Bearded dragons, just like us, are omnivorous creatures that require a balanced diet of veggies and protein to survive. Without vegetables, bearded dragons are exposed to several illnesses and malnutrition, including untimely death. As important as it is that your bearded dragon eats greens, not all of them mean well to your pet.
There are innumerable varieties of vegetables under the sky; some of them offer incredible nutrition and can pass as a staple diet, while others contain certain properties that can cause your beardie to fall ill. This is why you must know the greens you shred into a salad for your pet so that your bearded dragon grows strong, healthy, and safe.
Bearded dragons can eat all sorts of vegetables, but should only eat nutrient-dense greens. Due to their small body size and infrequent feeding habits, it’s easy for them to lose important nutrients and fall sick. If you feed your beardie weak-nutrient veggies over time, it will be susceptible to several health problems that may be difficult to cure. So, you have to make every beardie bite count!
Preparing a nourishing salad for your bearded dragon is pretty easy even if you’re a newbie. This discussion will provide you with a list of the perfect veggies for your bearded dragon, taking you through the healthy benefits of each of them so that you can prepare the ultimate staple beardie salad. Let’s dive!
What Is The Ideal Vegetable For A Bearded Dragon?
There’s an entire universe of edible vegetables to choose from, all pompous with nutritious qualities. However, you‘d have to reduce the greens to what they can offer your beardie and to what amount. For instance, cucumbers contain 90% water with vitamin K and vitamin A in insignificant quantities. Similarly, lettuce includes mainly water and little nutritional gain. At the end of the day, your beardie is eating more for less value.
It also doesn’t help that bearded dragons are desert creatures; they’re simply not wired to consume watery veggies. Too much of those and a watery stool will be the least of you and your dragon’s worries. You have to understand that not every delicious vegetable you eat is good for your dragon.
Another important point you shouldn’t miss is the presence of oxalates, phosphorus, and goitrogens. Oxalate and phosphorus are calcium-depleting substances; they compete for calcium against your bearded dragon thereby shortening the amount it consumes. Goitrogens interfere with the thyroid gland in bearded dragons, causing defects in their growth. Taken in high amounts, these three substances are dangerous to beardies even leading to severe illnesses and death.
The ideal vegetable will have low or moderate water content and dense nutritional value. It will contain minerals, vitamins, and flavonoids – no oxalate, phosphorus, or goitrogen – to facilitate a robust and healthy bearded dragon all through the stages of its growth
That being established, we can immediately jump into creating the ultimate salad for your beardie!
10 Fantastic Vegetables For Bearded Dragons That You Can Work With
There are numerous vegetables that beardies can eat. However, you only need the most favorable and safest options for your dragon. Here are the best vegetables for bearded dragons that you can make a good salad from:
1. Collard Greens (Daily)
Collard greens are very nutritious for bearded dragons. They contain a good amount of vitamin K which helps to build bone mass and a lesser amount of Vitamin A in comparison, which assists in strengthening the neurological system of your beardie. Collard greens also contain antiviral and antibacterial properties that boost the immunity of your beardie against certain diseases.
2. Mustard Greens (Daily)
Mustard greens are saturated with a high level of “safe” vitamin C. Usually, to get a noticeable level of vitamin C, you’d have to go through citrusy foods that are accompanied by acidity. These sources are bad for bearded dragons if ingested directly and would lead to stomach problems. Mustard greens produce potential vitamin C for your beardie without exposing it to harmful acidity. They also contain calcium and anthocyanins which are great for bone and heart health.
3. Dandelion Greens (Daily)
Although bitter, bearded dragons seem to love this vegetable and savor it like candy! If your beardie enjoys dandelion greens despite the taste, you’re a very lucky owner. Dandelion greens are rich in calcium that help bone formation and prebiotics that promote healthy gut bacteria and digestion. Other goodies like vitamins C, K, and A also contribute to the nutritional value of dandelion greens promoting overall good and balanced health for your beardie.
4. Turnip Greens (Daily)
For an exceptional circulatory system, turnip greens are the vegetables your beardie needs! They contain a dominantly high level of vitamin K and folate that assists in the formation of red blood and platelet (clotting) cells promoting good heart and neurological health. They also contain vitamins A and C in good amounts to reinforce your dragon’s immunity against diseases.
5. Squash (Daily)
Squashes are more fruits than vegetables, but because we normally boil them before we eat, they’re informally termed a vegetable and are exceptional for bearded dragons. Aside from the nutritional benefits, they’re the best daily meals for your beardie’s dental health; they’re crunchy enough to get into the teeth and prevent plaque formation. Squash is also rich in fiber that enables healthy digestion and vitamin A responsible for nurturing your beardie’s eyesight.
6. Carrots (Occasionally)
Carrots are rich in antioxidants and vitamin A. Antioxidants help to combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals in your beardie’s cells as they live their day-to-day life. Free radicals are simply oxygen molecules that move around causing disrupting cellular activity and starting cancers. Thankfully, antioxidants are there to kick them out.
7. Bok Choy (Occasionally)
This vegetable is predominantly high in vitamins E and K which work hand in hand to promote healthy cell formation and combat free radicals. Sadly, they contain goitrogens and oxalates that are dangerous to bearded dragons.
8. Lettuce (Occasionally)
Even though lettuce got a thumb down earlier, some beardies seem to absolutely love this vegetable. They’re rich in vitamins A and K that promote the well-being of your beardie, but because of the high water content, it’s advised to be fed to beardies occasionally.
9. Cabbage (Occasionally)
Cabbage greens are also good occasional veggies for beardies. They contain high amounts of vitamin C that promote security against diseases. Particularly red cabbage; contains impressive amounts of antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties that ensure your bearded dragon’s sugar level is stabilized. Yet, they entail goitrogens, which is why it’s only adequate for the beardie that eats this veggie occasionally.
10. Kale (Occasionally)
This vegetable could easily pass as a daily green, but unfortunately, it’s saturated with goitrogens. Kale is packed with vitamins C, K, and A that collectively bulks up your beardie’s health even with the little it consumes. If you put it in perspective, kale can provide an equivalent amount of vitamins in a day to when your beardie eats squash for two days. Still, better to keep the goitrogens and oxalates at arm’s length and feed your beardie kale occasionally.
Even More Occasional Vegetables You Can Feed To Your Beardie:
The Perfect Bearded Dragon Salad
The best salad for healthy bearded dragons will contain 75% of daily veggies and 25% of occasional vegetables. The occasional veggies could be fed thrice weekly. However, I strongly suggest you wait for your bearded dragon to reach the subadult stage before you introduce the occasional vegetables. Your beardie needs all the calcium it can get to facilitate strong bones as it grows and since some occasional veggies contain oxalate and phosphorus in them, it’s better to keep them aside till your beardie is ready.
How To Prepare Your Bearded Dragon’s Salad
Now, all the ingredients for your beardie’s salad have been listed. All that is left is to prepare the salad.
Clean The Vegetables
It’s preferable to wash the greens with salt first before rinsing severally to get the saltiness and impurities like fertilizers and pesticides out before you prepare your dragon’s salad. After this, you can then shred the vegetables into tinier pieces for your dragon to eat easily.
Shred Or Cut The Vegetables
Precisely, the squash, pumpkins, and yams need to be peeled first before either cutting them into smaller pieces or shredding them with a grater before you feed them to your beardie. It’s easy for bearded dragons to choke on crunchy vegetables or get impacted by them. Other leafy greens can be sliced or cut into smaller pieces that your pet can chew.
Dish Out The Correct Amount
For a proper balance, you need 75% of the daily greens and 25% of the occasional veggies. You also have to take account of your beardie’s age to prepare the suitable amount of vegetables it should eat in a day.
The table below will guide you on how to balance your dragon’s diet with the proper amount of vegetables depending on its stage:
|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
How Much Of The Shredded Salad Is The Right Amount For My Beardie?
As a beginner, I battled with this question a lot! It was frustrating; there were so many fractions and percentages without a way to interpret them. How do you know you have measured enough of the shredded vegetables for your bearded dragon? Well, you can use your hand! An average-sized palm is equal to ½ a cup of salad, and that is all your beardie needs as 100% of vegetables. Now, you can subtract from this amount to obtain the quantity your pet requires based on its stage of growth from the table above.
You also do not need to start slicing and chopping away every time you want to dish veggies to your bearded dragons. It’s much better to make the salad in a small bowl – enough to last 2 to 3 days – and take out all your pet needs from that amount, then store the rest away.
How To Store Your Bearded Dragon’s Veggies
To ensure your uncut greens stay fresh when you store them, wrap them in paper towels before placing them in airtight containers and refrigerating them. It’s also preferable to leave the stalk on the uncut veggies before wrapping them. For the squash and pumpkin, wrap them in cling film to keep them from rotting, and then place them in the refrigerator.
Do not freeze your veggies; when they defrost, the vegetables lose their texture just the way your dragon will lose its appetite on seeing or tasting them. Better to keep the crunch intact for your beardie’s enthusiasm and dental health.
How To Feed A Stubborn Bearded Dragon Its Greens
There’s no cause to worry if your beardie has refused to eat its salad. Some bearded dragons behave like little kids; they’ll only eat what they want and nothing else. However, there’s always a way around it to help your dragon enjoy its vegetables and stay healthy.
Try Different Options
Perhaps your bearded dragon is picky and the options are simply not enough to get it going. You can try other vegetables so that it gets accustomed to other options. Sometimes, the difference in the aroma is enough for beardies to eat out of sheer curiosity.
Disguise The Veggies
A little trick here or there doesn’t hurt anyone. Perhaps when you place some delicious grubs underneath the veggies, your beardie might eat some of the greens alongside the grubs. Even if your dragon is actively trying to ignore the vegetables, it surely will get some into its mouth in the process of picking the bugs. Just ensure that the bugs are alive and active underneath.
Hand Feed Your Beardie
Some bearded dragons require a little bit of movement to get them to eat or at least get used to eating vegetables. You can use your hand to pick a slice of vegetable and wave it a bit in its face or play with the pile of veggies on its plate. The movement will stimulate your beardie’s instincts to grab the food wriggling about.
If your bearded dragon still avoids its greens no matter what you do, you should visit your veterinary doctor for evaluation. It’s very possible that there could be a stomach problem hindering it from eating its greens.