Earlier today when I was at our local zoo, I saw several species of lizards. Some were carnivorous and others omnivorous. My main interest was in bearded dragons, they were easy to handle and pet around. So, I got curious about their plant diet. Below is research I did on whether they can enjoy kale.
Can bearded dragons eat kale?
Bearded dragons can eat kale. Kale is a good source of calcium for both adult and baby bearded dragons making it a good weekly staple food. It has low oxalic acid and despite having goitrogens, kale has high iodine levels that compensate for iodine loss due to goitrogens affecting the thyroid glands of bearded dragons.
A baby bearded dragon will benefit a lot from kales due to its high calcium for bone development. For adult dragons, kales do not have lots of protein which can prevent your dragon from becoming obese.
Can Bearded dragons eat kale every day?
While kale is a good source of vitamin A and its precursor beta carotene you should not feed kale every day. To provide bearded dragon with a balanced diet you should make sure your provide a variety of insects, fruits, vegetables and greens. Kales however, can be a good weekly staple food for the bearded dragon but not an every day food item.
Despite kale having a low oxalic acid, it also has goitrogens levels which can affect the thyroid gland, kidney and liver in high amounts.
Therefore, when feeding vegetables to bearded dragons always ensure that you limit vegetables that have high goitrogen levels such as spinach, broccoli, bok choy and so on.
Types of kale
Curly kale is the most common type of kales, their leaves look like ruffles. They have a peppery and pungent flavor.
Their green leaves are narrow and wrinkled like a dinosaur’s skin hence their name. The dinosaur leaves are attached to a strong stem compared to the other kales.
Redbor kale leaves are ruffled and their color range from purple to deep red.
Russian kale is not easy to come by, its leaves are flat fringed, its color ranges from red, green, and purple. Compared with the other kales Russian kales are more sweet and peppery.
Is kale bad for bearded dragons?
If fed moderately like twice a week kale is completely safe and healthy for both adult and young bearded dragons. The table below shows the nutritional content of kales.
The table below shows the nutritional value of 1 cup of kale about 118 grams.
|Nutrient||Amount in 1 cup|
|Carbohydrate in grams (g)||6.3, including 1.4 g of sugar|
|Calcium in milligrams (mg)||177|
|Selenium in micrograms (mcg)||1.1|
|Vitamin C (mg)||21|
|Folate (mcg DFE)||76.7|
|Beta carotene (mcg)||2,040|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin (mcg)||5,880|
|Vitamin E (mg)||1.9|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||494|
|Vitamin A (mcg RAE)||172|
Benefits of Kales to Bearded Dragon
Keeping Bearded Dragon Hydrated
Bearded dragons need easy access to fresh, clean and chlorine free water on daily basis. However, there are some bearded dragons that find it hard to drink water since for them to notice it, the water needs to be disturbed.
Dehydration can lead to undesirable health effects if it is prolonged. One of the ways to ensure that bearded dragons are hydrated is to provide them with food items with high water content such as vegetables and fruits.
Kale can be a good way to keep bearded dragons hydrated since they have a considerable high water content. Addittionally, you can spritz kales with water and let bearded dragon drink this water as they eat kale.
You can read this post here we wrote on how to ensure your bearded dragons drinks water every day.
Kales are low in carolies
Kales are low in calories and protein, while this is not entirely good for baby and juvenile bearded dragons since they need a lot of proteins for development.
Adult bearded dragons do not need lots of calories and proteins compared to their wild relatives.
Wild bearded dragons have a lot of exercises in the wild moving up and down in search of food.
But domesticated dragons spend most of the time in their cages or enclosure which means they do not exercise as much as they should.
Consequently, feeding them high proteins and calories can lead to them becoming obese.
One way of keeping your bearded dragons exercised is taking it out to forage in your garden for bearded dragons weeds such as clovers and dandelions that have not been sprayed or treated with any chemicals.
You can also read this post we wrote on excersing bearded dragons by taking them to the swimming pool.
Source of vitamins for Bearded Dragons
Vitamins forms a very part of nutrients that bearded dragons need for proper growth and development. Vitamin A is one of the most important vitamins that bearded dragons need for growth and development.
In this part we will cover vitamin A since kales like all other vegetables are a good source of both vitamin A and its precursor beta carotene.
Bearded dragons whose balanced diet contains fruits and vegetables plus greens rarely suffer from vitamin A deficiencies.
Vitamin A is normally stored in the bearded dragon liver and can be depleted by diets high in animal proteins.
Therefore, given that the young bearded dragons’ diet is made of animal protein it is very important that you ensure that young bearded dragons are getting enough vegetables and fruits high in this vitamin such as carrots and strawberries among others.
Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency includes
- Inflammed and swollen eyelids
- Reddened mucous membrane
- Nasal discharge
- Problem breathing
- Hyperkeratosis of the mouth and skin
Providing a diet rich in vegetables and fruits should help correct these problems.
Minerals like vitamins also forms a very important in the growth and development of the bearded dragons. Some minerals are needed in high levels at certain stages compared to others.
For instances, calcium is needed in high levels when bearded dragon are young for the development of the skeletal structure of the bearded dragons. Calcium is also need in high leves by bearded dragons when laying eggs, and when they are injured to facililate repair of broken bones.
Therefore, you should always ensure that your bearded dragons receives enough mineral supplements every week. Experts recommends dusting their food with mineral supplements thrice a week.
However, it is important to note that calcium and phosphorus affect each other negatively. For instance, high levels of phosphorus in the feeds prevents the absorption of calcium.
Therefore, experts recommend ensuring that calcium is more than phosphorus, the recommended ration of calcium to phosphorus is 2:1 respectively.
For food items whose calcium to phosphorus ratio does not fall within the recommended value. Experts advise that they should be fed.
With emphasis given on food items such as vegetables and fruits that have high calcium to phosphorus ratio. Such food items include figs and kale.
Kale is one of those vegetables that will provide a good source of calcium to your bearded dragon with little phosphorus.
This fact makes kale a safe vegetable to feed to both young and adult bearded dragons regularly like a weekly staple food especially when it is dusted with mineral supplements.
How to feed kale to bearded dragons
Below is step by step tips to feed kale to bearded dragons
- Buy Fresh healthy kales
- Thoroughly clean them
- Cut them into small pieces
- Dust them with calcium or multivitamins
- Feed your dragon
Alternatively, you can offer kales to your feeder insects that consume kales and later feed your dragon.
How much kale should I feed my bearded dragon?
Bearded dragons should only eat a handful of kale since kale should only be part of the vegetables that are fed to bearded dragons rather than being the only vegetables. Therefore, about 20 grams of kale should be enough to feed to bearded dragons.
Effect of overfeeding kales
While kales are good for bearded dragons as a weekly staple food, they should not be made the only staple food in bearded dragons’ diet. This is because kales have a small level of oxalates that can hinder the absorption of calcium as it accumulates especially when a bearded dragon eats kales daily with other vegetables that have high levels of oxalates such as spinach.
Oxalates in Kales
kales just like any other veggie have oxalates but in very low amounts compared to spinach, 100g of kale has 20mg of oxalates
Oxalates are harmful to bearded dragons’ health, they bind with calcium and remove calcium from your dragon’s body which can affect your dragon’s health.
The amount of oxalates in kales is not dangerous for your bearded dragon especially because you should not offer kales alone.
Like most vegetables kales too have goitrogens. Goitrogens affect the function of thyroid glands and inhibit the absorption of iodine.
However, kale compensates this effect with its high levels of iodine. Nonetheless, you should not feed kales on daily basis. As high levels of goitrogens can damage thyroid glands, liver and kidney.
Can Bearded dragons eat black kale? Bearded Dragons can eat Tuscan kale, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, kale, flat back kale, cavolo nero, Lacinato kale, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm. These type of kales contains all the nutrients found in other types of kales. Just make sure the black kales are fresh.
As we have already established, feeding kales to your bearded dragons is a valid choice. Make sure your kales are fresh and thoroughly washed before feeding your dragon. If your dragons struggle to hydrate spraying kales with water can be a good way to hydrate them. Alternatively, you can also feed kales to your feeder insects and then feed them to your bearded dragon.
Additionally, you can feed all types of kales to your bearded dragon. With the time you can establish which kale your bearded dragon likes.
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