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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach? What You Need to Know!

Ashley Bates

Bearded dragons are omnivores with strict diets. To keep your beardie healthy, you might know that they need lots of fresh veggies and fruit, but they need insects most of all. So, when you’re trying to compile a mental checklist of edible foods for your bearded dragon, you might wonder, “Can bearded dragons eat spinach?”

The answer is yes, but only in minimal quantities on occasion. Spinach can prevent calcium absorption, so this can be harmful to your beardie if they overeat. Spinach doesn’t have tons of nutritional value that they wouldn’t get elsewhere in their diet. Let’s discuss it in more detail.

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Spinach Facts

Spinach is a leafy green plant native to Asia. It’s actually a flowering plant, but only the leaves are eaten. Spinach can come fresh, frozen, or canned—depending on how you like it. In the right circumstances, for the right species, spinach is a superfood.

In one serving of spinach, you have:
  • Calories: 7
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 1 g
It also has lots of vitamins and minerals like:
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Iron

Of course, these ingredients are super beneficial for humans, but what about bearded dragons? The truth is, bearded dragons have much different dietary needs than humans—so not all of this is equally beneficial for them.

Credit: Devanath, Pixabay

Bearded Dragons Don’t Need to Eat Spinach

Making sure your bearded dragon has the right number of fresh fruits and veggies might be hard to measure out at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. You may already know that leafy greens provide a substantial nutritional benefit for your scaly guy, but what’s the deal with spinach specifically?

Spinach is a low-calorie, sugar-free snack. But because spinach contains oxalates, it can prevent calcium and other minerals from being absorbed correctly. Calcium is an essential mineral in a beardie’s diet. If it isn’t processed the way it should be, it can be detrimental to their overall health, causing more significant problems.

So, if you decide that your dragon needs some spinach, just be very careful of how much you give them. If you’re running low on beardie food, you might have some other fresh foods in your fridge that would suit them better.

Safe Alternatives to Spinach

Powerful, safer greens for beardies include:
  • Clover
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage
  • Savory
  • Cilantro
  • Collard greens

Other Greens to Avoid

Here are some other green vegetables that don’t work well for your beardie:
  • Swiss chard
  • Beet greens
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens

These greens contain oxalates and goitrogens. So, they interfere with both calcium absorption and iodine uptake—messing up thyroid function, too. Your best path is to offer only 100% beardie-friendly foods regularly.divider- reptile paw

Why is Calcium Important for Bearded Dragons

You might think it’s really no big deal if spinach blocks a little calcium—and you’re partially right. If you only feed your bearded dragon one leaf of spinach, it won’t do much harm. But over time, it can really impact their health.

bearded dragons
Image Credit: AleGranholm, Flickr

Since bearded dragons, among other reptiles, might not get the right amount of sun or UVB exposure, it can cause a vitamin D3 deficiency. Calcium can’t nourish the bones the way it should. That can cause your beardie to develop a condition called hypocalcemia.

Hypocalcemia causes low levels of calcium and excessive phosphorus in the blood, preventing bone growth, muscle function, and normal metabolism. If their body has a long-term shortage of calcium, it can turn into metabolic bone disease.

Symptoms of metabolic bone disease include:
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle spasms
  • Jaw swelling
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite

Metabolic bone disease usually happens before the bearded dragon is 2 years old, but it can still happen beyond that.

Calcium Supplements

Bearded dragons require calcium supplements, which you can give them in dust form. Many people dip insects in calcium powder before feeding time. Calcium supplements paired with proper UV lighting are crucial for bearded dragons.

You can find calcium supplements in many major pet store chains and on reptile-friendly websites.

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Bearded Dragons and Spinach: Final Thoughts

So, if you’re thinking of sharing a leaf of spinach with your beardie, you might want to pick another veggie. If you have to give them some form of sustenance, one leaf of spinach won’t hurt them—but don’t make it a habit. Even though there won’t be any harmful side effects and it’s non-toxic in moderation, it can be detrimental over time because it blocks calcium.

So, yes—bearded dragons can eat spinach on occasion, but you should avoid it if you can. Try to look for other avenues when you’re giving your beardie greens.

Featured image credit: ponce_photography, Pixabay

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.