Bearded Dragon Vegetables

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Watercress?

About 4 min reading time

Can bearded dragons eat Watercress? Is Watercress For Bearded Dragons OK? Yes, bearded dragons can eat watercress regularly.

What Is Watercress For Bearded Dragons?

Watercress is an aquatic plant which is in the cabbage family – similar to collard greens and spring greens – but with quite different looking leaves! Watercress is one of the oldest known leafy greens that is eaten by humans. There are many other members of the same family, such as garden cress, mustard and radish all of which have a tangy, almost peppery taste.

Watercress will produce small green and white flowers, although generally it’s only the leaves that are eaten.

Watercress can be grown in many different places around the world. It’s commercially grown in the UK and indeed the town of Alresford near Winchester holds a watercress festival[1]. Watercress is high in calcium, vitamins A and C as well as iron and folic acid.

Watercress can be grown in a hydroponic environment and grows best in water that is slightly alkaline in nature.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Watercress?

Watercress can definitely be eaten by bearded dragons and can be eaten regularly. It has a great calcium content and a tangy taste that bearded dragons enjoy. In fact one of our bearded dragons would pretty much only eat watercress by choice. We convinced her otherwise but it was definitely her favourite.

Watercress is a delicate leafed plant once harvested and although it survives relatively well for a few days in the cool environment of the fridge it won’t last long in the bearded dragon tank. Generally we’ve found it starts to look dry and quite unappetising after a couple of hours in the bearded dragon tank.

Advantages Of Watercress For Bearded Dragons

  • Good calcium levels
  • Bearded dragons often like this one
  • Good for gutloading locusts or crickets
  • Good for other minerals and vitamins too
  • Readily available in supermarkets

Disadvantages Of Watercress For Bearded Dragons

  • Does not last very long in the warmth of the vivarium

How Should I Feed Watercress To A Bearded Dragon

Watercress will need to be kept in the fridge until they’re ready to be fed. Even then they really only last two to three days (at a push) before they become either dried out or, if kept in a plastic bag, mushy and nasty.

When we’ve fed watercress to our bearded dragons we’ve cut the larger white, hollow and fibrous stems off the bottom but kept the leaves attached to the smaller stems so that they appear in bunches. In this way there’s just enough substance for our beardies to enjoy them, without them being too big and fibrous.

Watercress can be given daily as part of a mixed vegetable diet. It can be placed in a dish with the other vegetables you’re feeding and can be left in the vivarium throughout the day. Do bear in mind though that watercress will dry out and become very unappetizing within perhaps a couple of hours if not eaten fairly quickly.

You can dust the watercress or other vegetables with a good quality calcium supplement to help ensure your bearded dragon gets enough calcium throughout the week. Don’t overdust though as this will just make the vegetables unappetizing and you’ll struggle to get your dragon to eat them if they taste too chalky. You can also sprinkle some drops of water over the watercress to help lengthen the time before they become dry and inedible.

How Much Watercress Should I Feed A Bearded Dragon?

Watercress can be fed every day. It should be placed in a suitable dish in the morning and can be left in the vivarium all day – replacing when it gets too dry or has been mostly eaten. You’ll not overfeed watercress to your bearded dragon so don’t worry if they eat loads. Do be aware though that it dries out quite quickly in a vivarium so you’ll probably need to change it at least once during the day if you put it in the morning.

Fresh watercress has, unsurprisingly, a huge water content, around 95% in fact. But that includes the stalks and since many people will cut off a lot of the stalk the figure can be a bit misleading. Nevertheless, watercress can be good rehydrating a dragon. Normally 95% water would be too much, but given how quickly it dries and the missing stalks – we’re happy that watercress can be fed daily.

You should mix in other vegetables to give your dragon some variety, but there’s no upper limit on how much they can have.

Nutritional Data For Watercress For Bearded Dragons

Nutritional ItemContent
Water Content (%)95
Fat (%)0.1
Protein (%)2.3%
Dietary Fibre (%)0.5%
Calcium (mg/100g)120 (0.120%)
Potassium (mg/100g)330 (0.330%)
Phosphorous (mg/100g)60 (0.06%)
Vitamin A (ug/100g)160
Vitamin C (ug/100g)43
Oxalates (mg/100g)Not Available
Nutritional Data For Watercress For Bearded Dragons [2][3]

Can I Grow My Own Watercress?

Watercress is relatively easy to grow yourself – however some caution is warranted because it does require a hydroponic or at least very wet environment. This can lead to harbouring of bacteria and this of course carries risk of disease, both to you and your bearded dragon.

It’s recommended that watercress at home be grown in a very damp compost instead, which is contained within a deep tray of water which is changed regularly. It’s also recommended that the compost pots themselves be flushed with fresh water regularly.[4]

Watercress can be grown easily from seed and watercress seeds are readily available in the US, Canada and the UK from Amazon. Watercress seeds germinate within 14 days of being planted and can be grown on windowsills as a microgreen for an all year round supply. Considering that a bag of watercress can cost anywhere up to £1 for not really all that much product, growing your own could be an easy way to save money. And, it’ll always be fresh even without needing to be refrigerated.

Summary

So, can bearded dragons eat watercress and is watercress for bearded dragons OK? The answer is yes, watercress is an excellent leafy green vegetable for bearded dragons. It can be fed regularly, although should form part of a balanced diet so mixed with other vegetables too. Watercress are a good source of calcium, fibre and water.

Bear in mind when looking at the raw nutritional data that the water content will include a lot of stems that will be cut away before feeding, and as such the amount of calcium and other nutrients per 100g is likely to be higher than indicated.

Frequency: STAPLE.

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: Peters, Rick, Seasonal Food: Watercress, The Guardian 30 March 2010. Fetched from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/mar/30/seasonal-food-watercress on 6th February 2021.

2: US Department of Agriculture, Food Data Central. Search on 6th February 2021 from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103166/nutrients

3: 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

4: Collins, Kris, How To Grow Watercress, Thomson and Morgan, fetched from https://www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-watercress on 6th February 2021

Featured Image by 아름 김 from Pixabay

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