Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli?

Whether you love broccoli yourself or hate it there’s one thing we can’t deny: broccoli is a really healthy vegetable.

We know it is very high in fiber, low in sugar, yet is packed with beneficial nutrients. But can you give it to your bearded dragon?

Bearded dragons can eat broccoli. 

Indeed, you might be surprised by how much your bearded dragon seems to enjoy eating it. This is especially so when you consider how many of us turn our nose up at broccoli when we’re offered it!

Green vegetables like broccoli are some of the very best foods for bearded dragons and should make up the majority of their diet, with some fruit being offered occasionally as a treat, plus of course a modicum of live feeder insects. 

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli Stems?

If you grow or buy some broccoli heads, don’t waste those stems – feed them to your bearded dragon instead! 

Broccoli stems are a good source of fiber and bearded dragons normally love them!

If there is a weakness of feeding broccoli stems then it is that they can be quite tough and fibrous. This can make them a choking hazard, and may increase the chances of them creating a blockage in the digestive tract.

There are solutions, however. Firstly broccoli stems should be finely chopped to create small bite-sized pieces. Secondly broccoli stems can be gently cooked – such as boiling or steaming them – which then makes the stems far softer and more pliable. 

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli?

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli Leaves?

Bearded dragons can safely eat the leaves of broccoli. 

This can be particularly handy if you grow your own, or buy it from a farmers market, where you may find yourself with more than the main florets.

These can be fed to your bearded dragon raw, or may be gently cooked to soften the otherwise tough leaves. 

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Broccoli Everyday?

Bearded dragons can eat broccoli everyday.

In fact, broccoli is probably one of the best “staple foods” on which to base your bearded dragon’s diet. We’ll discuss more specifics about the benefits of broccoli for your bearded dragon a little later on in this article.

For now the crucial thing to bear in mind is that even broccoli should be fed as part of a varied diet.

While it can be used as a regular “base layer” of your beardie’s diet, it is important to layer on other fruits and vegetables. Doing so reduces the chance of any vitamin or mineral deficiencies over time. 

Related:  Can Bearded Dragons Eat Banana?

Nutrients Found in Broccoli

There’s a reason your mom kept trying to force feed you broccoli as a child – quite simply it’s a nutrient powerhouse!

The first interesting thing is that there’s a surprising amount of protein in broccoli when compared to most other plant-derived foods. Studies suggest that roughly 20% of the calories in broccoli come in the form of protein. 

For comparison you’ll find just 2% in apples.

This makes broccoli particularly suitable for younger bearded dragons that are undergoing rapid growth. 

However this really is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Chemical analysis has shown that broccoli offers high levels of all manner of vitamins that are beneficial to bearded dragons. Examples include vitamin A, several members of the vitamin B complex (thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid), vitamin C, and even vitamin E. That’s a whole load of nutrients in one tiny green package.

Broccoli is a great source of minerals too. Iron, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium are found in high levels. 

Broccoli is also high in fiber, as well as being a low-sugar food suitable for regular, annoying feeding. 

It’s hardly surprising then that broccoli should ideally make a regular appearance in your bearded dragon meal plans, and there are few better foods around for your pet.

Oxalic Acid in Broccoli

Oxalates are a hot topic when it comes to discussing the diets of omnivorous (or herbivorous) lizards like bearded dragons. 

In case you’ve never heard of oxalic acid, this naturally-produced compound has a tendency to bond with calcium in the body. This can have two potential impacts on the health of your beardie.

Firstly, the combination of oxalates and calcium can create crystals in the body – typically in the kidneys. In principle, think of kidney stones. Not pleasant by any stretch of the imagination.

However the second potential issue is rather more focused on pet reptiles; excessive oxalic acid can interfere with the calcium that your bearded dragon can absorb from their diet. The end result can be insufficient calcium to maintain a healthy skeleton, even if a reasonable amount is provided in the diet. 

Oxalic acid levels in broccoli are considered very low. This makes it an excellent food source for pet bearded dragons. 

Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio in Broccoli

The calcium to phosphorus ratio of broccoli is around 1.3:1. 

An ideal calcium:phosphorus ratio is 2:1.

What this means is that broccoli has relatively little calcium in it, when compared to the amount of phosphorus it contains. 

If you’re regularly feeding broccoli to your bearded dragon, be sure to counteract this nutritional weakness. Either supplement their diet with a calcium powder or combine broccoli with other foodstuffs with higher calcium levels. 

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Should Broccoli Be Raw or Cooked for Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons can eat both raw and cooked broccoli. 

Related:  A Brief Introduction to Keeping Bearded Dragons

The decision about how to feed it then really depends on your own personal circumstances.

Raw broccoli is easier to feed. It is, however, tougher. It is therefore wise to finely chop raw broccoli. 

Cooked broccoli is naturally more tender, and is therefore less likely to cause any digestive blockages. Steaming or boiling stems and leaves is advisable for this reason. 

How to Feed Eat Broccoli To Your Bearded Dragon

If you decide to feed broccoli to your bearded dragon then consider the following steps…

Choose the freshest florets – Aim to feed your bearded dragon the same quality of broccoli as you yourself would expect. Don’t just use your beardie as a living garbage bin to feed anything in the fridge that is going off. Ideally you ‘d be happy to eat the broccoli you’re giving your beardie. 

Wash the broccoli – Unless you’ve grown the broccoli organically at home there is a risk of agricultural chemicals remaining. Wash the broccoli thoroughly under running water for a few seconds before giving it to your bearded dragon.  

Chop into small pieces – While cooked broccoli can be fed “as is” most bearded dragons choose to chop raw broccoli into small pieces. This makes them easier for your bearded dragon to eat.

Combine with other foods to create a salad – While broccoli is a great food for bearded dragons, it would be a mistake to feed your beardie nothing else. Try combining the broccoli with other ingredients to create a delicious “salad”

Remove uneaten broccoli before it spoils – Lastly remember that fresh fruits and vegetables can quickly turn in the heat of a bearded dragon cage. Keep an eye on the food bowl and remove anything uneaten promptly. 

Richard Adams
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