More and more people have started to keep bearded dragons as pets and there has definitely been a large spike in their popularity over the last three to five years. Due to more and more people getting their very first bearded dragon, we have also seen a correlating spike in the number of people that are reaching out and asking a number of questions about bearded dragons to try and offer them the best care possible. Although these questions do vary, a large number of them tend to be based around things such as “What do bearded dragons eat?” but due to the broad nature of the question, it is hard to offer a direct answer.
A much more specific question that we have seen asked with increased frequency is based around something like “Can bearded dragons eat spinach?” so we have decided to dedicate this article to the topic to try and help as many of our readers who own a bearded dragon and are considering using spinach as a treat for them. Although a large number of bearded dragon owners will tend to avoid adding spinach to the normal bearded dragon diet, you can usually feed your bearded dragon spinach in small amounts without issue.
Although the vast majority of the average beardie diet should be made up of insects, fruits and vegetables can be used to supplement around twenty percent of total calories and can act as a great way to quickly and easily get some essential vitamins and minerals into your bearded dragon. We definitely understand why so many people who own bearded dragons are apprehensive about letting their pet eat it as we will cover below but there is definitely a trade-off between positives and negatives with the food.
Can Spinach Be Harmful To Your Bearded Dragon
Although the vast majority of recommended food lists for bearded dragons do tend to put spinach on the questionable list rather than the avoid or safe list, bearded dragons will usually be fine to occasionally eat spinach provided that you make sure it is only given in small amounts once or twice per month at most. This is due to the calcium powder issue that large amounts of spinach on a regular basis has been linked with multiple times with well-documented studies to back it up too.
The issue tends to be based around the fact that spinach contains around twice the amount of oxalic acid that other things that your bearded dragon can eat. This means that the acid can prevent the calcium to process leading to a potential build-up of calcium in your pet bearded dragon that can then lead to issues in your pets. As we mentioned, some people totally avoid spinach due to this where some will regularly offer their bearded dragons small amounts now and then to provide some healthy vitamins and minerals but there are definitely other sources you can use.
One thing that we would just like to quickly point out is that we would never recommend that you give a baby bearded dragon spinach due to the issues explains above. Due to their smaller size, the calcium power build up in their system is more likely to cause them long term issues. We have seen a number of questions from people who have unknowingly gave their bearded dragons or baby bearded dragons spinach but if it was just a one off then there should not be any issues.
Excellent Vitamin And Mineral Profile
As we said earlier though, although there are some well-documented issues that may potentially occur if your feed your bearded dragon spinach on a regular basis, offering it once or twice per month can let your get some solid vitamins and vitamins into their diet. Spinach offers some excellent nutritional value and the nutrient ratio is extremely high offering a ton of potential benefits just like the other leafy food sources.
Although bearded dragons need to have the vast majority of these vitamins and minerals in their diet to live a long and healthy life, there are definitely other options that you can add to your bearded dragons food to help top up its vitamin and mineral intake if you do want to stay away from letting them eat spinach.
Here is the full list of vitamins that are included in spinach if you do opt to add it to your pet bearded dragons diet:-
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B
In addition to all of this vitamin-based goodness, spinach also offers all of the following minerals too:-
Some other popular options that bearded dragon owners will allow their pets to eat include beet greens, mustard greens, broccoli, turnip greens, alfalfa hay or chow, bok choy, kale, parsley, Swiss chard, watercress, clover, red or green cabbage, savory, cilantro, kohlrabi, bell peppers, and green beans. All of these are suitable replacements for spinach without having the added calcium issue that we covered above while also having a very similar nutritional profile too.
Solid Fiber Content
Just like the majority of vegetable leaves, spinach is around two and a half percent fiber making it a solid option to help boost your bearded dragons fiber intake if needed. Although fiber is essential for natural digestion and to help keep your bearded dragon regular, these processes will often be normal even if your bearded dragon does not eat enough fiber with its meals.
Bearded dragons tend to have issues with both constipation and impaction, especially the older that they get. This is the main reason that we would always recommend that our readers try to ensure that their pet bearded dragons are getting all the fiber that they need in their diet. Although meeting your bearded dragons recommended daily fiber intake does not guarantee that your pet will not suffer from either of these issues, it can help to minimize the chances.
One of the main things that we see bearded dragon owners add to their pets diets to help boost their fiber intake, especially in their later years are hornworms from a reputable source. Bearded dragons tend to really enjoy having hornworms in their diet and they are also around two and a half percent fiber similar to spinach without having the issues with calcium either. This can be a great way to top up the fiber intake of your bearded dragon without risk from a food source that they tend to love. We would always recommend you get commercially available hornworms than wild ones as wild hornworms may have ingested foods with chemicals on them that can cause issues with your pet too.
Decent Water Source
Just like many other members of the reptile family, beardies can sometimes go off their water in their old age and not get anywhere near enough water per day that they should. A common trick that people who own bearded dragons and other reptiles tend to use it to offer their pets foods that have a high water content to help supplement the water that they drink normally.
Spinach tends to be over seventy percent water offering a nutritionally dense food that you can add to your pet’s diet to help and increase the amount of water intake they have. Although you should not rely on just high water content foods, this can definitely be a easy way to keep your pet bearded dragons water intake high enough to avoid dehydration. If your bearded dragon seems dizzy or confused or is struggling with balance then there is a chance that dehydration is the cause so look to getting more water into your pet or seek assistance from your local veterinarian.
How To Prepare Spinach For Your Bearded Dragon
If you do decided to add small amounts of spinach to your bearded dragons diet then we would always recommend that you make sure you wash it under cold water prior to feeding it to your pet. Spinach may have had pesticides and other chemicals sprayed over it while being farmed that may cause additional issues with your bearded dragon. Washing it for a good twenty to thirty seconds usually does the trick and ensures that they have been removed.
Once the spinach has been washed thoroughly, some people just add the spinach to their bearded dragon’s food bowl while others will tend to dice it up first. Although most bearded dragons tend to be able to eat spinach leaves without issue, it only takes a few seconds to quickly dice them up into much smaller pieces so is usually worth doing.
That brings our article to a close and we definitely see why so many bearded dragon owners are so cautious about adding spinach to their pets diet. We definitely understand why so many people simply avoid it at all costs but there are also a large number of bearded dragon owners who will supplement spinach to their pets diet due to it being so nutritionally dense and offering so many benefits.