Many reptile lovers have found a soft spot for bearded dragons in particular. There’s no denying that reptiles in general are fast climbing the chart as one of the most popular pets.
But, the bearded dragon is infinitely more famous for its playful, gentle, and curious nature than most other reptiles. So it’s no wonder more and more people are wondering which greens are good for their little buddies.
So, what are the best greens for bearded dragons? The best and most nutritious greens for bearded dragons include organic cactus pads, mustard greens, collard greens, dandelion leaves, endive, and turnip greens, bok basil, cabbage, celery leaves, cilantro, kale and more. These should all be rotated and fed in moderation.
Read on to find out about the greens that your reptilian friend can have daily, the vegetables that your bearded dragon ought to have less often, and how you can feed greens to your pet.
What Do Bearded Dragons Need In Their Diet?
Beardies aren’t discerning eaters. These reptiles come from mostly arid lands in Australia. The food is sparse in the regions where they are found. Your adorable beardie will happily munch on greens, fruits, insects, and meat when it is offered some.
Technically, bearded dragons are omnivores. But, young bearded dragons keep a more protein-rich diet. On the other hand, the more mature beardie will revert to more plant-based meals. In general, though, your pet is recommended to keep a 50% vegetarian diet and a 50% protein-based diet.
When it comes to eating greens, many factors play an essential role when deciding which veggie is nutrient-rich for your reptile friend. So, here’s a list of the things to keep in mind that determine which greens are genuinely the best for your bearded dragon.
- The Nutritional Value: There are literally dozens of different kinds of veggies. Some are more nutrient-dense, while others simply contain more water. Water-based vegetables are great for the health of humans. But, your reptile needs to have greens that are full of nutrients to keep healthy.
- Calcium Content: Bearded dragons, particularly the young ones, need to have a significant amount of calcium to grow and live longer lives. It’s important that you include veggies with a lot of calcium in your pet’s daily diet.
- Calcium To Phosphorus Ratio: Any vegetable that contains much phosphorus prevents calcium absorption in the body. And a calcium deficiency can cause your pet to develop metabolic bone disease.
- Goitrogens: These are compounds that interfere with the function of the thyroid glands. Bearded dragons are prone to issues with the thyroid. So, goitrogenic vegetables should be fed with caution.
- Oxalates: Oxalates, also known as oxalic acid, is a naturally occurring compound in plants. Now in most cases, oxalates aren’t bad, as there are many other unique nutrients in these leafy green veggies that have oxalates. However, oxalates bind to calcium, so too much can also cause metabolic bone diseases and kidney problems.
What Greens Can I feed My Bearded Dragon?
Stick to any vegetables low in phosphorus, oxalates, and goitrogens and high in calcium and other nutrients. You can actually feed your beardies many different kinds of salad with yummy flavors and textures – providing plenty of nutrition and variety in your reptile baby’s diet.
Here are some great greens to feed your beardie:
- Cactus Pads – This is often a major favorite with most bearded dragons. It is exceptionally high in calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. So, it may very well be your pet’s favorite. You will have to ensure that you properly remove the outer, thorny coating and cut up the inner flesh into small pieces before serving it to your pet.
- Mustard Greens – Beardies love munching on the peppery goodness of mustard greens. Moreover, they are very high in calcium. There are traces of oxalates and goitrogens found in mustard greens. But if served in a salad with collard greens, the risk becomes negligent. Not to mention, mustard greens are rich in vitamin A, C, and K.
- Collard Greens – The phosphorus to calcium ratio of collard greens is 14.5:1, so you know it’s a great source of calcium. It also contains many vitamins such as vitamin A, C, E, and K.
- Dandelion Leaves – You can grab a bunch of these common garden weeds and serve it in a salad with other greens to your pet. They are high in calcium and vitamin A, so it’ll do your pet wanders. But, be sure that it is pesticide or chemical-free. Wash them thoroughly beforehand as well. They work best with other nutritional greens in a salad.
- Endive or Escarole – These are quite calcium-dense but have a moderate level of oxalates too. So, it’s best when you offer endive with some collard greens to your bearded dragon.
- Turnip Greens – It’s known for its spiciness, but most beardies seem to enjoy them. The phosphorus to calcium ratio of this fantastic veggie is 4.5:1, so go ahead and give your reptilian baby some of the turnip greens in its daily salad. Although you can go heavy-handed with collard greens, you ought to go a bit light-handed with the turnip greens.
Now there are a few pretty nutrient-dense vegetables that are safe for your beardie. Still, you can only serve these occasionally as most of these either have a high content of oxalates, goitrogens, or phosphorus.
Greens to serve your beardie in moderation:
- Bok Choy – High in vitamin A and c, bok choy makes a yummy treat for your pet. But as it is also high in goitrogens, you can only offer it every other week or so to your beardie.
- Basil – It is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory herb that is filled with vitamins and antioxidants. Not to mention, the healing powers of basil are well-known around the globe, so don’t deprive your reptile of the extra goodness of basil leaves. Only serve basil as a weekly snack, as it does contain quite a bit of oxalate.
- Cabbage, green – Filled with potassium, calcium, iron, fiber, and vitamin C, the cabbage is a crunchy snack that your pet will appreciate eating. Exert caution, as it is goitrogenic.
- Cabbage, napa – Another munchy, crunchy treat that will bring flavor and variety to your bearded dragon’s meals. It’s rich in calcium, vitamin A and C, and fiber.
- Celery leaves – Provide a great source of hydration, antioxidants, and vitamin C in a salad for your pet. But, make sure to chop up the leaves and stems into tiny pieces to avoid choking hazards.
- Cilantro – Unbelievably laden with nutrients, the cilantro makes any salad taste divine. Your pet will love it, and it’ll get a boost of calcium, potassium, antioxidants, manganese, and vitamins A, K, and C.
- Grape leaves – A fabulous addition to any snack time, grape leaves do wonders for your reptilian baby with their protein-rich crunchiness. And these leaves are pretty high in calcium and vitamin A too.
- Kale – This superfood is relatively goitrogenic, but it is so full of Nature’s miracles that it would be a crime to deprive your beardie of this fantastic leafy green. So, if you want your pet to get a punch of potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, antioxidants, vitamins A, K, and C, then kale is a must every other week for your pet.
- Kohlrabi – Try out a bit of kohlrabi as a treat for your beardie, especially if you want it to get a bite full of potassium, folate, calcium, fiber, and protein.
- Lemongrass – Nothing beats the refreshingly tangy taste of lemongrass. It adds a great crunch to any salad. With its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, lemongrass is a very healthy choice for an occasional snack.
- Pea sprouts – Pea sprouts contain vitamin A and K. You need to be careful not to go overboard with pea sprouts, as they have too much phosphorus.
- Watercress – Loaded with calcium, manganese, and vitamin A, C, and K, watercress brings a crunch to any salad.
- Rosemary – This herb is a superb addition to your beardie’s meals, as it is full of calcium and fiber.
But, you might come across a bearded dragon that isn’t particularly partial to any greens, healthy or otherwise. Not to worry, as your pet just happens to be a picky eater.
What Can You Do If Your Bearded Dragon Doesn’t Want To Eat Greens?
If your beardie has a naturally healthy appetite and simply looks down on its greens, then you aren’t alone. Indeed, most bearded dragons eat pretty much anything you put before them. If your bearded dragon doesn’t want to eat its greens, then it could be an indication of an underlying health problem.
Bearded dragons don’t come from areas with a lot of greens, which means that the greens you are trying to feed your beardie are a new thing for it. Many bearded dragons enjoy munching on greens immediately, as they like the taste.
However, if your bearded dragon doesn’t instantly take to eating greens, there is no need to despair. You have to take the time to develop your beardie’s taste for vegetables. So, here are the steps that you can take to get some greens into your reptilian friend.
- Make It A Proportionate Diet – If your pet is hogging on insects and getting other snacks like fruit, then it’s going to be too full to eat its veggies. So, make sure that you provide a balanced diet for your reptile. Vegetables should come before insects and fruits, particularly if you have an adult bearded dragon.
- Trick Them – Some kids don’t enjoy their vegetables, so parents are forced to blend the veggies into food in such a way that the kids aren’t able to differentiate between yummy and healthy. So, as pet parents, you may have to resort to a bit of trickery. Offer your bearded dragon greens mixed with meat, dried insects, and fruits.
- Trial And Error – There is a strong possibility that your bearded dragon doesn’t enjoy specific types of greens. So, you could offer your reptile various kinds of wholesome greens in meager quantities to understand which vegetable your pet likes and which ones it isn’t keen on. Cactus pads and collard greens seem to be a general favorite, so it would be wise to start with those.
- Frequent Attempts – Young bearded dragons are to be fed at least twice a day. If you try and present greens to your bearded dragon at every mealtime, eventually, your pet is going to try it, and there’s a high probability that it’ll like it too. But, ensure that you provide fresh greens only. The fresher the produce, the more likely your bearded dragon will be attracted to it.
How To Serve Greens To Your Bearded Dragon
You have a beautiful yet delicate creature to look after. So, when it comes to food, you’ll have to be extra careful about how you present these foods to your beardie.
- Keeping It Natural – Leafy greens are healthy for your bearded dragon so long as they are free of all toxins. So, even the slightest trace of pesticide or chemicals can significantly harm your bearded dragon’s constitution. Only opt for an organic choice of greens and stay away from GMO produce.
- Keeping It Clean: You must always make it a point to wash everything thoroughly before serving it to your pet. It would be best if you rinsed the veggies you plan to present to your pet at least twice to wash off any impurities or toxins that may linger on the vegetables’ skin.
- Keeping It Small: Bearded dragons may have big personalities, but they are tiny animals. So, anything and everything presents a choking hazard. It would be best to make sure that you finely chop every veggie you intend to serve to your beardie.
- Keeping it Raw: In the wild, bearded dragons only eat raw foods. So, if you want to keep things as close to natural for your bearded dragon as possible, then you should only offer uncooked vegetables to your pet. Moreover, when you cook your pet’s veggies, be it boiling, broiling, or steaming, the vegetable does lose some of its nutrients.
Bearded dragons are very exotic pets, but they are also a lot of fun. You see, these creatures aren’t just a sight to look at; they are a blast to watch as well, with their chin puffing and skittering. But bearded dragons are quite small and delicate. You will have to be exceedingly vigilant in your care for your pet.
Everything from your beardie’s diet and habitat to cleanliness and scheduled upkeep needs to be close to perfection. It may appear to be a huge responsibility to take up. But, you can take the word of thousands of pet parents who vouch that caring and loving their bearded dragon has become second nature.
So, explore your love for these animals, particularly reptiles, and bring home a bearded dragon. Never forget that your bearded dragon is counting on you to ensure that it lives a long, healthy, and happy life.
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