Vegetables make up a small percentage of young bearded dragons and a large percentage of adult bearded dragons. It is therefore very important that you feed your dragon nutrient-loaded vegetables. I did some digging on what benefits lettuce offers to beardies.
Can bearded dragons eat lettuce? Bearded dragons can eat both lettuce and iceberg lettuce but should be fed moderately or not at all. Light green veggies like lettuce are nutrient-poor, water, and fibre-rich. If you can just avoid feeding lettuce to your bearded dragon and feed cilantro or kale instead.
The general rule when choosing plant material for your bearded dragon is to avoid vitamins deficient, nutrient-poor, fiber-rich especially light green vegetables such as head lettuce or iceberg and celery.
Young bearded dragons tend to be carnivorous while adult dragons shift to being herbivorous. Vegetables and flowers should make about 80-90 % of the bearded dragon’s plant material diet and the rest of 20-10% should come from fruits.
Lettuce in Bearded Dragon Diet
Lettuce is a very popular leafy vegetable belonging to the daisy family. You can find lettuce in dark green, yellow and some lettuce have some reddish hues.
Nutritional Value of Lettuce
The table below shows the nutritional value of about 100g of lettuce.
|Total lipid (fat)||0.14||g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||2.97||g|
What makes a great plant material for bearded dragon
When considering veggies to feed your bearded dragon go for dark green vegetables, they are loaded with various minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that bearded dragons need.
While the calcium and phosphorus ratio is very important and should be about 1:1 or 2:1 Ca:P. A ratio slightly high than that is also acceptable when these veggies are only offered moderately.
The few benefits of feeding lettuce to bearded dragons
For a healthy bearded dragon that is not severy hydrated lettuce would not make a good choice of food.
There are some bearded dragons that will not take water from the bowl at all and may become severely dehydrated.
While misting can help to hydrate such bearded dragons, feeding food that has a high water content is another option.
If you do not have any other readily and easily available green with you, you can offer lettuce to such dragons as you search for a better option.
However, feeding to much water to bearded dragons can lead to diarrhea which will prevent their gut from absorbing beneficial nutrients.
Therefore, always keep lettuce in your bearded dragon diet at minimal to avoid causing nutrient deficiency.
Vitamins and minerals
Most green vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin A and beta carotene and despite lettuce or iceberg lettuce being nutritionally poor. At least it has a good supply of these vitamins.
Vitamin A is very important to bearded dragons that consume a high diet of insects. Vitamin A helps in the absorption on proteins and food high in proteins can deplete vitamin A from the liver where excess vitamin A is stored.
It is, however, very rare for bearded dragons to suffer a deficiency of vitamin A.
Since most of the vegetables that they eat in captivity are loaded with vitamin A and its precursor beta carotene, plus at the time of hatching their egg yolk contains enough vitamin A to last them for about six months.
But they can suffer from vitamin A toxicity which is generally a condition where there is a lot of vitamin A in the body of bearded dragons.
While lettuce can offer beta carotene and vitamin A, you should probably consider offering vegetables that are better nutritional wise compared to lettuce.
Signs of deficiency of vitamin A in bearded dragons include reddened or swollen eyelids, nasal discharge and respiratory discharge.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals in the growth and development of bearded dragons.
Calcium deficiency can easily lead to metabolic bone disease, which is a life threatening condition.
Therefore ensuring that your bearded dragon is having enough calcium in its diet is very crucial.
Bearded dragon can get its calcium from supplementation and also from food it eats.
However, when considering using food as a source of calcium, you should always be wary of two other minerals namely oxalates and phosphorus.
These two minerals impair the absorption of minerals in the body of bearded dragons.
Oxalates react with calcium to form calcium oxalates while phosphorus reacts with calcium to form calcium phosphates.
Both compounds prevent calcium from being absorbed in the bearded dragon body. Therefore foods high in these minerals should only be fed moderately.
As mentioned above the recommended ratio of Calcium to phosphorus is either 1:1 or 2:1.
While lettuce will offer calcium, generally, you can get calcium from better veggies that will also provide other nutrients.
Given that the gut of bearded dragons is small, there is no point of feeding food that is nutrient deficient.
Calcium absorption is normally affected by the above named minerals plus the following factors.
The first factor is the amount of calcium in the food and the second one is the amount of calcium needed by the body. Excess calcium is normally excreted via the urine.
How to feed lettuce to bearded dragons
- Get fresh organically grown lettuce
- Wash them thoroughly
- Cut them into pieces
- You can either mist them or dust them with supplements
- You can also mix them with other veggies of higher value
- Offer them to your bearded dragon in a bowl
- Remove any uneaten veggies within 10-15 minutes
If you choose to gut load your feeder insects, either way the nutrients will still remain the same since gut loading feeder insects will not change the nutritional value of lettuce.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of lettuce can bearded dragons eat? Bearded dragons can eat all kinds of lettuce such as Romaine, iceberg, red, and green lettuces. However, this kind lettuce still remains nutritionally poor to your bearded dragon and should be fed with moderation.
Can a bearded dragon eat iceberg lettuce? As mentioned above bearded dragon can eat iceberg lettuce but only in moderation since it is nutritionally poor and only contains lots of water and fiber.
While bearded dragons can eat lettuce, you should be very careful when feeding it. A high percentage of lettuce is made of water and fiber. Too much of either will cause diarrhea which will affect the development of young bearded dragons and may even cause dehydration if not corrected.
Generally, when choosing veggies to feed your bearded dragons you should prioritize veggies that have a darker green or yellow, red, and orange vegetable leaves. Stay away from veggies that are water loaded and fiber-rich as most of the time, they are vitamin deficient and nutrient-poor.
Veggies with light green leaves normally have very little nutrients. More so, vegetables whose inner leaves are more of light green than dark green.
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