Bearded dragons enjoy a colorful and varied diet – they are omnivores, after all. There are only a few foods that are off-limits in their diet. But what about eggplant? Is this a safe or beneficial food for them to enjoy? Here is what you need to know.
So, can bearded dragons eat eggplant? Bearded dragons can eat the insides of an eggplant, but only in very small amounts and infrequently. The skin should and seeds should be removed. Eggplant is a very acidic fruit, and as part of the nightshade family, contains compounds that can cause adverse side effects such as loose stools when fed in excess.
Eggplant is best limited in the diet and there are generally better foods to offer.
If you remember anything from this article, let it be this.
And this is likely why the numerous bearded dragon feeding charts rarely reference or include eggplant.
It’s no surprise that you landed here today!
Generally, if you are unsure if something is safe and toxic to feed, its typically best to avoid it.
Thankfully eggplant, which is, in fact, fruit and not a vegetable, can have its place. With some precautions and caveats.
Let us take a closer look at them…
Is Eggplant Healthy For Bearded Dragons?
Eggplant can provide a range of vitamins and minerals to bearded dragons but can cause problems when fed in excess. Moderation is certainly key with this particular food.
Eggplants, otherwise known as aubergines, are part of the nightshade plant family.
Now if you have not stumbled across this plant family before, then all you need to know is that there is a lot of scientific research into their potential toxicity.
They do carry a range of compounds to protect themselves, after all.
Nevertheless, these compounds (known as alkaloids, including solanine in particular) are generally found in the highest concentrations in the leaves.
The fruit of the plant has a drastically lower concentration of these compounds. At least according to the research.
And the fruit is also where there is a lot of nutrition on offer.
The fruit of eggplant is in fact a great source of many essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber, not to mention they are low in calories.
Plus there is a decent amount of water too, making them a good source of hydration:
Nutritional Content of Eggplant
|Of which are sugars||3.5 g|
|Vitamin K||3.5 µg|
|Vitamin C||2.2 mg|
So as you can see, they’re is quite a lot of nutrition in these purple plants.
But what this table and data does not show, is the acidity it also contains.
And this can make it quite problematic for beardies if consumed in excess.
So, a tiny nibble here and there of the flesh provides the benefits, without the issues the acidity can cause.
But it must be noted, many owners refrain from feeding eggplant to their bearded dragons for these kind of reasons.
It also why you are unlikely to find this fruit on feeding charts for these reptiles.
Either way, there are generally better vegetables, and other fruits, to offer your bearded dragon.
And remember the toxicity we mentioned earlier?
Well, its worth bearing in mind.
There is little data to confirm whether or not eggplant is harmful to bearded dragons specifically.
But we should remember the studies that have shown the potential toxins in eggplants.
It’s always better to err on the side of caution.
And it must be said; effects of foods on bearded dragons will always vary. As it does in many ways for us humans.
This is precisely why there are reports from some bearded dragon owners of eggplant causing reactions; whereas others there were no issues reported.
Of course it depends on factors such as type, amount and way the eggplant was offered, buts its important nevertheless.
And it also must be said that these anecdotes are enough to prevent some owners from feeding eggplant altogether, and as mentioned previously.
Thus, all in all.
The choice to feed eggplant to your bearded dragon is a personal one.
Just consider that different beardies might respond differently; some will entirely positively – others not so much (for instance, loose stools)
It’s worth mentioning that young beardies require more meat protein than plants in their diet, as they need the fats and proteins for healthy growth and development.
Adult beardies require more plant foods in their diet, so it might be best not to feed eggplant to a juvenile bearded dragon.
If you are going to introduce a small amount to a bearded dragon’s diet, wait until they’re an adult.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Eggplant Raw?
If you do feed your bearded dragon a small amount of eggplant, then doing so raw is best. This way, your beardie can benefit from the high water content, and obtain some hydration in the process.
And this is true of my most fruits and vegetables.
As any beardie owner knows, getting them to drink can be a challenge!
And raw foods have other benefits too.
Raw fruits and vegetables contain more of the nutrients, not to mention raw food encourages natural feeding behaviors.
It is the ideal way for bearded dragons to dine, as they eat raw and not cooked food in their natural habitat.
So, if you are going to feed some eggplant, it would be best to offer some of the flesh, raw.
Get a good quality, fresh eggplant, wash it well, and peel off the skin (as the skins might be too chewy for beardies, plus it reduces the issues of the alkaloids).
Chop the inside of the plant into bite-sized pieces or grate it for your beardie.
As we saw earlier, eggplant is lacking in calcium and also relative to the amount of phosphorous it provides.
As calcium is so important, it would be a good idea to dust the eggplant in calcium and D3 supplement (like this bestseller from Amazon).
And just remember – even if your beardie can eat eggplant without any adverse reactions, it is best not to rely on this fruit too much. It should be far from a staple in the diet.
How Do You Prepare Eggplant For A Bearded Dragon?
Preparing an eggplant for your bearded dragon is all about minimizing risks and making it as safe and easy to consume as possible.
So, make sure you remove the skin.
Be aware that eggplant goes brown very quickly after being cut and exposed to oxygen, so you must work as quickly as possible during preperation.
Please consider the following steps before and during the preparation of the plant:
Choosing The Right Eggplant
You must find a good eggplant to feed; it must be firm but not too hard.
The outside layer should be shiny and smooth.
Avoid dull skin, as this could mean the eggplant isn’t the best quality. Make sure there are no soft spots or blemishes on the eggplant.
The stem should be a healthy green; this is how you know it is at its freshest. Avoid a plant with a moldy or mushy stem.
Make sure you don’t wrap the eggplant in plastic as this makes it go off faster.
Instead, put it in a brown paper bag to retain its freshness for longer.
Larger eggplants are generally bitter, so your bearded dragon may prefer a smaller eggplant.
Regardless of size, the plant must be firm with healthy, shiny skin.
Male eggplants have fewer seeds.
You will know the plant is male if a brown circle is present at the bottom. A female plant has a long brown mark at the bottom.
Generally, you should choose a small, plump, round, and fresh eggplant as it will be more flavorful for your bearded dragon.
Freshly cut eggplant quickly oxidizes when exposed to the air.
You can prevent this by preparing a bowl of water with a teaspoon of milk in advance of cutting the vegetable.
Add the eggplant to the water, and it will not go bad.
Other ways to prevent oxidization when cutting the plant include adding lemon juice to water and dipping the cut eggplant into that water.
Preparing The Eggplant
You will likely have a lot of this fruit left over after preparing it, so you must think of storing it.
If you eat the rest, that would be all the better.
You can chop the eggplant into tiny bite-sized pieces or grate it up before offering it to your reptile.
You can sprinkle a small amount of the vegetable into a salad mixture if you wish, rather than serving eggplant up on its own.
How Much Eggplant Should You Feed A Bearded Dragon?
Eggplant should be offered rarely and in small amounts. Even if you know your bearded dragon responds well to it from former feedings. So, a few small cubes every 2-4 weeks is probably best and definitely a good place to start.
When it comes to feeding eggplant, always consider that there are better fruits and vegetables that you can serve.
Also be mindful of how your bearded responds following consumption and their general reaction when it is offered.
At the same time, it is not ideal to feed eggplant to a young beardie (under the age of one).
Besides, they require more meat than vegetables in their diet, and their developing digestive systems might not be able to handle the plant.
Along these lines, vegetables should only make up about a quarter of a young bearded dragon’s daily diet, compared to about half of an adult’s.
Either way, bearded dragons need more dark leafy greens in their diet.
This should include the likes of kale, collard greens, and mustard greens, etc., although carrots, squashes, and broccoli are excellent additions to their daily diet too.
And along with eggplant, just consider those other plants in the nightshade family too.
Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, tobacco, ground cherries and goji berries, for instance.
While bearded dragons can eat tomatoes, those other nightshade plants are a no-go for the toxicity reasons referenced above and throughout.
The jury is out whether feeding eggplant to a bearded dragon is entirely safe or not.
The truth is that there isn’t concrete evidence to suggest that it is entirely harmful to bearded dragons.
And, research has shown that eggplant is rich in various nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
With that said, some owners have reported bad experiences after feeding this nightshade plant to their beardie.
It is typically when a lot has been fed or the skin was provided.
So, if you are going to offer eggplant, do so in very small amounts. Source and prepare it properly and monitor your bearded dragon before, during and after any feeding.
If your bearded dragon reacts to consuming eggplant, you may notice changes to its appearance and behavior.
Look for signs like:
- Loose droppings
- Cloudy eyes
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of movement
- No droppings
- Discolored stomach
- Swollen limbs
- Miscellaneous unusual behaviors
If your bearded dragon has no adverse reaction, then you can assume that you should be able to feed eggplant again.
But still, it should be rarely and with all the precautions taken as referenced above.
Thankfully, there are so many other plants that you can safely feed to your bearded dragon, and it’s essential to offer variety anywhere to ensure a balanced diet and good health.
Feeding your bearded dragon might seem a daunting task, but as long as you stick to the safe foods you know and your beardie responds well to, you can’t really go wrong.
Wondering what else to feed your bearded dragon? Check out my comprehensive guide below:
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.