Spinach is an increasingly popular food that is often praised for its health benefits by doctors and nutritionists but is spinach safe to feed to your bearded dragon? Or should it be kept strictly off the menu?
In this post, we’ll give you all the facts you need and back them up with research provided by vets and nutritional experts so you can have total confidence before feeding your bearded dragon spinach.
So can bearded dragons eat spinach? Bearded Dragons can eat spinach. However, it should only be fed on occasion and in sparing amounts. This is largely due to the fact that spinach contains a high number of oxalates that are considered unhealthy for bearded dragons as they bind calcium and prevent it from being absorbed.
Read on to discover…
- The nutritional information of spinach
- How often it’s safe to feed your bearded dragon spinach
- The benefits of feeding spinach
- The dangers/concerns of feeding spinach too often
- 5 healthy alternative options to spinach
The Nutritional Information For Spinach
The nutritional needs of a bearded dragon are very different from those of us humans.
Before feeding your beardie any kinds of veggies, greens or fruits it’s always a good idea to take a good look at the nutritional aspect of the food to see if it contains any of the key nutrients your beardie needs and if it contains anything they should be staying clear of.
The main things to look out for are the protein and sugar levels as well as the calcium and phosphorus ration. (we will cover this in detail later in the post)
The table below shows all the most relevant nutritional information for spinach and is taken from the USDA (U.S. Department Of Agriculture)
Nutritional Information Of Spinach Per 100g
|Total lipid (fat)||0.39||g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||3.63||g|
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach? (A Deeper Look)
With so many seemingly healthy food options to feed your bearded dragon, it’s often hard to know which ones are actually beneficial to their health and which ones you need to stay clear of.
Spinach is a food that’s considered safe to feed to your bearded dragon by veterinary experts and nutritionists.
Having said this, you should only feed spinach occasionally and as part of a balanced diet. (We will explain the reasons why in the next section of this article)
We have sourced this information from the veterinary experts at Vet-Med who also states spinach is safe to eat for bearded dragons but should be fed sparingly in a recent article they wrote on on the subject.
Now that we’ve established that spinach is safe for bearded dragons to eat, let’s have a closer look at the benefits of feeding your beardie spinach as well as the health concerns of feeding it too often.
The Benefits Of Feeding Bearded Dragons Spinach
Spinach does have some really good nutritional benefits that bearded dragons can gain from.
The first noticeable benefit is that spinach contains 2.86g of protein per 100g which is very good.
With that being said, other nutrients are more important from greens as your beardie will get 99% of its protein from insects.
Spinach is also pretty high in calcium and low in phosphorus. Having a healthy calcium to phosphorus ratio is essential for a bearded dragon to maintain a fit and well.
The ideal ratio for calcium to phosphorus is 1.1 or 2.1 in favour of calcium and spinach easily falls into this ratio.
Spinach is also really low in sugar, which is a good thing for bearded dragons as they too can suffer from tooth decay due too eating too many sugary foods.
Other minerals such as salt, potassium, vitamin c and iron and also present in healthy amounts.
So far It may seem like spinach is a great choice to feed your bearded dragon on a regular basis but unfortunately, there’s one big set back that makes spinach a green that you have to be cautious about.
The Concerns Of Feeding Bearded Dragons Spinach Too Often
As mentioned above, spinach has many great health benefits but unfortunately, it also has something hidden that can be harmful to bearded dragons if it’s fed to them too often.
The reason why spinach shouldn’t be offered too often is because it’s high in oxalates.
Oxalates bind calcium and stop bearded dragons from absorbing it and therefore using it.
Our research is taken from VCA-Hospitals who have written about how oxalates bind calcium and other trace minerals and stop its absorption in a recent article they wrote.
If you were to feed your beardie spinach as a staple part of their diet then they wouldn’t be able to utilize any calcium they consume.
If a bearded dragon is starved of calcium then they will become very ill and likely suffer from physical illness such as metabolic bone disease (MBD)
Trying to provide your bearded dragon with the proper amounts of calcium is hard enough as it is without feeding them food on a regular basis that will stop them being able to use it.
To ensure your bearded dragon always has the recommended amount of calcium the experts at Pet-MD recommend that you should always use a calcium supplement.
Trying to provide your beardie with the calcium it needs through diet alone is nearly impossible so using a good quality supplement is highly recommended.
We recommend you take a look at the list we have put together that shares the calcium and multi-vitamin supplements we recommend you use. – You can see our recommended calcium supplements here
If you want to know more about why bearded dragons need calcium then we recommend checking out this post that shares everything you need to know – Why Bearded Dragons Need Calcium
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach Every Day?
As you’ve probably realised by now, you shouldn’t be feeding your bearded dragon spinach on a daily basis.
The fact that it contains high amounts of oxalates shouldn’t put you off feeding spinach at all, however, it should be used in moderation and in the right quantities.
Remember that Vet-Med among many other vet based websites state that spinach is totally safe for bearded dragons as long as you feed it every now and then so you really should be scared to feed it to your dragon.
We would recommend providing one serving of spinach every 2-3 months as part of a healthy and balanced salad and not a full bowl of spinach alone.
How to Prepare Spinach For Bearded Dragons
When providing any kind of greens for your bearded dragon it’s always best to source organic if possible.
You should always give the spinach a thorough wash under the tap to ensure its dirt free.
Spinach is soft so doesn’t need cooking as this will only decrease its nutritional value.
There’s also no need to chop the spinach up as beardies can easily eat the leaves as they are.
It’s best served as part of a healthy salad in a bowl that’s easy for your bearded dragon to access and eat from.
This is because many bowl designs make it hard for beardies to eat right to the bottom of the bowl and most of the salad will often be wasted.
Here we share our recommended bowls and other food accessories to make mealtimes much easier.
5 Other Amazing Options Your Bearded Dragon Instead Of Spinach
By now you’ve learned that spinach is safe to feed to your bearded dragon but it also comes with its share of concerns to your beardies health if offered too often.
For this reason, we’ve put together a great list of alternative foods that you can feed your bearded dragon instead of spinach.
The list we are about to provide is sourced from Vet-Med who list these 5 greens in a list of their top and most highly recommended greens for bearded dragons.
The 5 we have picked from the list are…
- Dandelion Greens
- Grape Leaves
- Turnip Greens
All these 5 greens are highly nutritious, high in calcium (have good calcium to phosphorus ratio) and can be consumed on a regular basis as part of your beardies staple diet.
We have also put the nutritional value of the 5 greens we have picked into a handy table below.
Nutritional Information Of Healthy Bearded Dragon Foods Per 100g
|Name||Dandelions||Grape Leaves||Turnip Greens||Watercress||Collards|
|Water||85.6 g||72.32g||89.67 g||95.11 g||89.62 g|
|Energy||45 kcal||93 kcal||32 kcal||11 kcal||32 kcal|
|Protein||2.7 g||5.6 g||1.5 g||2.3 g||3.02|
|Total lipid (fat)||0.7 g||2.12 g||0.3 g||0.1 g||0.61 g|
|Carbohydrate||9.2||17.31 g||7.13 g||1.29 g||5.42 g|
|Fiber||3.5 g||11 g||3.2 g||0.5 g||4 g|
|Sugars||0.71 g||6.3 g||0.81 g||0.2g||0.46 g|
|Calcium, Ca||187 mg||363 mg||190 mg||120 mg||232 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||66 mg||58 mg||42 mg||60 mg||25 mg|
Should a Bearded Dragons Diet Be Mainly Protein Or Greens?
Bearded dragons only have small stomachs so it’s important that you make sure they get the nutrients they need in every meal.
But are those nutrients better coming from insect proteins or veggies and greens?
Well, the majority of your beardies diet should come from insect protein, however, the percentage of insect protein vs greens should change as they get older.
Baby and juvenile dragons need higher amounts of insect protein than adults due to the vast amount of growing they do in the first 12 months of their lives.
We’ve actually written a post that shares exactly how fast you can expect your bearded dragon to grow at the different stages of their life.
The post is complete with charts and tables – You Can Check Out The Data Here
Below is a handy chart that shows the percentage of insect protein and greens your dragon needs at different stages of their life.
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