Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?

In this post we investigate why bearded dragons shouldn’t have tomatoes very often and why they should NEVER have tomato leaves, stems or flowers

can bearded dragons eat tomatoes featured image

Tomatoes For Bearded Dragons. Not great, not terrible.

About 9 min reading time

Many places online will tell you that bearded dragons cannot eat tomatoes. We also say that we don’t recommend tomatoes for bearded dragons because, on balance, they’re just not that good for them. But, unlike some other vegetables, they’re not dangerous in small doses, so if you really really want to feed tomatoes to your bearded dragon you can, very occasionally and in small amounts.

Incidentally, tomatoes are actually, technically a fruit. We’ve put them in the bearded dragon vegetable category though because they’re generally used as vegetables even though they’re actually fruit.

Why Can’t Bearded Dragons Have Tomatoes Every Day?

There’s a number of problems with giving bearded dragons tomatoes every day – or even every week;

  • Tomatoes are acidic. Tomatoes are quite acidic and this can cause digestives issues such as diarrhea which can cause dehydration problems. The pH of a bearded dragons digestive system is carefully balanced and raw tomatoes can upset this balance easily.
  • Low in Calcium. Tomatoes, on average, according to the USDA[1], contain very little calcium. Bearded dragons need a diet rich in calcium to prevent metabolic bone disease and if you’re feeding tomato, you’re not feeding something else which is rich in calcium instead.
  • High in Phosphorous. On top of the low calcium, tomatoes have over twice as much (by weight) Phosphorous as they do calcium content. This phosphorous binds with calcium in the body and prevents what little calcium is available in the tomatoes being absorbed. In fact, it could also potentially bind with calcium from other foods too, making the net calcium available for absorption less than the tomatoes actually provide.
  • Vitamin A toxicity. Although unlikely unless you’re also supplementing with Vitamin A or multi-vitamins, there is some Vit-A in tomatoes and given that the rest of the tomato offers little nutritional value to a bearded dragon this is something of a downer too.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomato Leaves and/or Stems?

Bearded dragons should not eat tomato leaves or stems, or tomato flowers. Tomatoes are part of the Nightshade family of plants. The leaves, stems and flowers contain substances called Alkaloids which are produced by the plant and can have a very toxic effect on animals (including humans, and of course bearded dragons). In a controlled dosage setting these alkaloids can be used as medicine. But in a situation such as feeding random leaves to a bearded dragon, these alkaloids are likely to be harmful and even potentially fatal.

Bearded dragons should therefore not have leaves, stems or flowers of the tomato plant.

Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Tomato

All of the information and advice we’ve given in this article is for adult bearded dragons only. There’s no good reason to feed tomatoes to baby bearded dragons. Baby beardies should be fed mostly insects anyway, with some vegetables. But the tomato is not a fruit (or vegetable) that should be fed to babies. The acidity, phosphorous content, risk of poisoning from alkaloids is all too great for babies with their smaller and more delicate digestive systems.

In short, don’t risk your baby bearded dragon by feeding it tomato.

Advantages Of Tomatoes For Bearded Dragons

  • In our opinion, none. Their water level isn’t useful for hydration because of its acidity.
  • That said, they do contain high levels of lycopene which has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Disadvantages Of Tomatoes For Bearded Dragons

  • Almost no nutritional value
  • Too acidic, causing tummy upsets
  • Phosphorous to calcium ratio of 2.5:1

How Should I Feed Tomatoes To A Bearded Dragon?

Aside from the obvious statement of “You probably shouldn’t” there might be a reason you decide to add some tomato to your bearded dragon diet. They probably like the taste, and they’ll almost certainly enjoy the colour that tomatoes add to their salad bowl. So it can be a bit of a treat for a bearded dragon to have some tomato.

Any tomatoes you feed to your bearded dragon should be fully ripe.

In order to prepare tomato for your bearded dragon, we recommend washing and then peeling the tomato. This can be easier if you ‘blanch’ the tomato to make the skin come away easier.

Blanching Tomatoes for Bearded Dragons[3]

To blanch the tomato, score the bottom of the tomato with a knife, and put a shape of a cross. Heat up a saucepan of very hot or boiling water. You’ll need enough water to cover the tomato fully. Put the tomato into the saucepan of boiling water (gently so you don’t splash yourself) and leave for around 20 seconds. You’ll see the skin start to lift away a little at the cross you made.

After 20 seconds in the boiling water, remove the tomato and place in very cold or even icy water to cool the tomato quickly and prevent the flesh underneath the skin from cooking. Then, begin peeling at the cross you made with the knife earlier. You should find the skin just lifts away from the tomato really easily.

Remove Seeds

Once the skin is removed from the tomato you should remove the seeds from the tomato before giving it to your bearded dragon. The best way to do this is to cut into halves or quarters and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. If you’ve done the blanching right, the flesh of the tomato will still be firm and not mushy, so you should be able to handle it easily.

Chop The Flesh and Add To Salad

Once you’ve removed the seeds you can cut the flesh of the tomato into strips or cubes whichever you think your bearded dragon will prefer. Then add one or two small pieces to the rest of your bearded dragons salad to add that little bit of extra taste and colour to help entice them to eat the salad.

How Many Tomatoes Should I Feed A Bearded Dragon?

Tomatoes should be considered as a treat for bearded dragons and shouldn’t be fed every day. We would recommend 2 or 3 slices of tomato flesh a month at most – spread out over the days of the month of course. So, a piece of tomato here in their salad, and a piece of tomato there. If they really love tomato and you want to provide a treat you could feed a couple of small cubes by hand every week as a treat.

In terms of absolute numbers of course it’s difficult to tell, but as a guide we would suggest no more than a quarter of a normal sized tomato per month, or up to about three cherry tomatoes per month. No skin and no seeds though.

Nutritional Data For Tomatoes For Bearded Dragons

In this table the figures include the tomato skin, unfortunately we’ve been unable to find data with skin off – and we’d not recommend giving your bearded dragon the tomato skin since it’s quite tough. It’s probably where most of the oxalate content is too. Nevertheless, weight wise, the skin doesn’t account for a huge amount, so the figures below should be a reasonable guide.

Nutritional ItemContent
Water Content (%)94.5
Fat (%)0.2
Protein (%)0.88
Dietary Fibre (%)1.2
Carbohydrate (%)3.89 (of which sugar is 2.63)
Calcium (mg/100g)10 (0.1%)
Potassium (mg/100g)237 (0.237%)
Phosphorous (mg/100g)24 (0.024%)
Vitamin A (ug/100g)42
Vitamin C (ug/100g)13.7
Oxalates (mg/100g)5
Nutritional Data For Tomatoes For Bearded Dragons [1][2]

Summary

In this post we looked at whether bearded dragons can eat tomatoes. The answer, we discovered, is yes, bearded dragons can eat tomatoes, as a very occasional treat. But they’re not really recommended. We also looked at how to feed tomatoes to your bearded dragon and discovered it was relatively easy to do this, either grated as part of a salad or by hand/tongs.

We also learned that the nutritional value of tomatoes is quite low. And finally we learned that the leaves, stems and flowers of the tomato plant are actually toxic to bearded dragons and should never be fed to them.

Frequency: VERY OCCASIONAL TREAT.

For more information on other vegetables that Bearded Dragons can eat, please see our overall category at ‘Which Vegetables Can Bearded Dragons Eat?

References

1: US Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Fetched on 17th September 2021 from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1750341/nutrients

2: Oxalate (oxalic acid) content of 750+ foods, with numbers from university and government sources – sourced from https://oxalate.org/ on 17th September 2021.

3: Gavin, J. (2016). How to Peel A Tomato. Fetched from https://www.jessicagavin.com/how-to-peel-a-tomato/ on 28th Feb 2022.

Featured Image by Uliana Pinto from Pixabay