Many bearded dragon owners love to keep fresh herbs on hand for cooking, and they wonder whether their bearded dragons can partake in these greens.
Cilantro is a popular household staple, but should it make its way as a staple food into your bearded dragon’s diet?
Cilantro is a great addition to your bearded dragon’s diet because it is chockful of antioxidants, vitamins, potassium, fiber, and calcium. They can consume the entire plant, including the leaves and stems. However, it should only be given on an occasional basis to prevent digestive upset.
Cilantro can indeed be an important component of a healthy reptilian diet.
To see why your bearded dragon could benefit from this fresh herb, let’s take a closer look at what cilantro has to offer.
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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cilantro?
If you want to give your bearded dragon some fresh cilantro, feel free to add it to their diet as a treat.
It has many important nutrients necessary to keep your bearded dragon healthy.
They can consume the leaves, and the stem of the cilantro plant as both have great nutritional value.
The nutritional components of fresh cilantro include:
- Antioxidants to help ward off inflammation
- Vitamin A and vitamin C for a healthier immune system, reproductive health, better vision, and organ and tissue repair
- Vitamin K for healthier tissue and helping to maintain blood cells
- Potassium to help regulate blood pressure
- Fiber to help to keep the digestive system moving
- Calcium for bone health
Be aware there is too much of a good thing, though.
This herb is filled with vitamin A which does help the body to support growth, bone health, and a healthy immune system.
Unfortunately, feeding your bearded dragon too much vitamin A can lead to hypervitaminosis.
This presents itself as dry, flaky skin or skin ulcers.
Cilantro is also extremely low in sugar content which is crucial to a balanced diet.
Even as a treat, high sugar content results in short-term digestive upset and diarrhea.
Too much glucose in the diet can lead to long-term health problems and cause extreme discomfort for your baby and adult dragons.
For example, a high sugar diet can lead to obesity, tooth decay, kidney problems, diabetes, and heart failure.
All of these could prove fatal to your bearded dragon or result in massive veterinary bills.
Another key reason to feed your beloved bearded dragon some cilantro is its ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Disproportionate calcium and phosphorus ratio in the diet can upset the calcium levels and lead to metabolic bone disease.
This is a sadly common disease among beardies, resulting in poor bone growth, bone decay, brittle skeleton, and death.
Pro-tip: Use a calcium powder to help keep the amounts of calcium in their systems high.
Cilantro has the perfect balance of these two nutrients to help ward off long-term health issues.
How Often Can Bearded Dragons Have Cilantro?
Adult bearded dragons can snack on cilantro from time to time, but it should not be a staple food in their diet.
Most experts agree it is alright to sprinkle a little bit of this herb on their food every other day.
Keep a close eye on your beardie’s health when incorporating cilantro into their diet.
If you notice an upset stomach or diarrhea, you may need to scale back what you are offering them.
Every other day may be too frequent for their stomach to handle.
It should be viewed as a treat instead of a staple, so use cilantro sparingly.
If you want to feed your beardie more leafy greens, consider adding some of the following to their diet:
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Turnip greens
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cooked or Frozen Cilantro?
While it’s good to feed your bearded dragon fresh cilantro, you want to avoid feeding them cooked cilantro.
Cilantro naturally has some moisture to it, but it can hold significantly more moisture once cooked.
Feeding your beardie too much water this way can cause health issues like diarrhea.
Not to mention, you will lose out on the many nutritional benefits cilantro has to offer.
In essence, your beardie will be eating the cilantro but only gaining water.
Ensuing diarrhea will lead to dehydration.
As such, avoid feeding your bearded dragon any cooked cilantro.
Frozen cilantro is similar to cooked cilantro and should be avoided.
It takes on a lot of moisture when frozen, which is the same thing as cooking.
As it thaws, your bearded dragon will be consuming too much of the water.
If it is not thawed enough, you also run the risk of your dragon choking on the frozen pieces.
And if you’re interested in frozen foods check out our post on using freeze-dried foods for bearded dragons.
How Do I Feed Cilantro to My Bearded Dragon?
If you have some leftover cilantro in your produce drawer, you might be wondering how to incorporate it into your bearded dragon diet.
First, it is important to make it as clean as possible for your reptile. Purchase organic herbs whenever possible for your pet.
However, you are still able to feed them non-organic cilantro if you take great care to wash it free of pesticides and chemicals before adding it to their dish.
It’s possible to feed bearded dragon cilantro whole, but you might want to chop it just in case.
Cutting it into smaller pieces makes it less likely for your bearded dragon to choke on the stems.
Once the herb is prepared, many owners slowly introduce it to their bearded dragon.
Some lizards are hesitant to eat this new food at first, so mixing it with familiar vegetables can help them integrate it into their diet.
Consider mixing it with carrots, peppers, and even blueberries to add variety to your bearded dragon’s diet.
Eventually, your beardie will likely come to love cilantro and will eat it without the need to mix it in other foods.
Remember to feed cilantro to your dragon in moderation, as too much will upset their stomachs.