Every bearded dragon owner wants to feed their pet a healthy and balanced diet with vibrant veggies such as broccoli.
But should your bearded dragon actually be eating broccoli? Or are there some hidden nasties that make broccoli strictly off-menu for your beardie?
Luckily we have taken the time to pick the brains of leading vets, reptile nutritionists and look at recent university studies to bring you all the information you need as an owner.
Before we go into detail about the benefits and potential concerns of broccoli for bearded dragons, let’s briefly answer the main question.
So can bearded dragons eat broccoli? Bearded dragons can eat broccoli as part of a balanced diet. Broccoli shouldn’t be offered too often as it contains a moderate amount of oxalates that have the ability to bind calcium and stop it from being absorbed in the body.
Read on to discover…
- What oxalates are and why you shouldn’t feed your beardie foods that are high in them
- How to prepare broccoli
- How often to feed your beardie broccoli
- The nutritional info of broccoli
- Both the benefits and concerns of feeding broccoli
- 5 greens & veggies that are a better option than broccoli.
The Nutritional Information For Broccoli
As a bearded dragon owner, it’s always important to learn about the foods you feed your beardie before you offer it to them in the salad bowl.
This is important because foods that are often considered healthy to us humans may not always be considered healthy to bearded dragons.
Checking out the nutritional profile of foods is a good habit to get into as some foods contain surprises that might not always be obvious just by looking at the food.
It’s always good to compare things like the levels of protein, fat, sugar, calcium and phosphorus (more on this later) to staple foods in your beardies diet.
Check out the table below that’s gathered from the USDA to give you the most accurate information possible.
Nutritional Information Of Broccoli Per 100g
|Total lipid (fat)||0.37||g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||6.64||g|
|Vitamin D (D2+3)||0||µg|
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli (A Closer Look)
Before we dive in and take a deeper look at the benefits and the potential health concerns of feeding broccoli to your bearded dragon let’s just establish under no uncertain terms that broccoli is safe to feed to your bearded dragon.
This is backed up by multiple vets and reptile nutritional websites including Vetmed (veterinary medicine) who state that broccoli is safe to use for bearded dragons.
Vetmed also says that even though broccoli is safe, it’s a veg that should be used in moderation due to the number of oxalates it carries.
In the following paragraphs, we will talk about what oxalates are as well as everything else you need to know as an owner.
Are There Benefits to Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Broccoli?
As you can see from the table above that broccoli has 2.82g of protein per 100g which is quite high for a plant-based food.
Obviously your beardie gets the majority of its protein from insects, however, getting additional protein from veggies and greens is welcomed too.
Broccoli like most veg is low in sugar. This, believe it or not, is very important.
If bearded dragons consume too much sugar they can develop tartar and plaque on their teeth just like us humans.
This, in turn, can cause them lots of health problems. The teeth of a bearded dragon are built directly into their jaw which means that any inflammation or infection not only affects their teeth but their bones too.
Vetstreet recently wrote a post that echoed this very fact and their concerns a good diet and dental hygiene in bearded dragons.
According to healtheat.org broccoli is also high in other minerals much as vitamin C, vitamin K, fibre, potassium and folate which helps the production and maintenance of cells in the body.
Are There Any Risks/Concerns Of Feeding Broccoli to Your Bearded Dragon?
Now we’ve established that there is a lot of positive reasons to feed your bearded dragon broccoli its time to look at some potential reasons why broccoli isn’t all it seems.
If you check out the nutritional table earlier in this post you will see that broccoli has 47mg of calcium per 100g which is reasonable.
Bearded Dragons need high amounts of calcium in their diet to keep their bones fit and healthy.
To learn all you need to know about calcium as an owner check out this great post on bearded dragon and calcium.
Ok, so you’re probably thinking that if broccoli has reasonable levels of calcium then where’s the problem? Right?
Well, the problem comes because broccoli also has higher levels of phosphorus than calcium and this is considered unhealthy for calcium absorption.
Broccoli is also thought to contain moderate to high amounts of something called ‘oxalates’ (we take a look at the facts below)
According to VCA-Hospitals Oxalates bind calcium and stop its absorption along with other trace minerals in the body.
This means that any calcium that your beardie consumes could potentially be useless and therefore leave them without one of their most vital nutrients even if they are consuming it.
Please Note – this doesn’t mean that you can’t feed your bearded dragon broccoli, it just means that you need to offer it to your dragon in moderation and the same goes for other foods high in oxalates.
Putting The Amount Of Oxalates In Broccoli Into Perspective
As we just mentioned above, the number of oxalates in broccoli shouldn’t put you off feeding it to your dragon as long as you offer it on occasion.
The number of oxalates isn’t actually that high when compared to some other veggies and greens.
Science direct performed a study and found that broccoli varied from 0.3 to 13mg of oxalates per 100g.
This isn’t considered that high when you compare it to a study the US National Library Of Medicine did on frozen spinach that found it had 90mg of oxalates per 100g.
As you can see, the oxalates in spinach are through the roof when compared to those in broccoli.
The Need For Calcium Supplementation
Even though it’s great to feed your beardie on foods that contain high amounts of calcium nearly all experts recommend you use a calcium supplement.
Pet-MD is one of the most high profile experts who categorically state the need for calcium supplementation along with a good diet.
A lack of calcium in your dragon’s diet can cause serious health problems such as metabolic bone disease.
This can cause tremors, weak limbs, difficulty walking and even death.
We recommend using ‘Repcal’ as they are the best and most trusted brand in our opinion.
We recommend you check out this list that contains our recommended calcium and multi-vitamin supplements here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli Every Day?
After reading the previous paragraphs, you can probably already guess that feeding your bearded dragon broccoli isn’t recommended.
So just how often should you feed your beardie broccoli? To be honest, there isn’t a lot of experts that give a definitive answer to just how often you should feed broccoli to your dragon.
VCA-Hospitals claim its ok to feed it regularly, while Vetmed says it should be offered rarely.
We think it’s safe to say that feeding broccoli to your bearded dragon once every 2-4 weeks is more than enough.
Remember, this is just an estimate and our personal recommendations if you are unsure then we recommend you speak to your vet who will better know the individual needs of your specific pet.
How Do You Prepare Broccoli For Bearded Dragons?
We are living in a day and age where our foods are full of harmful pesticides.
The unfortunate fact is that these can be harmful to your bearded dragon so it’s always recommended to purchase the organic option when it’s available even if it costs a bit more.
It’s also hugely important to wash the broccoli as fruit and veg can contain all sorts of bacteria from being handled after being picked that can make your beardie ill.
When offering the broccoli to your dragon, you can offer it raw if you like as this will provide the most amount of nutrients.
It’s best to chop the broccoli heads into small pieces as this will make it easier for your beardie to consume.
Or an even better way is to get a knife and shave the top of the broccoli head. This will create tiny little green balls of snow like broccoli that you can sprinkle over the salad bowl.
This way your bearded dragon won’t even realize they are eating broccoli, which is especially good for fussy eaters.
Last but not least you need to provide the broccoli and the rest of the salad in a bowl that is easy for your dragon to eat out of.
Some bowls are poorly shaped and make it difficult for them to eat anything after the first half of the salad.
Here’s a post that we created that cherry-picks and lists some great bowls for both feeding and drinking so you can be sure your beardie can get the most out of mealtimes.
5 Great Veggies/Greens For Your Bearded Dragon
Sometimes it can be hard to think of new and fresh mealtime ideas to add to your dragon’s salad bowl.
This can mean that you keep offering the same foods over and over again.
The main rule of thumb is that you should offer certain staple foods daily as they provide a high number of vital nutrients such as calcium.
Having said this, it’s always nice to have a wide selection of healthy foods that you can add to the staple foods now and then to make the salad bowl more interesting.
We have picked the brains of the experts at Vetmed who listed some safe and nutritious secondary foods that you can add to your beardies diet.
The 5 we have picked out are greens bell peppers, butternut squash, greens beans, peas and sweet potato.
We think these 5 foods give a variety of nutrients, texture, ease of preparation and ease of availability in most countries.
We have listed them all in a handy table below complete with their most relevant nutritional information for you.
Nutritional Information Per 100g (Secondary Foods)
|Name||Bell Peppers||Butternut Squash||Green Beans||Sweet Potato||Turnip|
|Water||92.21||86,41 g||90.32 g||80.13 g||91.87 g|
|Energy||726 Kcal||45 kcal||31 kcal||76 kcal||28 kcal|
|Protein||0.99 g||1 g||1.83 g||1.37 g||0.9 g|
|Total lipid (fat)||0.3 g||0.1 g||0.22 g||0.14 g||0.1 g|
|Carbohydrate||6.03 g||11.69 g||6.97 g||17.72 g||6.43 g|
|Fiber||2.1 g||2 g||2.7 g||2.5 g||1.8 g|
|Sugars||4.2 g||2.2 g||3.26 g||5.74 g||3.8 g|
|Calcium, Ca||7 mg||48 mg||37 mg||27 mg||30 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||26 mg||33 mg||38 mg||32 mg||27 mg|
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