Bearded dragons evolved to have a very specific and sensitive digestive tract. With their diet comprised of around 80% insects, bearded dragons don’t need a lot of plant matter, including grass, to survive. Although bearded dragons can eat grass, it shouldn’t be fed willingly to them since it only offers excess calories and is notoriously difficult to digest.
So, the answer isn’t as black or white as some other potential food sources could be. Because of this fact, let’s take a closer look at whether or not bearded dragons can eat grass. The answer to this question is nuanced, making it important to look at in a lot of detail. Let’s get started.
Is It Okay for My Bearded Dragon to Eat Grass?
So, can bearded dragons eat grass? To answer the question bluntly: your bearded dragon is not going to die from eating grass, but it does not add much nutritional value, and it is difficult for the bearded dragon to digest. In other words, it’s okay if the bearded dragon eats a little bit of grass during outdoor playtime, but you shouldn’t feed your beardie grass.
If you take your bearded dragon into your garden for playtime, it will likely try to munch on the grass. It is okay in small amounts during playtime. However, do not feed your bearded dragon grass for sustenance or nutritional value.
There are several reasons for why grass isn’t good for nutritional purposes. For starters, grass doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value, meaning that it can make your beardie fat without aiding its nutrition. This issue is even more serious since bearded dragons cannot digest grass easily, making it even more difficult for the beardie to get nutrition from the grass.
Additionally, do not let your bearded dragon play in grass area that has been treated by pesticides and chemicals. Since bearded dragons are likely to munch on the grass when they’re playing, you don’t want to risk them being poisoned by the chemicals used on the grass.
Bearded Dragons’ Digestive Tract
We have said a couple of times that grass is difficult for bearded dragons to digest. Let’s take a closer look at this fact because it is very important in aiding our discussion about beardies eating grass. Most animals that eat grass regularly have a digestive system specifically designed for it.
For example, cows have several stomachs that allow them to breakdown the grass fiber and convert it to nutrients. Bearded dragons, and humans as well, do not have the appropriate digestive tracts to breakdown and use grass for nutrients. This fact makes grass incredibly difficult to consume for a variety of animals, bearded dragons included.
In the wild, bearded dragons might eat grass when they’re hard-pressed for food, but they will not get much nutritional value from it. We discuss this issue more in the next section. It’s just important to remember that bearded dragon digestive tracts are not designed for grass, making it incredibly difficult to digest it all, let alone gain any nutrients from.
Do Bearded Dragons Eat Grass in The Wild?
Bearded dragons eat about 80% insect and protein in 20% of the wild’s miscellaneous plant matter. They will eat grass if they need to, but it certainly isn’t their most sought-after meal since it does not taste good, is difficult to digest, and does not offer much nutritional value.
It’s also crucial to mention that the grass in your yard is nothing like the grass they eat in the wild. The word “grass” describes a whole variety of plants. Since bearded dragons live in dry environments, the grass in their natural habitat tends to be really dry and unattractive, making them suitable for someone’s yard.
Not to mention, grass used in yards has been specifically bred for attractiveness, causing the grass to be void of many minerals and vitamins. So, any grass from your yard is likely to have absolutely no nutritional value. On the other hand, wild grass offers some nutritional value since it has not been bred for domestic purposes.
We mention these facts because even in the wild, it is unlikely for a bearded dragon to eat the type of grass that is in your backyard. This is simply because bearded dragons do not live in habitats with that type of grass.
What Food Kills Bearded Dragons?
Since we are discussing whether or not grass is poisonous for bearded dragons to consume, let’s look at some other food sources they should avoid. This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of foods you shouldn’t feed your bearded dragon, but they are some of the most frequently fed foods that are poisonous to them.
Lightning Bugs or Fireflies
Many people love to go outside during warm summer months and look at the lightning bugs or fireflies. What you call these bugs will depend on where you’re from. I’m from Tennessee. So, I’m going to call them lightning bugs.
Lightning bugs are beautiful and unique insects. Since bearded dragons primarily live off of insects, many new bearded dragon owners think it’s a good idea to catch some of these lightning bugs and feed them to their pets. This should be avoided at all costs. Lightning bugs are incredibly poisonous for your bearded dragon, as well as other reptile types.
If your bearded dragon eats lightning bugs, it is almost guaranteed that they will get sick. If enough lightning bugs are consumed, the bearded dragon may even die. Do not feed lightning bugs to bearded dragons, and watch your pet carefully whenever they are outside during lightning bug season.
Avocados are incredibly healthy for humans, but they are not so much for bearded dragons. Bearded dragons cannot eat oxalic acid. Avocados offer high amounts of azelaic acid, meaning that the vegetable is poisonous for beardies to consume.
Just a little bit of avocado will make your bearded dragon sick. High amounts are easily enough to poison and kill them. Never give your bearded dragon avocados since they are not suitable for their diet.
Beets and Spinach
Whenever people think of beets and spinach, they think of fluffy greens that would be great for their bearded dragon. Even though bearded dragons should eat leafy greens, beets, beet tops, and spinach should be avoided.
Bearded dragons are susceptible to something called metabolic bone disease. This is normally because of a calcium deficiency, and it causes broken bones and deformities. Certain vegetables, like beets and spinach, include calcium blocking chemicals.
Since bearded dragons already have such an issue absorbing calcium, you should not be feeding them anything that makes the condition worse. Though small amounts of beets and spinach will not kill the bearded dragon, high amounts can hurt your bearded dragon’s skeletal system.
Lettuce won’t kill your bearded dragon, but you shouldn’t feed it to them. Bearded dragons love lettuce because it feels and tastes fresh to their tongue. It does not offer many nutrients, however, and its high water content makes diarrhea more likely. Don’t feed your bearded dragon lettuce because it can cause some serious illnesses.
Other Foods to Avoid
Here is a list of different insects and plants you should avoid feeding your bearded dragon:
What Is a Bearded Dragon’s Favorite Food?
Instead of wasting your bearded dragon’s calories on grass and other foods not suitable for their digestive systems, feed them foods that nourish their body and tickle their taste buds. Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both insects and vegetation. Their diet is very varied, but they eat about 80% insects and 20% miscellaneous vegetable matter.
The bearded dragon’s favorite food is insects. Crickets, cockroaches, and kingworms are their favorites. Most people feed their bearded dragons crickets simply because beardies love them, and they aren’t too stomach-churning to feed to the beardie.
Your bearded dragon will love crickets because it gives them great protein, and it makes them tap into their natural hunting instinct.
Bearded dragons can also eat fruits. They especially love figs, apples, and melons. Do not feed your bearded dragon too many fruits, however. They are high in sugar and can cause them to experience diarrhea.
Finally, you should be feeding your bearded dragon greens and vegetables as well. Kale, parsley, and sweet potato are some of their favorites.
Here is a more comprehensive list of different foods that bearded dragons love:
Even though grass is not poisonous to bearded dragons, you should avoid feeding grass to your beardie because it is difficult to digest and does not offer any nutritional value. If your bearded dragon takes a couple of munches on grass while playing outside, that is fine. Just don’t let them play in grass exposed to pesticides or chemicals.
Instead of feeding your bearded dragon grass, opt for insects, fruits, and vegetables that taste good, don’t hurt their digestive tract, and gives them nutritional benefits. Crickets and cockroaches are definitely their favorites, as stomach-churning as that may sound!
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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay