Can bearded dragons eat lettuce? It’s a question most owners end up asking themselves at one point.
After all, it sure does wonders for our diets with its health benefits (1). It seems like a harmless, healthy addition to their diets.
So I decided to research whether it was an intelligent dietary addition for my beardie. Read on, and check out the surprising results!
- Eating lettuce won’t cause any severe health issues for bearded dragons. However, it also won’t provide them with much nutritional value.
- The high water content of lettuce can cause digestive issues. It’s common for beardies to experience diarrhea from eating it.
- Bearded dragon owners should use other leafy green vegetables instead of lettuce. Your beardie would get much more from mustard greens or carrot top greens.
Is Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Lettuce Safe?
In a technical sense, bearded dragons can eat lettuce safely. So owners won’t have to worry if their beardie manages to get a hold of some.
But there are various reasons why it shouldn’t be a diet staple. So I thought I’d illustrate these reasons by showing you lettuce’s potential benefits and drawbacks.
Potential Benefits of Feeding Your Beardie Lettuce
The primary benefit of feeding bearded dragons lettuce is its low sugar content. Due to this, its inclusion within a diet can help beardies stay fit and fight off obesity.
I should also mention this low sugar content helps prevent tooth-related issues. In other words, lettuce won’t rot your beardie’s teeth and cause problems like mouth rot (2).
Potential Drawbacks of Feeding Your Beardie Lettuce
Lettuce is seen as a lifesaver or godsend among humans. Therefore, I was shocked when learning this leafy green has almost no positive impact on bearded dragons.
The issue arises from most varieties of lettuce having high water content. For instance, “water makes up over 95% of raw lettuce” (3).
So this high water content leaves little room for anything else. It ends up not meshing well with our scaly friends due to their nature.
As an example, bearded dragons are native to the deserts of Australia (4). These creatures have adapted to living without many fresh water sources.
It’s caused them to live off the water lying inside their food. But this ability isn’t needed when eating iceberg lettuce or other food with high water content.
Sadly, it doesn’t stop our dragons from absorbing all the water inside the lettuce. You then can expect them to suffer nasty digestion issues from them absorbing it all.
In fact, it’s common for dragons to develop diarrhea when eating lettuce. This uncomfortable and gross condition can even linger for a few days.
Obviously, this isn’t what we want when serving our dragons “healthy” food. So lettuce needs to be left off the daily diet menu whenever possible.
CHECK: Best Dry Food for Bearded Dragons
What Types of Lettuce Are Safest For Bearded Dragons?
So I imagine you’re wondering if all types of lettuce aren’t off the board? After all, there are wide lettuce varieties, such as these popular ones:
- Iceberg lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Butterhead lettuce
- Green leaf lettuce
However, none provide enough nutritional benefits to merit being a diet staple. Romaine lettuce would be the closest one as it boasts more calcium than the others.
It’s why I’d recommend romaine to someone dead set on using lettuce. But honestly, this increase is slight so it won’t do your dragon much good.
You’re better off providing them with other leafy green vegetables. I’ll offer a few examples of suitable alternatives in our next section.
3 Alternative Greens to Feed Your Bearded Dragon
Every bearded dragon owner needs to familiarize themselves with suitable greens. These leafy vegetables will ensure your dragon remains healthy and happy.
Given this info, I thought I’d provide my favorite leafy greens for bearded dragons. You can then use them to keep the lettuce for your salads rather than your dragon’s.
#1 Mustard Greens
Bearded dragons are known for loving our first leafy green alternative. Honestly, my beardie can’t get enough of their yummy taste.
But this yummy taste isn’t all mustard greens will offer a beardie. For instance, these greens are off the charts in calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.
In particular, a rich calcium level will be crucial to better bone health and avoiding metabolic bone disease (5). Unfortunately, MBD has become a real issue for beardies.
So mustard greens are a win/win for both dragons and owners.
#2 Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are often an overlooked nutritious food for dragons. It starts with them being rich in calcium (like mustard greens) and vitamin A.
Another positive is dandelion greens couldn’t be much easier to find. Most people’s yards are full of them, making them an inexpensive and healthy choice for your beardie.
It should go without saying that you’ll need to make sure they aren’t sprayed with pesticides. If you can’t, dandelion greens are available in stores in bulk.
My only other advice would be to pair them with collard greens. I find my dragon seems to love the combo, and it’ll help deal with the slightly high amount of oxalates.
#3 Carrot Top Leaves
I happen to love carrots more than almost anyone alive. So one day, I thought to myself why shouldn’t I share my love of carrots with my bearded dragon?
Of course, I consulted with my vet beforehand to confirm it was the right move. He encouraged me to give my beardie the carrot’s top leaves.
My beardie devoured them as I’ve never seen him do with another food. He is usually such a picky eater, so I had to make it a benchmark of his varied diet.
If you want a proper visual, watch this video of a beardie chomping carrot top leaves.
It also helps that carrot top leaves are full of nutritional benefits. As with the other two leafy greens, it’s a rich source of calcium and Vitamin A.
Hooray, better bones!
READ MORE: What Vegetables Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
What Percentage of Your Beardie’s Diet Should be Vegetables?
The veggie percentage within a beardie’s healthy diet will vary based on age. For example, baby bearded dragons need much more protein in their diet than vegetables or fruits.
As a result, baby bearded dragons only need about 20% of their diet to be fruit/veggies. You can expect the other 80% to be insects like crickets and other crunchy critters.
But this percentage starts to flip as your beardie gets a little older. For example, juveniles need a balanced diet of 50/50, while adult bearded dragons require 75% fruits/veggies.
If you’re looking for more info about the best beardie food and diet requirements, look no further than “10 Best Bearded Dragon Foods (Review & Feeding Guide)”.
READ MORE: Spinach for Bearded Dragons: Is it Safe?
Can my bearded dragon just live on vegetables and fruit?
Your bearded dragon can’t live on vegetables and fruit alone. These creatures only can thrive and stay healthy with a diet that includes some protein.
So can bearded dragons eat lettuce? Yes, they can, but it’s not recommended. The water content is too high for lettuce to provide real nutritional value.
Instead, bearded dragon owners should be using other leafy greens. Options like mustard greens and dandelion greens are much healthier additions to your dragon’s salad.
- 1. Nazario B. Health Benefits of Lettuce [Internet]. WebMD. 2020. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-lettuce
- 2. Raiti P. Husbandry, Diseases, and Veterinary Care of the Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps). Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery [Internet]. 2012;22:117–31. Available from: https://meridian.allenpress.com/jhms/article/22/3-4/117/137217/Husbandry-Diseases-and-Veterinary-Care-of-the
- 3. Contributors WE. Foods High in Water [Internet]. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-water#:~:text=Water%20makes%20up%20over%2095
- 4. Schabacker S. Bearded Dragons [Internet]. National Geographic. 2019. Available from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/facts/bearded-dragon
- 5. BBC Two – Trust Me, I’m a Vet, Series 1, Episode 1 – How to prevent metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons [Internet]. BBC. Available from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/N9CkM0GVW83bWlFMQcjlnD/how-to-prevent-metabolic-bone-disease-in-bearded-dragons
My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.
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