Many reptiles strictly eat insects, rodents, or other prey species. The Bearded Dragon differs because they are an omnivore that also enjoys plants, vegetables, and even fruits. You may wonder if you can give your pet cantaloupe.
The answer is a qualified yes.
Let’s run down the facts that you need to know about supplementing your Bearded Dragon’s diet with this tasty fruit.
What Bearded Dragons Eat in the Wild
Bearded Dragons are opportunistic eaters, a typical characteristic of many omnivores. The bulk of their diet in their native Australia consists of vegetation, whether flowers, leaves, and sometimes fruits.
Because they’re an omnivore, this lizard will eat meat in the form of smaller reptiles and even rodents. They will also feed on insects.
The Bearded Dragons that you find in pet stores are captive bred animals and not wild reptiles. After decades of breeding, they have adapted to eating other foods. Options include mealworms, crickets, and commercial diets.
Nutritional Value of Cantaloupe
Many people foods are toxic to pets, such as chocolate. Cantaloupe is not harmful to cats, dogs, or horses, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing applies to Bearded Dragons.
A search on the USDA Food Data Central database shows that a cup of cantaloupe contains about 53 calories and is about 90% water. It provides 1.27 g of protein, 12.6 g carbohydrates, and 0.28 g fat. It’s an excellent source of potassium and vitamins A and C.
Is Cantaloupe a Safe Food for Bearded Dragons?
While cantaloupe is safe to give Bearded Dragons, it should not be a staple of their diet, for several reasons. The first one is its sugar content. One cup of cantaloupe contains 12.2 g of sugar. This is an animal that doesn’t typically get sweet things in their diet.
Half of a Bearded Dragon’s diet should consist of greens and other low glycemic foods. The problem with giving your pet lizard too much cantaloupe is that it can lead to spikes in their blood sugar levels, as well as other potential health risks, such as obesity and tooth decay. Also, there’s a concern about obstructions in your lizards’ digestive tract if the pieces are too big. Despite their sharp teeth, Bearded Dragons don’t chew their food much.
The proper balance of nutrition for an omnivore reptile is:
The rest of the recommended intake consists of vitamins and minerals. There’s another red flag concerning feeding cantaloupe to your Bearded Dragon. A heightened risk of metabolic bone disease exists because of the calcium to phosphorus ratio in this fruit. A 1 cup serving contains 14 mg of calcium and 26.4 mg of phosphorus.
The recommended percentage of calcium for an omnivore reptile is 1.0-1.5% and 0.6-0.9% for phosphorus. That gives a ratio of 1.67. The ratio for cantaloupe is 0.53. The problem is that it can interfere with your lizard’s calcium absorption with the higher amount of phosphorus present in this fruit.
Telltale signs of metabolic bone disease include:
You may also see changes in your pet’s behavior. They may hide more or walk strangely because of the pressure of the swelling. Correcting the animal’s diet is the best recourse. Otherwise, the disease can become life-threatening if left untreated.
It’s clear that cantaloupe shouldn’t be an everyday food for your pet lizard. Fruits like this one and others are fine with two caveats. First, they must not make up more than 5% of your Bearded Dragon’s diet. Greens and insects should make up most of what they eat. Second, you must cut the fruit into small pieces to make it easier to swallow.
If you follow these guidelines, you can offer your Bearded Dragon an occasional treat of ripe cantaloupe.
Featured Image: pasja1000, Pixabay