Most beardies get a portion of salad alongside their insects during feeding time. Greens make up a hefty portion of that, but does that mean all greens should be given to your beardie all the time? Spinach is a darker green that many bearded dragon owners have mixed feelings about, due to its potential risks outweighing the rewards. So while bearded dragons can eat spinach, does that mean they should?
Why You Should Be Sparing
Our little dragons need a variety of vitamin and mineral-rich foods to keep them healthy and strong. Leafy greens are one of the best ways to achieve this goal so they can regularly eat things like carrot tops, endive, watercress, radicchio, dandelion greens, and chicory. The darker greens that are more packed with Iron and other benefits can be enjoyed on occasion, but they should be limited.
Spinach, kale, chard, and collard greens are packed with nutrients but they are also packed with oxalates. They need a lot of calcium in their diet and the level of oxalates in dark leafy greens like spinach can cancel out calcium levels. Dark greens like spinach are high in oxalates and sometimes in phosphorus, so even if you’re regularly supplementing your beardie’s calcium, they may not be getting enough if you’re feeding them these greens often.
Beardies are prone to developing Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), which can cause bending, weakening, and warping of their bones. This can lead to fractures, trouble walking, and plenty of pain for your little one, so it is important they are getting the right amount of calcium in their diet to offset things like phosphorus and oxalates.
This doesn’t mean you can never give your bearded dragon spinach, but it is definitely a green to give sparingly. A little spinach can pack a big punch as it is loaded with nutrients like Iron, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Protein, Potassium, and Calcium. It is still on the safe side of the calcium to phosphorus level as well making it a safe food for beardies in small quantities.
You’ll find nearly three milligrams of Iron, nearly one hundred milligrams of Calcium, and nearly 80 milligrams of Magnesium per hundred grams of spinach. It is also high in protein, providing nearly three grams per hundred grams of spinach. Though your dragon will get most of their protein from their insect feeding, it can still be an added benefit when you decide to give them spinach.
Much like with other greens you’ll want to wash your spinach thoroughly to remove any dirt or chemicals. You don’t want to cook the spinach either as it is far more nutritionally-dense when served raw. You can also save time chopping because they can eat the leaves by tearing them, so no need to get them into tiny pieces before feeding time.
You can either feed your beardie spinach by hand to give you both some bonding time, or you can add it to their salad mix so they can gobble it up at their leisure. Whichever you choose, they are sure to enjoy these rich greens as an occasional disruption to their normal feeding routine.
If you really want our opinion though, buying spinach might be a waste of time for your bearded dragon. Some beardies don’t like spinach at all, and the cons can often outweigh the pros. While we won’t say you shouldn’t feed your beardie spinach, there are plenty of other delicious plants your little buddy can snack on without the risk of oxalates binding with their calcium.
Things like dandelion greens, carrot tops, and radicchio are all wonderful additions to any beardie salad bowl and they contain a good amount of water as well as heavy vitamin and mineral content. Always remember as well to dust your beardie’s salad with their calcium supplement to ensure they are getting exactly what they need to grow big and strong.