Zucchini, otherwise known as courgette in many other parts of the world, is a summer squash that belongs to the same family as melons, cucumber, and spaghetti squash. Strictly speaking, zucchini isn’t a vegetable but rather a fruit, and quite a versatile one at that. But nevertheless, as a bearded dragon owner, you may be wondering if zucchini is safe to feed your pet, or even beneficial? I spent some time researching the suitability of this food in the diet, and will be sharing all that I could find here today.
So, can bearded dragons eat zucchini? Bearded dragons can eat zucchini. While it is perfectly safe for them to do so, they should only be offered zucchini infrequently and in moderation. Zucchini contains a lot of water and does not offer much in terms of nutrition to bearded dragons. There are generally much better options out there, such as collard greens.
Before you feed any food item to your beardie, you must try to understand what it can offer and provide in terms of vitamins and minerals. You must also consider these alongside the nutritional needs and requirements of your bearded dragon; which do change as they age and at during stages of their life.
Thankfully, just being here today shows that you have this understanding. You should look to continue researching foods ahead of time. Sometimes, just preparing different foods in different ways can make them much more idea – so it is always good to check!
While Zucchini does contain some nutrients that can benefit humans, it contains trace amounts of some of those most important ones: calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus, that are all essential to beardies.
Let us now take a closer look at Zucchini; seeing whether it can be classified as healthy, how much and how to feed it if you did decide to or have some available for your pet.
We will be finishing up with some other recommended greens, and why you should be offering these in addition/instead/or more regularly. So, be sure to keep reading to get all of the information you need.
Is Zucchini Healthy For Bearded Dragons?
While zucchini is safe to feed to your bearded dragon in moderation, by no means is it a reptile superfood.
Zucchini is nutritionally quite poor. Beyond this, it contains too much water for beardies, whom have small stomachs and can fill up on this food too quickly; long before their nutritional needs are met.
In just a 100g serving of zucchini, a beardie would be getting around 15 grams of water!
Eating this food can easily subject your reptile to overhydration, as they only need a small amounts of water to survive. Beyond this, overhydration can in turn result in diarrhea. Not nice for either them or you to have to deal with!
So, if you are going to offer zucchini, you will need to be aware of the serving size.
As such, you can offer zucchini as part of a salad, but on its own, it is not an ideal mealtime option.
More specifically, it is least beneficial to young bearded dragons whom need a lot of protein, making zucchini of little benefit to them.
Let us now take a closer look at the nutritional profile of this fruit to see exactly why it is not so ideal.
Nutritional Content of Zucchini
|Vitamin D||0 µg|
|Vitamin K||23.6 µg|
|Vitamin C||5.46 mg|
As you can see, in quite a decent serving size (100g), there is relatively little nutrition available. Especially when you compare them to other similarly related foods.
Zucchini is low in calcium, with only 3.3mg provided in a 100 gram serving, which is low. This is unfortunate as bearded dragons need a lot of this mineral in the diet.
Equally, Zucchini is relatively high in phosphorous (14.9 grams per 100 gram serving) which does need to be closely manage, and aligned with calcium as we will explore further in the next section.
Without the necessary amount of calcium through diet and/or supplementation, these reptiles will suffer from severe health issues, namely metabolic bone disease (MBD).
To be fair to this summer squash, zucchini is low in sugar and fat compared to other minerally poor foods, which tend to be higher in these macronutrients.
Sugar in particular can make a bearded dragon put on too much weight all too quickly, which is why you must be careful when it comes to feeding sugary fruits and certain veggies.
Sugary foods can also cause tartar and plaque build-up; this is a more serious issue for reptiles like bearded dragons, as their teeth are directly attached to their jaws.
How Much Zucchini Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
Due to its nutrient poor profile, Zucchini should be offered to bearded dragons in moderation and in small amounts. Once a week is sufficient.
Outside of the high water content, the calcium to phosphorus ratio of zucchini is far from ideal and needs to be considered through the amount you serve.
The calcium-phosphorus ratio should always be 1:5 – 2:1, in favor of calcium.
Zucchini doesn’t naturally have this calcium-phosphorus ratio, in fact, being heavily abundant in phosphorus. This is bad because it will bind with even the small amount of calcium that would otherwise be available through the fruit and making it inaccessible. This can lead to a calcium deficiency if you were to feed it in large quantities.
If you did want to serve a small amount, around 25 grams at a time, make sure that you chop the zucchini into small pieces to make it easier to feed to your beardie to eat and digest.
Ultimately, you will need to ensure that zucchini is only a very small part of your bearded dragon’s diet, as they need a variety of low-oxalate and high-calcium dark leafy greens.
Always provide at least three varieties of greens in one meal that you can rotate weekly.
As far as treats go, zucchini is delicious. However, it is somewhat acidic and some bearded dragons might not like it at all, which is perfectly fine.
In this instance simply do not offer it again nor ever force it. Your beardie will not really be missing out.
How To Feed Zucchini To Your Bearded dragon
Before you feed zucchini to your bearded dragon, make sure to wash it well, and consider removing the skin as it can be difficult for beardies to chew.
Beardies tend to choke on foods that they can’t chew so you can support them in this way.
You should also not feed the leaves or the seeds of the plant, but why may you ask? The leaves hold a compound called cucurbitacins, that if consumed excessively, can lead to all types of illnesses in your beardie.
The seeds should not be fed. While they are not tough, the problem is that they have no nutritional value, and since bearded dragons have small stomachs, they’ll simply be filling up much needed space.
Aside from that, the seeds can be a choking hazard, so all the more reason to avoid feeding them to your bearded dragon.
You should offer the zucchini raw as cooking will take away what little nutrients this vegetable has to offer.
Cooked veggies also often lead to digestive problems in beardies, so while they may enjoy the taste of cooked foods, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for them.
When picking zucchinis, make sure you select the right ones. Avoid the bitter ones and always seek out those most ripe.
Once you remove the skin, make sure you cut it up into small bite-sized pieces, as bearded dragons can choke on their foods all too easily.
Another reason not to over-supply zucchini is that you’ll likely find much of it left in the cage. This will only end up rotting and introducing bacteria into the enclosure.
If your beardie appears to be very fond of zucchini, its a good idea to prepare it out of your pet’s sight, as they may even make attempts to try and escape the cage. Or, ignore foods they currently have in expectation the zucchini will be fed.
You should strongly consider putting the chopped vegetable in a bowl rather than directly in the cage, especially if you have a young beardie.
Young bearded dragons often eat too quickly and often will leave bits of their uneaten food in the cage. In latter feedings, they can end up eating this older and spoiled food along with their fresh food – which can make them very sick.
Keep a watchful eye on your beardie as they eat, especially if he’s a relatively new addition to your family.
You want to ensure that your beardie eats all of the zucchini or any vegetable that you provide; if they do not, its a good sign you provided too much. Be sure to offer him less the next time.
On a side note, if you decide to purchase frozen zucchini/courgette to your bearded dragon, make sure that it’s well thawed and brought to room temperature before serving.
Very cold foods can lead to digestive issues. Serving a frozen vegetable often leads to diarrhea in reptiles like bearded dragons.
What Makes An Ideal Green For Your Bearded Dragon
The following factors should be strongly considered when feeding greens to your bearded dragon; let’s look at what they are:
Overall Nutritional Value
Vegetables that provide the most nutrition should be sought out, especially those that meet the needs of a bearded dragon.
Equally, vegetables low in overall energy – carbohydrates and sugars should be emphasized.
Low In Oxalates
A diet too high in oxalates can cause metabolic bone disease, so low-oxalate options should be preferred.
Low In Goitrogens
Too many goitrogens can cause thyroid issues in bearded dragons, so need to be limited.
Higher Calcium Content
Bearded dragons need calcium to grow and be healthy. Greens containing a lot of calcium should always be part of your their diet.
Balanced Calcium To Phosphorus Ratio
Phosphorus blocks calcium absorption, which leads to a calcium deficiency. This is why you need to be careful with any foods high in phosphorous, as it can limit the amount of calcium available .
If a green meets the above criteria, then it’s a yes – you should look to be offering these greens in their diet more regularly.
Other Greens For Your Bearded Dragon
With those factors in mind, let us know take a closer look at some of the most suitable greens and better alternatives to zucchini by and large.
These meet the above criteria, and often come advised by reptile nutritionists and experts.
Consider feeding the following five greens daily to your bearded dragon:
Collard greens have ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio. They are also dense in Vitamins A, C, E, and K, along with folate and fiber.
Turnip greens have a spicy flavor, and they are high in calcium, Vitamins A, and C.
Unfortunately, they are high in oxalates, but the health benefits do outweigh the risks. Make sure to serve turnip greens with calcium-rich greens to counterbalance the oxalate levels.
Many bearded dragons love the peppery taste of mustard greens, they are also high in calcium, in addition to Vitamins A, C, and K.
You can serve them with collard greens to balance out the number of oxalates and goitrogens.
Dandelion leaves are dense in calcium, and Vitamin A.
These humble garden weeds are a suitable addition to your pet’s salad, make sure they are pesticide-free first.
Dandelion leaves contain some oxalates, so serve them with greens high in calcium like collard greens.
Cabbage green should only be an occasional staple as it is goitrogenic. On the plus side, it contains vitamin C, calcium, fiber, potassium, and iron.
It’s important to understand that vegetables like zucchini are not the best food to offer your bearded dragon. While they can make the occasional tasty treat, they should never be a staple.
As long as you ensure that your bearded dragon has a complete and varied diet, with a suitable calcium go phosphorus ratio, it’s perfectly fine to offer zucchini on occasion.
Just be sure not to provide too much at any one time, the high water content can lead to issues. While bearded dragons need some water, you don’t want your beardie filling up on nutritionally poor, watery foods.
Also make sure that you prepare it properly, and according to the approach I set out here today.
Ultimately, getting the balance right in your bearded dragon’s diet does take time, careful consideration and planning, but it is a necessity when owning an exotic pet like this.
Its simply part of the territory, we always need to check the nutritional value of any food we want to offer.
You may find that your bearded dragon loves the flavor of zucchini, but make sure you introduce them to a diverse variety of fresh fruits and veggies; organic if possible.
You can offer the vegetable chopped into bite-sized pieces on its own or part of a salad. If your beardie is young, you should offer him his food in a shallow bowl to allow him easier access to their food.
Bearded dragons can eat yellow zucchini, but should do so infrequently and in moderation. A serving every 1-2 weeks is advised. This squash is high in water, and low in calcium along with being quite nutritionally poor compared to other greens that should be made available.
Wondering what else you can feed your Bearded Dragon? Check out my feeding guides below:
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.