A Bearded dragons diet should consist of a variety of insects and vegetables, along with smaller servings of fruit and flowers. But what about cauliflower? Where does this fit in? Is it safe, or even beneficial to feed to your beardie? Requiring such information, I decided to do some research; here is what I was able to find.
So, can bearded dragons eat cauliflower? You should not look to feed cauliflower to your bearded dragon, regularly, if at all. There are plenty of other safe and better vegetable options out there. Cauliflower is high in water content, higher in phosphorous than calcium, and is also high in a compound called Goitrogens. Goitrogens disrupt the production of thyroid hormones and can lead to metabolic disease in your beardie when consumed in excess.
When it comes to your bearded dragons diet, you’ll want to provide foods that provide more benefits than issues. Unfortunately, while a small amount of cauliflower here and there (in small quantities) should not cause any significant issues, it can and will do over time and if given in excess.
As owners, we have to remember that its a delicate balance and that other foods may contain Goitrogens and other dangerous substances too. For example: Kale, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Brussel Sprouts and Turnips are all high in Goitrogens too.
So, as you can imagine, without careful consideration, it can be easy to overburden your beardie, even with a wide variety of vegetables that can easily be mistaken as healthy additions to the diet.
Let us now take a closer look at why cauliflower is not the best choice along with some other suitable alternatives for your pet bearde dragon.
Should Bearded Dragons Eat Cauliflower?
Bearded dragons are omnivorous – doing best with a diet of that contains at least 50% plant-based material. Of that, 80-90% should come from a variety of vegetables and flowers.
However, it can be hard to know exactly what vegetables are safe – cauliflower is one prime example.
It does not help that bearded dragons naturally come from an environment where food is sparse, so that are known to accept a variety of foods when presented and given the chance.
So as an owner, we need to be informed and educated on what they can and should eat. We cannot necessarily rely on their instincts to turn down foods that are not most suitable, and of course we are in control of what we do and do not need.
So, back to cauliflower; should we be feeding it? The answer to this question is – very sparingly, if at all.
This is because cauliflower is naturally high in a compound known as Goitrogens.
Goitrogens are a component found in certain vegetables that are known to suppress thyroid function. In excess, they can even lead to a condition known as hypothyroidism (low metabolism) which can lead to a myriad of other health issues in your beardie.
Goitrogens essentially interfere with the uptake of a mineral known as iodine which is required by the thyroid gland. Restriction can lead to the thyroid increasing in size as a means to supply more iodine to the gland. So, this is something to look out for in your beardie. The thyroid gland is positioned in the neck.
Its important to remember that cauliflower is not the only vegetable that contains Goitrogens, which is why as an owner we need to exercise caution.
With cauliflower, its not really required in your bearded dragons diet. They do not ‘need it’ and there are other much more suitable, and health-promoting vegetables that they can eat. So, whether or not you feed a small amount here and there is going to be a personal decision.
As a vegetable, cauliflower does of course contain some beneficial vitamins and minerals, its not all bad.
Here is the nutritional information for just 1 floweret (13g) of cauliflower:
With all these benefits, we can begin to see why the odd floweret may be beneficial. However, with the Goitrogens in mind is ultimately, advised that you feed cauliflower rarely to your bearded dragon.
How Much Cauliflower Can I Give To My Bearded Dragon?
In the case of cauliflower, it is recommended to offer it to your bearded dragon in very small quantities, 1 floweret (13g) once per month.
This means that it should not be included in the daily ration of vegetables which should be given to bearded dragons. In this serving, other vegetables are better suited such as: collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, alfalfa hay, parsley, watercress, bell peppers, green beans, escarole, and dandelion.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cauliflower Greens?
The, outer leaves of a cauliflower head (known as the greens) are actually edible and most people tend to throw them away.
However, did you know that you can actually serve these to your beardie and should look to do so. Thankfully, the leaves do not contain the Goitrogens as found in the head.
Instead, the leaves are known to be very rich in calcium and iron – two minerals that are very important for a bearded dragon to obtain through their diet.
In fact, cauliflower green are actually one of the richest sources of calcium in vegetables. In a 100g serving, there is around 600mg of calcium!
As a general rule, anything dark green and leafy can make up a large part of the diet (source). So adding some leaves can be great to add to your beardies bowl.
Better Vegetables To Feed Your Bearded Dragon
So now that we know that cauliflower is not the best vegetable to offer our beardies, what should we look to feed them instead?
The following list of vegetables are considered ideal for beardies:
- Dandelion Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Green beans
- Butternut Squash
- Yellow Squash
- Bell pepper
- Sweet potato
- Broccoli (Floweret, weekly)
- Bok Choi
Then of course you should look to offer some fruits, more sparingly as treats and for diet variety too.
Best Fruits To Feed Your Bearded Dragon
If you are looking to treat your beardie, then offering a small serving of fruit can be an excellent and nutritious way to do so.
Here are some of the recommended fruits to provide in small servings:
Be careful with soft fruit as it is usually very sugary and can lead to fermentation causing dental issues.
Therefore softer fruits – like kiwi, raisins etc are best fed less frequently – such as once per month as part of a diet with substantial fibrous vegetables.
While bearded dragons may eat cauliflower if presented to them, this does not necessarily mean you should look to offer it.
Cauliflower, while being rich in a number of vitamins and minerals, unfortunately is not the most ideal of food sources. It fails on three counts:
- High in water – with 12 grams of water for every floweret (13g)
- Phosphorous to Calcium Ratio – Almost double the phosphorous to calcium per serving.
- Goitrogens – Can lead to and iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism when fed in excess.
Most bearded dragon owners decide to avoid feeding this food altogether. This is not a bad idea, especially if you can source other more favorable vegetables.
For others, a very small, rare serving of cauliflower is not likely to lead to harm.
But, you do need to consider all other vegetables being offered that also naturally contain Goitrogens (e.g. Kale, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Brussel Sprouts and Turnips) and other substances like Oxalates (Spinach, Swiss Chard and Beat Greens).
Ultimately, there are better food choices out there.
Just be sure to be feeding your beardie with a varied diet, with at least 50% coming from insects (crickets, mealworms, waxworms, cockroaches etc) and the other 50% coming from some of the safer vegetables documented up above. Fruits serve as a nutritious treat, but should be fed more sparingly.
In doing so, you can ensure your beardie lives a long, happy and hopefully healthy life.