We all care about the health and safety of our dear bearded dragons. Being a conscious beardie parent, you might often find yourself wondering if a particular thing is safe for your pet. No need to be ashamed of it – I was once in your shoes as well.
Surely, you’ve asked yourself: “Can bearded dragons eat cabbage?” just as I did when I got my first beardie. To put it shortly: yes, but only if you offer them a moderate amount per week!
Cabbage has essential nutrients for the development and healthy lifestyle of your beloved pet. But what are the downsides of this crunchy treat? Could it lead to potential problems? And more importantly, how can you avoid them?
Luckily for you, I’m here to guide you through everything you need to know about this delicious treat. Let’s dive in!
What Do Bearded Dragons Typically Eat?
Bearded dragons usually inhabit places where food may be sparse, so they can’t afford to be picky about what they eat. Young, growing bearded dragons tend to be primarily carnivores, with around 80% of their diet being meat – insects, that is. Adult bearded dragons are quite the opposite; their diet is mostly plant-based.
Your beardie doesn’t have to worry about the lack of food, though. You’re there to feed them! As you can see, bearded dragons are omnivorous, meaning they eat both animal and plant-based foods. Their diet should contain around 25% plant-based and 75% animal-based foods as a rule of thumb.
The plant-based portion of your beardie’s diet should consist mainly of vegetables and leafy greens. Only a smaller percentage of it – roughly 10-20% – should be fruits.
Vegetables that should represent a higher percentage of their diet include:
A lesser percentage should include:
Remember to feed your beardie a variety of food items – and in healthy amounts, too – to attain more balanced nutrition.
Let’s Talk About Cabbage
As stated above, not only can bearded dragons eat cabbage, but it should make up a high percentage of their diet. But what makes cabbage such a healthy choice for your beardie?
Let’s look at a couple of benefits:
Rich Vitamin Composition
Cabbage contains a sufficient amount of Vitamin K. It’s responsible for regulating the clotting of blood in case of injuries and building and replacing worn-out tissues.
Cabbage also provides Vitamin C, which boosts the immune and reproductive system. Vitamin B6 is required for fat and protein metabolism and red blood cell regeneration. And Vitamin A, also found in cabbage, helps your bearded dragon with its night vision.
Cabbage contains high levels of minerals – including iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. These minerals are very important for your beardie’s vital functions.
For example, potassium serves to protect your bearded dragon’s nerves and muscles. It also prevents kidney stones and lowers blood pressure. Other minerals present in cabbage also serve to strengthen beardies’ immune system and assist with their tissue growth and repair.
High Calcium-Phosphorus Ratio
The “correct” calcium to phosphorus ratio in beardie-friendly food ranges from 1:1 to 2:1. However, in cabbage, the ratio is 1.5:1 on average.
Young bearded dragons need high calcium levels to sustain normal growth and bone development. In those terms, excess phosphorus is an issue because it inhibits calcium absorption.
Even if your beardie received enough calcium from its food, if the phosphorus levels are high, too, calcium is not utilized.
Unfortunately, bearded dragons that don’t receive enough calcium are at risk of developing Metabolic Bone Disease. Ensure that you contact your local vet if you start doubting that your bearded dragons are experiencing some bone-related issues.
Here is one hot tip for you:
Store your cabbage for a few days before feeding it to your beardie. This will reduce phosphorus potency and will improve your bearded dragon’s ability to absorb calcium.
Bearded dragons need sufficient levels of fiber in their diet to aid in digestion, much like humans do. A fiber-rich diet will ensure smoother bowel movements and reduce the chance of constipation.
Make sure you feed your beardie with cabbage before the outer leaves begin to turn yellow, though. By then, the fibers found in cabbage tend to lose their potency.
Fat is quite dangerous for bearded dragons, as the excess of it accumulates in the tail, making your beardie inactive. Worse yet, it could lead to high blood pressure and stroke.
Luckily, cabbage has a lower fat content compared to most other vegetables, including lettuce and broccoli. Therefore, you can enrich their main meal with red cabbage if you want to lower the fat intake (more on that later).
High Energy Generation
When broken down through digestion, cabbages will give out 25 calories for every 100 grams. Compared to other vegetables, such as kale and green beans, this is quite high. And, as you can imagine, beardies need this energy for moving, feeding, and keeping warm.
Antioxidants And Anti-Inflammatory Compounds
The anti-inflammatory compounds found in cabbage can work together to reduce any chronic and acute inflammatory diseases.
Polyphenols, for example, are potent antioxidants that will prevent the damage that free radicals can do to body tissue. And kaempferol and sulforaphane, also found in cabbage, will protect your beardie from rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Types Of Cabbages
There are several types of cabbages, each with its set of pros and cons. Without further ado, let’s take a look.
Among cabbages, the red one is the most nutritious option for your bearded dragon. All of the qualities that are mentioned above are found in red cabbage. This red variant should be your go-to when it comes to your beardies’ diet. It’s crunchy, delicious, and nutrient-dense! Because of this, your beardie can eat red cabbage a few times a week.
Next, you can try green cabbage, which is very similar to red cabbage – but has a little less nutritional value than its red counterpart. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not healthy, as it’s still packed with fiber, calcium, and vitamin C.
Sadly, green cabbage contains goitrogens, which can interfere with proper thyroid function. Your beardie could suffer from an enlarged thyroid if you go overboard with goitrogenic foods.
That being said, your beardie doesn’t have to skip this crunchy snack. Bearded dragons can eat green cabbage once a week or every other week.
Although it’s similar in looks, with thinner leaves and crispier texture than green cabbage – savoy cabbage should be avoided in a bearded dragon’s diet for a few reasons:
- Savoy cabbage is pretty acidic, which will cause stomach and digestive issues for your beardie.
- It has more phosphorus than calcium which can lead to above mentioned metabolic bone disease.
While Napa cabbage is goitrogenic, it’s an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, and calcium. Once a week wouldn’t harm your bearded dragon.
How To Feed Cabbage To Your Bearded Dragon?
The number one priority is ensuring that the cabbage is clean and free from pests and mold. Store it for three to six days before feeding it to your beardie. This will reduce phosphorus activeness, drain excess water and improve calcium uptake.
The cabbage should be raw and cut into bite-sized pieces. By doing this, beardies can easily chew on it, and you can avoid potential choking hazards.
First, give them a small piece and wait for a few days. If your beardie doesn’t have an adverse reaction, you can give them a small portion once or twice a week. Although giving them more should be fine, it’s best to stick to smaller amounts.
Moreover, never feed the stalk to the beardies as it’s difficult to eat and digest. You may need to consider mixing the cut cabbage with other vegetables. This will prevent them from picking through their food and eating only the preferred items in their dish.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cabbage? – Bottom Line
So, once and for all, can bearded dragons eat cabbage?
I can assure you that they can! Your bearded pet is free to enjoy a handful of finely chopped cabbage pieces. Depending on the type of cabbage, they can eat it up to several times a week.
There is an unwritten rule: The more vivid the color, the healthier the veggie.
Cabbage definitely fits the profile, as the red variant is by far the healthiest and most nutritious for your bearded dragon.
But as with most foods, moderation is the key. Even though cabbage is nutrient-dense, bearded dragons can’t live on one type of food. Cabbage shouldn’t be used as a staple food, as you want to avoid interference with thyroid function.
Thankfully, there are other healthy vegetables that will ensure your bearded dragon stays fit and healthy. One good example is bok choy!