Can Bearded Dragons Eat Lettuce? (Romaine, Iceberg, and Arugula)


Last Updated: April 6, 2021

Bearded dragons have a pretty varied diet, spanning a range of foods from insects to vegetables. A good portion of their diet should be made up of leafy greens and other vegetables, but that doesn’t mean that every vegetable is a good choice to feed your dragon.

Lettuce seems like a harmless green that comes in many forms. Is it safe for your dragon? Well, it won’t cause any serious or drastic consequences, though it can result in runny stools and some stomach discomfort. For this reason, lettuce isn’t recommended as regular food for your bearded dragon.

If you’re in need of an alternative that you can give to your dragon, then read on because we’ve got some good suggestions. But before that, let’s dig a bit deeper into lettuce and see why it’s not a great snack for your dragon.

Negative Effects of Feeding Lettuce to Your Bearded Dragon

Most people would consider lettuce to be nutritious food. It is, after all, a leafy green vegetable. For humans, lettuce could be classified as healthy. But things aren’t quite the same for your dragon. Even though leafy greens should make up a good portion of any dragon’s diet, lettuce isn’t one of the best choices.

The most common lettuce varieties, such as romaine and iceberg, are mostly made of water. There is practically no nutritional value in lettuce for your dragon to benefit from. Dragons evolved to live in arid deserts where water is scarce, so they developed the ability to leach all the water they need from their food.

When you feed something that’s composed almost entirely of water to your dragon, it will absorb all of that water, but this can cause problems such as diarrhea. Luckily, it shouldn’t be a lasting issue. In a few days, your dragon should be back to normal. But if not, you might want to arrange a visit to the vet.

bearded dragon reptile
Image Credit: Oksanna Briere, Pixabay

Alternatives to Lettuce That You Can Feed Your Dragon

While romaine and iceberg lettuce are poor dietary options for your dragon, other leafy greens, including other lettuce varieties, are much healthier alternatives. They won’t cause diarrhea for your bearded buddy, and they even contain additional nutrients to boost your dragon’s health.

Arugula lettuce is a much better alternative to other lettuces. Spinach is another great option that can actually provide your pet with a boost of nutrients. But these types of leafy greens should only be fed sparingly because of their high concentration of oxalates. Overfeeding of these veggies can even cause metabolic bone disease, so limit them to a single feeding each week.

arugula
Image Credit: Jeffery Martin, Wikimedia Commons

How Many Vegetables Should a Bearded Dragon Eat?

When your bearded dragon is young, it will eat more insects than fruits and vegetables. However, this will flip as your dragon ages.

Baby bearded dragons should eat a diet that consists of just 20% fruit and vegetables. The remainder should be filled with insects. By the time the dragon is a juvenile, the diet should be split an even 50/50 of insects to fruits and veggies. Adults have almost completely turned the equation around with a diet that’s 75% fruit and vegetables and just 25% insects.

Best Vegetables for a Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons aren’t picky eaters unless you allow them to be. If you offer your dragon a wide variety of foods from a young age, they’ll eat a varied diet and will be receptive to most foods you offer. But as you’ve seen, not all of the foods we think of as healthy are great choices to feed your bearded dragon.

The following vegetables are all great foods for your dragon:

  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Cucumber
  • Apple
  • Mango
  • Okra
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Collard Greens
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Bok Choy
  • Mustard Greens

You want to avoid your dragon becoming bored with its diet. So, it’s a good idea to keep changing up the foods you’re providing all the time. This will also help prevent any type of deficiencies from forming since your dragon will be a continuous and changing influx of nutrients.

divider-bearded dragon

Conclusion

Bearded dragons eat a diverse diet consisting of insects, fruits, and vegetables. Young dragons eat more insects than fruits and veggies, but adults are the opposite. While it’s a good idea to continuously offer new and interesting foods for your dragon, common lettuce varieties like romaine and iceberg are poor choices that won’t offer your dragon any nutritional benefit and could potentially cause adverse effects such as diarrhea.


Featured Image: Jef Wright, Unsplash



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