At first glance, most pet owners find bearded dragon’s diets complicated and may spend a lot of time researching what these pets can and cannot eat. And just as with any pet, mastering your beardies’ diet is fundamental to their long-lasting health.
A beardy can eat a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and insects. Meaning, you can treat your lizard friend to a few fruit toppings to its diet, but DO NOT include avocados.
Although avocado is a superfood in most households, it isn’t beardy-friendly. Below are some of the reasons why beardies should not eat avocados.
Why Avocados Are Bad for Your Bearded Dragon
So, what are Oxalic acids? Also known as oxalate, oxalic acid is an organic anti-nutrient compound found in plants like avocados, cocoa, leafy veggies, and nuts.
Consuming a small amount of oxalic acid is enough to leave your lizard friend seriously ill, or worse, cause death if the beardie consumes the oxalates in high amounts.
Binding with Other Minerals
Oxalic acid is known to bind itself to minerals and vitamins to form oxalates. Although the beardies’ body can naturally eliminate oxalates, it might fail to flush the oxalates out of the beardies’ system, mostly if the pet consumes high amounts of the compound.
The binding can occur in the kidneys, colon, and urinary tract. This build-up can cause health complications such as kidney stones.
Decreases Mineral Absorption
Your beardie requires lots of vitamins and minerals to boost its health. But when the oxalic acid binds onto the minerals and vitamins, it inhibits your bearded dragon’s ability to absorb calcium and other minerals.
And if the dragon lacks crucial minerals such as calcium, it affects its skeletal development and other vital body functions. As a result, it develops a weakened body system, a condition known as a metabolic bone disease (MBD). Your bearded dragon may develop limb paralysis, shaky limbs, weakness, and bone fractures in the event.
Inadequate Calcium to Phosphorous Ratio
Bearded dragons require their calcium levels to be higher than the phosphorous. However, avocados have higher amounts of phosphorous than calcium, which is not the right balance.
And when phosphorous is more in the body, it works against calcium and prevents its absorption. Ideally, the calcium to phosphorous ratio in a beardies’ diet should be 2:1
Can Lead to Obesity
Unsurprisingly, avocados are among the fattiest fruits ever, high in total calorie count and macro-nutrient fats. As you know, excess fat causes obesity.
It is the same case with bearded dragons, especially if it is in captivity. This weight issue can cause severe health concerns such as dental decay, liver disease, and heart failure. For this reason, avocado is an unwise and unnecessary food option for your lizard friend.
Bearded dragons cannot chew but instead eat their food by swallowing. Avocados can be rigid even if they are ripe. So, unless the fruit is completely mashed up, the beardie will choke on it and possibly suffocate to death.
Apart from oxalic acid, avocados contain persins that are equally lethal to bearded dragons. These substances are usually present on the fruit’s skin and seeds and tend to push through to the flesh. Your beardy may develop diarrhea, vomiting, respiratory failure, or even death.
What You Should Do If Your Beardy Eats an Avocado
Your lizard friend can unintentionally eat avocado or its leaves during walks, or you could feed it without understanding its dangers. If it happens to your beardie, here are some of the things you should do:
1. Call a Vet Immediately
It is typical to fret when your lizard friend eats avocado. However, try to remain calm and call your vet immediately because time is of the essence in such a potential emergency.
Explain your situation to the vet and ask about your concern. You might need to disclose your pet’s age and the amount of avocado it consumed.
A skillful reptile vet will determine if your beardie requires emergency medical attention. He might instruct you or take you through supportive aid therapy if he believes you can handle it. However, you might need to see them in person if he thinks the beardie requires an antidote.
2. Monitor Its Behaviors
You’ll have to look out for visible abnormal behaviors in your reptile friend. For instance, check for respiratory distress signs, lethargy, restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Other signs of avocado ingestion include dry heaves, increased salivation, mouth, and facial irritation, leading to scratching and decreased activity levels. Report to an experienced vet if you notice it acting weird, explaining what the signs are, and informing them that you are on your way.
3. Give Your Beardy a Warm Bath
You should encourage your bearded dragon to go to the bathroom and give it a warm bath. This will help to wash out the toxins from its system.
4. Let Your Beardy Drink a Lot of Water
It is crucial to give your lizard friend a lot of drinking water to help flush out the toxins. Now that the beardie can’t drink much water on its own, use a syringe to help it drink a lot of water to wash out or dilute the poison as fast as possible.
5. Give It Activated Charcoal
Mix activated charcoal with a little water and use a syringe to administer the solution. Activated charcoal will help bind the poison in the body and save it.
Other Foods That Bearded Dragons Should Never Eat
Although beardies are omnivorous, there are some food items in the greens and animal groups of food you shouldn’t feed them.
Although beardies love lettuce because it feels crunchy and fresh to them, you should avoid feeding it to your lizard friend. The reason is, this veggie is mostly water and adds very little nutritional value to the beardies.
Although spinach is suitable for human consumption, they contain a calcium-binding compound that can cost your beardies’ life. The chemical binds calcium, reducing its absorption in the body and causing a reduction of this crucial mineral for the bearded dragon’s skeletal development.
Calcium deficiency leads to Metabolic Bone Disease.
Wild insects likely carry parasites or herbicides with them after landing on plants. If your bearded dragons eat these, it can lead to poisoning and death.
Always purchase insects from the stores or purposefully harvest them in colonies to feed to your lizard friend. However, be careful when providing them with these commercial insects because they contain high-fat levels.
- Related read: What Do Bearded Dragons Eat in the Wild and as Pets?
Onions & Garlic
These taste boosters can be toxic to your pet’s system if ingested in excess amounts. It would be best if you also avoided them because their acidity levels are also not suitable for bearded dragons.
Rhubarbs are leafy and extremely toxic to beardies. This veggie contains poisonous Anthraquinone glycosides and oxalic acid that are deadly to bearded dragons.
Although Beet Tops are nutritious and with suitable magnesium and vitamin A levels, they contain mineral-binding compounds that prevent calcium absorption in beardies.
Also known as Acorns, Oak nuts are a crucial diet for humans as well as other animals. However, they contain high tannin content that is dangerous to bearded dragons even after crushing or processing.
Fireflies could be an easy-catch and the inexpensive treat you think of giving your beardie. However, never feed your pet with these flies because they are poisonous to beardies and other reptiles. It would help if you also avoid centipedes, butterflies, wild maggots, ants, and bees.
As a loving beardy parent, you must understand the benefits of calcium in your pet’s well-being. By so doing, you’ll refrain from providing your bearded dragon avocado and other calcium inhibiting foods. After all, the risk isn’t worth it when other available foods can adversely benefit your lizard friend.
By feeding bearded dragons the right foods, you’ll help reduce the oxalate intake, support the crucial calcium to phosphorous ratio and prevent your beardie from eating fatty foods. It is crucial to stick to the food items that vets recommend to be safe for beardy consumption if you are in doubt.
Featured Image: jmexclusives, Pixabay