Even though insects are bearded dragons’ staple food, these reptiles like (and need) to eat plants too.
The plant kingdom is vast and diverse, and, just like us, beardies can’t eat everything that grows under the sun. That’s why, before feeding your pet a certain fruit or veggie, it’s vital to learn whether it’s suitable for them to consume.
Today, we’ll talk about apples. Can bearded dragons eat apples? The answer is a multifaceted one, so stick around to find it out!
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Apples?
Yes, they can. As I said above, beardies require a varied diet to thrive, and apples fit into the picture quite well. However, in the case of these reptiles, an apple a day won’t keep the doctor away. It should be fed to them occasionally to get the most benefits and avoid potential pitfalls.
Why? Well, bearded dragons can’t really encounter apples in their natural habitat, so this food is alien to them. Nevertheless, apples can be beneficial if given to the dragon in moderation and in the right way.
More on this in the paragraphs to come!
Read More: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Applesauce?
The Benefits Of Apples For Bearded Dragons
Let’s take a look at some nutrients than apples contain, which can do your pet good.
Vitamins A and C
It’s no secret that apples contain vitamins, but not in large amounts. The latter is a good thing, at least when it comes to bearded dragons.
The two vitamins that beardies need the most from apples are vitamins A and C. They help strengthen their immune system and support their overall health. The relatively small vitamin A content is just enough to fulfill this reptile’s requirements without risking hypervitaminosis.
Potassium and Iron
Apples are a fantastic source of iron and potassium. Bearded dragons need potassium to maintain the proper functioning of their kidneys and muscles. This mineral also helps regulate their blood pressure. The job of iron is to keep the animal’s blood flow oxygenated.
Just like you and me, bearded dragons need to ingest fiber to maintain healthy digestion. A slight caveat here is that most of the fiber is contained in the peel, which the dragons cannot eat. However, even peeled apples have more than enough of this nutrient for beardies’ requirements.
Last but not least, apples are chock-full of water and help keep the bearded dragon hydrated.
The Risks of Feeding Apples To Bearded Dragons
As I hinted above, apples aren’t harmless to bearded dragons. Here are the potential risks of giving this fruit to beardies.
Your Pet May Choke On Them
I know it sounds frightening, but it’s true.
Apples, or more precisely, large pieces of apple pose a choking hazard to small and young dragons. That’s why it is important to chop the fruit up into tiny bits when giving it to them.
An adult beardie would also benefit from being served smaller pieces, so do it regardless of your pet’s age or size.
A Lot Of Sugar
Like most other fruits, apples contain a fair bit of sugar. This isn’t ideal for beardies as they only need a minuscule amount of sugar in their diets. Consuming too much of it leads to a plethora of issues like obesity, tooth decay, dehydration, and others.
What Kinds of Apples Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
Apples are a diverse bunch, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to divide them into two categories: red and green. Can bearded dragons eat both?
In short, the answer is – yes. Unlike humans, bearded dragons don’t have much of a preference, and they’ll eat any kind of apple you throw at them.
When it comes to nutrient content, red and green apples are similar, but not the same. The green varieties are usually richer in iron, fiber, and potassium. However, we’re talking about very small amounts of these nutrients, so it doesn’t make a difference which apples you choose to feed to your pet.
How Often Should Bearded Dragons Eat Apples?
Apples should by no means be a dragon’s staple food. They should be given to them occasionally as a treat.
How often? A handful of chopped apples once a week would do just fine.
Older dragons can probably handle a bit more than that since they require more plants in their diets than younger beardies. But there’s no need to push your luck.
If a dragon, regardless of its age, overeats fruit, it may suffer the consequences of high sugar consumption. The latter can lead to potentially life-threatening issues for the reptile.
As mentioned earlier, obesity, diabetes, bad teeth, and diarrhea are just some of the problems that may occur. These may eventually lead to heart disease and the early death of your beloved pet.
How To Prepare Apples For Bearded Dragons?
In this section, I will talk about the best way to serve apples to your bearded dragon.
Overall, the preparation process is straightforward, but there are some critical steps that you mustn’t skip.
Here’s what you have to do:
Give The Apple Thorough Wash
The very first thing you have to do is, of course, wash the apple. As you probably know, apples are sprayed with various pesticides, which can be potentially harmful to the beardies (as well as humans.) It’s vital to rinse them off as much as possible.
Even if you buy organic apples, it’s necessary to wash them. The shelves that they sit on in grocery stores are usually filthy. Also, who knows how many hands touched the apples before you bought them.
Once the apple is nice and clean, it’s time for a close inspection.
Check the apple for bruises and soft spots. Do you know how sometimes a bruised apple has that funky taste? That’s because of mold or fungus, which is way more harmful to beardies than to us. If you encounter such spots, remove them with a knife, or choose another apple for your pet.
Last, only feed fully ripened apples to the beardie.
Peel The Apple
As I already said, bearded dragons cannot eat apple peel, so you’ll have to remove it. Peels are too tough for the beardies to chew through. This inability to chew the skin forces the dragon to swallow it whole, which may lead to choking.
If the dragon manages to swallow it, it’ll encounter digestion issues. The animal will experience severe constipation, sometimes requiring a vet’s intervention.
Another thing that I need to mention is that the skin of non-organic apples is loaded with chemicals. The apple is one of the most sprayed fruits, and who knows what those chemicals could do to your pet.
If you peeled an apple and it turned brown, no need to worry. The oxidation process won’t harm the beardie, so feel free to let it munch on the apple.
Remove The Seeds
The core and the seeds are a big no-no. The core, much like the skin, is tough and difficult for the dragon to chew. As for the seeds, they contain small amounts of cyanide, which is toxic to beardies. Make sure that no seeds find their way to the dragon’s bowl!
Chop It Up!
Like most other fruits and veggies that are fed to beardies, apples should be chopped into small and thin bits.
Since reptiles can’t chew as well as we can, larger pieces pose a massive challenge for them to swallow. That’s why small, bite-sized pieces are the way to go!
How small are we talking?
The general rule is that no piece should be bigger than the distance between a beardie’s eyes. If you want to be extra safe, you can cut it into even tinier bits.
Keep An Eye On the Bearded Dragon While It Eats The Apple
Once you’ve adequately prepared and served the apple, it would be good if you could monitor your pet while it eats it.
Let the beardie eat as much as it wants, given that you served the appropriate portion. If you see that the animal has trouble swallowing the pieces, take them away. When it appears to be done eating, and there’s still some apple left, toss the remains.
If you’re feeding the dragon to apples for the first time, keep an eye on it for around 24 hours after that. In case you notice or suspect that your pet is experiencing negative effects, take it to the vet as soon as possible.
As I’m sure you’ve concluded by now, apples are a two-edged sword. Chances are your beardie will love them because they’re sweet, and it won’t say “no” whenever you serve them. That’s why it is your responsibility to prepare the apples correctly and to serve the right amount.
The guidelines that I presented in this article are a sure way to avoid trouble. Bearded dragons and humans alike should enjoy treats responsibly!