Your bearded dragon’s diet is one of the most critical parts of their overall care and quality of health.
Your beardie should be eating various staple greens regularly, and you have probably considered turnip greens at some point.
But are they safe for bearded dragons, and how often should your beardie be eating them?
Turnip greens are an excellent staple vegetable for your bearded dragon’s diet. They are a great source of vital nutrients like vitamins C and K and have a balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio. Your bearded dragon should be regularly eating dark, leafy greens like the turnip green several times per week.
Many bearded dragons love turnip greens and benefit significantly from eating them often.
Keep reading to learn more about these nutritious greens, their health benefits, and how to properly implement them into your beardie’s overall diet.
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Is It Safe To Feed Your Bearded Dragon Turnip Greens?
They are commonly listed as a “staple green,” meaning they should be fed regularly or multiple times per week.
Turnip greens have ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio, lots of vitamins and minerals, and a decent amount of water, too.
They also lack some of the more harmful components to bearded dragons common in other vegetables, such as oxalic acid, sugar, and excess calories.
This makes turnip greens a perfect food item to give to your beardie regularly, mainly if your lizard has developed a taste for them.
Although variety is essential when constructing your beardie’s diet, you should also have a list of staple veggies to use to base their overall diet.
Whenever you make a salad for your beardie, the base, or the majority of the dish, should be made up of dark, leafy greens such as the turnip green.
Raw turnip greens are best, as cooking them causes them to lose much of their vitamin and mineral content.
These staple greens are where your beardie will get most of their nutrition, as they are packed with vitamins and minerals bearded dragons need to thrive.
If you want some ideas for creating a pet salad we have a post on the best bearded dragon salads to assist with that.
Next, let’s look at these vitamins and minerals in-depth, along with the many health benefits of turnip greens.
Essential Vitamins and Nutrients in Turnip Greens
Like most other dark, leafy greens, the turnip green is a highly nutrient-dense food.
It is packed with vitamin A and vitamin C and has lots of calcium, magnesium, and iron.
Let’s break each one down and discuss their benefits.
- Vitamin A is necessary for your beardie’s eye health and supports a healthy immune system, helping your lizard fight off infections and illnesses. It also ensures proper heart and lung function.
- Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is highly beneficial to your bearded dragon’s immune health.
- Calcium is one of the essential minerals to your beardie’s diet. It keeps their bones and teeth strong and prevents metabolic bone disease, a severe and often deadly illness found in bearded dragons with calcium deficiencies.
- Magnesium is a mineral which supports your lizard’s nerve and muscle health, supports their immune system, and even helps to regulate blood pressure.
- Iron is critical to your bearded dragon’s overall growth and development and is especially helpful for baby and juvenile bearded dragons.
Turnip Green Are Low In These Harmful Substances
Interestingly, in addition to being high in several vital vitamins and minerals, turnip greens are also relatively low in the following harmful substances:
With only 0.4 grams of sugar per 1 cup serving, turnip greens are low in sugar, which causes bearded dragons to gain weight quickly.
It provides no benefits to your beardie’s health, so the less sugar in their diet, the better.
Oxalic acid, also known as oxalates.
Oxalic acid is an organic compound commonly found in many vegetables and fruits.
It is especially harmful to bearded dragons because it binds with calcium and other minerals and prevents calcium absorption.
In a 1 cup serving, turnip greens contain only about 0.025 mg of oxalic acid.
Although a small amount of calories is essential to maintain energy, a diet with a low caloric content is recommended to prevent your beardie from becoming overweight or obese.
The caloric content in turnip greens is very low at only 17 calories per 1 cup serving.
Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio in Turnip Greens
A question most bearded dragon owners ask when considering adding a new food item to their lizard’s diet is, “What about the calcium to phosphorus ratio?”
This ratio is vital to keep in mind because phosphorus binds with calcium and prevents calcium absorption.
This is why high calcium to phosphorus ratio is so essential.
Ideally, you want any foods you give to your bearded dragon to have an optimal ratio of at least 2:1 and 3:1 or higher is even better.
Turnip greens are an extremely healthy green in this regard, as they have a ratio of a whopping 4:1, meaning they contain 4 times as much calcium as they do phosphorus.
This is ideal for maintaining your bearded dragon’s calcium levels, which will keep their bones strong and prevent the formation of metabolic bone disease.
Thanks to the vegetable’s high calcium to phosphorus ratio, very little calcium present in turnip greens will go to waste upon being consumed by your lizard.
What Other Greens Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
While they are a superb staple food, turnip greens should only be a small part of your bearded dragon’s overall diet.
In general, dark, leafy greens should take center stage when feeding your lizard, as they contain the highest amount of vitamins and nutrients needed to stay healthy.
You should use dark greens primarily as a base for any salads you feed to your beardie and build off the base with other less nutritious yet still safe vegetables and fruits.
By doing this, you will ensure your lizard is getting a varied and tasty diet they will look forward to eating each day.
Here is a list of other dark greens which should be used as staple foods and given at least 2-3 times per week:
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
- Radish greens
These dark, leafy greens have excellent calcium to phosphorus ratios, making them a primary supporter of your lizard’s bone health and growth.
Calcium is essential to baby and juvenile bearded dragons, as they grow very quickly during the first year or so of their lives.
Finally, in general, dark greens are excellent for your beardie’s health because of their low oxalate content, meaning the calcium your dragon receives from them won’t go to waste.
Keeping your lizard’s oxalic acid intake low also helps prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Additionally, here is a list of other non-staple occasional greens which are still great to toss in your dragon’s salad bowl once or twice per week:
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
- Carrot tops
But some bearded dragon owners have difficulty getting their pet to eat greens.
If you happen to struggle with this also, we have a post on how to get bearded dragons to eat greens you’ll find extremely helpful.
What Greens Should Bearded Dragons Not Eat?
The list of acceptable greens to feed to your bearded dragon is long and varied, but there are still some which you should avoid at all costs.
Here is a list of greens you should never give to your bearded dragon:
- Iceberg lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Beet tops
The most important things to consider when deciding on the right staple greens for your beardie are:
- Their vitamin and mineral content.
- The calcium to phosphorus ratio.
- Oxalic acid content.
The above greens are either nutritionally poor or have too much phosphorus or oxalates, making them poor choices for your lizard’s diet.
Generally, you should avoid any light greens or anything with “lettuce” in its name, as they tend to be very high in water content and contain little else.
Also, you should always avoid any greens treated with pesticides or herbicides, as these treatments contain harmful chemicals.