bearded dragon handbook

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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mustard Greens?

What are mustard greens?

Are they safe for bearded dragons to eat?

Should these greens be a significant part of your pet beardie’s diet?

What are the health benefits associated with mustard greens?

To understand how to properly care for our bearded dragons, we must first know what they should be eating, how often they should be eating it, and what foods qualify as essential ingredients in beardie diets.

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Can A Bearded Dragon Eat Mustard Greens?

Bearded dragons can safely eat mustard greens.

Like many people, you may have never thought about where mustard comes from. 

Mustard is made from the seeds of the mustard plant. 

This plant flowers and grows green, bushy leaves. 

These leaves are known as mustard greens and are an excellent source of many essential nutrients.

From a nutritional standpoint, mustard greens are very beneficial to your health and are considered a superfood. 

Not only are these greens healthy for humans to eat, but they are also an excellent choice to add to your pet reptile’s meals.

Mustard greens are known for their high levels of micronutrients and essential compounds. 

These leafy greens are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. 

Mustard greens are high in beta carotene and calcium. 

They also have low levels of oxalates and low levels of phosphorus.

The following table contains the nutrition facts for 100 grams of mustard greens relevant to bearded dragons.

Water90.7 g
Energy27 Kcal
Protein2.86 g
Calcium (Ca)115 mg
Phosphorus (P)58 mg
Vitamin A907.2 mcg
Vitamin B60.18 mg
Vitamin C70 mg
Vitamin K257.5 mcg
Beta Carotene1790 mcg

Calcium & Phosphorus

As seen in the nutritional table above, mustard greens have favorable calcium to phosphorus ratio. 

Calcium is a vital nutrient for all reptiles, so foods’ calcium content is an essential factor to look out for.

Since calcium is required to process phosphorus, there always needs to be more calcium than phosphorus present in food items to avoid a calcium deficiency.

Most reptiles require approximately two times as much calcium as phosphorus or a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio. 

In the case of 100 g of mustard greens, the Ca:P ratio is 115 mg:58 mg, or 1.98:1.

Lying just barely under a 2:1 ratio, this vegetation qualifies as having a good Ca:P ratio and is safe to feed your beardie multiple times per week.

According to veterinary experts, levels of calcium are vital for reptiles to live a healthy life. 

If reptiles have a low intake of calcium, they are at risk of health issues such as metabolic bone disease (MBD), which is deadly if not properly treated.

If the reptile is receiving low levels of calcium foods in its diet or is struggling with calcium absorption, nutritional supplements are necessary to reverse the problem.

In many cases, owners will add a phosphorus-free calcium supplement to their reptile’s food a few times per week as a preventative measure. 

If you are feeding your dragon a nutritious diet with varied foods in its salad bowl as well as providing a calcium supplement on occasion, you will most likely not need to worry about it developing any sort of nutrient deficiency.

As stated previously, phosphorus is an inhibitor of calcium absorption because the body must use calcium to break down phosphorus.

Another compound which inhibits the level of absorption of calcium is oxalic acid or oxalates. 

These curly leaves have a shallow level of oxalates. 

Since oxalic acid is minuscule in mustard greens, it does not pose a risk of decreasing calcium intake.

Along with mustard greens, collard greens and kale are all oxalate-free, calcium-rich greens reptile experts recommend as part of a beardies diet. 

Having this variety of greens in the salad bowl as part of your pet’s balanced diet will help ensure they have a constant calcium source.

Vitamin A & Beta Carotene

Vitamins are essential nutrients living organisms need to function correctly. 

Some of the critical nutrients present in mustard greens and vital to your beardies’ health include vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

Using our handy table above as a reference, we see 100 g of this nutritious food contains 907.2 mcg of vitamin A and 1790 mcg of beta carotene.

With moderate vitamin A and beta carotene levels, these popular greens are great for your beardies’ diet.

Beta carotene is a type of carotenoid which is a precursor for vitamin A. 

So, the 1790 mcg of beta carotene will be converted into vitamin A in the body.

Both vitamin A and beta carotene support a healthy immune system, eye health, and overall organ health.

Naturally, maintaining a healthy level of these nutrients in your pet lizard’s diet will help prevent eye problems and various forms of organ failure.

Too much vitamin A may lead to vitamin A toxicity, which beardies are susceptible to. 

This should not be a significant concern for you when feeding your pet this food.

The best way to avoid this issue is by providing this well-known lizard with natural sources of vitamin A in their salad bowl. 

Refrain from adding any supplement for this vitamin to your beardies diet.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a nutrient which helps support healthy skin and bone health.

We know 100 g of this preferred food item contains 70 mg of vitamin C.

With exceptional levels of this vitamin present, mustard leaves again qualify as healthy and should be included as a raw green in the salad bowl.

Skin and bone health are both vital for reptiles. 

While balanced calcium levels are usually thought of as the contributor to healthy skin and bones, vitamin C is another one of the essential nutrients in this regard.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is the last of the critical nutrients we will cover. 

This vitamin is not always discussed; however, it is vital for bearded dragons and most other reptiles.

This vitamin helps support bone health and aids the body in healing wounds. 

Since this vitamin contributes to healthy bones, it goes hand in hand with vitamin C and calcium.

The main benefit of vitamin K is its contribution to the healing of wounds. 

If your beardie sustains an injury, it is imperative to keep it clean and prevent it from becoming infected.

In general, the faster a wound heals, the better. 

This is especially true for reptiles since they are known to carry bacteria on their skin.

These excellent greens are a great way of ensuring your pet will naturally heal its external wounds as quickly as possible.

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Benefits of Mustard Greens

After reviewing the nutrition information, we can see there are many benefits of feeding mustard greens to your bearded dragon.

With so many health benefits and virtually no drawbacks, these leaves qualify as acceptable daily greens for your beardie’s salads.

A quick summary of the main benefits associated with this fantastic green include:

  • Favorable ratio between calcium and phosphorous
  • Organic option for appropriate calcium intake
  • Low levels of oxalates
  • Rich levels of nutrients
  • Supports bone and skin health
  • Safe foods for both adult and baby bearded dragons

Bearded Dragon Diet

Upon reviewing the recommended diet for baby bearded dragons and adult beardies, we will be able to determine the frequency at which these healthy greens should be given to your pet.

Baby bearded dragons require more frequent feedings than adults, and their diets should consist of approximately 70% protein and 30% vegetation.

While many of the vegetables and leafy greens contain some protein levels in them, the primary source of protein to be focused on for these animals is insect protein.

The following table contains the recommended insects and frequency of feeding for baby, juvenile, and adult beardies.

0 months – 3 monthsFeeding: 3 – 5 meals/day Insects: 30 – 80/day
3 months – 8 monthsFeeding: 2 meals/day Insects: 30 – 80/day
8 months – 12 monthsFeeding: 1 meal/day Insects: 30 – 80/day
1 year and olderFeeding: 3 day cycle (salad, insects, fast)Insects: 50/week

Since bearded dragons under one year of age require a diet made up of mainly insects, they will be fed salad on a much less frequent basis. 

Even still, you may rotate between mustard greens, kale, and collard greens each time you provide a salad as the meal.

Once baby beardies surpass one year of age, their diet changes completely. 

While the previously required frequent feedings and a diet made up of 70% insect protein and 30% vegetation, they now need the opposite.

Adult beardies should be fed a diet consisting of 70% vegetation and 30% insect protein.

It is recommended to provide an adult dragon on a three-day feeding cycle. 

Day one of this cycle should consist of a salad meal made up of mainly nutritious vegetables and dark leafy greens.

Day two of this cycle should consist of 50% of the total insects required per week. 

Day three is a fasting day where the dragon will only be provided with water. 

One day three has passed, the cycle repeats itself.

This feeding schedule is an excellent way to keep your pet reptile from being overfed and ensure you provide it with the proper amounts of vegetation and insects every week. 

Since they will only eat insects twice per week, it is essential to feed them half the total insects required on each insect feeding day.

Since salads will make up 70% of adult diets, the meals on these feeding days will be significantly larger. 

The salads should consist of mainly vegetables and leafy greens and a small number of fruits. 

Fruit should only make up approximately 10% of their total diet, so it should be kept as a treat or the end portion of the meal on a salad day.

Healthy vegetables and leafy greens recommended for bearded dragon diets include:

  • Mustard greens
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Peas
  • Bell pepper
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato

Acceptable fruits for beardies to be fed on the occasion include:

  • Papaya
  • Melon
  • Dates
  • Mango
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes
  • Apricots
  • Plums
  • Kiwi
  • Figs

Insects recommended for regular bearded dragon consumption include:

  • Crickets
  • Cockroaches
  • King worms
  • Mealworms
  • Earthworms
  • Locusts

Keep in mind; reptiles should always be fed live insects.

To avoid digestive issues such as impaction, the insects should be no larger than the space between the dragon’s eyes.

It is also essential to refrain from overfeeding fatty insects to your pet dragons. 

Their insect meals should consist mainly of live crickets. 

Save the insects such as mealworms and butter worms for occasional treats provided once every few weeks. 

This will keep your pet’s digestive system on track and will prevent them from gaining weight from consuming a high-fat, high-sugar diet.

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Final Thoughts

Mustard greens are the leaves of the mustard plant and are rich in many vitamins and minerals. 

These nutrient-rich leaves are very healthy and are considered a superfood for both humans and reptiles. 

They should make up a generous portion of the healthy, balanced diet you provide your pet bearded dragon.

Since these greens are rich in calcium and low in phosphorus and oxalates, they are an excellent way to prevent your pet lizard from developing metabolic bone disease.

The greens are also rich in various vitamins, which will help support overall bone health, organ health, healthy skin and help aid in the healing of wounds.

It should now be obvious these greens provide many benefits to your pet bearded dragon. 

This nutrient-dense food should be a significant part of your pet’s nutritious diet. 

To maintain a balanced diet, be sure to rotate mustard greens with other healthy leaves, such as collard greens and kale.