Have you ever thought about feeding your beardie carrots?
What kinds of vitamins and minerals do carrots provide to your lizard?
How often should they be fed to your dragon if you choose to implement them into their diet?
Should carrots be raw or cooked prior to feeding?
Bearded dragons require many different kinds of vegetables, fruits, and insects in order to maintain a balanced diet, and carrots are a food choice many bearded dragon owners consider from time to time.
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Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon Carrots?
Carrots are an excellent vegetable option to add to your bearded dragon’s list of foods, although they should never be part of their staple diet. They provide an excellent source of vitamin A, beta carotene, and fiber when fed to your bearded dragon once or twice a week, but feeding them too many carrots can cause vitamin A toxicity, a health issue bearded dragons are uniquely susceptible to.
In addition, while carrots do provide minimal amounts of calcium to your bearded dragon’s diet, they do not offer nearly enough to prevent a calcium deficiency and its related health issues, such as metabolic bone disease.
Still, carrots are great for a well-rounded diet when fed occasionally, along with a variety of other healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and insects.
While you would certainly never see a bearded dragon eating carrots in their natural habitat, in captivity, many of them enjoy the occasional grated carrots in their daily salads, especially as a complement to more suitable staple plants such as:
- bell peppers
- green beans
- mustard greens
- dandelion greens
- turnip greens
Are Carrots a Good Source of Vitamins and Nutrients?
The primary vital nutrients carrots provide to your bearded dragon’s balanced diet are vitamin A, beta carotene, and small amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and fiber.
Let’s break down the health benefits of each:
- Vitamin A promotes healthy skin, immune health, and eye health.
- Beta carotene, the pigment giving many orange vegetables their color, is a precursor for vitamin A*.
- Fiber is a carbohydrate helping greatly with the process of digestion.
*Your dragon’s body will convert the beta carotene into active vitamin A.
For some bearded dragon color morphs, beta carotene brightens their skin color over time, giving them a more vibrant appearance.
Carrots are a source of calcium, albeit a small one, so you will still need to add a calcium powder supplement to your bearded dragon’s diet to provide them with the amount they require to maintain their overall bone health.
Vitamin A Toxicity and Overdose
While carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, bearded dragons are highly susceptible to vitamin A toxicity.
Bearded dragons can retain large amounts of vitamin A in their bodies, which is toxic when their levels become too high.
For this reason, it is essential bearded dragons only consume the vegetable in small amounts, no more than one to two times per week, and never as a staple food.
Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include dehydration, weight loss, low energy levels, and swelling in the limbs.
If you think your bearded dragon is experiencing an overdose of vitamin A, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid further health risks.
What Kind of Carrots Are Best?
You may have noticed you have a variety of colorful options when thinking about which kinds of carrots to feed to your bearded dragon.
There are the typical orange carrots, yellow carrots, purple carrots, and even white carrots to be considered.
You will be pleased to learn all types of carrots are perfectly suitable bearded dragons, although there is some debate amongst reptile owners about whether or not baby carrots are safe.
Many pre-sliced vegetables, baby carrots specifically, are washed with a chlorine rinse which could contain harmful preservatives.
No matter what type of carrot you choose to give to your lizard, always wash them thoroughly before feeding and consider buying organic vegetables if possible.
This rule goes for any vegetables or fruits, as their skins sometimes have trace amounts of pesticides, so remember to carefully wash any fruits or vegetables you put in your lizard’s dish.
The green, leafy plant material at the top of the carrot is also a great occasional snack for your bearded dragon, but keep in mind, it contains oxalates, which can slow the rate at which calcium is processed in your lizard’s bloodstream.
Your bearded dragon becomes at risk of developing metabolic bone disease and kidney stones if oxalates build up in their kidneys, so only give carrot tops to your lizard once a month or so to avoid any health issues.
Preparing Carrots For Your Bearded Dragon: Raw or Cooked?
Both raw carrots and cooked carrots are acceptable for your bearded dragon, but cooking carrots removes some of their nutrients.
Since they already provide very little calcium and phosphorus, it may be better to feed them raw if getting the most out of their nutritional value is your primary concern.
Also, remember always to cut your lizard’s food into small enough pieces for them to eat.
A cheese grater is perfect for grating raw carrots into small, thin pieces easier for your dragon to chew and swallow.
Grated carrot makes a great salad topper.
While carrots provide plenty of vitamin A and beta carotene, they are not an appropriate staple food as they can cause vitamin A toxicity.
However, if fed no more than once or twice a week, it is easy to avoid the level of toxicity which causes uncomfortable health issues while also promoting healthy skin, vision, and digestion.
Raw and cooked carrots are both great when given in small portions, and even the green carrot tops are a great treat once a month or so.
If you’re looking for another ideal diet choice to throw into your lizard’s salad bowl occasionally, look no further than the carrot.