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Home > General > Can Bearded Dragons Eat Apples? Vet-Approved Nutritional Facts & Feeding Tips

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Apples? Vet-Approved Nutritional Facts & Feeding Tips

can bearded dragons eat apples

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Dr. Luqman Javed

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A bearded dragon needs the right food to live a healthy life. Although many people might think that lizards are straightforward predators, they are actually omnivores that need a varied diet.

What kind of treats can you give your bearded dragon? Can bearded dragons eat apples? Yes, they can eat ripe, raw apples (but not the seeds). However, any apples must only be small additions to a healthy diet. This fruit presents a few dangers to dragons if you do not serve it the right way.

In this article, we talk about apples in a bearded dragon’s diet and the proper way to serve them. We also discuss the nutritional benefits of apples for bearded dragons and their risks as well.

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Benefits of Apples for Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons can eat apples, but they are best in small amounts. Apples are considered beneficial for bearded dragons because they are a source of hydration, some fiber, and energy (in the form of carbohydrates). Apples also contain other vitamins and minerals, however, the amount present in each apple varies depending on the type of apple and the conditions in which they were grown.

The nutritional information of some popular apple varieties is as follows:

Nutrient Fuji Apple
100 grams (3.5 oz)
Raw, with skin
Gala Apple
100 grams (3.5 oz)
Raw, with skin
Granny Smith Apple
100 grams (3.5 oz)
Raw, with skin
Water (grams) 83.6 84.6 85.1
Carbohydrates (grams) 15.6 14.8 14.1
Fat (grams) 0.16 0.15 0.14
Protein (grams) 0.15 0.13 0.27
Fiber (grams) 2.1 2.1 2.5
Calcium (milligrams) 6 7 5
Phosphorus (milligrams) 10 8 10

All apple varieties are low in oxalates and goitrogens, which are two naturally occurring compounds in most plants which bearded dragon owners need to be wary of.

Bearded Dragon eating
Image By: smilepoker, Shutterstock

The Drawbacks of Overfeeding Apples

Like most fruits, apples are best viewed as an occasional treat rather than a dietary staple. There are several reasons for this.

Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio

The main reason why apples aren’t great as a daily treat is because of their calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. For healthy adult bearded dragons in maintenance, their diet should have a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of anywhere between 1.5:1 and 2:1. This means the calcium should be around twice as much as the phosphorus. The recommended ratio for juveniles is around 2:1, and dragons that are breeding (particularly females) require a much higher calcium intake compared to adults in maintenance.

In all varieties of apples, the calcium is lower than phosphorus, with the ratio varying depending on the apple variant. Phosphorus balance in the body requires that it be in the correct proportion with calcium. It binds to calcium, so when a bearded dragon is fed more phosphorus than calcium, their body naturally responds by pulling calcium out from the bones to restore the proper levels of minerals and reduce the excess phosphorus in the bloodstream. On a temporary basis, this isn’t much of an issue. However, if this trend carries on for long periods of time, it can have detrimental effects on a bearded dragon’s health. Excessive loss of calcium from bone mass can make the bones brittle and weak, leading to a condition called metabolic bone disease.

In addition, an inappropriate ratio of calcium to phosphorus is undesirable for the long-term health of a bearded dragon because it may predispose them to kidney or parathyroid issues.

Sugar Content

Additionally, like most other fruits, the carbohydrate content of an apple is primarily comprised of naturally occurring sugars. In apples, these include fructose, glucose, sucrose, among others. Consuming a large amount of sugars in a short period of time can lead to digestive issues for your pet, which usually manifest as diarrhea.

Though a high sugar diet isn’t directly associated with diabetes in bearded dragons, it can predispose them to unwanted weight gain. Obesity is undesirable for the health of a bearded dragon, as it can lead to other health issues. The high sugar in fruits may also be a contributing factor to dental disease in bearded dragons.

Seeds

Finally, though apples are safe for bearded dragons to consume, they should not be offered the seeds. The seeds carry an impaction risk and also contain trace amounts of a compound known as amygdalin, which releases an organic form of cyanide within the body. Though some species of animals are relatively resistant to the effects of amygdalin, this adaptation hasn’t been documented in bearded dragons.

For these reasons, it is best to chop, slice, or dice an apple into manageable pieces and serve it to your bearded dragon only about once a week.

apple close up shot
Image Credit: RoonZ-nl, Pixabay

How to Serve Apples to Bearded Dragons

Serving apples to your bearded dragon is somewhat simple. You should start by thoroughly washing the fruit before peeling the apple. The skin is too hard for them to thoroughly chew before swallowing since lizards don’t have typical teeth. Removing the skin of the apple does reduce its nutritional value, as some nutrients are found in the skin of a fruit. However, considering how apples are an occasional treat which should only be offered sparingly, the removal of the skin shouldn’t be considered as a major nutritional loss.

If the apple is not peeled correctly, you could risk the tasty snack leading to impaction in your dragon’s digestive system.

Once the apple is peeled, cut it into small cubes. Big pieces can be a potential choking hazard for these little guys. Think “bite-sized” as you chop – cubes about 1 x 1 cm in size (about ⅖ of an inch) are best.

Finally, check the apple to ensure that there are no seeds in the chunks that you create.

Alternatively, you can cut a thin slice of an apple which you can hand-feed to your pet as a treat.

hand feeding a bearded dragon with a piece of apple
Image Credit: C. Nass, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Bearded dragons can eat apples in moderation as an occasional snack, among many other types of fruit. When serving an apple to your dragon, ensure that no seeds and none of the peel are on it. It is essential to give them bite-sized chunks to prevent choking.

Your dragon will appreciate such a sweet treat, and it will help them take in more water.


Featured Image: congerdesign, Pixabay

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