to:
Choose A Fresh And Clean Zucchini
Ensure that you select a healthy and fresh zucchini for your beardie. It should be free from mold or soft spots so that it doesn’t irritate your dragon.
Peel the Zucchini
The outer layer of zucchini is almost stringy and leathery which can cause your dragon to choke or disturb its digestive system. It could also cause impaction to occur especially if your pet is a baby dragon. So, you must peel the outer layer before your dragon so that your beardie eats the crunchy inner layer of the vegetable.
Chop Into Small Sizes
For your dragon to eat the zucchini safely, you must ensure that you’re feeding it the correct size. Beardies can easily get choked on what they eat if it’s too large for them to ingest and can get blockages from the indigestible size of the food. In this case, ensure that you cut the zucchini into small pieces, small enough to fit the space between your dragon’s eyes, to prevent accidents.
Feed Your Beardie Zucchini Infrequently
You should feed your pet dragon zucchini not more than once every other week. It’s highly important to follow this rule due to the low nutritional value it technically offers to your pet so that it doesn’t replace significant food items. If your dragon is still young, from 0 – 6 months of age, I suggest keeping zucchini away from them until they enter the sub-adult stage.
Zucchini Should Make Up Only 20% Of The Daily Veggie Quantity
Now, your beardie has a specific and preferable ratio of bugs and vegetables that it should eat depending on its age. Every stage of a beaded dragon’s growth has different demands and so, the dietary ratio will differ to meet those needs.
Take a quick look at this table below to locate your bearded dragon’s age before we continue.
|0 – 2 (Baby stage)
|30% greens, 70% grubs
|3 – 6 (Juvenile stage)
|30% greens, 70% grubs
|6 – 9 (Subadult stage)
|40% greens, 60% grubs
|9 – 18+ (Adult stage)
|70% greens, 30% grubs
Now, the quantity of vegetables is all you should focus on. Whatever your beardie’s age is, you need to take out the required percentage of greens and label it 100%. Out of this 100%, the amount of zucchini should only replace 20% of it. Basically, the adult dragons with more greens will have more zucchini on their plates than the younger ones would. This is the safest amount of zucchini that your bearded dragon can eat.
Never Neglect The Calcium Supplements
Calcium supplements are highly important to the health of your bearded dragon. There are a lot of veggies with either trace amounts of oxalic acids or uneven calcium to phosphorus ratio that can jeopardize your pet’s skeletal health. So, ensure you dust the veggies with calcium supplements (view on Amazon) before you feed your bearded dragon.
10 Great Veggie Alternatives To Zucchini For Bearded Dragons
Similar to zucchini, other veggies are treat-worthy for bearded dragons. In fact, some may present your pet with more nutritional benefits. Here are 10 examples of vegetables your bearded dragon can enjoy:
- Sprouting lentil
- Sweet potato
- Green pepper
- Red pepper