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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Pumpkin? What You Need to Know!
There are foods that are a part of your regular diet that you can share with your Bearded Dragon, and many human foods may even be a great source of essential vitamins and nutrients. It’s always a good idea to research beforehand, though, as there are many common human foods that your beardie should definitely not consume.
If you have a pumpkin around the home, you may be wondering if it is safe to share a piece with your beardie. But can bearded dragons eat pumpkin? Is pumpkin safe for them? In small amounts, pumpkin is non-toxic for dragons and safe for them to eat. However, there are not many nutritional benefits to giving pumpkin to your beardie. There are other potential concerns too.
In this article, we look at the benefits of giving pumpkin to your bearded dragon, as well as hazards to watch out for. Let’s get started!
Potential benefits of feeding pumpkin to your bearded dragon
Both cooked and raw pumpkin is a great snack to give to your beardie on occasion, but raw pumpkin has the most nutritional value. First, pumpkin is packed with vitamin A, which is great for your beardie’s vision, and vitamin C, which is a great boost to their immune health. Pumpkins also have high water content and can provide vital hydration for dragons. This is especially true while they are shedding, and some dragons only get hydration from their food and refuse to drink from a water bowl.
Bearded dragons need to eat a large amount of animal-based protein, most of which should come from insects. The fiber contained in pumpkin can help with their digestive health. Insects have hard exoskeletons that can make digestion difficult. This is especially true for younger dragons that do not eat many greens, veggies, and fruit, and they can really benefit from additional fiber.
Risks of feeding pumpkin to your bearded dragon
While there are nutritional benefits to giving pumpkin to your beardie, there are risks too. The main concern is the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in pumpkin. In general, bearded dragons require a 2:1 calcium/phosphorus ratio, and pumpkins have the opposite. A cup of cooked pumpkin has around 73mg of phosphorus and only around 36mg of calcium, making it unsuitable for beardies in large amounts.
Calcium is a vital mineral in the diet of your dragon, especially young growing beardies, as it helps facilitate strong and healthy bone development. Lack of adequate amounts of calcium can quickly lead to degenerative bone disease, a condition that can prove fatal. The problem is that phosphorus reacts with calcium and prevents it from being properly absorbed into your dragon’s body, causing bone issues down the line. The ideal phosphorus/calcium ratio is 1:1 or 1:2, as this will allow adequate absorption of calcium. No matter the food you feed your bearded dragon, though, we highly recommend giving them a calcium supplement.
While daily pumpkin intake is potentially harmful to your beardie, small amounts occasionally are not enough to do much harm. That said, other, safer foods can give your beardie all the nutritional benefits of pumpkin, without any of the risks.
Can bearded dragons eat pumpkin seeds?
The occasional pumpkin snack is fine for a beardie, but make sure that you remove all the seeds and skin — give them the flesh only. This is because pumpkin seeds are extremely hard and difficult for beardies to properly chew. They can cause a potential choking hazard, or the seeds could get lodged in your beardie’s digestive tract. So, while the flesh of a pumpkin is a safe occasional snack, your beardie should never be given the seeds or skin!
The same can be said of pumpkin leaves and pumpkin puree — both are best left out of your beardie’s diet. Stick to feeding them raw, organic, and thoroughly washed pieces of pumpkin, if you decide to feed it to them at all.
In small amounts on occasion, pumpkin is a non-toxic and generally safe snack to give your bearded dragon. However, due to pumpkin’s calcium/phosphorus ratio, it should definitely not be made a part of their regular diet.
While pumpkin has nutritional benefits and is generally safe to feed to your beardie, there are other more nutritious, safer foods that contain the same nutritional benefits and more. This makes pumpkin a less-than-ideal food to add to their diet.
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.