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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli? [Is This Vegetable Safe?]

Bearded Dragons are cool, tropical pets to own. Of course, you need to do your research on the proper care of your pet Bearded Dragon, with their own unique needs and requirements. Diet is especially important; you’ll need to know exactly what they should, like and are unable to eat. But what about Broccoli? Is this safe and even preferable to feed?

So, can Bearded Dragons eat broccoli? Bearded Dragons can eat broccoli, although they should do so in moderation. A small serving, cut up into manageable chunks once per week is often enough. Too much broccoli should not be fed because it is high in a substance called oxalic acid. When consumed in excess, this can bind to calcium and other important minerals which can cause nutritional deficiencies and other health complications. Generally, broccoli is more suitable for adults opposed to babies/juveniles.

When bearded dragons are young, they are instinctively more carnivorous. They should consume more protein, coming from a wide variety of insects. As they age and enter adulthood, they require a more herbivorous diet – one that includes more vegetables.

Naturally, owners will want to know what vegetables they can look to include in their beardies diet as they age. Broccoli is one of them.

Let us now take a closer look at this green vegetable so you know exactly whether or not to offer it. We will be covering the benefits and risks, how to feed it safely and other suitable vegetables. So be sure to keep reading until the end so that you know what is right for your beardie!

Should Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli?

The cruciferous vegetable broccoli is fine for your beardie in moderation, in small servings at a time. Typically, once per week is ample.

This should ensure that your beardie can obtain all of the nutrition from this vegetable without running into the risks associated with higher intake. Remember, moderation is key.

Of course, bearded dragons do not need to eat broccoli in order to be healthy and to live a long life. In fact, there are owners whom will never look to offer this to their pet.

Broccoli is a type of feed that you can offer, if you have some going spare and you want to offer a bit more variety in your bearded dragons diet.

Its important to note that not all bearded dragons will take to eating broccoli. Some may ignore it when provided all together – regardless of how you prepare it or how it is offered.

Bearded dragons have their own unique preferences, so you should not look to force any food upon them if they show a dis-interest – regardless of what this food is. The only time this statement does not hold true is if they are not eating anything altogether. This is usually a sign of illness and requires the assistance of vet.

That being said, most bearded dragons will enjoy the occasional piece of broccoli. But a little goes a long way.

If you did want to feed some, be sure to offer small amounts of finely chopped up leaves and florets. Be sure to offer broccoli raw and never cooked. They can’t eat it prepared in this way.

Ultimately, beardies are omnivores, eating both animal based foods and a variety of plant based matter. Generally, a combination of insects, fruits, and vegetables is best for your beardie.

Benefits of Feeding Broccoli To Your Bearded Dragon

Broccoli is nutrient dense and packed with calcium, protein, and fiber. It’s also packed with healthy vitamins such as: Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin C, Vitamin K.

The table below gives you a good breakdown of the nutritional profile for this vegetable. It is based on 1 broccoli floret (~30g), which would be an appropriate serving size for a beardie:

NameAmount
Calories10
Water27 g
Carbohydrates0.95 g
Protein0.8 g
Fiber0.8 g
Calcium 14.6 mg
Phosphorus20.5 mg
Potassium98 mg
Vitamin C27.7 mg
Iron
0.22 mg
Vitamin A193 IU
Vitamin K31.5 µg
Source: USDA (US Department of Agriculture)

As you can see, broccoli does provide a good variety and range of nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals.

So, it can definitely be included in your beardies diet for supplemental nutrition.

So, why the need to limit the frequency of serving and the serving sizes in general? Let us now explore why in the following section.

Downsides of Feeding Broccoli To Your Bearded Dragon?

There are several reasons why you will want to limit the amount of broccoli to your bearded dragon.

Firstly, as you can see from the table above, broccoli consists primarily of fiber, water and protein. The water content is especially high, so consuming too much at a time can lead to bloat. This condition can be very dangerous in beardies.

Secondly, you can observe the calcium to phosphorous ratio is not preferable.

Bearded Dragon experts and specialists, emphasize the need to be optimize the calcium to phosphorous ratio, ensuring it swings towards a higher calcium intake. In fact, its crucial that this higher calcium ratio is met. This is particularly true in young beardies who are still growing.

So, as an owner you need to be careful of the amount of phosphorous you are adding to your beardies diet and all significant sources of it (like broccoli). You will need to supplement calcium in response and accordingly.

Additionally, Broccoli is high in a compound called Oxalic acid. This compound is dangerous when it accumulates in excess in reptiles. So, as an owner you need to be aware of all sources to ensure you do not exceed the healthy threshold.

And this is where it gets challenging. There are some other vegetables that are high in oxalic acid too.

You must avoid feeding too many of these vegetables to your beardie – or otherwise you can easily stack the oxalic acid unintentionally.

Here is a list of other veggies that contain high levels of oxalic acid. Avoid giving too much to your beardie at one time or too often:

  • Spinach
  • Beet greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Endive
  • Kale

So, while leafy green broccoli is packed with vitamins and minerals – there are downsides.

Oxalic acid is perhaps the most dangerous one; as it interferes with your Bearded Dragon’s mineral and calcium absorption.

So, If they were to eat too much broccoli (or other high oxalate foods), they can develop health complications and conditions such as: kidney failure, hypocalcemia, and thyroid problems. Bladder stones and fluid retention have also been documented.

Additionally, oxalic acid is known to cause depletion of calcium in the bones; causing degeneration and even stunted growth in juveniles.

While this all sounds very scary; these conditions are the result of extended or significant doses of oxalate over time.

As a responsible owner, being vigilant of what you feed, how often and ensuring their diet consists primarily of other safe foods should ensure these ailments are avoided. Even with the occasional serving of Broccoli, Kale and Beet Greens.

How Can You Feed Broccoli To Your Bearded Dragon

Ensuring your beardie meets their calcium and phosphorus, vitamin and mineral requirements can come through a varied diet of of vegetables, fruits, and proteins. 

Broccoli can be part of that; so long as the following factors are met:

  1. Make broccoli a treat for your beardie. Give them a small serving at any one time.
  2. Be sure the broccoli is raw, not cooked.
  3. Cut the broccoli leaves or heads in small pieces so your beardie cannot choke. This can be fatal if they are left unsupervised or you are unable to dislodge any large swallowed piece.
  4. Some experts suggest only giving your beardie the floret part of the broccoli. It’s easiest for your beardie to chew and digest. The stalk is often not recommended.
  5. Baby Bearded Dragons do best with very limited/to no broccoli in their diets. They eat mostly insects at this stage. A young Bearded Dragons eats around 80% insects and only 20% fruits and vegetables. Broccoli therefore should not displace other more suitable vegetables during this stage of life.
  6. If your beardie is getting sick, stop feeding them broccoli and contact your vet.

Preparing Broccoli To Feed Your Bearded Dragon

  • Opt for organic where possible, and be sure never to prepare spoiled broccoli for your beardie.
  • Wash the broccoli under cold water. You can also put the broccoli in a bowl and fill it with cold water. Allow the broccoli to sit for a few minutes.
  • With your hands, clean off the broccoli removing any dirt or insects.
  • Remove the broccoli from the bowl of water, dry it off with a paper towel.
  • Using a knife, cut off the broccoli’s leaves and florets.
  • Be sure to remove any stem from the florets and cut large florets into smaller pieces. Be sure all the pieces are very small, you don’t want your beardie to choke.

Supplements Your Beardie Needs

If you do decide to include some broccoli in your beardies diet, don not forget about the calcium/phospherous ratio.

Here are other supplements a beardie requires and reptile experts recommend, especially if broccoli and other phosphorous heavy foods are included in the diet.

  • Calcium without vitamin D – Sprinkle this lightly on your beardies food. For babies, do so 4-5 times per week. For adults, 3 times should suffice.
  • Calcium with Vitamin D3 – Just like you did with the other powder, sprinkle it lightly on your beardies food. For babies, do so 3-5 times per week. For adults, 1-2 times should suffice. Here’s the best one to get on Amazon.

Be sure to contact your vet regarding supplements and to meet the specific needs of your beardie.

Other Vegetables To Feed Your Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragons do best with an assortment of vegetables, insects, and fruits.

Here is a good list of vegetables to offer your Bearded Dragon more regularly in the diet:

  • Peeled cucumbers
  • Cabbage
  • Squash
  • Carrots (shredded)
  • Bell peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Butternut squash

Leafy greens (sparingly – in moderation and not too much)

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens

NO lettuceLettuce is not a good for your beardie. It’s high in water, has no real nutrition and causes diarrhea.

Don’t forget! Cut up all vegetables into small pieces so your beardie can chew on them without choking.

What If My Bearded Dragon Is A Picky Eater?

Some bearded dragons are known to be picky eaters. They don’t want to eat their leafy greens or vegetables.

It’s a problem because these foods are required for variety and ensuring all nutritional needs are met.

So, here are some suggestions to get your picky eater to eat their vegetables.

  1. Preference for Insects – Your Bearded Dragon would eat insects all day if you let them. Your beardie may begin to want insects exclusively, sticking up their nose at veggies. Be sure you don’t give your beardie too many tasty insects or this could happen.
  2. Overfed with Insects – If your beardie is not eating their vegetables, it could be that they are full from their insect consumption. Insects are high in protein, reducing hunger. You may need to give your beardies stomach a break by feeding fewer insects. If your beardie is hungrier with lowered protein, they are more likely to eat their veggies.
  3. Hand feeding – Okay, this sounds like you’re spoiling your beardie, but you really need to get them to eat. So try hand feeding them some cut up greens at first, then hand feed them an insect. Do this a couple of times so they get the idea that’s they’re supposed to eat both insects and veggies on their own.
  4. Scatter the veggies around – Bearded Dragons like to forage. Put the pieces of greens and other veggies near their favorite spots. Do not put too many vegetables in at once in case they do not eat them. Leftover veggies decay quickly and will make the enclosure smell and can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
  5. Worm wraps – If none of the other suggestions work, try putting wax worms inside a small piece of collard green or kale. Keep the size small. When your beardie sees the worm wrap, they will likely eat it. It may even become a requested favorite by your picky eater.

If your Bearded Dragon continues to not eat, contact your veterinarian.

You may need to take them in for a check-up to be sure that they are healthy. Not eating could be a sign of illness.

Finally

Bearded Dragons make great pets. They’re relatively easy to care for once you’ve set up their enclosures. But, getting their diet balanced with the right amount of insects, veggies and fruits is important.

When bearded dragons are young, they eat mostly insects with some vegetables and fruit.

Once your Bearded Dragon is an adult, they should be eating 25% to 30% insects with 70% to 75% vegetables and fruits.

Do not overfeed them with leafy greens since many of them are high in oxalic acid. Excess consumption of this substance will deplete their body of calcium and other important minerals.

With this in mind, be sure to give your beardie broccoli only infrequently. When doing so, make sure you offer it raw and prepare it just the way they like it – small bite-sized pieces. This also minimizes the risk of choking.

Beardies can be picky eaters, especially when they move into adulthood. Their diet changes from predominantly insects to more veggies and fruits.

Your bearded may balk at eating their veggies, but it is important for them to do so. Be patient with them and use some of the simple strategies documented above to encourage them to do so.

You can even get them to love broccoli – just make sure its not too much!