Bearded Dragon Diet | Bearded Dragon Vegetables

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bok Choy / Pak Choi?

About 4 min reading time

Can bearded dragons eat Bok Choy? Is Bok Choy good for bearded dragons? Yes, bearded dragons can eat Bok Choy on a semi regular basis. They are a green leafy vegetable but they do release an enzyme when eaten raw that inhibits the uptake of iodine, leading to a goitrogenic effect[1].

What Is Bok Choy For Bearded Dragons?

Broadly speaking, Bok Choy is a Chinese cabbage which doesn’t form a head and instead have green leafy blades with a larger, white bottom part instead. The Latin name is Brassica rapa chinensis. Bok Choy also known as Pak Choi in the UK – just to confuse everyone.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bok Choy?

Bearded dragons can eat Bok Choy. We’ve recommended Bok Choy as an occasional food item because there are studies that suggest it releases an enzyme when digested which reduces the uptake of Iodine from the diet. It’s fair to say that the study (which was done on a human) suggests the amount of Bok Choy that the subject consumed was quite large and there’s no indication from the study how much would be safe.

As a result we’ve shied away from saying that Bok Choy is safe every day (though it may be) and instead said every couple of days is probably better. Further scientific studies into the goitrogenic effects of Bok Choy, specifically around the dosage required to be problematic are necessary.

But the short answer is yes bearded dragons can eat Bok Choy in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Advantages Of Bok Choy For Bearded Dragons

  • Excellent source of calcium
  • Minimal fat
  • Keep for 5 – 7 days in the fridge
  • Excellent source of moisture for helping hydration
  • Easy to prepare

Disadvantages Of Bok Choy For Bearded Dragons

  • Can inhibit the uptake of Iodine leading to Thyroid issues

How Should I Feed Bok Choy To A Bearded Dragon?

Bok Choy is basically a cabbage, without the head, so it can be given to bearded dragons mixed in with other salad items. It will last reasonably well for most of the day in a dish with other salad items.

The white portion at the bottom of the Bok Choy can be quite tough and fibrous when raw so it should be chopped or shredded to make it easier to swallow.

How Much Bok Choy Should I Feed A Bearded Dragon?

A study from 2010[1] suggests that Bok Choy in large quantities can be harmful and potentially fatal to humans. However, it’s worth noting the quantity of Bok Choy that the study subject consumed on a daily basis was very large. Approx 1.5kg of Bok Choy per day. That’s a LOT of Bok Choy.

Nevertheless, little is known about the lethal dose of this enzyme in Bok Choy and little is known about whether the study subject’s diabetes played any role in the toxicity either.

It’s also worth noting that the study indicates, through reference, that the other members of the cabbage family also release the same enzyme and have a goitrogenic effect when eaten raw. So it’s unclear whether the study subject would have undergone the same process were she eating 1.5kg of Collard Greens per day instead.

Cooking the cabbages mostly denatures the enzyme and renders its goitrogen effects harmless.

All in all, the short answer to this question is that we believe Bok Choy is safe to feed to your bearded dragon on an occasional basis as part of an overall balanced salad diet. We’d not recommend it daily purely as a precaution but the likelihood of toxicity from the amount a bearded dragon would eat naturally is quite low. Further studies would be good though.

Nutritional Data For Bok Choy For Bearded Dragons

Nutritional ItemContent
Water Content (%)95.3
Fat (%)0.2
Protein (%)1.5%
Dietary Fibre (%)1%
Calcium (mg/100g)105 (0.043%)
Potassium (mg/100g)252 (0.2%)
Phosphorous (mg/100g)37 (0.053%)
Vitamin A (ug/100g)223
Vitamin C (ug/100g)45
Oxalates (mg/100g)Low[3][4]
Nutritional Data For Bok Choy For Bearded Dragons [2]

Can I Grow My Own Bok Choy?

Being a member of the cabbage family means that Bok Choy, or Pak Choi as it’s known in the UK (because you know, we’re special here) is relatively easy to grow. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, Pak Choi seeds should be planted between April and July and harvested anywhere from May to August.

Bok Choy seeds are available from the RHS using the link above, or they’re available from Amazon too in various countries.

Summary

So, can bearded dragons eat bok choy and is bok choy OK for bearded dragons? The answer is yes, Bok Choy can be given to bearded dragons fairly regularly. For the reasons listed in this post we don’t recommend it’s fed every day, but that could be us being overly cautious. Mix it up well with other vegetables and you’ll be fine.

Bok Choy will need dusting with a good calcium powder twice a week just to boost that calcium level up even further though.

Frequency: SEMI-REGULAR.

For more information on other vegetables that Bearded Dragons can eat, please see our larger overview post at ‘What Vegetables Can Bearded Dragons Eat?’

References

1: Michael Chu M.D., Terry F. Seltzer M.D. Myxedema Coma Induced By Ingestion of Raw Bok Choy, The New England Journal Of Medicine. May 20, 2010 362:1945-1946. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc0911005

2: US Department of Agriculture FoodData Central – source on 12 May 2021 from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170390/nutrients

3: St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Oxalate In Food, fetched on 12 May 2021 from https://www.stjoes.ca/patients-visitors/patient-education/patient-education-k-o/pd-9447-oxalate-in-food.pdf

4: Lake Shore Pet Hospital, Oxalate Content Of Various Foods, fetched 12 May 2021 from https://lakeshorepethospital.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Oxalates_In_Food.pdf

Featured Image by BlackRiv from Pixabay

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