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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cabbage? What You Need to Know!
Cabbage is a healthy vegetable packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals and is a great addition to a healthy, well-rounded diet — for humans. If you enjoy cabbage and usually have it around in your kitchen, you may be wondering if the same health benefits can be gained by your Bearded Dragon.
But can Bearded Dragons eat cabbage? Is cabbage safe for these reptiles? Yes, in moderation, cabbage is a great addition to your lizard’s diet and is non-toxic to these reptiles. Of course, not all foods that are healthy for humans are fit for our pets, and there are potential concerns about giving cabbage to your Dragon.
In this article, we weigh the potential benefits and concerns and see if cabbage is a vegetable worth adding to your lizard’s diet. Let’s dive in!
Potential benefits of feeding your Bearded Dragon cabbage
Not only is cabbage safe for Bearded Dragons, but it also has a host of nutritional benefits, making it a great vegetable to add to your lizard’s diet. Four types of cabbage are primarily used in the West: red cabbage, green cabbage, Savoy, and Napa. Each has its own unique nutritional composition and benefits.
Among the four main cabbage varieties, red cabbage is the most nutritious and best option to feed to your reptile. Red cabbage is low in sugar and low in fat, and it has loads of fiber to promote healthy digestion. It is also high in vitamin C for immune health, vitamin K for healthy blood and tissue, and vitamin A for vision health, as well as potassium, manganese, and magnesium.
Green cabbage is also a safe and healthy option for your lizard and is packed with beneficial nutrients, albeit slightly less than red cabbage. It is also low in sugar and fats, high in fiber, and high in vitamin C. It should be noted that while all cabbage varieties contain goitrogens, which are known to interfere with proper thyroid function in large amounts, green cabbage contains the highest amount and should only be given sparingly.
Savoy cabbage is similar in appearance to green cabbage but has wrinkly leaves and is milder in flavor. Savoy contains higher amounts of both fiber and protein than green cabbage but has less vitamin C and K. Savoy is fairly acidic and may cause gastric upset in Dragons in high amounts. It also has high amounts of vitamin A, which can put Dragons at risk for vitamin A toxicity if they are already on vitamin A supplements. While small amounts of Savoy cabbage are fine, red cabbage is a far better option.
Also known as Chinese cabbage, Napa cabbage has thinner, more lettuce-like leaves than the other varieties, with a sweeter taste and milder flavor. Napa also has essential vitamins like vitamin A, C, and K, as well as high amounts of fiber and calcium. It is great to give your lizard in moderation, but it does contain fairly high amounts of goitrogens and should be given sparingly.
All four varieties of cabbage contain high amounts of water and loads of fiber and antioxidants and are low in sugar, making cabbage a healthy and safe snack to feed your Dragon.
Potential risks of feeding cabbage to your Bearded Dragon
Even with all the benefits that cabbage can potentially give your lizard, there are risks to be aware of too. First, cabbage needs to be cut up into small pieces, as it is slippery and presents a potential choking hazard for your lizard, especially younger Dragons. Additionally, while cabbage contains fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion, too much can cause problems like diarrhea, which may lead to more serious issues, like dehydration.
As most Bearded Dragon owners know, these reptiles need to consume more calcium than phosphorus in their daily diet. This is because phosphorus binds with calcium, making any calcium unavailable for your Dragon to use. The long-term effects of calcium shortage can be devastating and result in bone disease. Different types of cabbage, namely Savoy cabbage, have more phosphorus than calcium, making it unsafe for Dragons in large amounts. No matter the type of cabbage that you decide to give your Dragon, though, calcium supplementation is essential.
Lastly, be sure to wash any cabbage that you give to your Dragon thoroughly and opt for organic products whenever possible.
How to feed cabbage to your Bearded Dragon
Try to find the best quality cabbage that you can, and make sure it is clean and free from mold or pests. The cabbage should be fed raw and cut up into bite-sized pieces that your Dragon can easily chew on without potentially choking. Stick to the sweet, outer edges of the leaves and avoid the stalks. You can even mix the cabbage into your lizard’s regular food.
Give them a small piece at first, and then wait a day or two to make sure they don’t have any reactions. If all is well and your Dragon enjoys it, you can give them a small piece once or twice per week. While giving them more is probably safe, it’s best to stick to smaller amounts just to be sure.
Cabbage is a safe and healthy treat to feed to your Bearded Dragon in moderation. While this vegetable has a host of nutritional benefits, too much cabbage can cause digestive issues, and certain varieties, like Savoy cabbage, have higher amounts of phosphorus than calcium, making it best to avoid entirely. If you want to give your Dragon a cabbage snack, we highly recommend red cabbage, and stick to a few small pieces once or twice a week, just to be safe.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.