It’s understandable to question giving certain foods to your bearded dragon. At the same time, it’s only natural to worry that they are getting all the nutrients they need. But what about Butternut Squash? Does this have a place in the diet, and is it something you can offer and serve? Here is what you need to know.
So, can bearded dragons eat butternut squash? Bearded dragons can eat butternut squash, both raw and cooked, with raw being preferable. The skin and seeds should be removed prior to serving. You will also need to cut this vegetable into tiny pieces to ensure it cannot get lodged in your beardies throat.
When you begin to look at what these reptiles consume, you will find that they can eat quite a variety of foods.
And so they should.
It generally does them best.
A well-rounded and balanced bearded dragon’s diet is certainly one that includes fruits, vegetables, and insects. With some appreciation of off-limit foods, of course.
But butternut squash is not one of them; it can be an excellent addition to the diet.
And while both raw and cooked squash can be provided, raw is generally considered better.
Why? Because cooking removes and lowers the various vitamin and minerals on offer.
That being said, you certainly need to be careful with how you offer it raw; it is, without doubt, a tough vegetable.
It can be tough for a beardie to consume and digest if not prepared right.
So, let us now explore precisely why, when, and how to feed it!
Is Butternut Squash Good For Bearded Dragons?
Butternut squash is an excellent addition to a bearded dragon’s diet – it contains vital nutrients, including decent amounts of Vitamin A, C, various B-vitamins, and minerals such as Magnesium and Potassium. Feeding butternut squash raw is best; grated or chopped into tiny pieces will ensure such nutrients are obtained.
Of course, butternut squash should contribute to the variety in a bearded dragon’s diet (of other fruits and vegetables).
It should never be fed exclusively.
Let us quickly look at the complete list of nutrients this type of squash provides:
Nutritional Content of Butternut Squash
|Of which are sugars||2.2 g|
|Vitamin K||1.1 µg|
|Vitamin C||21 mg|
|Vitamin A||532 µg|
As you can see, this particular vegetables provides a good source of energy.
It is low in fat, and the fiber will help a bearded dragon stay regular while also slowing down the absorption of the carbohydrates; for sustained energy release.
And most importantly, it provides decent levels of the critical nutrient calcium and, better yet, has an ideal calcium to phosphorous ratio!
Try not to get too excited.
You must be aware that vegetables and fruits should only make up about 50% of an adult beardie’s diet. And squash is a smaller part of this.
Nevertheless, you can serve butternut squash in small quantities in addition to other vegetables.
Just remember, young bearded dragons require fewer vegetables and more insects.
They require more dietary fats and protein for growth.
But for the average adult bearded dragon, butternut squash is ideal in many ways.
And these reptiles love colorful foods, so the unique and vibrant orange color of butternut squash will be very appealing.
And let us not just stop at butternut.
Although butternut squash is exceptionally high in calcium. It is also a better source of vitamin A and vitamin C than you get from acorn squash, for instance.
There are dozens of different squash varieties to offer your beardie, each providing different and favorable amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium, all with phosphorus in lower amounts.
Not something you usually see. But something you certainly want to seek out.
And aside from all the vitamins and minerals, a beardie will receive from squash; it also offers some much-needed hydration to bearded dragons.
It’s actually quite water-dense, at 86 g of water per 100 g of serving.
Just remember this water is not enough on its own.
A bearded dragon still needs to drink and access to water to bathe.
Butternut squash and other plant foods offer some hydration, but it’s not enough on its own – so be mindful of this.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Butternut Squash Raw?
Bearded dragons can eat butternut squash raw; in fact, raw squash is better for their health than cooked as many minerals and vegetables become lost in the cooking process.
Offering raw squash to your beardie also encourages natural behaviors, as wild beardies eat their foods in an entirely raw state from what’s available in their given location.
And at the same time, cooking upsets the structure of foods, robbing them of their natural nutritional value as many vitamins and minerals leech into the water.
Just be sure to always seek out a fresh and ripe squash.
You can judge a butternut squash’s ripeness by the outer rind’s color and texture.
If you notice green spots, this means that it’s not ready to eat. The skin should be hard, with an even color, and not at all shiny.
And from there, a little preparation will be required for raw squash too.
You’ll need to wash and remove the skin, chop the squash into tiny pieces, or grate before feeding.
And you must treat the handling, sanitation, and preparation of raw squash with meticulous care.
You do not want any cross-contamination as this can result in your beardie getting ill.
So, make sure to wash the outside of the vegetable well.
Make sure that your chopping board and all utensils are thoroughly cleaned before preparing the squash.
Nevertheless, all of this is undoubtedly worth your time and effort.
The benefits of feeding raw butternut squash overcooked are undeniable; these benefits for your bearded dragon include healthier skin, improved eye health, smaller stools, and increased energy.
If you feel that the butternut squash might be too hard for your bearded dragon, steaming or roasting it for a short while is preferable to overcooking it- just make sure to let it cool down first before feeding it to your beardie.
Please note: beardies need a combination of hard and soft foods.
Soft foods often stick to the bearded dragons’ teeth and gums, which can cause tooth decay, while hard foods counterbalance this.
With that said, you must be careful with hard raw foods too. They just pose a different risk.
Make sure that they are chopped into tiny bite-sized pieces and provide adequate dental care to your beardie.
Do You Peel Squash For Bearded Dragons?
It would be best if you peeled squash for your bearded dragon before serving. It’s hard and fibrous and challenging for a beardie to consume. That being said, some owners have been known to feed the skin to their beardies in small amounts and in moderation.
Generally, peeling is advised.
Bearded dragon’s teeth are easily damaged, broken, and lost, so you need to be mindful of hard foods.
And the skins of squash, in particular, are pretty firm.
So just watch out.
Nonetheless, the key is to practice appropriate husbandry and frequently monitor the condition of your bearded dragon’s teeth.
If you decide to feed the peel of butternut squash to your beardie, it is typically best to feed it to adults, as their teeth are better developed and stronger by this stage.
But why would you even want to offer the peel?
Well, the peel does contain some additional nutrition, including fiber, vitamin A, C, and E.
If you do want to offer the skin, and you can, source organic.
Otherwise, you must rinse the skin well, as this is where potential contaminants, pollutants, or pesticides are found.
Washing it with acid like apple cider vinegar is a known way to help reduce some of these problematic substances.
How Do You Cut A Butternut Squash For A Bearded Dragon?
But even before preparing, you must learn to hold and cut the vegetable correctly.
Butternut squash is quite a curvy veg, and trying to cut it can be a tough and sometimes dangerous experience.
Be sure to have a sharp knife as a blunt one is more like to cause an injury.
Please take note of the following steps:
- Place a tea towel below your chopping board to stop it from moving when you chop. Steadily hold the butternut squash on your chopping board, trim off the top and bottom using a sharp knife.
- Look at the point where the long neck section meets the round bottom section, and begin to split the butternut squash with your knife at that point. You will be left with a long thin half and a short wider half. Cut those pieces in half from the top down – to expose the seeds section.
- Remove the seeds by scooping them out with a spoon and peel the skin using either a swivel or Y-shaped blade knife or vegetable peeler.
- Once you have peeled, halved, and removed the squash seeds, prepare the veg by grating it or chopping it into tiny, bite-sized pieces for your bearded dragon.
How Much Butternut Squash To Feed A Bearded Dragon?
The amount of butternut squash to feed a bearded dragon will depend on their age and size. Although, adults can generally eat more than young beardies.
Before getting into how much butternut squash you can provide to your bearded dragon, it helps to get a bigger picture of their daily diet and how it should look each day.
Vegetables should only make up about 1/4 of a juvenile beardie’s diet and 1/2 of an adult’s.
Butternut squash can make up a small part of that, and it’s up to you how often you want to feed it to your bearded dragon.
Nevertheless, do not neglect variety!
Bearded dragons require more than just butternut squash.
So, leafy greens, collard greens, kale, carrots, and zucchini; are all the other kinds of vegetables you offer too.
And don’t forget. Protein is essential.
For young bearded dragons, it is imperative. In fact, their diet should mainly comprise of insects for the protein and fats. They need these for growth.
An adult beardie needs less protein than a young beardie; this is where and when more vegetables can be included.
The likes of butternut squash are an excellent option, which they can consume more frequently.
Some protein will always be required, even in adult beardies, mind.
For the young bearded dragon – they will eat protein once per day; for the adult, this will be once every two days.
Bearded dragons can certainly eat butternut squash; it is, in fact, one of the best vegetables you can provide. That is, if it is fresh, ripe, and prepared properly.
Just be sure to feed them other vegetables aside from butternut squash for variety.
And at the same time, be mindful that your bearded dragon may not even like it!
Different beardies have different tastes, and not every beardie will enjoy eating butternut squash.
If your bearded dragon doesn’t like the taste, that is quite normal and not something to be concerned with.
As long as you are offering variety to your bearded dragon’s diet, and they obtain the nutrients they need, well – that’s all that matters.
These reptiles are relatively curious when eating and are known to enjoy a wide range of veggies, fruits, and insects.
So, feel free to be a little adventurous with their diet.
Be mindful of the toxic foods, but from there, try to find out what they enjoy.
Starting with butternut squash…