Bearded dragons are one of the most amazing reptiles to have for you. These reptiles originated in Australia and have a very diverse diet. According to research, adult bearded dragons tend to live on more than 90% of plants. At the same time, less than 10% of the diet is other prey such as insects. This diversity in diet usually comes with much confusion for pet owners. As an owner of a bearded dragon, you must be wondering which thing you should feed to your little friend and what to avoid.
Vegetables are an essential part of the diet of bearded dragons. However, the wrong choice of vegetable can become dangerous for your beardie. Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) is one of the cruciferous vegetable related to kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels, and sprouts. It is prevalent all over the USA as a means to maintain a healthy diet and weight loss. So, now, if you have picked some fresh broccoli for yourself and wonder if you could feed it to your beardie, too, we have your answer. Keep reading to know all about this wonder vegetable and how to feed broccoli to your dragon in the best possible way. Remember, having complete knowledge about the diet of bearded dragons is necessary to ensure your little friend’s good health and growth.
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Is Broccoli Okay For Bearded Dragons?
Is broccoli safe for my bearded dragon? Can my bearded dragon eat broccoli? And the list goes on. These are some of the most frequent questions we hear, and every time our answer is positive.
Yes, broccoli is entirely safe for your bearded dragon. You can feed broccoli to your bearded dragon in small pieces twice or thrice a month. Its high Vitamin (A, C, B, K), protein and water content make it a nutritious source for bearded dragons.
Broccoli is full of energy. There are more proteins in it than you can imagine. However, it would be best if you remembered that moderation is the key. Though broccoli is entirely safe, you should never feed it more than the recommended frequency. It also contains many acids and minerals that can become dangerous for the bearded dragon if exceeding the safe dose.
Do not feed more than a bit of sprout of broccoli at one time. Let us talk about the health benefit and safety profile of broccoli in detail.
Advantages Of Broccoli:
If you feed raw broccoli to your bearded dragon, it contains almost 90% water, 3% protein, 7% carbs, and virtually no fat. Broccoli is an excellent choice for bearded dragons who are fighting obesity. It is all due to its very low caloric and carbohydrate content. Obesity can generate heart diseases, high blood sugar, bone diseases, and many other abnormalities in bearded dragons. You must be surprised to know that broccoli contains less than 31 calories in a whole cup!
Other nutritional contents in broccoli are:
|One Cup (91 Grams) Of Raw Broccoli Pack Contains|
Other Essential Vitamins And Minerals Are:
Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B9 (Folate), Vitamin K, Potassium, Phosphorus, Selenium
Nutritional Contents In Broccoli
Vitamin C is a must-have antioxidant. Broccoli becomes one of the essential sources of vitamin C for bearded dragons. It is because most of the vitamin C enriched foods are hazardous for bearded dragons. So, the food choices like broccoli, cantaloupe, and raspberries become the most valuable and safe source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your beardie fight deadly diseases. It strengthens its immune system to manage any exotic agent. Moreover, Vitamin C also improves the repair and regeneration of body tissues.
Vitamin A is one of the essential vitamins needed by bearded dragons. Another important source of this vitamin is apples. Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining normal epithelial tissue and is critical for vision, growth, reproduction, and immune function.
Vitamin K is also one of the essential vitamins for reptiles. It is vital to prevent excessive blood clotting. Lack of this vitamin can cause not only tissue necrosis but also heart failure. Moreover, it also plays a role in healthy bone development and growth.
Vitamin B9 Or Folates
Folates are one of the essential elements necessary for the proper functioning of the heart. The best part about broccoli is that it is one of the few sources of folates that you can include in the diet of your bearded dragon. Others can be cantaloupe. Folates are essential to make healthy blood cells, convert primary sources of energy like carbohydrates into ATP, and produce good genetic material like RNA and DNA.
The intake of folates is significant during growth years. However, broccoli is not a very good option for juvenile bearded dragons. You can use other sources of folates in the diet for this
Fibres Are Necessary:
Fibres help in proper food digestion and improve the motility of the whole GIT track. It also prevents constipation by facilitating the contents out of the gut smoothly. So, it is an excellent herbal remedy in case of constipation to your bearded dragon.
However, in the case of diarrhoea, broccoli can aggravate the situation and worsen it up. So, avoid it entirely in bearded dragons suffering from any gut problems, including ulceration.
Also, never increase fibre a lot in the diet of your bearded dragon. The increased amounts of fibre will hamper the absorption of all the contents in the food. Moreover, it also causes excessive diarrhoea, even in healthy bearded dragons. So, along with the amount, consider the number of high fibre foods in the diet too!
More Than 85% Of Water
Broccoli consist of more than 85% of water. And that’s why it is the best source of hydration for your little beardie. Most of the reptiles are not very good water drinkers. So, you need to add water-rich foods to the diet to ensure proper hydration. However, remember, your bearded dragon is very sensitive. Even if you exceed a little of the recommended amount, it will cause excessive diarrhoea and electrolyte imbalance. Moreover, the excess can also lead to indigestion. So, use a high water content diet smartly.
Iron is one of the most critical elements in red blood cells. These cells are responsible for the transportation of food and oxygen in the whole body. So, iron sources are very a must in the diet. However, remember that never exceed iron intake. It can cause multiple diseases linked to the liver, spleen, and abnormal production of RBC.
Manganese helps avoid inflammation in the body. It also helps in normal metabolism and energy production.
Harms Of Broccoli:
You must be a lot impressed with the many benefits of broccoli by now. However, do not be so quick in concluding. There are specific harms of having a broccoli diet if you provide broccoli in excess.
Bearded dragons do need a small amount of vitamin A. However, never go for a lot. The increased amounts of vitamin A can lead to vitamin A toxicity. The body and organs retain a lot of vitamin A as it is a fat-soluble vitamin, and the body does not excrete it. It can not only result in infertility but also liver malfunctioning. It can also affect the eyes.
The best way to avoid this trouble is to introduce only one or two vitamins A sources in the diet. Moreover, if your supplementation includes Vitamin A, do not add vitamin A enriched components to the diet. You can also use beta carotenes instead of vitamins to avoid their toxicity.
Phosphorus To Calcium Ratio:
Broccoli, just like most of the other greens, contains a high proportion of phosphorus to calcium. A high ratio of phosphorus to calcium will prevent adequate absorption of calcium in the body. Moreover, phosphorus also binds with blood calcium and prevents its absorption into the bones. So, it can cause severe hypocalcemia. Remember, calcium is one of the essential minerals for reptiles. Bearded dragons go short of calcium readily. So, be very careful with phosphorus enriched food. Or they can cause severe calcium deficiency leading to metabolic bone diseases. Hypocalcemia includes bone brittleness, fatigue, immobility, deformity of the whole skeleton, inflammation and fatigue. The distortion in the structure can extend to the level that it can even paralyse your bearded dragon. You will not want to see your pet through this much pain, right. So, be careful.
If your bearded dragon is already suffering from hypocalcemia, then contact your vet immediately. You can quickly and gradually treat it with supplementation and a balanced diet.
Oxalic acid is exceptionally harmful to a bearded dragon. Oxalic acid has effected the same as too much phosphorus in the body.
It causes not only stone formation but also hypocalcemia. However, a meagre amount of oxalic acid can also be quite harmful—the most prominent source of oxalic acids are greens, apart from looking into other diet options for bearded dragon and explore which can cause hypocalcemia in these lizards. Never pair two or more sources in a single bowl that can potentially cause hypocalcemia in bearded dragons.
Let us compare the oxalic acid concentration in various greens to let you have a better idea:
So, if you add parsley or spinach in the bowl of your bearded dragon, do not add raspberries and oranges, which are also high in their oxalate content.
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli?
Juvenile bearded dragons must have at least 50-70% insects in their diet. Other than this you can include vegetables and fruits in the rest of 30%. They need this diet for active growth, development and strengthening of their organs and metabolism. Vegetables do not have enough nutrients to meet their needs. Moreover, you need to be very precise and careful about the diet of baby bearded dragons. It is because they cannot bear even slight stress or deficiency.
Broccoli and most other greens contain many minerals that can lead to calcium deficiency in bearded dragons. Hypocalcemia and other metabolic disorder become fatal in juvenile bearded dragons. So, please do not take the risk of adding many greens to it. Avoid broccoli and additional phosphorus and oxalic acid-rich foods. Even if you feed, never use more than a small chunk of it.
Moreover, the bearded baby dragon cannot eat raw broccoli and may choke it. So, you better boil or steam it before feeding. However, it is the best choice to avoid it.
You can try other options of vegetables for juvenile bearded dragons. These include:
- Bell pepper
- Cactus leaves
- Butternut squash
- Mustard greens
- Acorn squash
- Yellow squash
- Collard greens
How To Feed Broccoli To Bearded Dragons?
Broccoli is quite challenging, and bearded dragons are quite rough eaters. They don’t bother to chew a lot. So, you better cut it into small pieces before feeding. Do not boil it. It is because it will lose the essential minerals and vitamins in the boiling process. However, you can lightly steam it to make it a bit softer.
- Always select fresh broccoli for your beardie. Never go for stale food. It can contain a lot of bacteria or mould, which can cause several health hazards.
- Wash your vegetable thoroughly before feeding to remove any chemicals, insecticide and pesticide. Always wash the vegetable before cutting, even if it is organic.
- Remove the stalk and stem and keep only the flower part of the florets. The branch of broccoli is tough to chew, and it can also cause indigestion. So, avoid it.
- Chop the flowers into small pieces. Make sure to make it smaller than the size of the dragon’s throat.
- You can either feed it alone or sprinkle it on the bowl of salad. Giving as a part of salad bowl is always a better idea.
Can We Feed Frozen Broccoli To Our Bearded Dragon?
Yes, you can feed frozen broccoli. However, thaw your broccoli sufficiently before feeding it to your dragon. This method also removes excess water, which makes it a relatively better feeding option. So, yeah, frozen broccoli is entirely safe for your bearded dragon.
The bearded dragon must have a diet having much variety. However, this little creature cannot bear the load of extra minerals. So, be very cautious in feeding broccoli to your dragon. You better not include it in the diet of baby beardie. Moreover, never give it more than 2-3 times a month.
I am a graduate of a veterinary university. Dealing with all the kinds of pets from the dawn to dusk, it’s like understanding their language. That is the best time ever, I must say!
Writing has always been my orphenadrine. I love to share my experience and talk about the most common issues people have been facing with their pets. My writing career began in 2015. I aimed to work for pets to share my experience and make pet humans relation a lot better. I usually talk about the most significant or recurrent cases of the day. During my practice at pet centre, I face a lot of questions by pet owners. Moreover, I also own a variety of pets myself including different species of mammals, birds and reptiles.
Therefore, I have decided to educate all the pet owners about their little friends who can’t talk the way we do. Understanding what they are telling us is all we need to do. And most of us fail to perceive.
So, I am here to serve the purpose. Let’s help each other in better understanding the needs, behaviours, and problems of our best friends with the best possible solutions!