Most novice reptile lovers looking to bring home a pet are recommended to adopt a bearded dragon. These creatures are easy to care for and a whole lot of fun to observe. And, the best part of looking after a bearded dragon is that these reptiles have an amazingly varied diet.
Bearded dragons are omnivores. They eat both plants and animal-based protein, including insects. Generally, the diet of your bearded dragons varies according to their age, but feeding your bearded dragon some greens is always a good idea.
However, you cannot feed bearded dragons every kind of veggie that you come across. And, it’s impossible to go through the vegetable section in any store and not find a plethora of lettuce.
So, can bearded dragons eat lettuce? Bearded dragons can eat small amounts of lettuce. However, lettuce holds a very high water content that can be detrimental to your pet’s health if given in large quantities or as part of a daily diet.
Let’s take an in-depth look to understand how lettuce can be bad for your bearded dragon and see if there are any varieties in the lettuce family that can prove beneficial for your bearded dragon.
What Is Your Bearded Dragon’s Diet?
Young and juvenile bearded dragons eat more insects than vegetables or fruits. They require more protein for the development of their bones as well as the proper functioning of other bodily systems.
But as your beardie grows older, their diet will change. When they enter adulthood, they need less protein and more vitamins, minerals, and fiber in their bodies.
So, an adult bearded dragon will eat protein as part of its daily diet, but you need to include more vegetables and fruits as weekly snacks in your reptile’s meals as well. In short, baby beardies need only 20% vegetables and fruits in their diet for hydration, minerals, and vitamins.
On the other hand, juvenile beardies need 40-50% fruits and vegetables as part of their meals. And, adult bearded dragons need to have 75-80% vegetables and fruits and a meager 20-25% protein in their meals.
You need to provide highly nutritional choices when it comes to vegetables and fruits for your beardie, even when it is just a baby. Now, let’s talk about lettuce and whether or not some varieties are suitable for your pet.
Is Lettuce Good For Bearded Dragons?
As a pet parent, it is essential that you understand where bearded dragons come from and what their diet is in the wild. Pets thrive in captivity only when pet parents can provide them with a habitat that closely resembles the natural environment that they come from.
Bearded dragons come from the Australian desert. These reptiles have evolved to deal with the high temperature of the desert region as well as the scarcity of water. In short, bearded dragons absorb the moisture from the food that they eat and their environment.
So, if you try to feed your bearded dragon lettuce, which has an extremely high water content, then it’s likely that your pet may suffer from a bout of diarrhea rather than gain any health benefits from snacking on a leafy green.
Furthermore, lettuce isn’t a food source that is easily found in any desert region. However, while is utterly alien to your reptile’s natural diet, other desert plants aren’t, and they can easily be confused for the same thing.
That’s why bearded dragons are likely to eat any leafy greens you put in front of them, regardless of whether or not they’re really good for them. It’s your responsibility to make sure they get beneficial food in the right quantities.
Now, not all kinds of lettuce are devoid of nutritional value. And, you can’t deny the fact that nothing will add a good crunch to your pet’s salad mix quite like a bite of lettuce. So, lettuce can be a tasty nibble for your reptile that should only make it into their meal plan when you’re offering a snack or your beardie is unusually dehydrated.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Romaine Lettuce?
Romaine does contain some nutritional value, albeit a very minimal amount of it when it comes to lettuce. For humans, romaine lettuce is considered an entirely healthy vegetable to munch on.
It adds crunch to any salad, is low on calories, and consists primarily of water, which is helpful if you’re looking for a quick way to hydrate yourself. It has vitamins A, C, and K. It also contains folate, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Furthermore, when you look at the phosphorus to calcium ratio of Romaine lettuce, it is 1.1:1. Foods that contain more phosphorus than calcium make it difficult for the body to absorb the calcium into the system, causing metabolic bone disease in reptiles such as bearded dragons. So, Romaine lettuce is a safer option for your pet rather than a vegetable like broccoli.
However, you simply cannot apply the same reasoning to the diet of bearded dragons as you do to humans. Your beardie needs to have a diet that must include protein as well as plant-based food sources. And, whatever vegetable you include must be packed with enough nutrients to fulfill the nutritional quotient in a matter of a few bites.
It would be best if you were looking for healthier options than Romaine lettuce. Although, if you don’t have any choice and have a minimal stock of fresh veggies at home, then mixing a few leaves of Romaine to your Beardie’s salad mix once in a blue moon will make for a delightful change for your bearded dragon.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Iceberg Lettuce?
There are times when parents can turn to vegetables to hydrate their beardies. Iceberg lettuce is 96% water and has little nutrients such as folate, potassium, vitamin A, K, and C. So if your bearded dragon is showing signs of dehydration like fatigue, sunken eyes, or loss of appetite, then a few shards of iceberg lettuce might work to revive them.
However, iceberg lettuce can cause diarrhea in bearded dragons even if you have been frugal with the portions. And diarrhea leads to dehydration. Thus, you could completely defeat the purpose of feeding iceberg lettuce to your pet at all.
Therefore, iceberg lettuce falls into a category that is safe for your pet to eat, but it does not make it to the list of greens that are recommended for bearded dragons.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Butter Lettuce?
If you want to add a rich and luxurious element to your salad, butter salad definitely takes the lead. However, humans don’t function the same way bearded dragons do.
Butter lettuce offers more nutrition to your beardie than iceberg lettuce, and it does contain more vitamin A, C, and K than iceberg. Butter lettuce also includes a little more potassium and iron as well as some carbohydrates and protein.
Moreover, the calcium in butter lettuce is slightly higher than the phosphorus levels, making it a healthier and safer choice for your pet as a salad. However, even butter lettuce is not as nutrient-dense as many of the other vegetable varieties available in the market for your beardie.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Green Leaf Lettuce?
Green leaf lettuce contains a little fiber, folate, and protein. However, green leaf lettuce is an excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C, and potassium. Your beardie isn’t equipped to handle a heavy dose of vitamin A, as it can suffer from vitamin A toxicity.
An excess of vitamin A in your bearded dragon’s body will cause swelling, dehydration, loss of energy, and weight loss. It would help if you were extra careful when you feed your beardie green leaf lettuce. Many vets that deal with exotics, such as bearded dragons, recommend skipping feeding lettuce as a vegetable to your pet at all.
And, if you feel that your bearded dragon seems to relish lettuce, particularly green leaf lettuce, then you should serve it as a snack in minimal quantities that are offered no more than twice a month.
Can Your Bearded Dragon Eat Arugula Lettuce?
When it comes to lettuce varieties, the most wholesome option available to you is arugula. Arugula contains a stronger dose of vitamins A, C, and K. It also has more potassium, folate, calcium, and protein.
Arugula is a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for developing your pet’s immune system, and vitamin A that is necessary for bone health. But, too much vitamin A can result in toxicity.
Also, arugula has more calcium than phosphorus, which is great for your beardie. But, you have to remember that arugula too has a more significant water content than most lettuce varieties. And bearded dragons aren’t designed to deal with too much water at a time.
How Should You Feed Your Bearded Dragon Lettuce?
In general, it’s best to avoid vegetables that aren’t nutrient-dense. So, Romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce shouldn’t make it to your pet’s diet plan. However, if you don’t have any other choices available, you can feed some lettuce, Romaine or iceberg, every once in a while.
Even butter lettuce or arugula shouldn’t make it to your pet’s menu every day. You can add a few leaves of arugula or butter lettuce to your beardie’s salad as a treat as an occasional snack every few weeks.
Furthermore, it is undoubtedly a better idea to go with baby arugula rather than regular arugula leaves. Baby arugula is more nutrient-dense and contains fewer oxalates than spinach or other green vegetables.
Also, it is more beneficial to go with organic produce. Your beardie will be happier and healthier if you go with chemical-free, non-GMO, pesticide-free vegetables. And, it does help if you chop up the salad that you present to your reptilian friend to avoid any choking hazards.
What Kind Of Vegetables Are Healthier For Bearded Dragons?
While it is true that lettuce is safe for your bearded dragon, they are tiny creatures with equally small appetites. Even with such small portions, you have to make sure that your pet receives nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits as part of their meals to cover all of their fiber, mineral, and vitamin needs to stay fit.
Let’s take a look at some of the vegetables that would be wholesome for your reptilian friend.
- Bok Choy – Bok Choy contains a significant amount of calcium, which is rare for a vegetable. As mentioned earlier, calcium is vital for the bone health of your reptile. And, bok choy has 37 mg of phosphorus per 100 g, which is exactly right for your adult beardie’s body. Bok choy is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, and K. However, does contain goitrogens, which can be potentially harmful to your pet. So, practice moderation when feeding bok choy to your pet.
- Collard Greens – Looking at the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in collard greens will tell you that it makes for a fantastic snack for your pet. Collard greens are also packed with vitamin A, C, E, and K and fiber and folate.
- Cucumber – This is a great source of hydration for your pet. And, cucumbers are rich in fiber, ensuring that your pet does not suffer from constipation. Furthermore, cucumbers contain vitamin C and K, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. However, this should also be fed in moderation to avoid diarrhea.
- Kale – Kale is a superfood for humans and pretty good for your pet as well. Kale is laden with vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamin C, B6, A, E, and K. It is high in calcium, iron, and fiber, and low in sugars.
- Bell Peppers – Red bell peppers are the most nutritious out of all the color varieties available in bell peppers. They contain a healthy dose of vitamin A, C, E, B6, and K1. And they contain folate as well as potassium.
Remember, you must make sure that you have thoroughly rinsed and diced the vegetable before you offer any to your reptilian buddy. Going for organic produce is also in the best interest of your pet.
There aren’t enough reptile lovers in the world. And, some go so far as to claim that reptiles don’t make good pets. But, adopting a bearded dragon and providing them with proper care will certainly put anyone’s qualms at rest.
These creatures are low maintenance, meaning they require very little of your time, energy, and money. And, when you consider the size of a bearded dragon, it becomes evident that they don’t have an enormous diet either. But, every pet deserves the care, attention, and love of its pet parent.
Your bearded dragon is no different. While these animals are easy to care for, you should ensure that your pet gets a clean and hygienic habitat as well as a healthy diet.
You need to provide a varied diet for your pet which includes insects, vegetables, and fruits (this is my favorite option). Now, lettuce isn’t bad for your beardie, but, as a pet parent, you should always aim for ‘great’ rather than ‘not bad’ when it comes to the vegetables that you serve your beloved pet.