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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cauliflower?

There are many vegetables available for your bearded dragon’s diet. 

You have probably considered feeding your dragon cauliflower and wondered about its health benefits and nutritional makeup. 

Let’s look at cauliflower in-depth and explore whether or not you should feed it to your beardie. 

As a whole, cauliflower is fine to feed your bearded dragon a few times per month in small amounts. It’s not an appropriate staple vegetable due to its unbalanced calcium to phosphorus ratio, high amount of goitrogens, and minimal nutritional benefits.

Read on to learn more about cauliflower, its nutritional information, and how you should implement it into your beloved lizard’s diet.

bearded dragon cauliflower

Is Cauliflower Good For Bearded Dragons?

While cauliflower is technically safe to feed to your bearded dragon, it should only be provided in small amounts sparingly, as there are many better options available for the vegetable portion of their diet.

The main issues presented by cauliflower which make it an inappropriate staple vegetable, are its low calcium to phosphorus ratio, high amount of goitrogens, and overall low nutritional benefits for bearded dragons specifically.

Its water content is also relatively low, making it overall an inferior option compared to other vegetables.

Interestingly, the cauliflower leaves are better nutritionally than the cauliflower itself, so if you happen to have cauliflower greens available you don’t plan on eating yourself, you might want to toss them into your dragon’s tank from time to time. 

If your dragon has developed a taste for cauliflower, keep feedings to a minimum. 

It is safe to feed your dragon cauliflower 2-3 times per month at most, or around once every week or two in small amounts. 

Don’t feed it as a staple vegetable or as a salad base; instead, sprinkle a few pieces on top of their meals from time to time.

Cauliflower: Nutritional Information

Nutritionally, cauliflower is great for humans and other animals, but it doesn’t present many health benefits for bearded dragons. 

It has a small amount of calcium, but this ends up going to waste as it is also high in phosphorus, which will absorb most of the calcium anyway.

Cauliflower also contains small to moderate amounts of the following beneficial vitamins and nutrients:

  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Potassium

This might make cauliflower seem like a great option, but there are much better and more nutritious vegetables available for your dragon’s diet. 

Overall, beardies don’t need much vitamin C, and they will obtain far more fiber, protein, magnesium, and iron from other sources of nutritious food like dark, leafy greens and insects.

Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio of Cauliflower

The calcium to phosphorus ratio of your dragon’s food items in their diet is essential, as phosphorus binds with and absorbs calcium, rendering it useless if the ratio of phosphorus is higher than calcium present in their food.

The ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio is 2:1, with a higher ratio of 3:1 or even 4:1 being even better. 

Unfortunately, the ratio of cauliflower is only 1:2, meaning the phosphorus present in it will quickly bind with the small amount of calcium, preventing it from being absorbed by your lizard’s body.

Bearded dragons need a calcium-rich diet, as it keeps their bones strong and prevents deadly diseases such as metabolic bone disease. 

Cauliflower essentially presents no calcium at all due to its deficient calcium to phosphorus ratio.

Cauliflower Health Benefits and Concerns

The health benefits of cauliflower are minimal, with the cauliflower greens being far more nutritionally beneficial than the vegetable itself. 

As briefly touched on above, it presents a small amount of iron, fiber, magnesium, and protein. 

Still, these amounts are minimal compared to other vegetables like dark greens, bell peppers, green beans, and plenty of others.

Also, cauliflower is relatively high in goitrogens, substances which prevent the production of thyroid hormones. 

A high goitrogen diet causes bearded dragons to develop thyroid imbalances, which presents numerous other health issues like painful goiters.

However, one potential benefit of cauliflower is its low amount of oxalic acid, also known as oxalates. 

Oxalic acid is an organic compound present in many vegetables and fruits. 

It is problematic for bearded dragons because it binds with and absorbs calcium.

Cauliflower already contains a low amount of calcium compared to its phosphorus content, though, and much of it already present in the vegetable will be absorbed by the phosphorus, meaning this “benefit” will mostly go to waste anyway.

Still, while you should avoid feeding it to your lizard as a staple food, it is acceptable to provide them a bit of cauliflower on occasion as a treat, mainly if your lizard has developed a preference for it.

A variety of food is good anyway, so don’t stick to one type over another all the time. 

Cauliflower Vs. Collard Greens For Bearded Dragon

To help demonstrate why cauliflower is lacking, let’s look at its nutritional value versus an excellent green for beardies, the collard green. 

This chart is based on 100g, and the information is pulled from Nutrition Data.

NutrientCauliflowerCollard Greens
Sodium23 mg20 mg
Calcium33 mg145 mg
Phosphorus62 mg10 mg
Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio1:214:1
Potassium300 mg196 mg
Iron0.7 mg0.2 mg
Vitamin A155 IU6668 IU
Vitamin C88 mg35 mg

Wow! While cauliflower wins in Vitamin C and Potassium, these aren’t as important as the calcium to phosphorus ratio and Vitamin A. 

Collard greens have an excellent 14:1 ratio and a massive amount of Vitamin A. 

It’s easy to see why these are a staple green. 

You may also enjoy looking at it in this chart form.

Note: I left out the Vitamin A row because collard greens have so much more; it skews the whole chart! 

cauliflower and collard greens

Check out our post dedicated to feeding bearded dragons collard greens for more information on this leafy green.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cauliflower Leaves?

As stated briefly above, a cauliflower green is far more nutritious for your dragon’s diet than the actual cauliflower. 

They are much higher in iron and calcium, making them great to throw into your dragon’s salad along with their other staple greens and veggies.

They are still somewhat high in goitrogens and lack other nutrients present in some of the more nutritious choices for your dragon’s diet, but they are OK to feed to your lizard a few times per week. 

If you’re making cauliflower as part of your dinner and aren’t sure what to do with the leaves, go ahead and give them to your beardie.

Many dragons greatly enjoy cauliflower greens even more than the vegetable itself, making it a fine choice for a not-quite-staple but not-quite-occasional food choice.

The cauliflower heads are not ideal for your pet at all and should be avoided.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cooked Cauliflower?

While you’ve probably only considered feeding your dragon raw cauliflower, it is common for dragon owners to also consider the benefits of the cooked cauliflower. 

Overall, it is recommended to feed your lizard raw vegetables instead of cooked ones, as cooking them causes them to lose many vital nutrients.

By cooking the cauliflower, you are essentially eliminating much of its already minimal nutritional value. 

It loses significant amounts of protein, vitamin C, potassium, and, most notably, calcium in cooking.

Calcium deficiency in beardies is a huge problem and may lead to deformity or death. 

You also should avoid feeding your dragon any cauliflower with seasonings or sauces on it, as these often contain high amounts of sodium and even sugar, which provide no nutritional value.

If you really want to give your lizard cauliflower from time to time, make sure it is raw rather than cooked. 

This way, your dragon will at least benefit from the small amount of other nutrients present.

How Should You Prepare Cauliflower For Your Bearded Dragon?

When feeding your beardie cauliflower, be sure to first wash the vegetable thoroughly with clean water. 

Be sure to also wash and save any cauliflower greens present and feed them to your lizard later. 

Cut the cauliflower into small, bite-sized pieces.

They should be smaller than the width of the space between your lizard’s eyes. 

This will ensure the cauliflower pieces are small enough for your dragon to comfortably eat without any choking hazard.

Ideally, you should give your dragon a few small cauliflower pieces as a salad topper or extra treat. 

The majority of your lizard’s salads should be made up of dark, leafy greens like mustard greens and turnip greens. 

The rest of their salad bowl should be filled with a wide variety of staple vegetables and a tiny amount of safe fruits.

Finally, sprinkle some calcium powder on top to compensate for any foods with inadequate calcium to phosphorus ratios, and don’t forget to throw in the cauliflower greens you saved at the beginning of the meal prep, as many dragons greatly enjoy them.

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