“Bearded dragons need to eat their greens.” It’s something you probably hear a lot as a Dragon Keeper. But sometimes this can raise a lot of questions—after all, there are so many greens to choose from! There’s spinach. Kale. Arugula. Dandelion leaves. Even carrot tops and grape leaves. Not to mention all sorts of salad lettuces, like romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and butter lettuce. As you dig into your next salad, you might wonder, what salad can bearded dragons eat? Can bearded dragons eat lettuce? If so, what kind of lettuce can a bearded dragon eat?
Is Lettuce Good for Bearded Dragons?
Lettuce is famous for being rich in water and low in calories while still offering vitamins and minerals. Despite its value and popularity in the human diet, lettuce is not the best vegetable for bearded dragons. Some varieties are less valuable for them than others. We’ll take a look at a few of the popular varieties you often find in salads and determine if bearded dragons can (or should) eat them.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Romaine Lettuce?
With a refreshing crunch, romaine is a great option for salads, tacos, and more. Of the popular salad lettuces, romaine offers the most nutritional value for bearded dragons and humans alike. So if you are going to feed your bearded dragon lettuce, romaine would be the best choice. However, just because it is more nutritious than the other lettuces doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great vegetable for your bearded dragon to eat.
As far as nutrients go, romaine lettuce contains Vitamins A, C, and K as well as some calcium, folate, potassium, and magnesium. Romaine lettuce has a beardie-safe calcium to phosphorus ratio, at 1.1:1. (Foods that have more phosphorus than calcium can cause metabolic bone disease, so romaine lettuce is in the clear where that’s concerned.)
Additionally, romaine lettuce is made up of 95% water, so it is technically available as an option if your beardie needs a quick hydration boost. However, there are more nutritious options you can consider before giving your dragon romaine lettuce. A bit of cabbage, strawberry, apples, grapes, cucumber, raspberry, or blackberry will work just as well, and offer a little more nutritional value than romaine lettuce.
The problem with giving your bearded dragon romaine lettuce isn’t that it will be harmful necessarily (besides that it can cause diarrhea in large amounts). The issue really is that bearded dragons should be feasting on vegetables that are a lot more nutrient dense.
There is so much water in romaine lettuce and comparatively so little nutrients. If you are going to make your dragon a salad, you could opt for arugula, kale, and collard greens instead of a romaine lettuce spring mix. Your beardie will enjoy more nutrients in the same amount of food.
The other reason that romaine is not a great staple green for bearded dragons—it’s not rich in calcium. It has some, but not enough to make it worth much in your beardie’s diet. This is the case with similar lettuce varieties as well, like iceberg lettuce.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Iceberg Lettuce?
Possibly the most popular salad lettuce, iceberg lettuce is very lacking in nutrients where bearded dragons are concerned. While it does offer a little Vitamin A, C, and K, folate, and potassium, all of which your beardie needs, it is just not very nutrient dense, and not a great source of calcium.
Iceberg lettuce is 96% water, so it may seem like a good source of hydration. However, the high water content and low nutritional value add up to make iceberg lettuce a catalyst for diarrhea. This can end up counteracting the goal of hydration because prolonged diarrhea can actually cause dehydration. Signs of dehydration include loss of appetite, fatigue, sunken eyes, and wrinkly skin.
A lot of times bearded dragons won’t drink out of a water bowl, so a great way to keep them hydrated is through food. So you might turn to lettuce to do this important job. But it’s best to try and hydrate with food that offers a little more nutritional value, and less risk of diarrhea.
Can bearded dragons eat butter lettuce?
Known for its wide leaves and soft texture, butter lettuce has a smooth, almost “buttery” feel. Butter lettuce offers bearded dragons a little more nutrition than iceberg lettuce. It includes a lot of Vitamin A, some Vitamin B6 and C, some iron and potassium, and a little carbohydrate and protein.
The calcium in butter lettuce outweighs its phosphorus by a little, which of course is a good thing for bearded dragons. But it doesn’t offer much for your beardie in comparison to other veggies that provide hydration and calcium.
Can bearded dragons eat green leaf lettuce?
Green leaf lettuce adds a delicious crunch to burgers and sandwiches. It has a little fiber, protein, and Vitamin C, and is especially rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and potassium.
Green leaf lettuce is so rich in Vitamin A that it could put your bearded dragon at risk of developing Vitamin A toxicity (also known as hypervitaminosis A). Usually bearded dragons who take Vitamin A supplements are at higher risk for this health concern, but consuming too much Vitamin A and beta-carotene in foods can also cause it. If your beardie is suffering from Vitamin A overdose, you may notice swelling, decrease in energy, weight loss, and dehydration.
Green leaf lettuce has 95% water, so it can cause diarrhea, like the other kinds of lettuce.
Can baby bearded dragons eat lettuce?
The same lettuce rules apply for baby dragons, juvenile dragons, and adult dragons. Lettuce isn’t a great choice for any dragon, so consider exploring other vegetables to include in their balanced diet instead.
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