Asparagus is a common vegetable for us humans to use in recipes and meals. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to share our food with our pets? You are likely here because you are aware that not all foods that are safe for humans to eat are safe for your pet bearded dragon to eat. Can bearded dragons eat asparagus?
Dr. Jess explains it all below:
Let’s Talk Bearded Dragons!
Bearded dragons are chill little reptiles that are grouped into the category of desert lizards – they like a warm, dry environment.
They are grouped into the genus Pogona with eight different species falling under this grouping.
The eight species of bearded dragons are distinguished from one another and named for the differences in their spines on their chins and necks.
Bearded dragons get their name from their armor of spiny scales, which include a “beard” of spikes under their chins, and a neck that puffs up depending on their mood, most commonly seen when puffed out when they are upset.
They do this to seem larger to whatever is upsetting or intimidating them.
This may be paired with a erry ‘hiss’ when really upset.
They can live up to 10 years and can reach up to 24 inches long and weigh up to 18 ounces once full grown. They range in colors from brown, to orange, to yellow, to cream.
Beardies have a precise eye and good sense of smell.
Bearded dragons are often referred to as “beardies”, are one of the more popular reptilian pets because of their cool, interesting exterior and their popularity being of low maintenance pets.
What Do Bearded Dragons Typically Eat?
So many great questions to answer here!
Beardies commonly consume vegetables, fruits, and insects.
Bearded dragons are considered omnivorous, meaning they eat what both herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters).
Young, immature, growing bearded dragons tend to be mostly carnivores, and eat more meat, at most 80% animal and 20% plant material
Adult bearded dragons are usually the exact opposite when it comes to diet, they tend to eat more plants and be more on the herbivorous side of things. Some adult beardies can be more along the lines of 80% plant and 20% animal foods.
As a basic rule of thumb, a bearded dragon’s diet should be comprised of foods that are around the basic ballpark of 50% animal-based and 50% plant-based.
As mentioned above, the age and maturity of each and every dragon should also come into play here, so it is a very good idea to discuss your dragon’s specific diet with your veterinarian.
If your bearded dragon stops eating – check out this article on how long bearded dragons can go without eating food and contact your local veterinarian.
Common Store-Bought Produce for Bearded Dragons:
- and a multitude of other fruits
Medical Concerns Regarding Produce:
Many types of produce can be fed to bearded dragons every now and then in very small amounts.
However, many types of produce can be acidic or high in sugar and can be difficult on bearded dragon digestive systems.
This is why only a very small amount every blue moon (like once a month!) should be the norm with some fruits and veggies, for your bearded dragon.
This goes for many fruits and vegetables!
What is Asparagus?
Asparagus is a common type of vegetable.
Asparagus is a herbaceous perennial plant, meaning that it can come back and survive for more than one year.
Garden asparagus is a very popular type of asparagus used for human consumption and cooking.
For the sake of this article on feeding guinea pigs asparagus, we are going to speak specifically on the green garden asparagus found commonly in grocery stores and in gardens.
Asparagus has a tall hardy stalk, also known as a shoot, that has a fibrous, tough glossy exterior. The thicker this shoot is, the older that this particular plant is.
The top of each stalk is tapered off with a spear-shaped head that is made up of more delicate scale-like plant.
Types of Asparagus:
Garden asparagus is a very popular type of asparagus used for human consumption and cooking.
However, there are other types of asparagus out there.
Not all asparagus is the bright beautiful green color, there are also white, purple, etc. colors of asparagus.
The white varieties of asparagus are seen as delicacies or for special occasions in certains parts of the world.
According to Wikipedia’s description of the nutritional benefits of asparagus:
“Water makes up 93% of asparagus’s composition. Asparagus is low in food energy and very low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that regulates the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, as the asparagus plant is relatively rich in this compound.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagus
Asparagus has a particularly large supply of vitamin K that can help support proper blood clotting and the skeletal system’s bones.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning that bearded dragons MUST have it in order to be healthy and for their body systems to function properly. Luckily, asparagus contains vitamin C!
Vitamin C helps support a healthy immune system and is in general “essential” for your bearded dragon.
Asparagus is also rich in different antioxidants like vitamin E, with research proving that the vegetable contains notable amounts of various flavonoids and polyphenols [source], other antioxidants, as well.
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help protect the body from damage by free radicals, which can cause degenerative diseases.
Asparagus also has a decent amount of fiber to help with digestion and can sometimes help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Another thing that asparagus is full of is water. On top of a high water content, asparagus in known to be very low in calories – two things, that when combined together, can help mitigate weight loss or at least help to stave off weight gain.
- 1 fresh ripe store-bought asparagus spear
- Cutting board
- Kitchen knife
- Begin by washing the vegetables thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the asparagus.
- Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick lower white part of the spear.
- Cut the asparagus spear into small bite-sized pieces if you are offering asparagus raw to your pet. If you are cooking the asparagus pieces, cook it just until it is slightly tender and without any fats, oils, or spices/seasonings, and cut it up into small bite-size pieces after cooking and cooling down to room temperature.
- Remove any uneaten asparagus from the enclosure within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on it.
Contact your veterinarian before changing parts of your pet's diet. Stop the feeding of asparagus immediately and contact your veterinarian if any signs of ill health appear.
How To Feed Asparagus To Your Bearded Dragon:
First off, you should always purchase high-quality asparagus for your lizard from a reputable food source. Serve only fresh, raw asparagus to your pet.
All fruits and vegetables will need to have a visual inspection done to make sure that you are giving your pet a ripe, healthy food to eat.
Next, you will need to remove the thick white lower part of the asparagus spear/stalk, and then cut, slice, chop, or dice up the rest of the asparagus spear so that your dragon can safely eat it.
They will need food in bite-sized pieces.
You may need to consider mixing the cut asparagus pieces with other vegetables, up together to help discourage picking through their food bowl and eating only the preferred items in their dish.
Food should be presented in a shallow clean dish that is not easily tipped over.
Fresh water should always be available in a shallow dish that can’t be easily tipped over. This water dish should be washed and cleaned daily.
Any food left in your bearded dragon’s enclosure that is not eaten up will start to get old and become unsafe for your dragon to eat, if they will even touch it at all.
This could lead to some major health issues, as well as a smelly enclosure and a bug problem – things you definitely do not want to deal with.
So, it is very important to clean out any foods that your bearded dragon leaves behind in a timely manner.
How Much Asparagus Should I Give My Bearded Dragon?
Contact with your local veterinarian for expert advice about your pet’s diet.
They will be able to help you decide how much asparagus to give your beardie.
The amount of food you should give them will definitely depend on what foods you and your vet have decided are going to be a part of the pet’s diet.
As a rule of thumb, if your dragon is leaving food behind – then it may be that too much food is being offered to them.
Asparagus should be given to your beardie in small bite-sized pieces.
Start with just one small bite-sized piece.
After 24 hours without any adverse side effects observed, then you are likely safe to feed your dragon a few bite-sized pieces of asparagus the next time to serve them up a meal.
How Often To Feed Bearded Dragons Asparagus?
Most young bearded dragons eat once or twice daily, while older lizards can be fed once daily, depending upon each pet’s individual appetite.
Some bearded dragons will not eat for a period of time.
Read this article on why bearded dragons may not be eating daily.
At most, a small amount of asparagus once or twice a month, spread out by at least one week in between these small servings is all the asparagus that you should serve to your bearded dragon.
This is more than enough if you want to stay on the safe side – which I highly recommend that you do!
Can Asparagus Be Harmful to Bearded Dragons?
There are always risk involved when your pet consumes anything, whether it is a new food in their diet or not.
I have listed a few of the hazards that come with feeding your pet beardie asparagus:
#1- Choking Hazard:
Asparagus can be quite large and slippery and may become a choking hazard in smaller, younger dragons.
Give consideration to cutting them into a smaller, more manageable size before feeding them to your bearded dragon so that they are less likely to choke.
#2- Digestion Problems:
Asparagus does contain a fair amount fiber, just like many other vegetables do.
Too much fiber, especially on a regular basis, can lead to digestion problems, diarrhea, and inappetence, all of which can further develop into more serious issues.
#3- Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio:
It is commonly known in the bearded dragon world, that bearded dragons need to consume more calcium than phosphorus in their daily diet even though they must have phosphorus in their diet.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral that helps build healthy strong bones. Phosphorus also binds with calcium, making it unavailable for the bearded dragon to use!
Any failure to achieve this ratio over a long period of time can result in the bearded dragon suffering from illnesses like metabolic bone disease.
Asparagus, unfortunately is low in calcium and much higher in phosphorus, meaning that this calcium:phosphorus ratio is way off, so large quantities of asparagus fed to your bearded dragon is a huge mistake and can be very detrimental to their health.
The different types of asparagus have different rations of calcium to phosphorus, some of which are all unbalanced, when compared to what is deemed healthy if consumed in large quantities.
Because this ratio is so incredibly important to your beardie’s health, it is also important to provide your beardie with calcium supplementation to ensure that your beardie is getting enough calcium that it needs daily to support proper body functions.
Lastly, asparagus contains small amounts of oxalic acid, which can lead to calcium stones to be produced in the kidney or bladder of some animals.
Vegetables that are high in oxalic acid (oxalates) like asparagus, bind calcium and other trace minerals, preventing their absorption inside your bearded dragon’s gastrointestinal tract.
This decrease in calcium absorption can increase the risk of Metabolic Bone Disease and other health issues in your pet.
Diets composed of beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard, and garden asparagus, for example, can lead to calcium deficiencies because of these oxalates.
Asparagus and other vegetables with heads on their spears or leaves tend to harbor pests, fungi, and/or bacteria in their crevices. If you are serving asparagus to your pet, make sure that you do a close inspection and a heavy washing of the asparagus for these items mentioned.
Can They Eat Cooked Asparagus?
Bearded dragons can have cooked asparagus for a few reasons.
Firstly, it is easier to chew and swallow then raw, tough asparagus pieces.
Secondly, cooked asparagus decreases the oxalates in the asparagus pieces, making it less likely for your dragon to succumb to metabolic bone disease.
Bearded Dragon Diet Supplements:
Bearded dragons have an increased need for calcium versus phosphorus in their diet.
This is especially true when they are young and their bones are growing.
Most veterinarians will likely recommend to sprinkle bearded dragon calcium powder over the food that you are offering your dragon.
This is usually done 2-3 times per week.
Contact your veterinarian for specific recommendations about supplementing your dragon’s diet.
Bearded dragons can be fed quite a plethora of fruits, vegetables, and insects safely, including asparagus.
However, it is important to know how much, how often, and how to properly serve asparagus and every other food we give our little dragons before we allow them to consume it.
For individual questions regarding your pet and their diet, contact your vet for specific dietary plans.