What kinds of fruit are safe for your bearded dragon?
How much fruit should you give your beardie compared to vegetables and insects?
Which fruits are best in terms of their nutritional value for your lizard?
The list of appropriate fruits for your beardie’s diet is long and varied.
Bearded dragons are usually not very picky eaters, and most sugary, juicy fruits are like candy to them.
There are many things to keep in mind when choosing which fruits to feed to your lizards, such as their vitamin and mineral content, their calcium to phosphorus ratio, oxalic acid content, and even your dragon’s taste.
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What Fruit Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon?
While bearded dragons typically love most fruits and would gladly eat them for every meal, only around 5% to 10% of an adult bearded dragon’s diet should be composed of fruit, with the other 90% being made up primarily of vegetable matter such as dark, leafy greens and a small amount of protein-dense insects. Safe fruits for your bearded dragon’s diet include:
For juvenile bearded dragons and baby bearded dragons, insects and vegetables’ ideal ratio is quite different, but the proportion of fruit their diet requires is mostly the same.
Staple insects such as crickets, butter worms, silkworms, and Dubia roaches will make up as much as 80% of their diet for the first year or so of their lives since they require lots of insect protein for their quick metabolisms while they rapidly grow into their adult size.
The other 20% of their food intake should be mostly plant matter such as vegetables and a small amount of fruit from time to time.
Feeding your lizard a varied range of fruits on an occasional basis is a great way to keep their diet exciting and flavorful, which will also keep your dragon happy.
A few small pieces of fruit on top of their salad full of dark greens and veggies will encourage them to eat the entirety of their meal if you find they are more a bit pickier with their vegetables, as many dragons are.
Risk Factors of Feeding Too Much Fruit
Most fruits are very high in natural sugars, so your bearded dragon will become overweight and lethargic very quickly if you use virtually any kind of fruit as a staple food in their diet.
Sugar is also bad for their teeth and causes tooth decay.
Your lizard certainly won’t complain at first, but over time the excess weight and damage to their teeth will cause several painful and even deadly health issues.
Think of fruit as a dessert for your lizard.
They will be thrilled to see it in their food dish, but it is always possible to have too much of a good thing.
Another unfortunately common characteristic of many fruits is their high oxalate content, also known as oxalic acid, which binds with calcium and prevents calcium absorption, instead of causing it to be passed as a waste product in your dragon’s stools.
Baby dragons, juvenile beardies, and adult bearded dragons all need plenty of calcium.
It keeps their bones and muscles strong and their metabolisms functioning correctly.
Even if the fruit does contain a decent amount of the mineral, much of it will go to waste when it binds with the oxalic acid also present in the fruit.
A calcium deficiency will quickly lead to weak, brittle bones, metabolic bone disease, and many other unpleasant health issues.
Most fruits, being quite moist foods, have a high water content, and while plenty of water is excellent for keeping your beardie hydrated, too much of it will cause an upset stomach and result in runny stools and dehydration.
It is also essential to avoid any very acidic fruits, such as citrus fruits, as their acids will similarly upset your lizard’s stomach and cause diarrhea.
Always provide your dragon with a freshwater source to keep them properly hydrated, preferably a small dish of water you clean and refill daily.
A water bowl wide, sturdy, and low to the ground is ideal.
Most pet stores have a variety of different food and water dishes to choose from.
Regardless of your dragon’s age, only a small amount of fruit given occasionally is necessary for them to thrive.
You have many different options when it comes to fruit to keep your lizard’s diet varied, well-rounded, and tasty for them.
Keep their fruit intake low to avoid any potential risk factors.
What Are Good Staple Fruits For Bearded Dragons?
As mentioned above, fruit, in general, should only make up around 5 to 10% of your beardie’s food list overall.
There are no fruits which should be used consistently as true staple foods in the same way staple vegetables are for maintaining a proper diet.
However, within this small 10% or so of their diet, there are several types of fruit great to use again and again for your beardie’s salads as long as they are provided alongside lots of safe vegetables and insects.
Each dragon is different, and the foods they develop preferences for will vary from lizard to lizard.
As you get to know your beardie’s preferred food items and their dislikes, it is good to offer new and different foods often to give them a variety of vitamins and nutrients as well as flavors.
You wouldn’t like or nutritionally benefit from eating the same thing every day, and neither will your lizard.
Here is a list of some of the best and most common fruits safe to give to your bearded dragon from time to time, along with their nutritional content and any other notable information.
These fruits are safe for your lizard to eat a few times per month or around one time per week and have various health benefits.
|Apples||Contains lots of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Remove skins and seeds before feeding. Red, yellow, and even green apples are all acceptable choices.|
|Blackberries||Lots of vitamin C and fiber. The seeds are small enough to eat and pass through the digestive tract safely.|
|Blueberries||High in vitamin C and vitamin K. The outer skins are also safe to eat.|
|Cantaloupe||Rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Contains lots of water but is also rather acidic. Avoid feeding your dragon the seeds and skins.|
|Mango||High levels of vitamin A, C, E, K, potassium, and zinc, as well as fiber and folate. Mango is also relatively low in oxalates and has a decent calcium to phosphorus ratio. An excellent choice, but avoid the peel.|
|Papaya||A great source of fiber and protein, but is quite sweet and acidic.|
|Pears||Contains a high amount of fiber and vitamin K, but is also high in sugar and low in calcium.|
|Raspberries||Packed with vitamin C, fiber, and calcium.|
Occasional Treat Fruits
While the following fruits aren’t quite as nutritious or healthy as the options mentioned in the previous section, they are still safe when implemented into your bearded dragon feeding schedule as a rare treat at most once or twice per month.
These fruits contain fewer vitamins and minerals and more sugar, acid, and oxalates than the options mentioned above.
If your beardie has developed a preference for any of these foods, be sure to only offer them on rare occasions and in small amounts.
|Bananas||Low calcium to phosphorus ratio and very high in sugar. Packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Avoid the peels.|
|Cherries||Acidic and very high in sugar, but also high in vitamin C. Never feed your dragon cherry pits.|
|Grapes||Lots of fiber, but also high in sugar, oxalates, and water. The skins are safe to eat, but never give your lizard the seeds.|
|Kiwi||Contains lots of vitamin C, but is high in oxalic acid and minerally poor otherwise.|
|Tomatoes||Contains lots of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, but is high in oxalates. Never feed green tomatoes to your lizard.|
|Watermelon||Not very nutrient dense as it is mostly composed of water and sugar. Contains some vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium.|
Toxic Fruits You Should Never Give Your Beardie
Although your bearded dragon is quite a hardy animal and can get away with eating a variety of less nutritious foods on rare occasions, a few fruits are extremely toxic and even deadly to them and should not be given to them under any circumstances.
These fruits include:
If your dragon has eaten any of these foods, don’t panic.
Contact your local veterinarian familiar with reptiles immediately for further instruction and your lizard’s future health care needs.
It is crucial to closely monitor your lizard’s health status and food intake for any changes or unusual behavior, regardless of whether they’ve eaten a potentially toxic food.
|Avocado||Very high in oxalates. Contains persin, a toxin which destroys fungi and is poisonous to almost all animals despite being harmless to humans.|
|Citrus Fruits (Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Limes, etc.)||Contains citric acid, which severely irritates bearded dragons’ digestive tracts and causes diarrhea and rapid dehydration.|
|Eggplant / Aubergine||Too acidic. Causes dehydration and diarrhea.|
Calcium To Phosphorus Ratio
Whenever you consider a new food for your bearded dragon’s diet, whether it is a fruit or a vegetable, always make sure you know its calcium to phosphorus ratio.
An ideal ratio is anything higher than 2:1, meaning your dragon should be getting at least twice, if not three times, as much calcium as it does phosphorus from any fruit you feed to them.
You always want your dragon to get more calcium than phosphorus out of any food they consume, especially since phosphorus often binds with calcium and prevents calcium absorption.
In addition to this, a calcium supplement is a necessity for your dragon’s diet.
Purchase a calcium powder from your local pet shop and dust any food you give to your dragon with the powder at least three to five times per week to ensure they get an adequate amount of calcium in their diet.
Fruits, in general, tend to have very poor calcium to phosphorus ratios, while most vegetables and other plant matter fare a lot better in this regard with much higher ratios.
This is primarily why the list of acceptable vegetables is much longer than the list of good fruits for your dragon’s diet and why their vegetable intake should be much higher than their fruit intake.
Due to most fruits’ low amounts of calcium compared to their phosphorus content, there is no appropriate staple fruit for your dragon.
However, many fruits can still be given to your dragon as part of a healthy diet in small amounts if you are mindful of their calcium to phosphorus ratios.
Benefits of Organic Fruit
Whenever possible, make an effort to purchase organic fruits (and vegetables) for your bearded dragon.
Organic fruits are safer than their non-organic counterparts since they are not treated with pesticides or herbicides and are not genetically modified.
Although they are usually more expensive and not as easily accessible as non-organic fruit, the extra investment of your time and money is worth the benefits to your lizard’s overall health.
To stay on the safe side, it is recommended to wash any organic fruit you intend to feed to your bearded dragon carefully to remove any dirt or surface debris.
Even if there are no pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals on the surface of the fruit, as a bearded dragon owner, you will still want to establish a good habit of washing any fruits and vegetables you give to your lizard.
Preparing Fruit For Your Bearded Dragon
No matter what kind of fruit you intend to give to your dragon, there are a few general rules you need to follow when preparing them for your lizard to eat.
Examine any fruit you plan to give to your bearded dragon carefully for mold, insects, packaging, or stickers which may be on the fruit’s surface.
Never give your lizard spoiled or moldy fruit.
Always wash any fruit you give to your dragon thoroughly with clean, cold water.
Scrub any dirt or debris off the fruit’s surface carefully with your hands or a gentle brush or towel.
For smaller or more fragile fruits like berries, scrubbing is unnecessary, and a thorough rinse will be sufficient.
Washing your produce is important because it removes any pesticides and herbicides used on the fruit during the growing process and removes any other debris from the food’s surface.
Even if you are buying organic fruit not treated with pesticides or herbicides, it is still wise to wash your produce to be safe and eliminate any potential risks.
You should avoid feeding your dragon the seeds for most fruits as they can cause choking, impaction, or digestive issues.
Some fruits, such as blackberries or kiwi, have tiny enough seeds your lizard will easily be able to swallow them and pass them through their digestive tract, but if they build up in large amounts, they could become problematic.
In general, if you are able to safely and easily remove the seeds, go ahead and remove them to avoid the risk of impaction and a potential choking hazard for your dragon.
If the fruit has a tough or thick peel or skin, remove it entirely as your dragon could struggle with chewing and swallowing the pieces they manage to bite off.
Again, you risk impaction and choking with anything difficult for your dragon to chew or swallow.
If you wouldn’t eat the peel, they probably don’t want to, either.
However, some fruits such as blueberries or grapes have skins thin and soft enough for your dragon to safely consume and pass in their eventual bowel movements and do not need to be removed.
With any food you give to your bearded dragon, always make sure it is either small enough or cut into bite-sized pieces small enough to eat.
Any food you give to your dragon should be smaller than the width of the space between their eyes when viewed from above.
This size will vary for your dragon depending on factors such as their age and size, but for most adult bearded dragons, it is around 0.5″ inches (2 cm) in width.
With soft fruits such as bananas and berries, you may decide to simply allow your dragon to bite off pieces on their own.
You have many options when it comes to fruits to feed to your lizard.
Although they should never be used as a staple food, around 10% of your dragon’s balanced diet should be composed of different types of fruits.
Some, such as apples and blackberries, should be given to your dragon weekly or biweekly, while you should only give others like the banana and kiwi once or twice a month.
We have a post on feeding bearded dragons kiwi if you’d like to learn more.
Fruits are high in oxalates and sugar, but your dragon will love the occasional piece of fruit in their salad.
Learn your lizard’s preferences and provide various fruits to them to keep their diet balanced and flavorful.