Are there ways to add variety to a bearded dragon’s diet?
If bearded dragons are supposed to eat vegetables, should they also eat fruits?
Feeding your bearded dragon a healthful and balanced diet is one of your most critical primary responsibilities as an owner.
Animals living in captivity rely on their keepers to keep them safe, healthy, and fulfilled.
This article will discuss the most important nutrients for bearded dragons, what a balanced diet entails, and whether oranges are appropriate for beardies.
Table of Contents
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mandarin Oranges?
You should feed your bearded dragon oranges very rarely, as an occasional treat. A small slice or two once or twice a month is plenty. Mandarins have the best calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of all oranges, but their potential health issues still far outweigh their possible benefits.
Fruits should only make up about 10% to 20% of an adult bearded dragon’s total vegetation intake and even less for baby bearded dragons and juveniles.
Dragons’ diets should mainly consist of insects and veggies (especially greens).
While fruits contain minerals and nutrients, their high acidity levels and high sugar content cause concern.
Feeding a bearded dragon too much fruit can lead to many health problems like calcium deficiency and obesity.
The following table highlights some key details about sugars, fruits, insects, and veggies in bearded dragons’ diets.
Proportions Of Insects, Vegetables, Fruits, and Sugar In A Balanced Diet
|Bearded Dragon Age (months)||Insects||Vegetation||Fruits||Sugar per 100-gram meal|
|Baby (0 to 5)||80%||20%||None/minimal||0 to 1.0 grams|
|Juvenile (5 to 17)||50%||50%||10% of vegetation (5% of total diet)||0.4 to 1.2 grams|
|Adult (17+)||20%||80%||10% to 20% of vegetation (8% to 16% of total diet)||0.5 to 2.0 grams|
Nutritional Value Of Mandarins
According to the USDA’s Food data Central, mandarins contain the following notable nutrients and ingredients per 100 grams.
- Sugar: 10.58 grams
- Vitamin C: 26 milligrams
- Potassium: 166 milligrams
- Magnesium: 12 milligrams
- Calcium: 37 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 20 milligrams
- Water content: 85%
Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and allows bearded dragons to fight off potential illnesses.
Calcium promotes bone and tooth strength, as well as muscle and body-tissue health.
Potassium allows muscles to function properly and can assist in preventing kidney disease.
While vitamin C, calcium, and potassium are necessary minerals for bearded dragons, many other food sources contain them.
There are downsides to feeding bearded dragons oranges, which shouldn’t be ignored.
Possible Health Concerns Of Oranges
There are several excellent reasons why feeding any orange to bearded dragons should be a rare event.
High sugar levels, high acidity, and calcium depletion are the three most serious matters.
High Sugar Content
Adult dragons can have up to 2.0 grams of sugar in each 100-gram meal.
However, oranges contain more than five times the allowable amount!
Too much sugar can cause a wide range of severe health problems in bearded dragons, including but not limited to:
- Tooth decay, which in turn can lead to bone infections and inflammation
- Diarrhea, which quickly causes dehydration
Sugar also causes digestion problems and creates unbalanced levels of gut flora in a bearded dragon’s stomach.
Beardies may be unable to digest their food if they ingest too much sugar correctly.
Calcium Depletion And Metabolic Bone Disease
Calcium is a vital mineral for bearded dragons.
If dragons don’t get enough of it, their bones become rubbery or brittle, and their bodies can deteriorate.
Extreme calcium deficiency can lead to what is known as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
Bearded dragons require foods with a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of at least 1.5:1.
While mandarin oranges have a relatively good ratio of 1.85:1, the presence of other detrimental compounds doesn’t allow them to be a reliable source of calcium.
Calcium oxalate and acetic acid prevent the absorption of calcium.
Oranges also lack vitamin D, which the body requires to process calcium in the first place.
High Acid Levels
All citrus fruit contains citric acid, which has a reputation for upsetting bearded dragons’ stomachs.
Orange peels are the most acidic part of the fruit.
Like sugar, citric acid can disturb gut flora’s natural balance and lead to serious digestion problems.
Citrus fruit may also cause diarrhea.
Serving Oranges To Your Bearded Dragon
Once or twice a month, one to two small slices is plenty of orange for your bearded dragon.
Peel the slices and cut them into small pieces.
Or, squeeze a little bit of fresh orange juice into your bearded dragon’s salad bowl.
Do not feed your bearded dragon wild-picked fruits if you’re unsure about how they were grown.
Avoid any fruits with chemicals like pesticides on them.
Orange peels are not good for bearded dragons.
They are the most acidic parts of citrus fruits, and they contain a neurotoxin.
Canned or bottled orange juice is much too sweet for bearded dragons.
Avoid this altogether.
What Are Safe Fruits For Bearded Dragons?
The healthiest fruits are those with lower levels of citric acid and sugar.
Just remember, no fruit should ever be considered a staple of a bearded dragon’s diet.
Your bearded dragon might enjoy an occasional treat of other safe fruits:
- Apples (without the peel)
- Cherry (without pits)
- Dragon fruits
Avoid high-acid citrus fruits like lemons and limes.
Mandarin oranges, like any other fruit, must only be an occasional treat for bearded dragons.
Feeding a bearded dragon too much fruit will expose them to a lot of potential health issues.
Oranges do offer nutrients but in a very unbalanced way.
The nutrients in oranges are not accessible unless the bearded dragon has a balanced and varied diet.
Fruits must only serve as a rare sweet-treat.
Your bearded dragon will be a happy camper if a majority of what you feed them is insects, greens, and other appropriate vegetation.