Are alfalfa sprouts a good staple food for bearded dragons?
Do bearded dragons like the taste of plants like alfalfa and other vegetables?
Like bearded dragons, pet reptiles have different nutritional than our mammalian best friends, like cats and dogs.
A balanced diet is an essential factor in bearded dragon health and well-being.
Dragon owners need to know which foods they should feed their beardies and to understand why those foods are good choices for their pets.
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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Alfalfa Sprouts?
Yes, all parts of the alfalfa plant are good for bearded dragons. The sprouts are an excellent addition to bearded dragons’ diets on an occasional basis. Feeding beardies alfalfa sprouts once every one or two weeks will give them a boost in essential nutrients and help keep them hydrated.
Alfalfa sprouts contain healthy nutrients like fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, K, and C.
A fair amount of calcium is also present in sprouts, but an even higher phosphorus content results in a poor calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.
This is the main reason why alfalfa sprouts aren’t a great daily-food option.
When selecting and preparing alfalfa for your bearded dragon, it is best to choose organic, fresh, and green plants.
The fresher the plant, the more nutrients, and the tastier the meal.
The following table outlines the most notable nutritional values of alfalfa sprouts.
Nutritional Content of 100 Grams of Alfalfa Sprouts
|Vitamin C||8.2 milligrams|
|Vitamin K||30.5 micrograms|
|Vitamin A||8 micrograms|
The calcium-to-phosphorus ratio (Ca:P) is quite low: 0.46:1.
Still, bearded dragons can experience many benefits when the alfalfa plant is incorporated into their diet.
It is well worth feeding to your beardie!
The rest of this article will explore the potential health benefits and detriments, how to serve alfalfa to bearded dragons, and other safe vegetables for bearded dragons to eat.
Health Benefits Of Alfalfa For Bearded Dragons
Fiber, various vitamins, low sugar content, and hydrating properties are all good reasons to feed alfalfa to your bearded dragon.
Fiber contributes to proper food digestion, an essential part of daily life for a bearded dragon.
Vitamin A contributes to healthy eyes and good vision, healthy skin, and a strong immune system.
It also has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help break down “free radicals,” detrimental materials in an animal’s body resulting from digesting or inhaling unwanted substances.
Another vitamin with antioxidant properties, vitamin C, is known for boosting the immune system and helping bearded dragons fight off potential illness.
High Water Content
Bearded dragons come from a desert environment.
They don’t often drink standing water.
Most of their hydration comes from the food they eat, so it is vital to feed them fresh vegetation containing water.
Potential Health Issues From Alfalfa Consumption For Bearded Dragons
Too much of a good thing can cause harm.
Such is the case for alfalfa sprouts, whose nutrients are good in moderation but harmful in excess.
Too much fiber can cause digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation.
Too-high water content can cause diarrhea, as well.
Fresh alfalfa sprouts have the most water of any other part of the plant, so this is something to be aware of.
These are things to watch.
However, the most concerning drawback of alfalfa sprouts is their Ca:P ratio.
Calcium is essential for bone, tooth, muscle, and body tissue health.
A low calcium level, especially when combined with high phosphorus levels, can cause many health issues in bearded dragons.
Calcium absorption can only occur when vitamin D is also present in a bearded dragon’s body.
Additionally, phosphorus acts as an oxalate and binds with calcium.
This calcium-binding renders the essential mineral inactive in the bearded dragon’s body.
If a bearded dragon doesn’t have enough calcium, its bones and tissues weaken.
Ultimately, calcium deficiencies lead to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), a dangerous condition most commonly seen in captive bearded dragons.
Serving Alfalfa To Bearded Dragons
While the sprouts should be fed to bearded dragons in limited quantities (once every one or two weeks), alfalfa hay is appropriate as a staple of beardies’ diets.
The fresher the plant, the healthier and more appetizing.
To ensure there are no chemicals on the plant, it’s best to purchase organic alfalfa from stores.
- Wash the alfalfa thoroughly
- Chop it into bite-sized pieces (no larger than the distance between your bearded dragon’s eyes)
- Mix it in with a variety of other vegetables in your bearded dragon’s salad.
Make salads available to your bearded dragon throughout each day.
Remove any uneaten vegetation from your bearded dragon’s enclosure before it wilts or rots.
What Other Greens Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
Dark, leafy greens are considered safe vegetables for bearded dragons and should make up the largest portion of their diet’s total vegetation.
These leafy greens are good choices as staples, which beardies can eat every day:
- Dandelion leaves (and flowers)
- Mulberry leaves
- Mustard greens
These are only OK as an occasional food item:
- Bok choy
- Clover leaves
- Mint (peppermint and spearmint)
- Sunflower leaves
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
Avoid altogether extremely fibrous leafy greens with little or no nutritional value:
- Most types of lettuce
- Beet greens
These greens are toxic and must be avoided:
- Oak leaves
- Pine needles
You should feed your bearded dragon alfalfa sprouts just a few times each month because a majority of bearded dragon foods should have a higher Ca:P Ratio.
However, fresh alfalfa hay is a great daily addition to a bearded dragon’s salad bowl.
Alfalfa possesses many nutritional qualities beneficial to bearded dragons.
Feeding your beardie the sprouts once every week or two will not hurt them at all; in fact, it will offer them a healthy variety to their meal to keep them happy and strong.