Bearded dragons can be somewhat picky eaters. While they have the capability to have a very diverse diet, some beardies can be stubborn when it comes to feeding time. For baby beardies, their diet consists mainly of insects as they need a hefty protein intake to help with their growth, but they do sample some leafy greens and vegetables as well for their nutrients.
Adults need far more leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits in their diet as a higher concentration of insects as they grow older can actually lead to weight gain. They also need those vitamins and minerals found in plant-based foods to help them stay strong and healthy. But what vegetables are the best addition to round out their diet?
Some owners may wonder if their bearded dragon can eat tomatoes. Tomatoes provide dense nutrition for humans like being rich in vitamins and minerals, but what about for your pet?
Why Tomatoes Are a Sometimes Food
While tomatoes aren’t something your bearded dragon can’t eat, they shouldn’t have them as a regular addition to their salad bowl. Much like with citrus fruits, which they can’t eat at all, they contain a good amount of acid. They don’t contain as much acid like citrus fruits but they contain enough that if fed to your beardie more frequently than once a month, they can cause issues with their digestion.
Acid-related digestion issues can cause diarrhea and lead to your beardie becoming dehydrated over time. The nutritional benefits of the tomato are also not as dense for your beardie as they are for you. They do contain Vitamin A, but the amount can actually be toxic for your little buddy in high quantities. If your beardie has had too much Vitamin A you may start to see signs of dehydration, that they look swollen, or that they are losing weight.
Another issue is that they have considerably less calcium than phosphorus which isn’t good for the health or density of their bones. Phosphorus binds itself with calcium and beardies already need a lot of calcium in order to function properly and keep their bones strong. Their bones are prone to weakening if they aren’t given enough calcium so in addition to dusting their terrariums with supplements, you should feed them more foods higher in calcium and lower in phosphorus.
If they don’t get the right amount of calcium they can develop Metabolic Bone Disease which can cripple them and leave them in immense pain. Learn more about this illness here.
Why They Should Eat Them On Occasion
While they aren’t necessarily a portion of food you should feed them frequently, they can still eat them on occasion as tomatoes do have some benefits your bearded dragon should have in their diet. Though they definitely count as a fruit, they are low in sugar so your beardie can enjoy them without worrying about the potential problems that come with too much sugar. They do have a good amount of Vitamin A and even though you should be wary, Vitamin A helps boost your beardie’s immune system and keep their eyesight in good shape as well.
They are also incredibly low in oxalic acid, which is very similar to phosphorus in how it bonds with calcium and removes it from the body. Though tomatoes are higher in phosphorus than they are in calcium, they are low in oxalates so you don’t have to worry too much about it if you only give them tomatoes in small doses.
To prepare them you want to make sure they are thoroughly washed so any chemicals are removed that could possibly harm your pet. You don’t want to cook down the tomatoes at all as they lose their nutrients and are harder for your beardie to eat. Beardies like the sweet taste of tomatoes as well and if you cube them up they can enjoy them sprinkled over a salad or fed by hand depending on how you like to feed your little buddy.
Though you need to be careful about what you give your little dragon, they do deserve some variety in their diet. They need so many vitamins and minerals that they should have a very diverse diet, just as long as you research the new foods you’re introducing beforehand you should be in the clear. Some can be picky but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop trying to introduce them to new things to try.
To keep your bearded dragon healthy and ensure that they don’t get sick you need to supply them with plenty of interesting and diverse foods so they can stay healthy and happy regardless of anything that comes their way.