Let’s be honest. A kale smoothie may not fill many of us with joy. But there’s a reason why so many nutritionists rate it so highly. Quite simply it’s packed to the rafters with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s also high in fiber and low in sugar.
This raises some interesting questions for those of us with a pet bearded dragon.
Can bearded dragons eat kale?
And just as importantly, do they seem to enjoy the taste?
Bearded dragons can eat kale. Infact, many beardies seem to relish the taste.
There’s more, however.
Leafy greens like kale are probably the very best plant-based foods you can give your bearded dragon. While other food types with a high water or sugar content should only be fed as a treat, leafy greens make a perfect staple food for beardies.
Just be mindful that variety is still important. Try supplementing a base diet of leafy greens with small amounts of other safe foods and your beardie will be as happy and healthy as can be.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Kale Stems?
Kale stems can be tough and fibrous, so understandably they pose a concern for many bearded dragon owners.
Bearded dragons can eat kale stems and stalks.
In fact, kale stems actually represent quite a good source of both protein and fiber. They’re also high in calcium and iron.
They may not be as nutritious as leafy greens, but they’re still a great food for bearded dragons.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Kale Everyday?
Bearded dragons can eat kale every day.
Kale is a great food for bearded dragons. Some might argue it’s one of the best possible foods available. It’s nutritious, tasty, and can be fed as a staple diet.
Unlike many other common foodstuffs for bearded dragons, as well as all the vitamins it contains, it’s also really high in calcium which can help to support bone health.
As always, however, kale shouldn’t be the only food that you give your bearded dragon, even for a single meal. Every meal you give your beardie should consist of a range of different foods, in order to ensure a balanced nutrient intake.
Kale represents a good “base food” alongside other leafy greens like cabbage but you should be mindful to supplement these proven foods with other fruits and vegetables.
How Often to Feed Kale To a Bearded Dragon
Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can feed your bearded dragon.
It is perfectly safe to feed kale to your bearded dragon on a daily basis, assuming other plant matter is also fed alongside to avoid deficiencies in any particular nutrient.
It is advisable to use leafy greens like kale and cabbage as the foundation on which to build out your beardie’s meal plan. Other less nutrient-dense foods are then mixed in over time.
Your bearded dragon should therefore be fed kale on a regular basis, ideally several times a week, with the “gaps” filled with other leafy greens.
Nutrients Found in Kale
Kale is almost a perfect food for bearded dragons as it contains large amounts of nutrients, while being low in “nasties” like sugar.
The first benefit of giving kale to your bearded dragon is that it contains high levels of protein. This is relatively unusual among plants. Nutritional analyses have shown that roughly 16% of the calories found in kale come in the form of protein. For comparison, grapes offer only 4%.
Protein is important for growth, so younger bearded dragons in particular benefit from higher protein foods. That said, this doesn’t mean it should be avoided for more mature beardies.
However the protein level is far from the whole story. Kale is also one of the best sources of dietary calcium, ideal for maintaining a healthy skeleton. We’ll talk a little more about this later on.
Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine a plant packed with more minerals. Alongside the calcium you’ll also find copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium. All of these minerals have important roles to play in your bearded dragon’s body, from supporting healthy red blood cells to helping muscles contract.
However, don’t think all these minerals mean that kale is lacking in vitamins. It’s known to contain beneficial amounts of vitamin A, B6, C and K, as well as thiamin, riboflavin and folate.
All told, kale is a really impressive food. It explains why so many nutritionists refer to it as a “superfood”. It also underlines what an important central role it can play in the diet of your bearded dragon.
Calcium in Kale
The importance of calcium in your bearded dragon’s diet cannot be overestimated. A poor calcium intake can lead to weak or thin bones. At the extreme, pet lizards can suffer from fractures or may even struggle to get around.
Fortunately kale is a brilliant source of calcium.
Studies show that the calcium to phosphorus ratio in kale is roughly 2.7:1.
When you consider that the optimal ratio is 2:1, that is twice as much calcium as there is phosphorus, you can see just how strongly kale performs.
Indeed, the fact that kale contains so much calcium means it can often make up for the relatively low calcium levels found in foods such as strawberries or bananas when fed alongside.
This is probably the best example of why feeding a range of foods to your bearded dragon is so important. A properly-designed meal plan can help to ensure the weakness of one foodstuff is corrected by the strength of another.
Oxalates in Kale
Oxalic acid is an important consideration for many pet owners, not least bearded dragon keepers.
Oxalic acid has the unfortunate habit of binding to calcium in the kidneys, leading to painful kidney stones. Just as importantly, it locks away calcium where it cannot be absorbed and utilized by your beardie.
The oxalic acid level of kale is considered very low.
A single cup of kale contains just 2mg of oxalic acid according to scientific analysis. This is very healthy indeed.
Once again, therefore, kale shows what an essential role it can play in the diet of your bearded dragon.
Should Kale Be Raw or Cooked for Bearded Dragons?
Both raw and cooked kale are good for bearded dragons.
Raw kale has the benefit that very little is required in terms of preparation.
Cooked kale does require slightly more preparation, and the process of steaming or boiling the kale can result in some nutrient loss. On the flipside, cooked kale is softer and more tender, and therefore easier to eat for many bearded dragons.
In truth, both versions can be fed, and it really is up to you which option you prefer. Perhaps consider feeding raw kale most of the time for ease, but then when you’re cooking kale for your own dinner (you do eat it, right?) then add some of that to your beardie’s food bowl.
How to Feed Kale To Your Bearded Dragon
Kale is a very nutritious food that’s easy to digest. However, it can be a bit difficult to get your bearded dragon to eat kale, since they aren’t used to eating vegetables.
Mixing small amounts in with other more appealing foods can be a good way to introduce your beardie to the wonders of kale. Over time you can increase the proportion of kale in their salad.
Preparing kale for your bearded dragon is very simple indeed.
Avoid the risk of giving your bearded dragon any pesticides or herbicides by thoroughly washing the kale leaves before feeding. Do this by placing the kale into a collider and holding it under a running tap for a few seconds for best results.
While bearded dragons can eat kale stems, they can be tough and woody, and therefore less appealing. They can represent a choking hazard too, especially in smaller bearded dragons. Many keepers therefore opt to remove the thicker leaf stalks.
Whether you leave the stalks in or not, it is a good idea to finely chop the kale. This makes it easier for your beardie to swallow. It is also easier to combine with other foods to create a varied and balanced meal.
Kale may be a fantastic food for bearded dragons. But even kale shouldn’t be fed on its own. Combine your kale with a range of other plant-derived foodstuffs to create an interesting meal for your beardie. Feeding a range of foods together also has the benefit of minimizing the risk of nutrient deficiencies that may be seen on a more limited diet.
Bonus Tip: Kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow at home. It will even grow during the winter months, putting up with low temperatures and snow. Buying some kale seeds, and growing these in your garden can be a great way to ensure a never-ending supply of kale for virtually nothing.
Kale can also be used as “microgreens” for your bearded dragon. Simply sow some seeds in a shallow tray on your windowsill and harvest as you see fit. It’s a great way to feed your bearded dragon cheap yet highly-nutritious food throughout the cold winter months.