Lettuce might be that quintessential vegetable everyone knows about and has eaten once in their lives. It’s green, it’s crunchy, and it goes well with hamburgers and salads! So while we humans enjoy lettuce, it’s a vegetable with a dark side to it. No, it’s not poisonous and no there is no new study that says lettuce is bad.
We’ll explain this “dark” side in a moment, but let’s look at lettuce from the perspective of bearded dragons’ food. Can bearded dragons eat lettuce? And is lettuce good for them? After all, it’s a vegetable, it’s green, and it’s leafy. All things you want in a bearded dragons diet after all. This should be an easy question to answer.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Lettuce and bearded dragons have a rather complicated relationship. So, read on as we answer all your questions pertaining to bearded dragons and lettuce, including questions you may not have thought of!
So, Can Bearded Dragons Eat Lettuce?
Now, let’s get the obvious question answered first. Can bearded dragons eat lettuce? Yes they can. A bearded dragon will have no issue what so ever when it comes to chowing down on these leafy greens just like how they’ll eat about every leafy green. And fruit. And insect. And maybe your finger. Bearded dragons aren’t often picky.
Now, should bearded dragons eat lettuce? This is the question you should be asking, and the answer is no. A big, fat, no. Lettuce is the absolute worst vegetable you can feed your bearded dragon not counting vegetables that are of course poisonous. In fact, we recommend to avoid feeding lettuce to them if at all possible!
See what we mean about it having a “dark” side?
What Gives? Lettuce Is A Vegetable!
So, as you were taught as a child, veggies are good for you. And the same is true with bearded dragons. What do bearded dragons eat? Fruits, vegetables, and insects. And possibly your finger if they’re hungry enough. In the wild, bearded dragons thrive on rich, leafy greens and fruits that are full of energy, along with insects for protein.
Now, this means our friend the lettuce should be a shoo-in for a bearded dragon’s food. The keyword is should, as it’s not a healthy food at all.
It’s A Leafy Green Vegetable, So It Should Be Healthy?
Now it’s true that it’s a leafy green vegetable, but have you ever taken a closer look at the green color? Like really looked at it? Next time you’re shopping, look at a head of lettuce and compare the green to, say, collard greens. Or a cabbage. You’ll notice rather quickly that lettuce is a much lighter shade of green.
This here is an indication of the nutritional value, or lack of. We’ll discuss this in-depth in a moment, but it’s important to remind you that just because it’s a leafy green vegetable doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best. You make sure to provide the best food for your bearded dragon, right? You wouldn’t feed them leaves you found off the ground.
The Dark Side Of Lettuce
So, what’s the deal with lettuce that we’ve been warning you about all this time? Well, time to find out! A quick glance at the USDA website will tell you that lettuce is nearly 96% water with only a small fraction of any other vitamin or mineral. The poor nutritional value should be a reason to ignore it as food for your bearded dragon.
Now, compare the nutritional value of lettuce to cabbage. Notice how cabbage has less water and is a darker green in color? In short, when searching leafy greens to add to your bearded dragon diet, you want leafy greens that are dark green. This is a sign of a vegetable that’s rich in vitamins and minerals. These are what you should incorporate into their diet.
We’ll talk about these leafy greens in a moment, but for now let’s finish addressed questions relating to lettuce.
So, Is Lettuce Bad For Bearded Dragons?
As we mentioned before, bearded dragons will happily eat lettuce without a care in the world. But they’re not really picky eaters most of the time and will happily eat plenty of foods. So it’s not that it’s bad for your bearded dragon. The problem is that it lacks the nutritional requirements that are needed in proper food.
Think of lettuce like you would a potato chip. They’re tasty, they’re crunchy, but they’re not good for you. They’re a great snack, but not a great food. You wouldn’t want to live on nothing but potato chips, would you? Same with your bearded dragon. Bearded dragons need balanced foods to remain healthy, just like you.
This is why when your grocery shopping for them you make sure to pick a balanced diet that’s not too high in fats, carbs, sugars, salts, etc. All said and done, if you bearded dragon eats lettuce it won’t hurt them but it’s not going to be good for them either.
Can Lettuce Be Used In My Bearded Dragons Diet?
Yes. If for some reason your bearded dragon just craves lettuce and nothing else, you can feed it to them occasionally. Once a week, if that. And make sure they have other foods in the tank to eat and not just lettuce, as you don’t want them to start a habit of eating only that.
So use lettuce only sparingly if you absolutely must. Bearded dragons do tend to eat anything, but you may find yourself with one that just has to have lettuce. Make sure they have other foods to eat, and that they eat this food stuff and not just pick out the lettuce like they would a super worm in a salad.
Lettuce Is High In Water Content. Couldn’t It Be Used To Supplement Water Intake?
A clever idea that addresses the biggest flaw of lettuce; that it’s mostly water. The problem is that bearded dragons tend to get their water through their food already. Juicy fruits and vegetables provide plenty of water, so adding lettuce to the mix could make your reptile friend have too much water in their diet.
In turn this could lead to diarrhea or possibly your bearded dragon feeling bloated and full. So using lettuce as a supplement to water isn’t a very good idea. Again, see above on what to do if your bearded dragon craves it.
Is There Anything Lettuce Is Good For?
Well, you need lettuce for BLTs and hamburgers! But for bearded dragons, not really. The only time you should consider adding lettuce to a bearded dragon diet is if said bearded dragon is extremely picky and only wants lettuce. Another use for lettuce in a bearded dragon diet is as vitamin supplements.
Some bearded dragon owners have found that their beardies love lettuce that’s been coated in a vitamin and mineral mix, and to this end because of the extremely low nutritional content of lettuce to begin with bearded dragons can happily eat this enhanced lettuce.
What Should Bearded Dragons Eat Besides Lettuce?
There is quite a lot of food they should eat. Cabbage, collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, parsley, swiss chard, and arugula. A mix of these healthy greens is what you should feed your bearded dragon on a daily basis, if you’re not doing so already.
Are There Any Forms Of Lettuce Good For Bearded Dragons?
No. The biggest problem of lettuce and its varieties are that unlike a lot of fruits and vegetables they contain too much water and not enough nutrition. They’re a fine enough food stuff for us, who requires much more nutrition than a bearded dragon.
Of course, make sure to understand that lettuce won’t kill your bearded dragon or make them sick either. As we discussed, they’re not bad, they’re just lacking in the nutritional department.
What About Lettuce Mixed In With Other Vegetables?
You’ll find this a lot in stores. Lettuce is a common filler due to being cheap. If you feed your bearded dragon mixed food, try to find the ones that lack lettuce or don’t have as much lettuce. Typically, spring mix is a good choice to pick if you’re grabbing a bag.
Make sure to read what’s in the bag and how much, least so you don’t end up with a bag half-filled with lettuce!
Is Cooked Lettuce Better?
No. Cooking adds nothing of value and actually removes nutrition. You can serve cooked food to a bearded dragon, but it’s better that they eat raw stuff instead.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
Just the basics, really. Always remove uneaten food from the tank, clean the tank regularly. It’s not good leaving any uneaten food in the tank, regardless if it’s lettuce or not.
So there you have it. Can bearded dragons eat lettuce? Yes. Should a bearded dragon eat lettuce? No. They’re not bad for a bearded dragon, but they don’t provide anything either. They’re like a potato chip to your bearded dragon. Crunchy, tasty, but just not very good.
There are much better leafy greens out there for your bearded dragon, so next time you go shopping try to find one that they’ll love! It’s not hard, as we established a bearded dragon isn’t a picky eater in the slightest. Just make sure your bearded dragon doesn’t mistake a finger for a worm!