Bearded dragons are some of the most popular pet lizards. They are omnivorous reptiles, meaning they eat both meat and plants. Generally, they prefer vegetables, but if you give them a high protein diet, they get used to eating more meat.
Bearded dragons can eat mustard greens, a good source of nutrients necessary to thrive. These vegetables are a source of Vitamin C, calcium, dietary fiber, and proteins. They also have a high water content that keeps your pet well hydrated.
It is critical to provide your bearded dragon with the proper diet if you want it to grow without any health issues. Take a look at the nutrients in mustard greens and the different foods that constitute a proper diet for a bearded dragon.
Nutrients in Mustard Greens
One of the reasons why you should feed your bearded dragon with mustard greens is that they are rich in water, dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as:
Let us look at these nutrients and dietary requirements and their benefits to bearded dragons.
Mustard greens contain about 70 mg of Vitamin C for every 100 grams. Bearded dragons must have a sufficient supply of Vitamin C to ensure they fight infections.
Common infections in bearded dragons include:
Mustard greens contain about 2.86 grams of protein per 100-gram portion. Bearded dragons require protein to build their muscle mass. A low protein diet can lead to chronic protein deficiency, which causes general wasting of the body and increases vulnerability to infections.
Mustard greens are rich in calcium, with 115 mg per 100-gram portion. Calcium is critical for bearded dragons to develop strong bones, especially when they are young because that is when they grow the most.
A calcium deficiency in your bearded dragon causes metabolic bone disease (MBD). This disease makes the dragon’s bones extraordinarily soft and fragile, breaking easily. It could also cause foot deformities.
Every 100 grams of mustard greens contains 3.2 grams of dietary fiber. It improves digestion by helping food pass through the digestive tract faster to avoid constipation.
Constipation occurs when the final stage of digestion slows down, causing fecal matter accumulation. Your bearded dragon could become uncomfortable and strained when trying to defecate or even suffer from cloacal prolapse.
Mustard greens have a high water content at 90.7 grams for every 100 grams. Water helps keep the dragon hydrated. Lack of water could cause dehydration resulting in severe health problems or even death in extreme cases.
Health complications arising from dehydration include:
Feeding Your Bearded Dragon a Proper Diet
Bearded dragons are omnivorous and enjoy eating a variety of healthy foods. They eat both live food and plants and vegetables. Commercial diets are available in the form of pellets, but you should supplement them with natural supplements.
It is critical to note that any food item your bearded dragon eats should be smaller than the space between its eyes. Anything more substantial could cause life-threatening impaction and hind leg paralysis.
Let us look at each type of food in more detail.
Bearded dragons love non-flying insects such as:
Juvenile Madagascar hissing cockroaches
Sometimes, more giant bearded dragons also delight in savoring small live lizards. The lizards are a source of vitamins and minerals and nutrients like calcium, not readily available in insects and vegetables.
Younger dragons eat much more than older dragons, and their diet consists mainly of insects and little plant matter. The live prey should be adequate to protect the young beardies from stunted growth, malnutrition, or death from starvation. As they grow, live food should decrease, and plant matter increase.
During feeding, feed your pet with as many insects as it can consume within ten minutes. Pay attention to the size of the insects because your bearded dragon could die from trying to eat prey that is too large. After feeding, do not leave live insects in the dragon’s cage because frightened prey could injure your dragon.
Your beardie needs fresh greens daily. Remember to spray the leaves with water to keep them fresh longer and hydrate your bearded dragon.
Types of greens that you can feed your bearded dragon include:
Chop the greens into appropriate sizes. Also, ensure the leaves are free of herbicides and pesticides.
If the food you are giving includes any lettuce, avoid the food. Lettuce is composed mainly of water and has little to no nutritional value. Also, kale and spinach prevent calcium absorption, so you should avoid the two.
Vegetables and Fruits
Your bearded dragon’s diet should also include vegetables such as:
All varieties of squash (yellow, butternut, acorn, spaghetti)
You can add some carrots as a treat, but not as the main meal due to high levels of Vitamin A. Avoid any food rich in Vitamin A because dragons do not absorb it well. Feeding your bearded dragon with more Vitamin A than it can handle will cause Vitamin A toxicity, a deadly condition.
You can cook squashes beforehand, but it is not necessary.
Use different fruits without pits or seeds, but avoid citrus fruits such as grapefruit and oranges. Also, keep sugary fruits at a minimum. Fruits you can add as treats include:
Bearded dragons need fresh water daily, but younger ones require more because the insects they eat provide very little moisture. They often do not drink from the water bowl since they get most of their hydration from their diet. Sometimes, they are more willing to drink the water in their bath.
Still, you should provide a sizeable, shallow bowl of clean, fresh water should the dragon need it. You must also replace the water daily or immediately if it is soiled.
Sometimes, having water inside the enclosure throughout the day increases humidity and the risk of lung illness. If you reside in an area deficient in moisture, run the air conditioning regularly, a dish of water will help raise humidity levels in your dragon’s enclosure. Always keep humidity levels above 25%.
Feeding Plan for a Bearded Dragon
The nutrition requirements and amount of food a bearded dragon eats depend on the age.
Baby dragons and juveniles below six months should feed up to four times a day, with the most significant portion in the morning because they are active during the day. They need more live foods, so give them around 80% live food and 20% greens. You increase the greens and reduce the amount of live food as the dragons grow.
Baby beardies should eat appropriately sized crickets. Offer as many crickets as your dragon will consume within five to ten minutes. When your dragon stops eating, do not offer more. Young bearded dragons can eat between 20 – 60 crickets a day.
Adult bearded dragons should feed two times a day, preferably in the morning, to give them time to digest the food in the daytime. Older dragons require around 60% greens and 40% live food. It is also prudent to weigh your bearded dragon regularly.
Keep live food in large, well-ventilated containers. Hydrate them well and feed them safe vegetables for their well-being and for them to pass on the nutrients to your bearded dragon. Offer them an appropriately formulated gut-loading diet rich in vitamins and minerals between 24-48 hours before feeding them to your dragon.
You can feed your bearded dragon on mustard greens regularly. These green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, calcium, and water. Be sure to mix with other vegetables and live foods to form a balanced diet.
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