Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cauliflower?
Learn the answer to the question of can bearded dragons eat cauliflower – it’s probably not as simple as you thought.
Short Answer Yes, Longer Answer - It's Complicated
November 22nd, 2021
Table of Contents
Can bearded dragons eat cauliflower? Yes, Bearded Dragons can eat cauliflower on an occasional basis. You’ll find all sorts of articles on the internet extorting that you can only feed them cauliflower once a month because they’re high in goitrogens. And to some extent they are. But from our research they’re no worse than Collard Greens or Mustard Greens and most other leafy greens. But that’s not the whole picture. We need to also look at the amount of Calcium in the food, along with the level of Oxalates and of course many other nutrients.
In this post we’ll go over all of that – as we have in our other Vegetables for Bearded Dragons posts and then you can decide.
What Is Cauliflower For Bearded Dragons?
Cauliflower is a form of cabbage similar to Collard Greens and Bok Choy, however it does differ in one fairly obvious way, and that is that it has a tight white head in the middle. Some people call it the heart. Heart or head – the nutrient makeup of the white middle part of the cauliflower is slightly different to that of the green leafy portion.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cauliflower?
Reading through various articles available online, it becomes relatively obvious that Cauliflower is considered by many to have too many Goitrogens to be able to be fed to Bearded Dragons. Unfortunately this isn’t backed up by the data. Cauliflower goitrogens appear to be slightly less in fact than Kale, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts and even Collards.
Yes, bearded dragons can eat Cauliflower. We suggest cauliflower is only given occasionally though as its overall nutritional content isn’t as good as the other cabbage varieties despite those other varieties potentially being more goitrogenic. The oxalate content of cabbage is moderate too, further reducing the benefits of cauliflower for bearded dragons.
It’s worth noting that based on Vitamin C level differences in the white heart of the cauliflower versus the green leaves, that the most likely source of the goitrogenic compounds is in fact the leaves. We, unfortunately, at this stage have no studies to back this up though and it is purely conjecture. If anyone has any evidence either for or against this assertion please do leave us a comment below. Vitamin C is a precursor chemical for the enzymes required to turn the Glucosinolates in vegetables into goitrogenic compounds. Therefore more Vitamin C likely means more goitrogens when eaten.
With this in mind, we have tried, where possible, to give data for both the white heart and the green leaf. In short, the white heart appears to contain less of almost every nutrient compared to the green leaf, but probably also therefore contains less of the oxalate and goitrogen too.
Advantages Of Cauliflower For Bearded Dragons
Disadvantages Of Cauliflower For Bearded Dragons
How Should I Feed Cauliflower To A Bearded Dragon?
If you wish to remove many of the goitrogenic properties of cauliflower it’s worth noting that cooking denatures the enzyme mostly responsible for converting the Glucosinolates into goitrogenic compounds. Unfortunately it does reduce a lot of the other nutrients too and of course renders the vegetable a lot softer. This might be offputting to your bearded dragon or it might not. In general most people feed raw vegetables to bearded dragons.
The green leaves of the cauliflower can be cut or shredded but should have the larger and more fibrous stems cut away and discarded. They can then be added to a salad bowl with other salad food items as part of a balanced salad diet.
The white heart portion of the cauliflower should be cut small enough to avoid choking, although the bearded dragon will likely chew it to some extent. Some do, at least. Again, the larger more fibrous stems should be cut away and discarded.
Cauliflower will require dusting with a good quality calcium supplement as the calcium content is low.
How Much Cauliflower Should I Feed A Bearded Dragon?
Given that there is a poor calcium concentration in cauliflower – both the leaves and the head – along with the questions around goitrogens and the moderate Oxalate level (some studies say it’s low, others say it’s towards the high end of moderate), we would advise that the overall nutrional value of cauliflower is low enough with enough risk to warrant an ‘occasional’ label.
With that in mind, once a week would be the most we’d advise bearded dragons be fed cauliflower, unless you’re trying to rehydrate them. If trying to rehydrate them the white head could be fed two or three times a week as they have a high water content and lower Oxalate content.
Nutritional Data For Cauliflower For Bearded Dragons
|Nutritional Item||Content (LEAF)||Content (HEAD)|
|Water Content (%)||89.8||92.1|
|Dietary Fibre (%)||3.2||2|
|Calcium (mg/100g)||33 (0.033%)||22 (0.022%)|
|Potassium (mg/100g)||300 (0.3%)||299 (0.299%)|
|Phosphorous (mg/100g)||62 (0.062%)||44 (0.044%)|
|Vitamin A (ug/100g)||8||0|
|Vitamin C (ug/100g)||88||48|
|Oxalates (mg/100g)||6.8 -150 (Moderate)||6.8-150 (Moderate)|
The oxalate level is marked as a range as the data we have does not differentiate between leaves versus head. Our suspicion is that the larger oxalate value is in the leaves not the head, as the green leaves of most vegetables contain the higher oxalate level. But we can’t prove it, so it’s a range.
Can I Grow My Own Cauliflower?
You can of course grow your own cauliflower. They’re relatively commonly grown in Europe and the UK. In this case though we’d suggest you grow them for yourselves as part of a nice Cauliflower and Cheese dish or part of a roast dinner. Don’t bother growing them for your bearded dragon.
The nutritional value to oxalate and goitrogenic compound ratio relegates the Cauliflower to the occasional pile for us.
So, can bearded dragons eat cauliflower? There’s nothing unsafe about the occasional cauliflower floret or leaf but we’d not advise them for regular eating.
The head is probably safer than the leaf, and can be used to add some variety to the color of the salad dish with the introduction of small florets now and then. But Butternut Squash or Acorn Squash might be a better choice.
For more information on other vegetables that Bearded Dragons can eat, please see our larger overview post at ‘What Vegetables Can Bearded Dragons Eat?’
1: Carlson, D.G., Daxenbichler, M.E., Vanetten, C., Kwolek, W., & Williams, P.H. (1987). Glucosinolates in crucifer vegetables: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard greens, and kohlrabi. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 112, 173-178. (Fetched from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Glucosinolates-in-crucifer-vegetables%3A-broccoli%2C-Carlson-Daxenbichler/d766666880b9bec9c55c3e3c448f8c115bb85ee9#paper-header on 22 May 2021)
2: US Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Fetched on 22nd March 2021 from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169389/nutrients and https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169986/nutrients
3: Oxalate (oxalic acid) content of 750+ foods, with numbers from university and government sources – sourced from https://oxalate.org/ on 15th May 2021.
4: Alina Petre, June 15 2017, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/goitrogens-in-foods fetched on 22 May 2021.
Featured Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay