Bearded dragons love fruit, and blackberries are no exception. Some bearded dragons love fruit so much they would readily eat it all the time if they could. But sadly, fruit is not something bearded dragons need to eat every day...and some fruits are safer than others. How safe are blackberries? Can bearded dragons eat blackberries? Find out if your bearded dragon can enjoy this tart, scrumptious summertime fruit.
Can Bearded Dragons Have Blackberries At All?
Blackberries have a few defining qualities that can tell us whether bearded dragons can eat them at all, sometimes, or more regularly as part of their fruit intake. Taking into account all of the relevant factors, you should be able to feed your dragon a few blackberries every other week, depending on what other fruits you’ll be giving them. Here are the qualities that come into play most for bearded dragons:
Sugar. Following suit with other berries, blackberries contain a lot of sugar. Bearded dragons thrive on a low-sugar diet since it lowers their risk of obesity, blood pressure issues, or heart failure, among other health issues.
Oxalates. Like many berries, blackberries contain some oxalates. A natural substance found in many plants, oxalates are not bad in and of themselves—but they are not particularly beneficial to bearded dragons, who rely on calcium for strong bones and overall wellbeing. Oxalates’ job is to get rid of extra calcium in the body. When bearded dragons consume too many oxalates, they can end up suffering from serious calcium depletion since the oxalates will begin stealing the calcium from the dragon’s bones.
You’ve probably heard of metabolic bone disease, or MBD, the dreaded disease that is so common among pet dragons but so preventable with proper care. No Dragon Keeper wants to see their pet suffer from this condition. It’s hard to watch your bearded dragon try to pull himself along with shrunken limbs, or lie there paralyzed.
Proactively defend against metabolic bone disease by keeping your beardie on a healthy, balanced diet, rich in calcium and not so rich in oxalates, oxalic acid, or phosphorus (all of which can cause MBD in high amounts).
Calcium to phosphorus ratio. This ratio plays a big part in determining how safe a food is for bearded dragons. Similar to oxalates, phosphorus works against calcium, preventing the dragon from absorbing it. So if a food has the same amount of calcium as phosphorus, for example, then the bearded dragon won’t really get to absorb any of that calcium because the phosphorus will bind with it. Ideally, it’s best to look for foods with at least a balanced ratio, and the recommended range is from 1:1 to 2:1 (with calcium being the first number). Blackberries actually have a 1.3:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio, putting them in the healthy range.
Water. Blackberries are made up of 88% water. This could be good or bad, depending on how many blackberries a dragon eats. A couple blackberries on occasion can offer an effective hydration boost. But too many blackberries can cause diarrhea, which in turn can severely dehydrate your dragon if it goes on long enough.
Fiber. Like many fruits, blackberries have fiber, which is key to a smoothly running digestive system. Again, this can be good or bad. Fiber is great for dragons in the appropriate amount, but too much can cause diarrhea and intestinal issues.
Vitamins. Blackberries are a great source of Vitamins A, C, and K. So a couple blackberries here and there can benefit your bearded dragon’s immune system, growth, vision, organs, tissues, bones, and blood.
Antioxidants. Berries are famous for their antioxidant content, blackberries included. These antioxidants can help prevent inflammation and protect your bearded dragon’s cells from free radicals.
Minerals. Blackberries are also a source of manganese and zinc, which are good for your dragon’s metabolism and immune system
Pro Tip: Avoid feeding wild blackberries to your beardie. It’s hard to know for sure what pesticides, chemicals, or other harmful substances they may have absorbed or come in contact with. Choose store bought or garden grown instead.
How Can Bearded Dragons Eat Blackberries?
Bearded dragons can typically eat raspberries and blueberries whole. However, blackberries can be a little more firm, and sometimes harder for a beardie to mash up in their mouth. You can cut blackberries in half or even smaller pieces if you feel that will be easier for your beardie to eat. This might be the best approach for baby and juvie dragons to help prevent choking or frustration.
Here are a few additional things to keep in mind when prepping blackberries for your bearded dragon to eat:
- Thoroughly wash the berries before serving. Make sure any leaves or pieces of stem are removed.
- If you’re using frozen berries, make sure they are sufficiently thawed. They should be room temperature, not warm. Keep in mind that sometimes frozen blackberries can make a bigger mess than fresh since they tend to be softer and can splatter more easily, so be prepared for the cleanup.
- If you’re feeding the berries in your dragon’s enclosure, be sure to clean out any leftover berries when your dragon is done eating. Berries can rot very quickly in the hot terrarium, which can leave you with a mess and put your dragon at risk of getting sick if she eats the rotten berries.
- Blackberries can be used to coax picky eaters to gobble up their greens and veggies! All you have to do is place blackberry pieces throughout their salad. Just be cautious not to do this too often, because your dragon might become so accustomed to having sweet fruit in his salad that he will only want to eat greens with fruit.
Next time you enjoy this delicious fruit, now you know you can share it with your bearded dragon. Just be aware of how often you feed it, and your dragon should be just fine.
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