Bearded dragons make for great reptile pets—especially for newbie owners. And they’re super easy to care for with regards to their diets. They can eat a plethora of foods within their respective food groups.
But can bearded dragons eat broccoli? Broccoli is often dramatized as the bane of picky eaters everywhere. Does that same principle apply to bearded dragons?
Technically, broccoli is safe for bearded dragons to eat. However, it must be eaten only in the smallest portions. And that’s because broccoli contains compounds that can be harmful to your beardie if consumed in large doses.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of feeding your bearded dragon broccoli, determine how much is safe for them to eat, and how to safely prepare it.
Pros of Bearded Dragons Eating Broccoli
There are a few pros to feeding your bearded dragon broccoli, despite the risks. The vegetable contains a ton of lizard-healthy vitamins and minerals they need to thrive such as:
- Potassium: This mineral helps to regulate your dragon’s blood pressure, prevent kidney problems, and aid in muscular function.
- Fiber: This is absolutely necessary to help keep your bearded dragon’s gut health in check.
- Manganese: This boosts your lizard’s metabolism and helps to combat inflammation.
- Vitamins A and C: These help to strengthen a bearded dragon’s immune system so they can stay healthy.
- Vitamin K: This vitamin is exceptionally helpful when it comes to supporting bone health.
So, broccoli as a very rare treat can definitely reap some rewards. However, you still have to consider the downsides.
Cons of Bearded Dragons Eating Broccoli
Even with all those nutrients, broccoli can be harmful to your bearded dragon.
Broccoli has not enough calcium and way too much phosphorus. This calcium to phosphorus ratio is not within the healthy range for a bearded dragon’s diet. Too much consumption of this ratio can actually cause a lack of calcium absorption in the bloodstream.
In the long run, this will deplete a bearded dragon’s calcium intake as its body will start taking calcium from the reptile’s bones instead of the food it eats.
When this happens, your bearded dragon can develop metabolic bone disease. It’s a condition wherein the bones get twisted and distorted while paralyzing the limbs. If left untreated, it can eventually lead to death.
Oxalic acid is another dangerous compound found in broccoli. It also reacts with calcium and prevents it from being absorbed by the body. Too much oxalic acid can lead to your beardie developing kidney stones.
How Much Broccoli Can a Bearded Dragon Eat?
While you should avoid giving your bearded dragon broccoli regularly, it’s not going to hurt them if they have a small floret every now and then. However, you should keep their broccoli eating to a minimum.
One small floret once a month is a good rule of thumb when it comes to determining how much broccoli your lizard can have. It will provide them with a quick nutrient boost without overloading them with too much phosphorus.
How to Prepare Broccoli for Your Bearded Dragon
If you do decide that you’d like for your bearded dragon to try a small piece of broccoli, you need to ensure that you’re preparing it properly. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:
- It is best to feed your beardie friend with fresh, organic broccoli. It needs to be as fresh as possible to prevent your lizard from ingesting any spoiled or rotten food.
- Wash the vegetable thoroughly to get rid of all the unnecessary compounds—such as insecticides and preservatives—brought on by packaging and handling.
- Soak the broccoli in a bowl filled with cold water before feeding. This will help separate the dirt and insects that aren’t removed through standard washing. Plus, it will help to soften it slightly.
- Cut the broccoli leaves and florets into smaller, more manageable pieces. You’ll also want to avoid feeding your bearded dragon the stem. This will prevent your lizard from accidentally choking.
Other Vegetables Your Bearded Dragon Can Eat
Since you can only feed your bearded dragon with broccoli very sparingly, you should opt for other vegetables to use instead. Here are some vegetables that are safe for bearded dragons to eat:
Should You Feed Your Bearded Dragon Broccoli?
Just because they can eat broccoli doesn’t necessarily mean that your bearded dragon should.
Sure, there are a ton of different vitamins and minerals that will help your bearded dragon thrive. But the risk of overfeeding is too high. Instead of feeding them broccoli, choose another vegetable—one with fewer health risks.
- Related Read: 10 Best Greens for Bearded Dragons
Featured Image: Pixabay