Is there anyone that doesn’t love sweet potato? As the name suggests, it’s sweet and juicy, and it can be prepared in so many different ways. But it’s not just humans who love sweet potato – a variety of animals will also happily lap it up.
Our concern in this article though is about bearded dragons. In brief, can bearded dragons eat sweet potato? And if so, how should it be prepared, and how often can it be fed?
Bearded dragons can eat sweet potato, and many really learn to love the taste.
That said, the high sugar content of a sweet potato tuber means that it should be fed in moderation. It shouldn’t make up the backbone of your beardie’s diet, but it is fine to feed on occasion.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Sweet Potato Everyday
Bearded dragons should not eat sweet potato everyday.
The sweetness that gives sweet potato it’s name should hint at one reason why; this food is very high in sugar. Fed too often or in high enough volumes sugary foods can lead to weight gain or even obesity.
However this is far from the only reason why sweet potato should not be fed to bearded dragons daily.
A second reason is that sweet potatoes have quite low calcium levels. Calcium is important in the diet of your bearded dragon as it helps support healthy bones and joints. A lack of calcium in the diet can result in skeletal or locomotory issues.
The final reason not to give your bearded dragon sweet potato daily is that it is very high in oxalates. Oxalic acid can affect the calcium your bearded dragon can absorb from their diet. We’ll talk a little more about oxalic acid later in this article.
Fortunately, as you’ll see, despite these weaknesses sweet potato can be safely given to your beardie in small doses.
How Often Can Bearded Dragons Eat Sweet Potato?
Bearded dragons should only eat sweet potato occasionally as a treat. Once every week or two should be perfectly sufficient.
Even when you give your bearded dragon sweet potato it should only be in small doses, and it should be combined with other foods to create a nutritious “salad”.
By offering a varied diet like this your bearded dragon will receive a broader range of nutrients, and the nutritional weaknesses of sweet potato can be guarded against.
Do Bearded Dragons Eat Raw Sweet Potato?
Bearded dragons can eat raw sweet potato.
However raw sweet potato is quite tough and fibrous. So it isn’t easy for your bearded dragon to bite into, or to digest.
If you want to give your bearded dragon raw sweet potato the solution is to finely dice it or grate it. In this the pieces are smaller, making them easier to swallow and digest.
Some experts claim that raw sweet potato contains “anti-nutrients” so bearded dragons are best fed cooked sweet potato instead of raw.
Do Bearded Dragons Eat Sweet Potato Fries?
Bearded dragons can eat sweet potato fries.
However you should be mindful of how the sweet potato fries have been prepared and cooked before you consider giving them to your bearded dragon.
Avoid any fries that have been doctored with any seasoning or spices. Also avoid any that have been cooked in oil as these may represent a health danger for your lizard.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Sweet Potato Baby Food?
Bearded dragons can eat sweet potato baby food.
Before giving sweet potato baby food to your bearded dragon, pay close attention to the ingredients list. Baby foods often contain a variety of other additions to the formulation. If you have any doubt as to how safe any particular ingredient is then the baby food is best avoided.
Should Sweet Potato Be Raw or Cooked for Bearded Dragons?
Bearded dragons can eat both raw and cooked sweet potato.
Giving your bearded dragon raw sweet potato obviously cuts down slightly on the preparation time.
While cooking the sweet potato may add to your preparation time, it has the benefit of softening the food. This can make it more appealing to your lizard, and may also make it easier to swallow and digest.
Nutrients Found in Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are surprisingly low in nutrients, when compared with many other food sources suitable for bearded dragons. As discussed previously, they primarily contain lots of sugar. They’re also quite low in protein.
So why consider giving your bearded dragon sweet potato to eat?
There are a handful of nutrients found in appreciable amounts in sweet potato, though in truth these can also be found in a wide range of other foodstuffs. Principally sweet potatoes contain lots of fiber, while offering minerals like manganese and potassium.
Sweet potatoes are relatively light on the vitamin front, though studies have shown they are a good source of vitamins A and B6.
The reality is that there are better foods for bearded dragons.Sweet potatoes are low in calcium, high in oxalates (covered below), high in sugar and reasonably poor in terms of nutrients.
Calcium Levels in Sweet Potatoes
An optimal calcium to phosphorus ratio for bearded dragons is roughly 2:1 – that is twice as much calcium as there is phosphorus.
The calcium to phosphorus ratio in sweet potatoes has been calculated at 1:1.9. In other words, the ratio is the wrong way round. Sweet potatoes contain twice as much phosphorus as calcium.
This means that sweet potato doesn’t offer suitable calcium levels to be fed extensively to your lizard.
If you do decide to give your beardie some sweet potato to eat, be sure to combine it with high calcium foods like kale or cabbage to counteract this weakness.
Supplementing with a reptile-safe calcium dusting powder may also make sense in these cases.
- Recommended for reptiles or amphibians that are kept indoors
- Promotes healthy bones and vital bodily functions
Oxalic Acid Levels in Sweet Potatoes
Oxalic acid can interfere with calcium levels in the body, locking it away where it cannot be used to support a strong skeleton.
Nutritional studies have shown sweet potatoes to have very high levels of oxalic acid.
One cup of sweet potato contains roughly 28mg of oxalic acid. Compare this to the 2mg found in the same portion size of grapes and you can see just how high the levels are!
This, combined with the low calcium levels to start with, really underlines the importance of only feeding sweet potato occasionally as a treat.
How to Feed Sweet Potato To Your Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons can eat raw or cooked sweet potatoes. Generally speaking, cooked potato is preferable as it is softer and easier to digest.
If feeding your bearded dragon raw sweet potato, start by removing the tough outer skin. Then finely dice or grate the flesh into small pieces. The raw sweet potato can then be combined with a range of other plant-based foods to create a balanced meal.
If you decide to cook the sweet potato then try to avoid any cooking method that requires oil. Roasting the sweet potato, for example, can be unsuitable as the flesh often requires oil to prevent burning while cooking.
Probably the quickest, easiest and safest way to cook sweet potato for bearded dragons is to remove the skin, roughly slice the flesh into 1cm chunks then place these in a bowl.
Add a small amount of water to the bottom of the bowl, then microwave on a high heat. Check the sweet potato regularly, and rotate it as required to ensure even cooking.
Once cooked the sweet potato can be fed as-is or mashed.
Whatever option you go for, feed only a tiny amount of sweet potato at each meal, and ensure the sweet potato is combined with other more nutrient-dense foods.
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