What Vegetables Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
Looking for Suitable Vegetables For Your Bearded Dragon?
You may have noticed that different sites and forums offer conflicting advice and suggestions on what are suitable vegetables for bearded dragons to use as staple foods and which should only be given occasionally. The question of what vegetables can bearded dragons eat comes up regularly and there is some controversy surrounding some of the choices.
When I was first starting out I also found this frustrating and I was worried if I was giving my dragon too much of something that could be harmful. Since then I have learnt that if you offer your bearded dragon a varied diet of vegetation ratio 80/90 : 20/10 of vegetation to fruit (if you want to give fruit) they should thrive. We go into more detail about these ratios in our article titled How Much Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon And When?
When considering what vegetables can a bearded dragon eat, we include leafy greens, vegetables and flowers. The main bulk of the 80/90% should be made up from darker leafy greens and vegetation. Fruit should be given sparingly, really only as a treat and never exceed 1 to 5% ratio of fruit to vegetables. We go into which fruits to give or avoid in our article Can Bearded Dragons Eat Fruit?
A good rule of thumb is the darker the leaf the more nutrients and calcium it is likely to contain e.g collard greens, escarole and turnip greens.
Some Food Warnings
Be cautious of foods containing high levels of Goitrogens, Oxalates and Phosphates.
Goitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones and excessive amounts can lead to hyperthyroidism. This disruption occurs because goitrogenic foods interfere with the iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. When insufficient iodine is available, the thyroid cannot produce the thyroid hormones properly. The hypothalamus in the brain senses this and produces different hormones to trigger the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones.
If the thyroid cannot keep up with the demand it grows larger and forms a ‘goitre’ or an enlarged thyroid. You’ll see this in the neck of your bearded dragon if it’s happening. Unfortunately there appears to be little research into the amount of goitrogenic substances in foods even though there’s research to suggest that goitrogens are problem. With this in mind, the foods listed as ‘high in goitrogens’ are rather anecdotal rather than scientifically verifiable in my research. If someone can point me to actual data that would be fabulous 🙂
Phosphates And Oxalates
Phosphates and Oxalates are agents that binds to calcium and disrupt the effectiveness of calcium absorption into the body. A diet that is high in phosphates and/or oxalates can cause health issues for a bearded dragon including MBD. A diet that is high in calcium and low in oxalates/phosphates will help prevent MBD. Be aware that correct UVB lighting is essential for calcium absorption too. It’s not just a case of feeding high calcium content vegetables. MBD is a devastating disease which leads to deformed bones, paralysis and eventually seizures and death.
High levels of oxalates can also cause kidney issues.
Safe Vegetables for Bearded Dragons
Below is a list of vegetables that are safe to feed bearded dragons. The list is by no means fully comprehensive or exhaustive though, just a few suggestions if you’re not sure. If you’re thinking of feeding your bearded dragon a vegetable that isn’t on the list, feel free to drop in on the Facebook Group and ask.
All vegetation must be washed and chopped into manageable but distinguishable pieces with excess moisture removed to avoid the food becoming soggy and unappetising.
Fibrous stems and shoots should be removed, make sure you peel the skins, remove seeds, pips and stones. Grate hard vegetables or finely chop. Veg can be raw or cooked – raw contains more nutrients.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Collard Greens?
Raw collard greens are 6% carbohydrate, 3% protein with negligible fat content. They’re an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They’re also a good source of calcium.
They are mildly goitrogenic though, but the benefits should outweigh the down sides making the best vegetable for bearded dragons.
For more information and in depth analysis of collard greens for bearded dragons, please see this post.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dandelions Leaves?
You can pick Dandelion leaves and flowers when they’re in season and freeze them. But don’t pick them from a roadside or somewhere where people walk their dogs for example. But your own back garden should be OK. Dandelions are great value food for your bearded dragon.
Dandelions are 9.2% carbohydrate, 2.7% protein with negligible fat again. They contain less water than collard greens. They’re also a fantastic calcium source although their calcium to phosphorus ratio isn’t quite as good as collard greens.
For more information about dandelion greens for bearded dragons, please see this article.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Turnip Greens
They’re quite high in Vitamin A but a smaller amount of Vitamin C compared to many of the other leafy greens.
They consist of approx. 4% carbohydrate, 1% protein and negligible fat.
For more information about turnip greens for bearded dragons, we have an in depth article here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Endive, Escarole or Chicory
Endive contains approx. 3% carbohydrate, 1% protein and negligible fat. It contains a reasonable amount of calcium and has a good calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Escarole and Chicory are from the same family and have similar nutritional qualities.
If you’d like more in depth information about endive for bearded dragons, please click here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spring Greens?
Spring greens contain 6% carbohydrate, 3% protein and around 1% fat.
For more information about spring greens for bearded dragons you can check out our article dedicated to them.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Watercress?
Watercress contains approx. 1% carbohydrates, 2.5% protein and minimal fat. It’s got a reasonable calcium concentration (though it’s easily dusted with supplement if necessary). It’s also high in Vitamin C.
Watercress for bearded dragons is discussed in much greater detail here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mustard Greens
Mustard greens contain approx. 4.5% carbohydrates, 2.5% protein with a significant amount of Vitamin A and good levels of calcium and potassium with a reasonably small amount of phosphorous.
For more in depth detail about mustard greens for bearded dragons click here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Acorn Squash?
These vegetables all contain higher carbohydrate levels than the leafy greens listed above. Acorn squash contains approx 11% carbohydrate, 1% protein and negligible fat content. It’s high in Vitamin A but relatively low in vitamin C compared to the leafy greens. Its ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus is pretty much 1:1. Nonetheless, it’s good mixed in with leafy vegetables to provide a variety in colour and taste.
Further information regarding bearded dragons and acorn squash can be found here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Butternut Squash?
Butternut squash contains 12% carbohydrate, 1% protein and negligible fat. It has a better calcium content than Acorn Squash and less phosphorus. It’s therefore slightly better as a staple than Acorn squash but there’s not much in it. Butternut squash has considerably more Vitamin A in it than Acorn squash and nearly twice as much Vitamin C.
For more information about butternut squash for bearded dragons we have an in depth article here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Green beans?
Green beans contain 7% carbohydrate, 2% protein and a small amount (0.25%) fat. They’ve a good calcium content with less potassium than the squashes and markedly less Vitamin A. They do contain moderate levels of phosphorus, but not a drastic amount. They’re not very high in Vitamin C content though, despite what many people might think.
For more information about Bearded Dragons eating green beans, please click here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Snap Peas / Sugar Snap Peas
Nutritionally, snap peas contain around 8% carbohydrate, 3% protein and around 0.4% fat. They contain more calcium than green beans, more Vitamin A and markedly more Vitamin C than them too. They contain a lot more phosphorus though.
Our bearded dragons do enjoy a good munch on their snap peas though and they’re definitely a good staple to mix in with the leafy greens to mix things up.
There’s more detail about bearded dragons eating snap peas here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dandelions Flowers?
But, if you’re satisfied that your garden is herbicide and pesticide free then you can pick dandelions when they’re flowering to feed to your bearded dragon. You can also of course grow your own from seed in a greenhouse or on the windowsill.
I’ve been unable to find any actual nutritional data for dandelion flowers. I imagine they’re similar to dandelion leaves, but the colouring leads to me suspect there may be some differences.
To get the full run down on whether dandelion flowers are ok for bearded dragons click here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Rose Petals?
Unfortunately, similar to dandelion flowers, I’ve been unable to find any nutritional data at all regarding rose petals. I’ve never fed them to my bearded dragon either, but some people do.
We dive into greater detail about whether bearded dragons can eat rose petals here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bok Choy / Pak Choi?
Interestingly, cooking Goitrogenic foods reduces the amount of goitrogens present by breaking down the enzymes responsible for the creation of goitrogens. I’m just not sure that bearded dragons would enjoy cooked leafy vegetables. Some bearded dragon related research would be good.
Nutritionally, Bok Choy contains around 2% carbohydrates, 1.5% protein and minimal fat. It contains a reasonable amount of calcium, relatively low Phosphorous a reasonable amount of potassium. It has reasonable levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
But, despite the lack of verifiable specific numbers when it comes to Goitrogens it is cited by various sources to be high.
For further details highlighting whether bearded dragons can eat bok choy, including the study which outlined the goitrogen issues, click here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Celery?
Nevertheless, celery, although not a negative calorie food, doesn’t have a great deal of nutritional value at all. It contains about 3% carbohydrate, 0.5% protein and no fat. It’s calcium level is minimal with a reasonable phosphorus level negating whatever calcium is ingested. It has almost no Vitamin A potential and a tiny amount of Vitamin C. It can be used to bulk out a salad dish for your bearded dragon but shouldn’t be given too often.
It does have a fairly high water content, so it can be useful to help hydrate your bearded dragon too.
Celery for bearded dragons is discussed in greater depth here.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Kale?
Many online sources used to say Kale should be avoided completely. Many are now saying you can give Kale as a staple leafy green. We think that until the goitrogens are better researched that we would only recommend Kale occasionally.
Because of its high calcium content we include it in the Occasionals group as it can be mixed in with other vegetables and greens to help boost calcium.
Kale contains around 9% carbohydrate, 4% protein and 1% fat. It’s high in calcium and potassium but also quite high in Phosphorus. The level of phosphorus means that some of that great calcium content is not going to be metabolised. Coupled with the goitrogenic effects of Kale, this relegates it to the occasional pile. It’s also high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Looking beyond the myth of Kale having a high oxalate content we investigate whether bearded dragons can eat Kale in this in depth post at /can-bearded-dragons-eat-kale.html
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Parsley?
It contains approx. 6% carbohydrate, 3% protein and minimal fat. It’s high in calcium and very high in potassium with a moderate level of phosphorus. It has a considerable amount of Vitamin A and Vitamin C both of which are important for bearded dragons. But those pesky goitrogens make it only useful as a rare food.
Further reading about whether bearded dragons can eat Parsley, including sources of scientific studies and nutritional data can be found by clicking the link.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cucumber?
Cucumber contains approx 4% carbohydrate, 0.6% protein, negligible calcium and even this is offset by the amount of phosphorus it contains. The ratio of 2:3 calcium to phosphorus means cucumber will bind calcium, preventing it from being utilised in metabolism. Cucumber has minimal Vitamin A or C. In general, it’s pretty useless nutritionally. It is however good for helping with hydrating your bearded dragon.
In general we recommend using cucumber to hydrate your insects rather than feeding it directly to your bearded dragon. But if you have a dehydrated bearded dragon that will eat cucumber it can be a good way to get some water in.
We look at the question of Can Bearded Dragons eat cucumber in this main post.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Zucchini / Courgette?
Zucchini consists of approx. 3% carbohydrates, 3% protein and minimal fat. It has a small amount of calcium and a huge amount of phosphorus. The calcium to phosphorus ratio is approx 1:4 meaning that any calcium benefit is overridden. Zucchini also has high levels of potassium. Minimal Vitamin A and C mean that the only thing Zucchini is really any use for is rehydration therapy.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Capsicum / Bell Pepper
Peppers contain approx. 5% carbohydrates, 1% protein and minimal fat. They contain very little calcium and twice as much phosphorus as calcium. Peppers have a moderate amount of potassium and minimal Vitamin A. They are high in Vitamin C though. Our bearded dragons do like a spot of pepper in their salad now and then.
Bearded dragons do seem attracted to the more peppery bitter tastes.
Peppers aren’t overly bad in general and can be good to add a bit of colour to a salad which may entice a bearded dragon to eat salad. But they’re not overly nutritious, hence their position in the Occasional group.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli?
Broccoli contains approx. 7% carbohydrates, 3% protein and minimal fat. It’s got a good calcium content but a moderately high phosphorus content. It’s also very high in oxalates and goitrogens making it unsuitable as a staple. Bearded dragons don’t mind a bit of broccoli now and then though and as an occasional it is fine.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Pumpkin?
Pumpkins contain approx. 7% carbohydrate, 1% protein and minimal fat. Pumpkin contains a small amount of calcium and roughly twice as much phosphorus. It has a good amount of potassium and lots of Vitamin A. It has minimal Vitamin C.
Given the relatively low amount of calcium and the much larger amount of phosphorus compared to the butternut squash, pumpkin only makes the Occasional list.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach?
Spinach is another of the leafy green vegetables for bearded dragons that many would think should be a staple option. It has a peppery taste and has a great calcium content with plenty of nutritional value. Unfortunately it has a massive oxalate concentration which means it’s not good for calcium uptake and not especially good for bearded dragon kidneys.
Spinach has around 300 times the amount of oxalate content compared to kale. It has approx. 3.6% carbohydrate, 2.9% protein and minimal fat content. It does have a good calcium amount and plenty of potassium with a reasonable phosphorus content. But, sadly, those oxalates ruin it for spinach making it one of the least suitable vegetables for bearded dragon.
It should only be given very very occasionally, if at all. We’ve included it as an occasional because it won’t poison your bearded dragon if they have some by accident but we don’t recommend it.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Brussels Sprouts
Sprouts are popular throughout Europe with the Netherlands growing the largest amount. They’re also popular throughout the USA.
Nutritionally they provide around 9% carbohydrates, 3.5% protein and minimal fat. Their calcium levels aren’t too bad, but this is outweighed by the level of phosphorus making calcium absorption problematic. They are however quite high in Vitamin C though not much in the way of Vitamin A.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Avocado?
Avocados offer bearded dragons very little nutritionally and are quite high in oxalates as well as containing enormous amounts of fats comparatively.
Avocado contains approx. 8.5% carbohydrates, 2% protein and nearly a whopping 15% fat. They contain minimal calcium and a fairly high level of phosphorus. They do contain a high level of potassium. There’s almost no Vitamin A or Vitamin C in Avocado.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Citrus Fruits?
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Iceberg Lettuce
To be fair, iceberg lettuce even upsets my tummy. Do yourself and your bearded dragon a favour and avoid it 🙂
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Rhubarb
All parts of the rhubarb are extremely toxic to bearded dragons. Rhubarb should not be given to a bearded dragon. If your bearded dragon accidentally eats rhubarb you should consult a specialist reptile vet immediately as it is likely to be fatal.
If possible and under veterinary advice administering some activated charcoal to your bearded dragon at home before you can get to the vet may be advisable. Again, contact your vet immediately if your bearded dragon has eaten rhubarb.
Frequency: AVOID AVOID AVOID AVOID
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?
Staple Vegetable Diet Items For Bearded Dragons
These are the vegetables for bearded dragons that should be fed daily. They should make up the bulk of the adult bearded dragon diet. Baby and juvenile bearded dragons should also have vegetables and greens given daily but may not eat as much. Baby and juvenile bearded dragons require more protein than adults and therefore should be fed more live food. See our post How Much Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon and When? for more information.
Staple Leafy Greens
The following leafy greens are considered staple leafy green foods. That is, they can be given every day, although it’s good to mix them up to provide a varied diet to your bearded dragon.
The following vegetables are recommended as part of a bearded dragon’s staple diet. They can be fed every day as part of a balanced diet. It’s worth mixing them up from day to day to provide variety and to provide the most nutition.
Flowers aren’t often thought of when thinking of what vegetables are suitable for bearded dragons, but some flowers are definitely good to give them. And some of them are loved by ours. The list below are flowers that can be given every day as part of a balanced diet, though of course they shouldn’t be fed only these flowers.
Occasional Vegetable Food Items For Bearded Dragons
The following vegetables and leaves are OK to feed a bearded dragon occasionally. Most of these would be good as staples except they contain high levels of goitrogens or oxalates and so they tend to interfere with the calcium binding. Some just aren’t that nutritious but have other benefits such as hydration.
Occasional Leafy Greens
Vegetables That Should Only Be Fed Rarely
The following list of vegetables should only be fed rarely to bearded dragons, usually due to high oxalates or goitrogens. They’re not poisonous (unless they ate huge amounts) but they’re not great either. In the case of spinach, there’s a lot of argument of late about the calcium binding properties of the oxalates. The problem with the high oxalates isn’t just one of calcium binding but also the risk of kidney stones. For these reasons, we still recommend spinach only rarely.
Avoid – Avoid – Avoid
The following list of vegetables are toxic to bearded dragons and should NEVER be fed to them.
Bearded Dragon Vegetable Nutrition Table
In our research for this article we’ve looked into the various nutritional elements to confirm which are suitable vegetables for bearded dragons to be given daily or only occasionally. Some other factors have come into the decision making process. For example, rhubarb must be avoided because it is poisonous. Citrus fruits and tomatoes should be avoided as they’re too acidic.
This section goes into some fairly heavy biological processes and isn’t necessary for the average bearded dragon keeper. I’ve posted it here so you can verify the accuracy of the information given.
Below is a table showing the various levels of some of the more important nutritional constituents of particular vegetables so you can compare for yourself. Goitrogens are notably absent from the data and we’ve had to rely on anecdotal evidence relating to the amounts.
Data is sourced from the US Department of Agriculture website (USDA) so you can verify the data for yourself should you so choose. These figures are given in good faith but not otherwise verified from other sources.
Vitamin A is given as the Retinol Activity Amount (RAE) as none of the vegetables contain Vitamin A directly, but the human body synthesises it from beta or alpha-carotene. It’s unclear whether bearded dragons synthesise Vitamin A to the same extent that humans do, but the numbers are given for comparison purposes. It should be noted that if sufficient Vitamin A is already in the body, no more will be synthesised, thus it’s very difficult to overdose Vitamin A from vegetables. But beware of supplements containing Vitamin A as these are likely to be preformed Vitamin A and not as easily regulated.
Percentages are derived based on weight using 100g portions as a reference.
Staple Leafy Greens Data
|Vit A. |
|Vit C. |
Staple Vegetable Data
Occasional Leafy Greens Data
Occasional Vegetables Data
The oxalate data is sourced from https://oxalate.org/ though some of the sources listed there look somewhat questionable. But it does seem to be the best overall resource for Oxalate data. When considering Oxalates, it’s helpful to look at the ratio of calcium to oxalate – but do bear in mind that the ratio is given purely as an indication. It is not scientifically accurate (it does not take into account molecular weight) and is only intended to serve as a guide to which vegetables contain the most (or least) calcium per unit of Oxalate.
Hopefully you find this article useful. If you discover a leafy green or vegetable that is missing that you would like data on please leave a comment, or join the Facebook group using the blue button at the top and ask us.
Quick Reference Table
|STAPLE (EVERY DAY)||OCCASIONAL||AVOID – AVOID|
|Collard Greens||Bok Choy||Spinach|
|Dandelion Leaves||Celery Leaves||Rhubarb (inc. the leaves)|
|STAPLE (EVERY DAY)||OCCASIONAL||AVOID – AVOID|
|Butternut Squash||Zucchini / Courgette||Rhubarb|
|Green Beans||Bell Peppers||Citrus Fruits|
There is very very little research into how Oxalates and Goitrogens actually interact with reptile digestion. Most, if not all of the research has been done with human diet in mind and human anatomy and physiology. It’s likely that much of it is relevant to bearded dragons too but it can’t be said for certain.
There’s also considerably more to choosing which vegetables are good for a bearded dragon on a regular basis than simply looking at calcium content in isolation, or goitrogen content, or vitamin C. etc. With that in mind, like humans, we’d recommend mixing up the vegetables regularly and feeding as part of a balanced approach to give your bearded dragon the best possible nutrition.
Finally, remember that Calcium is important to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease. As such, you will want to dust your bearded dragon’s salad 3 times a week with a good quality calcium supplement. It can be useful to dust once a week with a calcium/D3 supplement but due to the risk of Hypervitaminosis D we recommend ensuring your UVBs are in good shape rather than relying on D3 supplements. Calcium is always needed though.
I’m wanting to know if cauliflower is safe for my baby dragons, also what is its vitamin content.
That’s an excellent question thanks! I’ve done some research into the vitamin content and other factors relating to cauliflower and based on what I’ve found, I’d say they can have cauliflower occasionally but not regularly. Check the full post at can-bearded-dragons-eat-cauliflower.html for more details.
Why not carrots? My herp. vet feeds his dragon carrots once a week. That dragon is the same age as his oldest son…26. 26 years old!! But thank you for the veggie list. My picky 18 month old will only eat a few superworms or dubias. NO greens. NO fruit. Sometimes a bit of applesauce. I’m going to mix up a different salad for him. Thanks again!
Oh shoot. I just saw you have carrots listed under OCCASIONAL. I apologize. My mistake.
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