Vegetables play an important role in your bearded dragon’s diet, but the wrong vegetables can do more harm than good. And some vegetables, while occasionally safe, can’t be fed very frequently. You might be wondering where broccoli falls on the spectrum. Can bearded dragons eat broccoli?
Although this super veggie is chock-full of nutrients that beardies need to grow and thrive, it also contains a deadly acid and mineral that can hurt bearded dragons in large doses. That’s why bearded dragons can have broccoli, but not too frequently.
How Often Can Bearded Dragons Have Broccoli?
Bearded dragons can safely consume a little bit of broccoli once a month or so. In the appropriate amount, broccoli offers numerous health benefits to humans and bearded dragons alike:
- Vitamins A and C, which strengthen the immune system, vision, reproduction, and growth
- Vitamin K1, which regulates blood clotting and supports bone health
- Potassium, which regulates blood pressure, aids muscle function, prevents kidney problems, and lowers water retention
- Fiber, which promotes a smooth digestive process
- Iron, which helps keep the blood properly oxygenated
- Manganese, which aids metabolism and prevents inflammation
- High water content, making it a great vegetable to hydrate your beardie (raw broccoli is 90% water)
Unfortunately, that’s not all there is to it when it comes to feeding your bearded dragon broccoli. Here are some of the issues you must consider.
Too much phosphorus, too little calcium. As is the case with many vegetables and fruits, broccoli contains more phosphorus than calcium, which means the phosphorus to calcium ratio does not fall in the healthy range for regular consumption.
Foods that contain a phosphorus to calcium ratio of 1:1 or higher in favor of calcium are generally safe for bearded dragons to eat on a daily basis (depending on what else is in the food, of course). If a food does not fall into this range, it isn’t safe for your beardie to eat every day.
Phosphorus prevents calcium from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Long term, this depletes your beardie’s calcium intake because the body actually begins taking calcium away from the bones.
This causes metabolic bone disease, which is a horrible ordeal for your beardie and for you. It twists, distorts, and even paralyzes the limbs, and can kill your dragon if left untreated. No Dragon Keeper wants to see their pet go through that! The good news is that you can easily prevent MBD by providing your dragon with a healthy diet and calcium supplements.
Oxalic acid. Broccoli contains oxalic acid, which can be deadly for bearded dragons since it essentially has the same effect as too much phosphorus: it binds with calcium and prevents that vital mineral from being absorbed into the body, resulting in MBD. Oxalic acid can also cause your bearded dragon to suffer from kidney stones.
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli?
To support their growth and development, baby dragons should eat a diet of 80% insects and 20% plants (it’s the reverse for adult dragons). So this means there isn’t a lot of room in their diet for vegetables that aren’t nutritionally necessary.
Broccoli is one of those vegetables your baby beardie doesn’t need to grow and thrive. Any health benefit of broccoli isn’t worth the risk of damage it can cause in a little dragon whose bones are still growing. Additionally, broccoli is more of a tough vegetable, so your baby beardie may end up choking.
It’s best to feed staple veggies to your baby beardie instead of vegetables that can only be eaten by juvenile and adult dragons sparingly. Try these baby-safe veggies instead of broccoli:
- Acorn squash
- Bell pepper
- Butternut squash
- Cactus leaves
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Yellow squash
How Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli?
Broccoli has a rather tough consistency, so always cut it into very small pieces to prevent choking. Follow these steps to serve broccoli safely to your beardie:
- As with any vegetable, wash thoroughly before serving, even if it’s organic.
- If you are using frozen broccoli, sufficiently thaw the broccoli before proceeding to serve.
- Cut off just the green flowery part of the florets and chop it into tiny pieces. Don’t feed the stem or stalk, since they are hard to chew.
- Place the chopped broccoli buds in your beardie’s food dish as part of a salad, maybe with a little strawberry, carrot, squash, and collard greens.
Pro Tip: It’s best to feed your bearded dragon raw broccoli. Cooking removes some of the nutrients, and raw veggies are what dragons eat in the wild.
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