Bearded dragons are a popular pet that loves many different kinds of fruit. If you have some bananas in your home and want to give some to your pet and wonder if it’s safe to give some to your pet, the short answer is yes. However, there are several things to consider before you make it the main part of their diet. Keep reading while we discuss the pros and cons of giving bananas to your pet, along with the best ways to serve it.
Are Bananas Harmful to My Bearded Dragon?
Unfortunately, there are some good reasons not to let your pet have bananas that you should know about upfront.
Phosphorus and Calcium
Both phosphorus and calcium are important nutrients for a healthy bearded dragon, but the ratio between the two needs to be correct. Most experts recommend phosphorus to calcium ratio of 1:1 or 2:1. Phosphorus will bind with the calcium and prevent the bearded dragon from absorbing it if there is too much phosphorus and not enough calcium. It could cause a dangerous health condition called metabolic bone disease (MBD). MBD is a dangerous disease that can lead to bone fractures and even death if not managed, and most experts blame poor nutrition as the main cause.
Bananas have a phosphorus to calcium ratio of 3:1, which is outside the recommended guidelines, so a diet rich in bananas can lead to a calcium deficiency and eventually MBD. You can try to remedy the imbalance by providing a powdered calcium supplement if you are not already doing so.
Bananas have a high sugar content that can cause weight gain and damage the bearded dragon’s teeth. Much like humans, obesity can lead to several serious health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, and more. Sugar can also lead to tooth decay, which can be painful and prevent your pet from eating correctly. Too many sweet fruits can cause your bearded dragon to refuse to eat vegetables, which can severely limit their nutritional intake.
Bearded dragons only have tiny stomachs, so it’s important to feed them nutritious food because they get full fast, and it will be a while before they get hungry again. Stomach size is especially important to consider when your pet is still in the growing stages, where high-quality nutrition is important at every meal.
Your bearded dragon can eat the banana skin as well as the fruit and doing so can help increase the number of nutrients they receive. However, the skin can contain dangerous pesticides that can be harmful to your pet’s health. It’s important to thoroughly wash the bananas or buy organic before allowing your bearded dragon to eat the skin.
Are Bananas Good For My Bearded Dragon?
VCA Hospitals designates bananas as safe if provided as part of a varied diet. Bananas provide plenty of essential vitamins and minerals that your bearded dragon needs to stay healthy.
Vitamins A and C
Vitamin A will help with your bearded dragon’s eye development and can prevent swelling. Vitamin C will help boost the immune system.
Potassium aids in muscle function prevents cramps and prevents kidney problems.
Antioxidants lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart problems. They can also help improve eyesight, speed growth and help with reproduction.
Minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium strengthen the bone and help with numerous biological functions.
How Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon Bananas?
Here are some of the best ways you can serve bananas to your bearded dragon.
Sliced and Diced
The best way to feed your bearded dragon bananas is in small portions every one or two months. A small portion is considered a half banana max, but smaller amounts are preferable. Slice the banana into thin slices and cut each slice into quarters. If you are feeding the skins along with the fruit, cut the skin into even smaller pieces and buy organic or wash the fruit well before serving.
Serve the bananas raw for maximum nutrition as any heating will decrease the nutritional value and use ripe bananas that haven’t been sitting. As bananas sit after they ripen, the sugar content increases, so it’s better to serve them slightly green.
Like a Person
An alternative way to serve a banana is to peel it like a human would and allow your pet to take small bites as you hold it. Serving bananas this way can help you bond with your pet and will help you spend more time with them.
Drop It In
Another alternative way to feed a banana is to drop half into their cage, peel and all, and leave it for a day or two before removing it. This method allows your pet to eat as it sees fit. It may even choose to leave it uneaten. You will need to remove it after a day or two because rotten fruit will quickly attract bugs.
While giving your bearded dragon a piece of a banana now and then is perfectly fine, we recommend avoiding it when possible to prevent the health issues that too much phosphorus and not enough calcium can create. There are plenty of other fruits like figs, dates, apricots, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, and plenty more that you can use to provide your bearded dragon with a tasty treat that does not contain an imbalance of phosphorus and calcium. However, providing it on occasion using one of the methods we’ve outlined here can help give them a more varied diet and improve their quality of life.
We hope you have enjoyed this look into the safety of feeding your pet bananas and have learned something new. If you know others that keep bearded dragons as pets, please share this guide to feeding bearded dragons on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured image credit: t_watanabe, Pixabay