Can Bearded Dragons Eat Pumpkin?
Learn whether bearded dragons can eat pumpkin, whether it’s good for them and how often they can be fed pumpkin. Nutritional data is included at the end of the post.
Are Pumpkins Good For Bearded Dragons?
Can bearded dragons eat Pumpkin? Is Pumpkin For Bearded Dragons OK? Yes, bearded dragons can eat pumpkin semi-regularly.
If, around the time of halloween you’re wondering if your bearded dragon can eat some of that pumpkin you’re carving, then the answer is yes, they can. Pumpkin can be fed semi-regularly (like once a week) as it’s quite high in Vitamin A and the amount of Phosphorus outweighs the calcium. But it won’t do any harm – it just doesn’t offer that much either. But bearded dragons do like it and it adds some color to a salad dish too.
What Is Pumpkin For Bearded Dragons?
Pumpkin, like its acorn squash cousin, is a winter squash with ribbed, thick skin. It has a yellow-orange flesh inside and is generally orange on the outside with fine ridges that run down its length. The ridges of a pumpkin are generally less deep compared to acorn squash.
Pumpkin is of course famous in Western countries for being carved into lanterns with faces around the end of October in celebration of Halloween – a time when spirits and witches run around the countryside asking for sweet treats in return for not egging your front door…
Aside from that though it is used in winter casseroles or hotpots to add tasty and hearty substance to keep you warm from the winter chills. Americans also like to use pumpkin in pies as a traditional part of the Thanksgiving meal. It is very nice as a side vegetable when roasted as part of a Sunday roast as well.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Acorn Pumpkin?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat pumpkin semi-regularly but it’s worth remembering that it does have a lot more carbohydrate than the leafy greens. The additional sweetness of pumpkin compared to leafy greens can be tempting to bearded dragons though, and the yellowy colour of the flesh makes it stand out nicely in the vegetable dish.
Pumpkin is relatively low in calcium but very high in Vitamin A. It’s not got a great deal of Vitamin C but equally it’s not overly high in Oxalate content either. So it’s a bit middle of the road. Be a little cautious of over-feeding pumpkin as the phosphate level is higher than the calcium which can lead to calcium absorption issues, and the very high Vitamin A content could potentially lead to Hypervitaminosis A – although that’s only likely if you’re also using diet supplements.
Pumpkin is also high in water content, which can be a double edged sword with bearded dragons. If your bearded dragon is a little bit dehydrated then some pumpkin can help rehydrate them in a nice safe way. But too much hydration will lead to runny poos which is messy and can be smelly too.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Pumpkin Seeds
No, bearded dragons shouldn’t eat pumpkin seeds. It’s one of those cases were an accidental ingestion of a single seed is not particularly likely to cause concern, but they shouldn’t be deliberately fed pumpkin seeds as they are hard and difficult to digest. Undigested food can lead to constipation / impaction and this is dangerous for your bearded dragon and wallet.
There’s some anecdotal evidence on the internet that pumpkin seeds can help bearded dragons keep worms and parasites under control, but presumably this would need to be ground up or powdered seeds and our view is that it would be better to stick to established, well researched veterinary solutions to parasites and worms.
Advantages Of Pumpkin For Bearded Dragons
Disadvantages Of Pumpkin For Bearded Dragons
How Should I Feed Pumpkin To A Bearded Dragon?
Pumpkin, and other squashes such as acorn squash and butternut squash, can be fed to bearded dragons raw – although some people do seem to prefer to cook it. If fed raw it should be cut into manageable slices of approx. half a centimetre wide and up to five centimetres (2 inches) long. It should be cut less than half a centimetre thick. The shape can resemble that of chips (french fries to our American friends).
Alternatively, if you’re adding it to a salad it can be grated as coarsely or finely as you like, although with the overall length of no more than about 2 inches is ideal.
The slices, or gratings can then be added to a salad dish of mixed leafy green vegetables to add some colour. The colour will likely be more attractive to your bearded dragon than the green is – and can be used to help tempt your bearded dragon into eating more vegetables – which can be a challenge.
The dish can be put into the vivarium a couple of hours after the basking light has come on, or a little earlier if necessary, and can be left in the vivarium throughout the day. The pumpkin will eventually dry out though and should be replaced when it’s no longer nice and fresh looking. Pumpkin, or other squashes will almost certinaly outlive the leafy greens though!
The acorn squash should be dusted with a good calcium supplement to help boost the amount of calcium your bearded dragon gets.
Pumpkin strips or the skin can be put into your feeder insects containers and fed to the insects – many will love them. Locusts will eat pumpkin, and Morio worms will too. This helps keep the insects fed and hydrated and they in turn will pass on the benefits of the pumpkin or other vegetables to your dragon in a method which is known as gut-loading.
How Much Pumpkin Should I Feed A Bearded Dragon?
Pumpkin can be fed approx. once a week as part of a balanced mix vegetable diet for bearded dragons. We don’t recommend pumpkin as often as Acorn Squash because its Phosphorus profile is not as good, which can lead to calcium absorption issues.
Each salad dish will probably have 4 or 5 strips as mentioned above. Unlike with Acorn Squash, if your bearded dragon eats the entire amount of pumpkin, we wouldn’t recommend offering them more as you don’t want too much Phosphorus nor Vitamin A. Let them enjoy the meal and then move on to something with a better calcium/phosphorus ratio instead.
Nutritional Data For Acorn Squash For Bearded Dragons
|Water Content (%)||91.6|
|Dietary Fibre (%)||0.5%|
|Calcium (mg/100g)||21 (0.021%)|
|Potassium (mg/100g)||340 (0.340%)|
|Phosphorous (mg/100g)||44 (0.044%)|
|Vitamin A (ug/100g)||426|
|Vitamin C (ug/100g)||9|
Can I Grow My Own Pumpkin?
Pumpkin seeds are readily available from Amazon in the US, UK and Canada. Do bear in mind when ordering that you should only order from your own country as some countries have very strict rules about seeds being sent from overseas.
Pumpkins grow in average soil and can be planted in the spring after the first frost and throughout the year so long as the last harvest will be before the first frost of the autumn/fall. They’ll need plenty of water to produce good quality pumpkins, and it can be easier to sink a 6 inch sized pot in the ground next to the plant so the water reaches the roots more easily.
The Royal Horticultural Society has expert advice in an easy to read format about how to grow your own pumpkins.
So, can bearded dragons eat pumpkin and is pumpkin for bearded dragons OK? The answer is yes, pumpkin is OK for bearded dragons but they shouldn’t have too much. They can be fed semi-regularly, although should form part of a balanced diet so mixed with other vegetables too. Acorn squash and even butternut squash are a better alternative for regular feeding though.
Pumpkin provides a good variation of colour and texture when combined with leafy greens – but on its own doesn’t provide a huge amount of calcium – which coupled with the phosphate content reducing calcium uptake meaning pumpkin for bearded dragons should be dusted regularly.
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: US Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Fetched on 6th February 2021 from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168472/nutrients
2: Oxalate data sourced from St Josephs Healthcare, Hamilton, Canada fetched on 1st February 2021 from https://www.stjoes.ca/patients-visitors/patient-education/patient-education-k-o/pd-9447-oxalate-in-food.pdf