Peas – kids hate them, adults love them, and they’re supposed to be good for you. They’re a green veggie, after all, and we all know that we should eat heaps of those.
But what about beardies? Just because a particular vegetable is good for humans, it doesn’t mean that it’s good for all species (duh!).
Can bearded dragons eat peas?
To just say “yes” would be to oversimplify the answer. There’s a lot to this topic, and I’ve covered it in great detail in the following article. I urge you to read the whole thing before offering peas to your pet beardie.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Peas?
As I hinted above, the answer is yes. Peas carry a lot of benefits for bearded dragons when fed to them properly. So yes, there is a right and a wrong way to give bearded dragons peas. I’ll elaborate on this further in the upcoming paragraphs.
Let’s start by taking a deep look into the benefits and risks of feeding peas to these snuggly reptiles.
The Benefits Of Feeding Peas To Your Bearded Dragon
I’ll let you in on a secret – a bearded dragon shouldn’t eat a lot of fat, unless you want it to get fat, which isn’t a great idea.
Peas are great because their total fat content amounts to zero. So, if a beardie ate food with some fat in it, you can give it peas the same day without worrying that it’ll eat too many calories.
Vitamins A, C, and K
Peas contain a significant amount of the vitamins mentioned above. Vitamins A and C are essential for the following reasons:
- They promote dragon’s healthy development
- They help maintain good vision
- They keep the immune system in check
As for Vitamin K, it helps maintain bone health and prevents the formation of blood clogs.
Thiamine and Manganese
These two minerals do a bearded dragon a lot of good. Thiamine is vital for the dragon’s nervous system, brain, and heart. Without enough of it in the diet, there’s a lot that could go wrong. Manganese supports good metabolism, which is of paramount importance.
The Dangers Of Peas
While peas undoubtedly have a lot of good stuff in them, they can also do your pet some harm. What are the risks of eating peas for bearded dragons? Find out in the following section.
High In Phosphorus
The biggest problem with peas is their high phosphorus content. Or, to be more precise, the phosphorus to calcium ratio is tilted in favor of phosphorus.
OK, why is this a bad thing?
As you may or may not know, bearded dragons need calcium in their diets. It promotes bone health and does their bodies a lot of good.
Phosphorus inhibits calcium absorption in a dragon’s body, which may lead to a calcium deficiency. A lack of calcium may lead to a plethora of issues, the most severe of which is MDB.
Phosphorus isn’t the bad guy here, per se, as dragons need it in their diets too. It too, ironically, makes their bones stronger. The problem is its ratio to calcium and that it completely overshadows the latter.
Take a look at the table below and compare the phosphorus-calcium ratio of peas to that of some other veggies that bearded dragons eat:
|Vegetable (1 cup)||Calcium||Phosphorus|
|Mustard Greens||104 mg||58 mg|
|Watercress||40 mg||20 mg|
|Dandelion Greens||104 mg||36 mg|
|Peas||38 mg||168 mg|
Don’t let what you’ve read here discourage you from giving your beardie some peas. If you feed them the right amount, they’ll reap all the benefits without the risk of developing a calcium deficiency. Again, peas have a lot of wonderful nutrients in them!
Later, I’ll talk about how often your dragon should eat peas and in what amounts. Now, let’s see what kinds of peas there are and which ones are safe for beardies.
The Different Kinds Of Peas
There are three kinds of peas that we commonly have access to – garden sweet peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. Can all of them be fed to bearded dragons? Let’s find out.
Garden Sweet Peas
Garden sweet peas are not recommended for beardies to eat. They’re poisonous to them, as well as various other reptiles, and it’s best that you avoid them. Simple as that.
Beardies can eat snow peas, but they shouldn’t do it very often. The issue, as you may have guessed, lies in the calcium-phosphorus ratio. There’s just too much of the latter.
This particular type of pea should be given to dragons as a treat. They love playing with the little balls, and the less often they have them, the more they’ll enjoy them!
Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas, or simply snap peas, are the safest variety for bearded dragons. They’re distinct from snow and garden peas by their rounded pod and significantly thicker walls.
Just like snow peas, snap peas have a relatively high sugar content, something which garden peas don’t have. They should also be fed to the dragons in moderation.
Raw, Cooked, Or Processed Peas?
Now that you know which peas are safe for bearded dragons let’s take a look at the state in which they should be fed to these reptiles.
Mushy peas may be delicious to you, but they won’t be to your beardie. These animals should not eat mushy peas by any means, and I’ll explain why in a bit.
Mushy peas are made from dried peas, which are then soaked in water and cooked with sugar and salt. Bearded dragons should not eat these ingredients as they’re not healthy for them.
Processed food in general (not just mushy peas) is not good for bearded dragons. They should eat a diet that resembles that which they’d be eating in the wild. And, in the wild, there’s no cooking nor condiments.
Finding fresh peas isn’t always easy, but getting some frozen ones certainly is. This is especially the case during the winter when little good-quality fresh food is available.
So, should beardies eat frozen peas?
It won’t kill them, but it’s not recommended. While frozen peas retain many of the nutrients they have when fresh, they lose some important ones in the process of freezing.
Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is an example. If you’re relying on peas as your pet’s sole source of B1, then frozen isn’t going to cut it. Without thiamine in their diets, bearded dragons may develop hypothiaminosis.
As I mentioned earlier, processed foods should not be given to bearded dragons, so canned peas are out of the picture.
Unlike mushy peas, which only have sugar and salt added to them, canned peas contain preservatives. The latter isn’t even good for humans, let alone small reptiles. So, yes, avoid canned peas.
If you’re going to give peas to your pet, it’s best that they’re fresh and raw. You can feed it to them with or without the pod. They can even eat the leaves.
While cooked peas are safe for bearded dragons, the cooking process depletes them of most nutrients. The animal won’t be getting much out of them other than a full belly.
How Often Should Bearded Dragons Eat Peas?
I’ve mentioned repeatedly that it’s not wise to give your beardie peas too often. OK, so how many times a week should they eat peas?
Once a week is more than enough. As for the amount, five to six seeds (balls), or one pod, should do the trick. An adult bearded dragon should be able to handle this amount without experiencing any repercussions in the long run.
How To Prepare Peas For Bearded Dragons?
So far, we’ve concluded that raw snow or snap peas are the best options for bearded dragons. Now, I’d like to give you some pointers on how to serve them.
- Organic if possible: It’s a no-brainer that, if you can, you should always buy organic peas and keep your pet safe from pesticides.
- Wash the peas: Organic or not, wash the peas either way.
- Chop it up: If you’re giving your beardie peas with the pod, it would be a good idea to cut the pod into smaller pieces. This will make it easier for the dragon to chew it.
That sure was a lot of information, wasn’t it? The truth is, there’s a lot to know about what NOT to do, but just a few things about what’s acceptable. Here’s a quick recap:
- Raw snap and snow peas are the best options.
- One pod once a week is enough.
That’s all that you need to take away from this article!