Can Bearded Dragons Safely Eat Broccoli?


We all know the importance of a healthy and balanced diet when it comes to ourselves and to our pets, and bearded dragons are no exception to this rule.

Bearded dragons are becoming more common as a pet, and we need to keep in mind what to feed them in order for them to stay as fit and healthy as possible.

Bearded Dragon Holding Its Neck Up

Fruit and vegetables have often been hailed as the best things that we can eat to remain fit and healthy, and one of the most praised vegetables is broccoli.

For humans, broccoli has plenty of nutritional benefits, and we know we should try to eat more of them. But is this the case for bearded dragons?

Well, the short answer is that yes – bearded dragons can happily enjoy broccoli as part of a balanced and healthy diet, but too much broccoli can be harmful to your bearded friend because it contains oxalates.

These oxalates in a high quantity can cause calcium to bind in the body and not be absorbed correctly.

However, there’s far more to bearded dragons and broccoli than just this. So, we’ve decided to explore everything with this helpful guide for you.

We’re going to look at all the areas that matter when it comes to bearded dragons and broccoli and help to answer the most asked questions.

So, let’s get into it.

Broccoli: The Basics 

As humans, we’re probably well-informed that broccoli is very good for us in terms of its nutritional value, inclusive of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.

However, what’s good for humans might not translate over to bearded dragons. After all, many diets are different for different animals.

So, for any bearded dragon owner, it’s important that we know what to feed them and why we should do so.

First, it’s a good idea to examine the label on any food you’re going to give your bearded dragon – so let’s take a glance at what the USDA says about the nutritional value of broccoli.

Broccoli (As Per The USDA) 

We can see that broccoli contains the following:

  • Water
  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Sugars
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Sodium
  • Iron
  • Vitamins A, B6, C, D, E, K

As we can see here, the inclusion of these important nutrients is a welcome sight, therefore you’d think a bearded dragon would be okay to eat them, right?

Will Bearded Dragons Be Okay Eating Broccoli?

Before we push on further, it’s essential that we note that most vets and other experts agree that broccoli is perfectly acceptable for bearded dragons to eat.

It’s all about moderation and the amount that they’re eating, as part of a balanced diet.

In fact, there are plenty of nutritional benefits for bearded dragons to eating broccoli.

It’s high in protein, low in sugar, contains plenty of water and is rich in key vitamins which promote healthy movement and other functions for a bearded dragon.

It’s also very fibrous which promotes healthy digestion and contains a good level of calcium which helps a bearded dragon strengthen and bolster its bones, keeping them strong and healthy.

You may be wondering if it contains so much calcium – how can broccoli in large quantities prevent a bearded dragon from absorbing calcium?

The answer lies in what is known as oxalates. We’re going to examine what these are next.

Okay, So, What Exactly Are Oxalates? 

Oxalic acid is a compound found in many green plants and green vegetables.

In small amounts, this acid will be harmless, but in larger quantities, the acid can bind to minerals and form other compounds.

As a result, this process may occur in the kidneys, bladder, liver or colon and the body may struggle to absorb the minerals properly – and therefore the consumption of the green vegetable becomes counterproductive because the body will not absorb the nutrition it wanted originally.

For humans, this can lead to urinary tract issues and kidney stones – but for bearded dragons, it can lead to stomach and digestive problems and issues absorbing calcium to promote strong bones.

The additional concern with too much broccoli, along with this process is due to the high level of phosphorus, which has been known to cause issues with the absorption of calcium.

Does This Mean I Should Completely Avoid Feeding My Bearded Dragon Broccoli?

Bearded Dragon With A Broad Back

No, not all. In fact, it’s almost the opposite.

The level of oxalates in broccoli for a controlled portion (around 100g) is much lower than a lot of other green vegetables.

Not only this, you should not be put off by these warnings when it comes to feeding your bearded dragon some broccoli.

They need the nutrients and other beneficial values that broccoli can provide, so it’s crucial that they have something like this as part of a balanced diet.

Experts believe that deficiencies in calcium for reptiles is quite high, and they need calcium, not only for strong and healthy bones – but also to prevent things like:

  • Bone disease
  • Weak limbs
  • Mobility problems
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Sudden death

Therefore, if you were to avoid broccoli as a means of calcium for your bearded dragon, it’s critical that you try to feed them a calcium supplement like Repcal.

So, Can I Give My Bearded Dragon Broccoli Every Day?

Despite the need for calcium with bearded dragons being very high – you can probably guess from what we’ve explored that feeding your bearded dragon broccoli every day is not wise.

There’s very little in the way of research on the frequency in which bearded dragons should be eating broccoli, but many believe 100g of broccoli every 2 weeks is probably a good number and should not result in any adverse effects.

In reality, the only way to be sure is by speaking with your vet – especially when it comes to the right calcium intake that your bearded dragon will require.

How Exactly Do I Feed My Bearded Dragon Some Broccoli?

There are some very important things to remember when it comes to the method of feeding broccoli to your bearded dragon.

The first and probably most important thing to bear in mind is the fact that a lot of fruit, vegetables and plants might have some pesticides on them.

Consuming pesticides can be extremely harmful to your bearded dragon and lead to illness and in extreme situations, death.

To avoid feeding your bearded dragon something that might have these harmful chemicals on them, there are two things you can do.

The first is washing the broccoli fully, two or three times. The second is to try to source broccoli safely, either growing it or buying it organically.

If you’re growing your own broccoli, you need to be sure that you have not contaminated your crop with harmful pesticides and check for pests that might be destroying your crop – although some of these will not be a problem.

Washing your broccoli is a stage that you should be undertaking anyway to try to avoid harmful bacteria making your bearded dragon sick – and to keep yourself safe if you plan to eat it!

The best way to prepare broccoli is to leave it raw and chop the heads off them.

This ensures your pet does not have trouble eating a large portion and avoids things like choking or indigestion.

You may even decide to shave the heads over a mixed salad for your bearded dragon.

This can help with both the appearance of the food, but also the smell and taste.

Some bearded dragons can be stubborn when it comes to their food – so doing this can get them the nutrients they need.

Something else you should think about is how you’re giving the food to the bearded dragon.

Some food bowls are shaped wrong and bearded dragons struggle to get the food out effectively.

It’s a good idea to speak with a pet store or your vet to get the best-shaped bowl for your pet and guarantee that they can get into it properly.

What Other Green Vegetables Could I Feed My Bearded Dragon?

It’s very important that your pet is getting their share of green vegetables, and although it can be worrying with the level of oxalates – you have to remember that they will need their fill of the nutritional value that they can provide.

At the same time, however, you should not just focus on simply the green vegetables as it is essential that a bearded dragon gets a balanced and healthy diet that contains many vegetables.

Perhaps the best vegetables out of these categories that you can feed your bearded dragon are bell peppers, turnips, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans and butternut squash.

All of these vegetables contain high levels of nutrients including essential vitamins and minerals which your pet will crave as part of their everyday lives.

What Other Foods Do Bearded Dragons Eat?

Bearded Dragon About To Eat An Insect

While fruit and vegetables are a part of their diet, the primary staple of a bearded dragon’s diet is live animals like crickets, mealworms and flies.

They account for around 75-80% of their overall diet in fact.

In the wild, they will find these everywhere – so if you have a pet beardie, you should always consider speaking with your pet store about some of the best foods for them.

Due to these types of creatures being the main part of their diet, pets growing vegetables outside may not matter, assuming you’re not going to eat the vegetables yourself!

Your pet may simply eat vegetables and pests – serving a balanced lunch.

Does A Bearded Dragon’s Diet Change Over Time?

This is a fair question to ask. Many reptiles and indeed, humans, will adapt their diet over time due to age, health conditions or other factors.

When bearded dragon ages, they will not need so much meat in their diet anymore because they will find it more and more difficult to burn off the calories whilst moving around than they used to be able to.

Over a number of months and then years, your bearded dragon will pile on the pounds if their diet does not adapt to their age.

Obesity can cause several health problems to your bearded pet – so you’ll want to avoid that as much as possible.

Therefore, it’s always better to speak with your vet or another expert to assess how to adapt their diet to their needs and their age.

Other Frequently Asked Questions 

Aside from broccoli, it’s important that we examine a bearded dragon’s diet as a whole.

So, bearing that in mind – here are some frequently asked questions that bearded dragon owners have posed.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Real Meat?

The largest part of a bearded dragon’s diet is live animals, but of course, this will not include every animal, as it is subject to their size and diet.

So, we’ll provide a list of the types of meat a beardie might consume as part of a balanced diet:

  • Crickets
  • Superworms
  • Mealworms
  • Earthworms
  • Flies
  • Waxworms
  • Phoenix worms

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Fruit?

They can indeed eat fruit, but it should be the smallest part of their diet due to the high sugar levels and some very high fiber numbers in things like bananas.

If you’re considering feeding your bearded dragon fruit as an occasional treat, consider feeding them one of these:

  • Apple
  • Mango
  • Watermelon
  • Peach
  • Apricot
  • Plum
  • Pear
  • Kiwi

Remember though, these have to be a treat due to the high sugar content as this can lead to sugar-related health problems and obesity.

They can even cause tooth decay and oral-related diseases if over-consumed.

Do Bearded Dragons Eat Weeds?

Many reptiles will eat anything if they get hungry enough – and this makes a lot of sense because almost any animal will turn into their survival mode for sustenance.

Weeds are no exception to this rule and bearded dragons will sometimes chow down on things like:

  • Dandelions
  • Plantains
  • Cats’ ears
  • Dead nettles

They would prefer to eat something else, but if needs be – a bearded dragon will enjoy one of these!

Is There Anything A Bearded Dragon Cannot Eat Whatsoever?

There are some foods that you should definitely avoid feeding your bearded dragon. These include:

  • Citric fruits like oranges and lemons (they don’t settle well in their stomach)
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Chives
  • Celery
  • Spinach (due to the high oxalate levels)
  • Fireflies (they are toxic to beardies)
  • Some pests (some are toxic to your pet, so always check with a vet for specifics)
  • Beet tops
  • Avocados
  • Rhubarb
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Lobster

There are also some plants like poppies, ivy, oak and buttercups that are poisonous to bearded dragons – so always be wary about your bearded dragon’s diet if you want to mix it up one day.

Do Baby Bearded Dragons Eat The Same Things?

Yes but not to the same level. They will need feeding more frequently but in fewer quantities, which is similar to many other reptiles.

Always check with an expert about the exact amounts that should be consumed if you have baby beardies.

Summary 

Bearded dragons can eat broccoli, but it needs to be part of a balanced diet to keep them healthy!

Kerry

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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