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Home > Reptiles > Can Bearded Dragons Eat Sweet Potatoes? Vet-Approved Nutritional Facts & Info

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Sweet Potatoes? Vet-Approved Nutritional Facts & Info

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If you’ve ever thought about what bearded dragons eat, we’re willing to bet that the sweet potato wasn’t one of the first foods to come to mind. Believe it or not, though, bearded dragons can definitely eat sweet potatoes, and most dragons really seem to enjoy them!

That doesn’t mean you can just dump a bunch of sweet potatoes into your dragon’s cage and call it a day, though. There are rules governing just how much these lizards can eat, so read on if you want to learn how to feed your dragon the right way.

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Are Sweet Potatoes Safe for Bearded Dragons?

Sweet potatoes are totally safe for bearded dragons to eat in that they’re non-toxic. However, you still want to only offer them in moderation, as eating too many sweet potatoes could have an adverse effect on your lizard’s health.

These veggies are full of vitamin A in the form of carotenes, but there’s a catch. Bearded dragons, like many other omnivorous reptiles, have a poor ability to convert the carotene found in plants to vitamin A that their bodies can use. Therefore, feeding them sweet potatoes as a source of vitamin A isn’t the best idea. This can lead to hypovitaminosis A (low levels of vitamin A) in your bearded dragon. Signs of this disorder often include mucous membrane color changes and swollen eyes. This is a common finding in bearded dragons that are fed a diet too biased toward fruits and vegetables.

Please note that you should not attempt to supplement your bearded dragon’s diet with vitamin A without a veterinarian’s prescription, as overdosing on vitamin A is just as problematic and leads to a condition known as hypervitaminosis A. Fortunately, it’s extremely difficult to trigger vitamin A toxicity through food alone, so you’d likely have to feed your dragon more sweet potatoes than they’re willing to eat to cause it.

Of bigger concern is the fact that sweet potatoes have a poor calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. This is problematic because phosphorus can prevent calcium from being absorbed, and calcium deficiencies can lead to metabolic bone disease. Most fruits and vegetables have a poor calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. The sweet potato has a calcium:phosphorus ratio of 0.5:1, and the requirement for bearded dragons is usually between 1.5:1 and 2:1.

Ultimately, sweet potatoes are good treats for your lizard, but they should never form the backbone of their diet. Only serve them occasionally, such as once or twice a week.

bearded dragon on a tree trunk
Image Credit: Gerhard G., Pixabay

Are There Any Health Benefits to Giving My Bearded Dragon Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, which plays several roles in your pet’s body and contributes to overall health. Giving your bearded plenty of vitamin A (up to a point) is always a good idea. However, it’s best to discuss your bearded dragon’s vitamin A requirements with your vet. Relying on vegetation alone (or conversely, just on insects) to meet this requirement isn’t advised.

Beyond that, sweet potatoes contain B vitamins and iron. They’re a source of fiber too, so if your bearded dragon is backed up, a little sweet potato might be just what is needed to get things moving again.

Offering the occasional sweet potato is also likely good for your dragon’s enrichment. They like variety in their diet, and giving them a treat every now and then will keep them happy and stress free.

peeled sweet potatoes
Image Credit: ivabalk, Pixabay

How Should I Serve Sweet Potatoes to My Bearded Dragon?

You might be tempted to cook sweet potatoes before serving them to your little friend, but don’t bother; bearded dragons actually prefer to eat them raw.

Before you toss sweet potato pieces into their tank, though, be sure to wash them thoroughly. You don’t want to accidentally give your dragon a large dose of pesticides or other harmful chemicals.

Once the potatoes are washed, peel off the skin, and then use the peeler to remove long, thin strips of potato. These are much easier for your pet to munch on than big chunks or cubes, and they’ll appreciate the effort.

You can just serve sweet potatoes on their own, but many dragons prefer to eat them as part of a salad, so you may want to mix in leafy green vegetables like kale beforehand.

If your bearded dragon prefers cooked sweet potatoes, you can boil them. However, it is important to not add any seasonings to the sweet potatoes or the water that they’re boiled in, including salt. Plain boiled sweet potatoes are the best for your beardie.

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Wrapping Up

Yes, bearded dragons can eat sweet potatoes, and many lizards really enjoy them. They make excellent toppers for a salad, and they’re healthy once-a-week treats.

However, don’t go overboard, as too many sweet potatoes could cause vitamin A issues or interfere with your dragon’s mineral requirements of calcium. They shouldn’t be served with every meal; limit them to a few times a month.

As long as you take care in how you serve them, your bearded dragon will thank you every time they see those sweet potatoes headed toward their tank. At least, we think that they’re thanking you—with bearded dragons, it’s sometimes kind of hard to tell!

Featured Image: sykoo71, Pixabay

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