Have you wondered whether or not kale is safe to feed your pet bearded dragon?
Leafy greens and vegetables make up a large part of a bearded dragon’s recommended diet.
How do you know which leafy greens to feed your beardie?
Are all leafy greens equal in terms of nutritional value?
Are healthy foods for humans always healthy for reptiles such as bearded dragons?
As fellow bearded dragon lovers, we understand the importance of finding the best bearded dragon foods.
Today we will cover a bearded dragon’s recommended diet, explore the nutritional value of kale and the potential benefits of adding kale to your pet beardie’s meals.
Table of Contents
Can My Bearded Dragon Eat Kale?
Kale is a dark leafy green high in vitamin A and calcium and low in phosphorus and oxalates. Kale is safe for bearded dragons to eat and is recommended as a regular part of their diet.
Like most other well-known lizards in the reptile family, bearded dragons require a high amount of calcium and vitamin A and a low level of oxalates and phosphorus.
Luckily, kale fits perfectly into these requirements.
While a bearded dragon’s diet will vary as it ages, plants such as kale are a staple at every age.
The importance of providing your pet lizards a balanced and healthy diet cannot be stressed enough.
When becoming a first-time owner of these animals, understanding which foods to focus on and avoid can sometimes be overwhelming.
Many sources on the internet claim to know the ins and outs of a healthy reptilian diet.
On occasion, these sources will contradict one another, with one source stating a food is highly recommended while another states the same food should be restricted or completely avoided.
In our own experience of searching for and reading about kale’s nutritional benefits for bearded dragons, we encountered several instances of contradicting answers.
Keep reading to better understand how kale is healthy food for your beardie and why some sources are incorrect in reporting this leafy green being harmful to your pet.
Kale Nutrition Facts
Kale is considered a superfood is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.
The following table contains the nutrition facts for 100 g of fresh kale relevant to bearded dragon consumption.
Reading a chart full of nutrition facts provides a lot of information, but what does it all mean?
Let’s break down the key items in this chart further.
|Total Fat||1.49 g|
|Total Carbohydrates||4.42 g|
|Vitamin A||241 mcg|
|Vitamin D3||0 mcg|
Calcium and Phosphorus
The first items we will discuss and compare are the calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) contents listed per 100 grams of fresh kale.
As seen above, there is 254 mg of calcium per 100 g of kale.
The ratio of milligrams (mg) to grams (g) is 1,000:1. So, 254 mg is converted to 0.254 g.
You may do the same with the amount of phosphorus listed. 55 mg of phosphorus converts to 0.055 g.
These conversions are useful in understanding the level of each of these minerals in kale, as well as comparing the calcium to phosphorus ratio.
The recommended Ca:P ratio for bearded dragons is 2:1.
With the information provided, we can see 0.254 g:0.055 g is roughly 4.6:1.
This is an excellent Ca:P ratio and is more than twice the recommended minimum.
Phosphorus is a mineral which prevents the absorption of calcium in the digestive system.
Since calcium is a vital part of bearded dragon diets, it is important to maintain this mineral consumption twice the amount of phosphorus.
Low levels of calcium are detrimental to a reptile’s health and can lead to life-threatening health conditions, which we will cover briefly in a later section.
Next, let’s look at vitamin A and kale.
Vitamin A helps support the immune system, vision, and vital organ function.
This vitamin is found naturally in many foods, including kale.
A portion of 100 g of kale contains 241 mcg of vitamin A.
One microgram (mcg) converts to 1,000 milligrams (mg), or 1,000,000 grams (g).
While 241 mcg may seem low, it is a sufficient amount.
Vitamin A is important for a healthy body; however, too much vitamin A is potentially harmful to beardies.
Excessively high levels of vitamin A may lead to vitamin A toxicity.
This is not a major concern in a regular diet.
The best way to avoid this health issue is by refraining from providing your pet with nutritional supplements containing this vitamin.
Giving them foods with vitamin A will suffice their need and should not lead to any issues.
Oxalates, also referred to as oxalic acid, are compounds found in many foods which inhibit calcium absorption in the body.
Since calcium is so vital to reptiles, consuming high levels of calcium inhibitors such as oxalates is harmful.
Some internet sources state kale has a high level of harmful oxalates and falls in greens to be avoided for reptiles.
However, the notion of kale containing high levels of oxalic acid is false.
Many people associate kale with other dark leafy greens, such as spinach or beet greens.
This is a common issue when focusing on oxalates.
Unlike kale, spinach does have high amounts of oxalates and falls into the category of greens to be wary of.
Kale contains rather low levels of this compound.
As seen in the nutrition facts chart, 100 g of kale contains 20 mg or 0.02 g of oxalates.
In reality, you will most likely not be feeding your beardie 100 g of kale in one sitting.
It is recommended to include approximately one handful when preparing your pet’s salad bowl.
An average handful of chopped fresh kale equates to approximately 0.5 cups.
There are 67 g of kale in 1 cup or 33.5 g in 0.5 cups.
By doing a simple calculation, we see 33.5 g is a little more than 1/3 of 100 g.
Since there are only 0.02 g of oxalates in 100 g of kale, 33.5 g of kale contains approximately 0.007 g of oxalates.
So, every time you add kale to your bearded dragon’s salad, they are consuming minuscule amounts of this compound.
This will hardly affect their calcium absorption, if at all.
Bearded Dragon Diet
A bearded dragon should have a varied diet at all stages of life.
As juveniles, beardies need to be fed more frequently and higher amounts of protein.
Their diet should be made up of 70% protein and 30% vegetation.
A beardie three months or younger should be fed three to five times, and anywhere between 30 and 80 insects per day.
You should feed the same range of insects from three to eight months, but you should decrease feeding twice per day.
From 8 to 12 months, your beardie will still require 30-80 insects but should only be fed once daily.
Once bearded dragons reach one year of age, their dietary requirements change.
You should be feeding them 70% plant material and 30% protein, with a total of 50 insects per week.
An adult beardie should be fed on a three-day cycle.
The first day’s meal should be a salad made up of various fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens.
The second day is a protein day, which should be made up of 50% of their total weekly insect consumption.
The third day in this cycle should be a fasting day where your beardie is simply provided water.
This three-day cycle will help maintain a balanced diet and will prevent obesity.
You should give a high-quality calcium supplement to your beardie multiple times per week.
Achieve this by sprinkling some on their live insects.
We recommend using the industry leader in calcium supplements: Rep-Cal Calcium Ultrafine Powder.
This supplement is an excellent supply of calcium for your pet.
There are several food types to be included in a beardie’s diet.
These include fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and insects.
The following is a list of safe fruits for your pet.
The following is a list of beardie-approved nutritious greens and vegetables.
- Turnip Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Collard Greens
- Bell Pepper
- Sweet Potato
- Rocket (Arugula)
The following is a list of recommended live insects.
Keep in mind; insect pieces should be no larger than the space between your beardie’s eyes.
Kale is an excellent source of calcium, and it is a recommended food item to provide your bearded dragon regularly.
While you should provide them with various food to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, leafy greens such as kale with high amounts of calcium are preferred food items.
Dietary calcium is extremely important for many reptiles, including bearded dragons.
The next time your beardie is due for a salad day, consider adding kale to their bowl.