If you have a Bearded Dragon as a pet, you must know that a major portion of their diet consists of fruits and vegetables, with the remaining consisting of insects and other small invertebrates. Being omnivores, these reptiles can feed on a wide variety of vegetables. In this article, we will discuss whether or not the Beardies can eat spinach.
Can Beardies eat spinach? Yes, they can. Spinach is rich in all the vitamins and minerals that the Beardies need and can, thus, be a healthy snack for them. However, feeding them too much spinach or too often is a bad idea and can be detrimental to their health.
Can Beardies eat baby spinach? What happens if they eat these leafy greens on a regular basis? If these questions have crossed your mind, you’re at just the right place. We will answer all your spinach-related questions in this article.
Spinach For Bearded Dragons: Health Benefits
Do you know anything about the natural diet of Beardies? These reptiles are omnivores, with their diet consisting of a mixture of insects, fruits, and veggies in the wild. Veggies have, therefore, always been a part of their diet. But what about spinach?
Are they a healthy option for your pet reptiles? To answer this question, let’s first take a quick peek at the nutritional composition of spinach:
|Vitamin A||469 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.077 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.188 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.725 mg|
|Vitamin B4 (Choline)||19.2 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.066 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.196 mg|
|Vitamin C||28.2 mg|
|Vitamin E||2.04 mg|
|Vitamin K||482.8 mcg|
|Calcium, Ca||99 mg|
|Iron, Fe||2.72 mg|
|Potassium, K||558 mg|
|Sodium, Na||79 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.12 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||79 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||49 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.52 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.896 mg|
|Calories (Energy)||23 kcal|
Serving size: 100 grams
As we can clearly see in the table above, spinach is a nutrient-dense vegetable that has many health benefits for us. Now, we’ll talk about the health benefits of these leafy greens for our pet reptiles:
Vitamins and Minerals
Spinach is often referred to as a “superfood” for a good reason. It is a storehouse of a large number of vitamins and minerals that can benefit the health of your Beardie just as they can benefit your own.
Among these are Vitamin A, which improves their vision, reproductive health, and overall growth; Vitamin C, which shoulders the responsibility of strengthening their immune system; and Vitamin K, which plays a key role in blood clotting, preventing them from bleeding out, and promotes wound healing in their body.
Out of all the minerals present in spinach, two are most essential for your Beardie’s health: Iron and Calcium. While Iron maintains the oxygen flow in their organs, Calcium strengthens their bones. Calcium is particularly important for the female Beardies, as it improves their egg health.
Good Ca:P ratio
Do you know why Beardies need a minimum 2:1 ratio of Calcium and Phosphorus in their food? It is because Phosphorus binds with Calcium in their bodies, thereby preventing the absorption of Calcium in their blood.
Since Calcium is a vital mineral for these reptiles, its deficiency is harmful to them and can even lead to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Spinach has a healthy Ca:P ratio for your Beardies, for it contains more Calcium than Phosphorus.
Low sugar content
Sugar is not healthy for your Beardies, as its consumption can over time lead to diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and even cardiac failure. Since spinach contains a negligible amount of sugar, it is healthy for their cardiac health.
Therefore, we can conclude by saying that spinach can be extremely healthy for your Beardies when fed in moderation.
What happens if Bearded Dragons eat too much spinach?
In the last section, we learned about the benefits of spinach for the Beardie’s health. Keeping in mind these benefits, you’d want to feed spinach to your pets all the time, wouldn’t you? Why, then, do we ask you to feed them these leafy greens in moderation?
The risk of Oxalates
While spinach has many healthy vitamins and minerals for Beardies, it also contains a compound that could lead to health problems in all reptiles, including Bearded dragons, when consumed in excess. The compound we are talking about is Oxalates (Oxalic acid).
Oxalates are known to bind with calcium and other trace minerals inside their body, thus, preventing their absorption. When Beardies eat food high in Oxalates frequently, like spinach, they face a serious deficiency of all minerals, particularly Calcium.
This can eventually lead to Metabolic Bone Disease. Some of the common symptoms of MBD in Beardies are as follows:
- Weakness and fatigue
- A tremor in their limbs
- Swollen hind limbs
- Softening of face bones, particularly jaw
If you notice any such symptoms in your pet, you should take them to a vet right away. Fortunately, MBD can easily be cured with a proper diet and calcium supplements in the early stage.
Too much Vitamin A
Another problem with your Beardie eating too much spinach can be the high content of Vitamin A in their diet. While this vitamin is an important part of their diet, too much of it can be unhealthy for them, and can even cause Hypervitaminosis A (Vitamin A Toxicity). The common symptoms of this disease in the Beardies are:
- Loss of energy
- Excessive weight loss
- Swelling in the body
How often should Bearded Dragons be fed spinach?
While the health risks we discussed above might sound grave, it doesn’t mean that you should cut out spinach from your Beardie’s diet entirely. As we’ve already mentioned, moderation is the key to feeding them these leafy greens safely.
If you feed them about 28 grams of spinach once every 3-4 weeks, it is completely safe for your pet beardie. Moreover, we’d recommend that you feed them spinach mixed with other veggies as a salad and not as a standalone snack.
Can Bearded Dragons eat baby spinach?
Are you hearing the name “baby spinach” for the first time in your life? Don’t worry; we’re going to explain what these are to you first.
As the name itself suggests, baby spinach is just a younger version of the regular spinach that we eat. It is harvested at a quite early growth stage (between 20-35 days of planting). As a result, its leaves are smaller in size, are more tender, and have a sweeter flavor than the mature spinach.
While there are certain differences between regular and baby spinach, the nutritional value of both is more or less the same.
Thus, if you were wondering whether baby spinach can be fed to your Beardie more often than a regular one, the answer is: no. You have to practice strict moderation with this spinach as is recommended for its matured version.
Is it safe for baby Beardies to eat spinach?
Is your Beardie younger than 18 months of age? If yes, then you have a baby Beardie as your pet. And before you go ahead and feed them spinach, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
The diet of baby Beardies is quite the opposite of their adults. While the adult’s diet consists of 75% fruits and vegetables and 25% insects, their babies need 75% insects and 25% fruits and veggies in their diet.
This is because these younger ones need more protein while growing up. Thus, while you can feed them spinach, its quantity should be much smaller than what we have recommended for the adults.
Offering spinach to your Beardies
The first and foremost thing that you should keep in mind while feeding your Beardies spinach, or any other vegetable, is that you should never compromise with the quality.
Always purchase organic spinach to feed them since they’re completely safe from all kinds of pesticides and chemical fertilizers that could be lethal to your pets. While organic vegetables can be quite expensive, it shouldn’t be a problem for they eat a very small amount of these veggies.
Another benefit of organic spinach is that you can simply wash it with plain water to get rid of any kind of dirt, and they’re good to go. Once washed, these can be fed to your Beardies directly as well (although some pet-owners prefer to chop them into smaller pieces).
As we’ve mentioned before, the best way of feeding them spinach is to mix them up with a couple of other vegetables, as a salad.
Lastly, you should only offer your Beardies fresh and raw spinach; do not cook or freeze them, and never, ever feed them spoiled spinach.
Frequently asked questions
Which fruits should I feed to my Beardie? The most nutrient-dense fruits that you can feed your Beardies are apples, bananas, apricots, mangoes, oranges, berries, grapes, papayas, plums, and peaches.
Is it okay to feed frozen vegetables to Bearded Dragons? If you are feeding your Beardies frozen vegetables, you must first let them thaw at room temperature. In any case, fresh vegetables are always better for them than frozen ones.
Conclusion: Can Bearded Dragons eat spinach?
Bearded Dragons have a diverse diet that consists of both plant and animal matter. While the adults mainly rely on fruits and vegetables and feed on insects occasionally, their younger ones need a protein-rich diet of insects and feed on fruits and vegetables as a snack.
Spinach is a nutrient-dense vegetable that can be fed to both the baby as well as adult Beardies in moderation. When you’re buying these veggies for your pets, you should always opt for the organic ones, for they are free of any kind of pesticide and, thus, safer and healthier for them.