Considering that insects and greens make up the better part of a bearded dragon’s diet, you might be asking yourself whether it would be a good idea to give dandelions to your beardie. The short answer is yes, your beardie can eat dandelions. What’s more, these plants are packed with nutrients that are immensely beneficial to bearded dragons.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about feeding dandelions to your bearded dragon.
Why Should You Feed Dandelions to Your Bearded Dragon?
Dandelions are easy to find and can be an excellent addition to your bearded dragon’s diet. The following are reasons why you should absolutely serve them to your pet.
1. Dandelion Leaves are a Great Source of Calcium
Dandelion greens are some of the most calcium-rich vegetables out there. Picture this: 100 grams of these greens contain up to 187 mg of calcium. In comparison, broccoli contains only about 46 mg of calcium, while spinach bears 67 mg of the mineral per 100 grams.
Calcium, alongside vitamin D3, is arguably the most essential nutrient to bearded dragons. Without it, these reptiles become vulnerable to a host of health conditions, including metabolic bone disease.
It also does not help that all bearded dragons are predisposed to this condition.
2. Dandelion Greens Have a Well-Balanced Phosphorus to Calcium Ratio
When it comes to feeding beardies, the beneficial aspect of calcium in a particular food is inherently dependent on the levels of phosphorus in that food.
This is because phosphorus binds calcium, thus preventing it from getting absorbed into the body. As such, if a food contains high levels of calcium but also equal or higher levels of phosphorus, the calcium content will be of no value when consumed by your dragon.
The best sources of calcium, therefore, contain a lot more calcium than they do phosphorus. The ideal ratio is 2:1, meaning that there should be at least 2 mg of calcium for every mg of phosphorus.
Dandelion greens do more than meet the minimum requirement, as their calcium to phosphorus ratio is 3:1, meaning that 75% of its calcium content is useful to the beardie.
3. They are a Rich Source of Vitamins A & K
Dandelion greens are also rich in vitamins A and K. Vitamin A supports bone and reproductive health, while vitamin K also promotes bone health in addition to wound healing. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that bearded dragons can make most of their own vitamin K without the need of having it supplemented via their diet.
Is There Any Downside to Dandelions?
Dandelions are generally among the best vegetables you can offer your bearded dragon. The only slightly concerning factor is that they are slightly high in oxalates. Oxalates diminish the calcium yield of this vegetable, because oxalates bind with calcium within the body, and prevent its use. That being said, the high calcium content of dandelions does quite cover this “downside” exceptionally well.
Is the Stem Okay For Your Bearded Dragon?
Unfortunately, no. The stem contains milk sap which can lead to indigestion, especially if too much is consumed. The good news is that it isn’t toxic, and your reptile is unlikely to get seriously sick. The best thing is to avoid the stems as much as possible.
How Often Should You Feed Dandelions to Your Bearded Dragon?
It is okay to make dandelions a staple part of your pet’s diet. However, to avoid monotony, consider adding dandelions to the salad that you typically feed your dragon. Some of the common ingredients in a beardie’s salad bowl include arugula, collards, and mustard greens. Add dandelions into the mix, and your beardie will appreciate it immensely.
Some Things To Consider
Dandelions are some of the best plants you can give to your bearded dragon. They are not only rich in essential elements but also can be used as a treat. And the good thing is that they are locally available. Let your reptile enjoy them but be careful with the stems.
Featured Image Credit: Viridi Green, Unsplash