There are few fruits more refreshing than pineapple. I understand some heathens even put it on pizza (shame on you!). But can your bearded dragon also enjoy pineapple chunks or is this purely an owner-only food?
Let’s start with the easy answer: Yes, bearded dragons can eat pineapple. Indeed, pineapple offers a surprisingly long list of benefits for your pet, which we’ll cover in detail below.
How Often to Feed Pineapple To a Bearded Dragon
Pineapple should be considered an occasional treat, rather than a staple, regular part of your bearded dragon’s diet. It should represent a small part of your beardies weekly intake of plant matter.
As a rule of thumb, a small amount once or twice a week is probably about right.
The one weakness of pineapple from the perspective of bearded dragon nutrition, is just how high in sugar / carbohydrates it is. This means that if it’s fed too often, or in too high a volume, it is at risk of causing weight gain. And as you can guess, fatter reptiles tend to live shorter lives.
So consider pineapple like giving sweets to your kids; they tend to love it, but it’s best in moderation.
Nutrients Found in Pineapple
Pineapple is a great source of vitamins and minerals for your bearded dragon. For example, nutritionists have shown that pineapple is notably high in vitamins B1, B6 and C.
Perhaps rather more interestingly, pineapple also contains generous amounts of copper, which serves a range of purposes in the body, from helping to produce healthy blood cells to reducing tiredness and fatigue.
Of greatest interest to reptile keepers, however, is the level of calcium. We’ll talk a little more about the calcium:phosphorus ratio in a few minutes but for now the message is simple: pineapple is quite a high calcium food source. This means it can play a useful, practical role in helping to keep your bearded dragon’s skeleton in perfect health.
For this reason alone it deserves a place on your beardie’s menu, being both readily accepted but also highly nutritionally beneficial.
Oxalic Acid Levels in Pineapple
If you’re new to bearded dragon nutrition then you may not have stumbled across this unwieldy word before. What on earth is “oxalic acid” and why does it matter?
I won’t bore you with the science, but basically oxalic acid can prevent the body from absorbing calcium. In other words there’s little point in feeding your bearded dragon plenty of calcium-rich foods if at the same time you’re also giving lots of oxalic acid.
We’ve already discovered that pineapple has relatively high levels of calcium, so how does the oxalic acid level stack up?
Pineapple actually has very low levels of oxalic acid. Some studies post this at just 3mg per serving. For comparison, sweet potato comes in at 28 mg per portion, while raspberries come in at 48 mg per serving,
So low oxalic acid coupled with high calcium help to make pineapple a great food stuff for beardies.
Calcium:Phosphorus Ratios in Pineapple
Calcium and phosphorus are like two ends of a seesaw. They need to be suitably balanced. The ideal ratio is 2 units of calcium to 1 unit of phosphorus. What we call a calcium:phosphorus ratio of 2:1.
Pineapple has a calcium:phosphorus ratio of 1.6:1.
While this isn’t perfect, it should still be regarded as very, very good. As with oxalic acid levels, it’s worth comparing it to a few other popular foods with bearded dragons. Banana, for example, only has a ratio of 0.3:1, while bell peppers have a ratio of 0,5:1. And many of us regularly feed bell peppers to our beardies.
In all, this is great news and underlines the value that pineapple can play as a balanced part of your bearded dragon’s diet.
Reasons Not to Feed Pineapple To Your Bearded Dragon
Really the only major reason not to overfeed your bearded dragon with pineapple is the sugar content. Too much can lead to weight gain. But with all the other benefits outlined above, pineapple is definitely one of the better fruits to offer your beardie. Offered sparingly and only occasionally, this is certainly a foodstuff worth adding to your list.
How to Prepare Pineapple for Your Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are not fussy eaters. The preparation of pineapple is really just to ensure it is as safe as possible for your pet.
Bearded dragons can eat canned pineapple (in juice – not in syrup) or of course fresh pineapple.
In terms of preparation, I’m going to assume you’re starting with a juicy, fresh pineapple, leaves and all.
Skin & Core
Bearded dragons should not be fed pineapple skin. It’s too tough and spiky, and it is at risk of causing digestive blockages. The same goes for leaves. Even the core of a pineapple can be tough and woody, leading to digestive issues.
The best way to prepare pineapple for your bearded dragon is therefore to carefully remove the skin with a sharp knife. Inspect the core of the pineapple and if necessary remove and dispose of this too.
By this point you should be left only with the juiciest morsels from the pineapple. A good plan is to now finely dice this. Not only can smaller pieces of fruit be more easily consumed by your bearded dragon, but it also makes it easier to mix in with other food items.
Mix With Other Food Items
Your bearded dragon needs a varied and balanced diet. You should never feed them just one single food item, especially over an extended period of time. Doing so risks vitamin and mineral deficiencies which could lead to serious health complications.
It is best to think of your bearded dragon’s food as a “salad” – a range of plant-based foods. The main portion of this salad should be made up from low-sugar foods – mainly vegetables like broccoli and kale. The small remaining portion can be made up from fruits.
So feed pineapple to your bearded dragon for sure, but feed it alongside a range of other foodstuff, especially vegetables. Mixing it all together into a salad reduces the chances of selective feeding and increases the overall nutrient value of the meal.
Place Into a Bowl
Lastly, bearded dragons can be messy feeders. Pineapple is so juicy that if you’re not careful you’ll end up with sticky pineapple juice all round your beardie’s vivarium. Feeding pineapple in a bowl can limit this mess. Some owners even opt to place the food bowl itself into a shallow plate or similar, so even any juice dropped outside the food bowl can be easily wiped up and cleared away.
It goes without saying that pineapple can quickly go off, especially in the summer months and/or in the warmth of a bearded dragon terrarium. As a result, it is wise to remove any uneaten pineapple some hours after feeding, before it has a chance to spoil.
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