Zucchini or courgette has fast become a popular food to feed to reptiles including bearded dragons.
Many owners are now asking if bearded dragons can actually eat zucchini? And if so are there any health concerns to overfeeding it?
In this post, we will look at the facts provided by reptile experts and vets as well as backing up these facts with nutritional data to give you all the information you need as an owner.
Before we look at the ins and out of zucchini, let’s give a brief but informative answer to the main question.
So can bearded dragons eat zucchini? Bearded dragons are safe to eat zucchini as part of a balanced diet. Having said this, it’s not recommended to feed your bearded dragon zucchini on a regular basis as it doesn’t offer much nutrition and consists mainly of water.
Read on to find out…
- The Nutritional Data For Zucchini
- How to Prepare Zucchini For Your Beardie
- How Often to Feed Zucchini to Your Beardie
- What You Need to Know Before Feeding Zucchini
- Top 5 Veggies & Greens Experts Recommend
Nutritional Data | Zucchini
Before you feed your bearded dragon any food it’s important to understand as much about it as possible.
Taking a quick look at the nutritional profile of food such as zucchini can help you decide whether it makes a good mealtime choice or not.
We have taken the most relevant information from the USDA and put it into a table for you to check out below.
Nutritional Information Of Zucchini Per 100g
|Total lipid (fat)||0.32||g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||3.11||g|
|Vitamin D (D2+3)||0||µg|
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Zucchini (The Facts)
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, zucchini is safe for bearded dragons to eat.
This is backed up by Vetmed who also state that zucchini is on the safe food list for bearded dragons, although they say it should be fed rarely as it’s nutritionally poor.
In the paragraphs let’s break down both the benefits and potential concerns of offering your beardie zucchini at mealtimes.
Nutritionally Poor In General
As Vetmed pointed out in the bearded dragon care article they wrote, zucchini among other foods although safe to feed is nutritionally poor so doesn’t make a great mealtime choice.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t feed zucchini to your beardie, but it does, however, mean that you need to limit how often you offer it in the salad bowl.
One of the main reasons for this is because bearded dragons only have small stomachs and filling them up on foods that don’t offer them the best nutrition is counterproductive.
This is especially true for young bearded dragons that are still growing at a rapid rate and need to make the most of every mealtime.
Check out this recent post we have written that shares exactly how fast your bearded dragon should grow at different stages of its life.
The post is complete with tables and charts and gives you a great understanding of just how important high-quality nutrient-dense food is to a growing bearded dragon.
Zucchini Is low In Calcium
Calcium is something that is hugely important to bearded dragons. Without the required amount of daily calcium through both diet and supplementation bearded dragons would likely suffer from major health issues.
One such issue is metabolic bone disease and Pet-MD says that calcium-rich foods are critical in stopping the onset of health issues such as MBD in a recent article they posted on metabolic bone disease.
Unfortunately, zucchini only has 16mg of calcium per 100g which is considered low.
Considering how important calcium is to bearded dragons, it’s not wise to fill your beardie up on foods with such a low calcium profile on a regular basis.
You can check out our new post here that shares everything you need to know about calcium in an easy to understand format.
Zucchini also has a poor calcium to phosphorus ratio. It’s important that beardies consume more calcium in their diet than phosphorus as phosphorus will stop calcium from being absorbed.
This is backed up by Vetstream who also state that bearded dragons should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1
Again looking at the table above, you can see that zucchini has 38mg of phosphorus per 100g compared to 16mg of calcium which is totally the wrong kind of ratio.
The main thing to understand is that feeding the odd food that is low in calcium and has a poor calcium to phosphorus ratio from time to time isn’t going to harm your dragon.
You just need to use these foods as treats and in the right amounts.
Zucchini Is low In Sugar
One good thing that zucchini has got going for it is that it’s low in sugar.
Most other minerally poor foods such as fruits are high in sugar which makes them harmful if fed often.
Sugar can easily cause a bearded dragon to become obese and too much sugar in one sitting can cause stomach upsets and even diarrhoea.
One of the most worrying aspects of feeding sugary foods on a consistent basis is the fact that they can cause plaque and tartar build-ups.
This is much more serious in reptiles such as bearded dragons than humans because their teeth are fixed directly to their jaws so any inflammation and infection can cause painful bone problems.
In fact, Vetstreet recommends seeing your vet to receive an annual scaling and cleaning.
Even though zucchini is nutritionally poor, it’s also low in sugar so you can rest assured it won’t be damaging their teeth like a lot of fruits will.
We recommend you head over to this post that covers all the things you need to know about your beardies teeth.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Zucchini Every Day?
Even though zucchini is safe to feed to your bearded dragon, it’s not really a good idea to feed it to them every day.
This is because, as we mentioned above, it’s so nutritionally poor that filling your beardies stomach on zucchini on a daily basis will stop them getting nutrients from other healthier options.
So how often should you be feeding your bearded dragon zucchini? I think it’s safe to say that if you feed your dragon a small potion zucchini once a month mixed in with a healthy salad then it will make a nice treat.
The bottom line is, just make sure the bulk of your dragon’s diet comes from highly nutritious veggies and greens so adding the odd low nutritional treat from time to time won’t have any sort of short or long term impact on their health.
How Do You Prepare Zucchini For Bearded Dragons?
No matter what fruits, veggies or greens you are going to offer to your beardie, they need to be thoroughly washed and zucchini is no different.
It’s highly important that you wash them because bacteria and dirt can cause your beardie to become ill.
Apart from having to watch them being unwell, you will also have costly vet bills to account for and all of this could be eliminated simply by getting into the habit of washing everything that goes into the salad bowl.
Something else that you should always try and do is source an organic option.
Pet-MD says that you should always ensure that greens are free from pesticides and herbicides.
Unfortunately, most greens that aren’t organic contain some level of pesticides and have the potential to make your dragon sick especially in the long term.
When it’s time to prepare the zucchini for the salad bowl you should cut it into thin slices then cut each slice into ⅛.
This will make it very easy for your bearded dragon to consume the pieces of zucchini along with other foods in the bowl at the same time.
The final thing you need to do is provide the salad in a bowl that is easy to eat out of.
Some bowls make it difficult for bearded dragons to eat the full salad so they end up only eating a small portion of what’s on offer.
Here are some bowls we recommend, we’ve included a list of salad bowls, water bowls and live feeder bowls that make mealtimes easy.
You can see our recommended bowls for bearded dragons here.
The 5 Recommended Greens From Experts
The experts at Texvetpets recommend that around 50% of your bearded dragon diet should come from greens.
They also give a list of their top greens and the ones they recommend you feed to your beardie on a regular basis.
We have taken their recommendations and listed them below so you can add them to your beardies diet.
5 of the top greens that Texveteps recommend are…
- Dandelion Greens
- Bok Choy
- Mustard Greens
- Swiss Chard
We have also put these 5 recommendations in a table complete with nutritional data so you can see how they stack up against each other.
This should help you to make a decision when deciding which ones you might want to add to your dragon’s diet in the future.
Nutritional Information Per 100g (Top Greens)
|Name||Dandelion Greens||Mustard Greens||Swiss Chard||Bok Choy||Kale|
|Water||85.6 g||90.7 g||92.66 g||95.32 g||89.63 g|
|Energy||45 Kcal||27 kcal||19 kcal||13 kcal||35 kcal|
|Protein||2.7 g||2.86 g||1.8 g||1.5 g||2.92 g|
|Total lipid (fat)||0.7 g||0.42 g||0.2 g||0.2 g||1.49 g|
|Carbohydrate||9.2 g||4.67 g||3.74 g||2.18 g||4.42 g|
|Fiber||3.5 g||3.2 g||1.6 g||1 g||4.1 g|
|Sugars||0.71 g||1.32 g||1.1 g||1.18 g||0.99 g|
|Calcium, Ca||187 mg||115 mg||51 mg||105 mg||254 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||66 mg||58 mg||46 mg||37 mg||55 mg|
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