The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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When it comes to feeding your bearded dragons, there is a lot that you have to pay attention to. Despite how loveable these lizards can be, they can be extremely finicky about what they are in the mood to eat and how they react to the environment around them.
Because bearded dragons are not one of the more common types of pets that people can own, it can be hard to find the information that you need to know what to feed them. This makes it all the more important for you to do what you can do to make sure that you know what your bearded dragon can and cannot eat.
As a whole, bearded dragons are omnivorous creatures. They need a steady diet that consists partially of plant-based nutrients and partially animal-based nutrients. To achieve this, you need to rotate out the different foods that your bearded dragon eats so that it can stay interested in and happy with its intake.
The feeder insects that bearded dragons can eat are fairly standard for feeder insects among lizards, so it will be pretty easy to find a collection of what you need. The problem can come when trying to determine what kind of vegetables your bearded dragon is going to enjoy.
Bearded dragons often enjoy a number of different vegetables and plants in their diet but because their digestive systems are different than those of warm-blooded animals, you have to take special care to make sure that you are feeding your bearded dragon the right foods.
Among the different foods that you will come across, you will wonder whether or not your bearded dragon can eat parsley, and if it can, how much it can safely consume.
Bearded Dragons and Parsley
In short, bearded dragons can eat parsley and it is even beneficial for them, but you have to keep in mind that they can only eat parsley in moderation. Parsley should never make up the bulk of the plant matter that your bearded dragon has access to, as it has oxalates in it and too much of these are harmful to a bearded dragon’s health.
What this means for your bearded dragon is that, in small amounts, your bearded dragon can actually benefit greatly from having some parsley in its diet. Parsley contains a number of vitamins and other nutrients that your bearded dragon can absorb and become healthier from that other greens may not be able to provide quite as much of.
Of these nutrients, parsley is particularly high in calcium, which is crucial to your bearded dragon’s health. Having an adequate amount of calcium in your bearded dragon’s diet is important for making sure that your little lizard friend does not develop a number of diseases that are associated with low-calcium diets.
The problem is that parsley is also high in oxalates. Oxalates are naturally produced by many green vegetables and are one of the plant’s natural defenses it has while it is still growing.
Oxalates will bind to calcium within the bearded dragon, which will not only stop the calcium from being absorbed into the body the way that it should but it can also increase the chances that your bearded dragon will develop kidney stones if it consumes enough oxalates to bind to the calcium.
In fact, when you look at kale and spinach (both of which are considered high in oxalates for bearded dragons), you will see that kale has about 20mg of oxalates per 100 grams and spinach will have 970mg per 100 grams. By comparison, parsley has 1,700mg per 100 grams of parsley, meaning that it is considerably high.
For your bearded dragon, while the amount of calcium in parsley is considered a good thing, the sheer amount of oxalates in it will mean that they will bind to the calcium and stop the overall absorption.
This leaves the question of, if it is good for your bearded dragon, can it really eat it and be fine, and if so, how much can you safely get away with feeding it to your bearded dragon?
Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Parsley
First things first; you will need to make sure that your bearded dragon can process parsley at all. You should give your bearded dragon a tiny amount of parsley at first to gauge its general reaction to it and rule out intolerances and allergies to it. This is good practice for introducing anything new to your bearded dragon’s diet.
Assuming that your bearded dragon has no problems with the parsley, you can begin introducing it to its regular diet in small portions no more often than once a week to once a month if you want to be more cautious, keeping it as an occasional treat to add to its diet.
Parsley certainly has good nutrients for your bearded dragon but the high amount of oxalates in parsley outweighs much of its benefits, rendering the plant to be more suitable as a treat rather than a dietary supplement.
By keeping the amount that you feed your bearded dragon to be less than once a week or even less than once a month, you can feel confident in knowing that your bearded dragon will be able to get all of the nutrients it needs while also not worrying as much about the risks that oxalates carry to your bearded dragon.
It’s not recommended to feed baby and juvenile bearded dragons parsley, mostly because the disadvantages of the oxalates significantly outweigh the benefits that come with the high-calcium requirements that babies need.
If you are looking for high-calcium options for your baby bearded dragon, there are more than a few other solutions that you can consider.
When feeding your bearded dragon parsley, if you choose to do so at all, you should make sure that you make it easier for your bearded dragon to consume their leafy greens.
As good preparation practice, you should make sure that you wash and clean all vegetables that you feed your bearded dragon as you may never know what has touched the surface of those foods.
All you have to do to prepare parsley for your bearded dragon is to chop, or even cut, it up into finely sized pieces. Some places recommend chopping the pieces so small that your bearded dragon may not be aware that it is eating something new in addition to its food as the sight or smell of them may throw your bearded dragon off from what would be its normal dish.
From here, all you have to do is sprinkle the finely chopped parsley onto your bearded dragon’s normal vegetable bowl of greens, and then you can place it in its tank for it to enjoy at its own leisure. Aside from this, there is no special care that you need to take to prepare the parsley for your bearded dragon.
As a final thought, most people tend to recommend staying away from parsley altogether as it is simply easier to avoid it than to risk feeding your bearded dragon too many oxalates. However, if you wish to give this to your bearded dragon as a monthly treat, your bearded dragon should be fine as long as you feed it in small portions.
What About Alternatives?
Upon learning that parsley is typically not recommended as a snack, and especially not as a meal, for your bearded dragon, you might begin to wonder if there are other treats your bearded dragon could have that are safer for it to eat. There are going to be plenty of greens that your bearded dragon can eat without a worry in the world.
First are going to be the plants that should make up the core of the vegetable portion of your bearded dragon’s diet. These are going to be the type of plants that are common, easy to get, and completely safe for your bearded dragons to eat, and in a sense, the staple of its plant diet.
Safe vegetables for your bearded dragon include raw bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, celery, raw cabbage, and both butternut and yellow squash. These vegetables all carry important nutrients for your bearded dragon’s diet, are safe for your bearded dragon to eat, and are often pretty easy to obtain.
Again, remember that when working with any sort of plant, you need to make sure that you wash and clean it thoroughly before feeding it to your bearded dragon, even if it came from your own garden and even if you are certain that no pesticides or chemicals touched it.
Even if no man-made chemicals touched your bearded dragon’s vegetables, there could be traces of dirt, microscopic germs, and so on that can still damage your bearded dragon’s health that you need to be wary of, making it all the more important for you to wash your veggies before feeding them to your bearded dragon.
Your bearded dragon will also enjoy herbs and fruit in its diet as toppers and additions to the main vegetables that it can eat. You should exercise a bit of caution with both herbs and fruit as there are certain types that can cause problems for bearded dragons. It is always important to do your research on what bearded dragons can and cannot eat.
As for the herbs that your bearded dragon can enjoy, some of these options include basil, chives, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and even daylilies. If you are fond of growing your own herbs on your windowsill, your bearded dragon might also enjoy being able to have a few of these herbs in its daily diet as well so long as you make sure to thoroughly clean them.
Your bearded dragon can also enjoy fruits, but be mindful not to feed them fruits that fall under the citric category. A bearded dragon’s digestive system is not well built to handle this kind of hard-to-process fruit and it will cause more harm than good in the long run.
The fruits that your bearded dragon should stick to include blueberries, grapes, peaches, pears, strawberries, and apples, among others. Your bearded dragon would also probably appreciate these fruits when they are freshly grown and cared for in a local garden.
Always remember that when you are chopping up fruits or vegetables to give to your bearded dragon, you should make sure not to make the food bigger or wider than your bearded dragon’s mouth or else it will have a harder time eating and could develop an impaction (or blockage) of the gut, which is bad for everyone.
By keeping the food you feed your bearded dragon appropriately sized, you can make sure that your bearded dragon doesn’t have anything to worry about when it chows down on its favorite foods.
What About Foods to Stay Away From?
There are a few types of food that your bearded dragon should never have access to as, unlike parsley, the amount of harm that they can do to your bearded dragon will clearly outweigh any potential benefits that it could have.
Whereas parsley has the fact that it is high in calcium going for it, most of these foods will either be not nearly as nutritious or their disadvantages will be severe enough that it completely outweighs what positives they could bring.
As a whole, bearded dragons should not go near vegetables such as lettuce or spinach. Both of these vegetables have their own issues that they can present to your bearded dragon.
Spinach, while high in calcium, is also high in oxalates and is not worth giving to your bearded dragon even as an occasional treat. Lettuce is in a similar boat, as it is almost entirely water so it becomes a waste of stomach and intestinal space for your bearded dragon when eating it.
You should also avoid feeding your bearded dragon any insects that you found in the wild, as you may not know what those insects have gotten into, what microscopic beings they carry with them, or if they carry amounts of pesticides on them, which can harm your bearded dragon even in small amounts.
Likewise, you should not feed your bearded dragon any insect that is capable of glowing in the dark. These are notoriously lethal for ingestion and your bearded dragon should never get the opportunity to try one.