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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Oranges? What You Need to Know

Nicole Cosgrove

February 16, 2021

Bearded dragons make wonderful pets, but unless you’ve spent a great deal of time around them, you may be unfamiliar with the finer points of keeping one. That includes knowing what foods are safe to feed them — like oranges. Are they fine or will they harm your dragon?

The answer is no, your bearded dragon should never eat oranges. We explain why in more detail.

divider- reptile paw

Are Oranges Safe for Bearded Dragons?

oranges
Image Credit: cocoparisienne, Pixabay

Bearded dragons should never be fed oranges for a variety of reasons. One is the fact that oranges are high in something called oxalic acid.

Oxalic acid is a compound that binds with calcium to create calcium oxalate. While it doesn’t sound bad in theory, calcium oxalate actually sucks calcium out of the body. This can lead to an affliction called metabolic bone disease, which can cause deformities, paralysis, or even death.

That’s not the only ingredient in oranges that you should be concerned about, however. They’re also packed with sugar, which bearded dragons have trouble processing. Too much sugar can lead to obesity, fatty liver disease, diabetes, and heart failure.

But wait, there’s more! The citric acid in oranges will likely irritate your pet’s stomach lining, causing heartburn, upset stomach, and diarrhea. If not treated promptly, this can lead to severe dehydration and the inability to properly absorb nutrients.

As you can see, many things can happen if you feed a bearded dragon an orange — and none of them are any good.

What About Mandarin Oranges?

mandarin oranges
Image Credit: Pixabay

Mandarin oranges are less acidic than regular oranges, so in that aspect, they’re a better choice. However, just because they have less acid doesn’t mean they’re safe for bearded dragons, as there’s still enough acid to cause a host of problems.

What’s more, mandarin oranges have even more sugar, so they’re even worse in that regard. You also shouldn’t feed them clementines, navel oranges, or orange peels — and definitely don’t serve them a big glass of orange juice. Basically, if it looks like an orange, don’t give it to your dragon.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Insects That Eat Oranges?

Now that we’ve established that oranges are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad for your bearded dragon, it’s worth asking: What about eating bugs that have eaten oranges? Will all the sugar and acid transfer from the bug to your dragon?

The answer is yes and no. These insects have evolved to eat oranges and other acid-heavy foods, so their bodies are better able to break down the chemicals inside. In fact, many insects (like Dubai roaches) thrive when being fed oranges, as it helps them build their calcium levels — the exact opposite of what happens to your bearded dragon.

That doesn’t mean that all the acid is neutralized, however. If you serve your feeder insects oranges at every meal, they’ll have enough acid in their systems to harm your dragon. There shouldn’t be an issue with feeding them oranges once or twice a week, though.

peeled mandarin oranges in a cup
Image Credit: Pixabay

Are There Any Fruits That Bearded Dragons Can Eat?

While oranges should never be on the menu, there are a few fruits that are safe for your bearded dragon to munch on. These include apples, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, and figs.

However, keep in mind that virtually all fruit is loaded with sugar, so even if something is safe for your bearded dragon, it should be served in moderation. Don’t give them more than one serving of fruit per week.

The bulk of their daily diet should be insects or mealworms, along with leafy green vegetables. You can serve them bell peppers and sweet potatoes a few times a week as well, but fruit consumption should be strictly limited.

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What’s the Verdict? Can Bearded Dragons Eat Oranges?

Bearded dragons can eat a wide range of foods, but oranges should never be on the list. There are acids and sugars inside them that your bearded dragon simply can’t handle, and eating them can cause a host of health problems for your pet.

If you want to serve your little dragon some fruit, there are other, more suitable options available.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

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.