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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cabbage?

Cabbage 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 cabbage?

Dr. Jess explains it all below:

cabbage in ground ready to be harvested

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?

What do bearded dragons eat? How do they eat it? Do bearded dragons have teeth?

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:

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!

Let’s Talk Cabbage…

Cabbage is a common type of vegetable.

Cabbage is a large leafy green that is popular part of salads and other savory meals.

Cabbage comes in many different varieties, including red or purple, napa, savoy, and green cabbages. 

The cabbage plant itself grows along the ground and is a similar plant to broccoli and cauliflower. 

Cabbage Nutrition:

Just like with any other vegetable, cabbage has its nutritional value…. as well as some things to be weary of!

Vitamins:

Cabbage contains vitamin B, C, and K [source]. Vitamin C is essential to your bearded dragon staying happy and healthy and having a strong immune system.

Minerals:

Cabbage contains essential minerals too, such as potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, which are all needed to maintain healthy body functions.

Antioxidants:

Cabbage contains antioxidants that may help to prevent cell damage that harmful free radicals can cause. These antioxidants can help with things like preventing certain cancers and diseases.

Sugar Content:

Cabbage has a low sugar content as well.

Something to take note on and to keep in mind when feeding to bearded dragons who can come down with digestive upset with large amounts of sugar!

Water Content:

Cabbage also contains a high percentage of water, which is great when looking to maintain hydration. But too much water can be troublesome!

Fiber:

Cabbage contains fiber.

This fiber helps decrease the chances of constipation and improves gut motility.

Too much fiber however, can lead to too much gut motility… and that’s not a good thing either!

red and green cabbage being chopped and served

How To Feed Cabbage To Your Bearded Dragon:

First off, you should always purchase high-quality cabbage for your lizard from a reputable food source.

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 stalk, cut, slice, chop, or dice up the cabbage so that your dragon can safely eat it.

They will need food in bite-sized pieces.

You may need to consider mixing the cut cabbage with 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 To Feed Cabbage to Bearded Dragons

How To Feed Cabbage to Bearded Dragons

Active Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: 2.00

Materials

  • 1 head of fresh store-bought cabbage

Tools

  • large kitchen knife
  • large cutting board

Instructions

  1. Pick a fresh head of cabbage that is free from pests, dirt, chemicals, bacteria, and fungus by doing a thorough visual inspection and washing.
  2. Chop the leafy head from the stalk using a kitchen knife and cutting board.
  3. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces according to your bearded dragon's size.
  4. Offer your bearded dragon a bite-size piece of cabbage. Observe them to see if they eat it and if so, keep watch to make sure that no adverse side effects occur. If they do, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Notes

Contact your local veterinarian before changing or adding to your pet's diet.

How Much Cabbage 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 cabbage 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.

Cabbage should be given to your beardie in small bite-sized pieces.

Start with just 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 cabbage the next time to serve them up a meal.

How Often To Feed Bearded Dragons Cabbage?

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. Because of its high sugar content, watermelon should not be given regularly.

At most, a small amount once weekly is more than enough if you want to stay on the safe side – which I highly recommend that you do!

light yellow bearded dragon looking straight on to camera with white background

Can Cabbage 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 cabbage:

Choking Hazard:

Cabbage 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.

Digestion Problems:

Cabbage 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.

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.

The different types of cabbage have different rations of calcium to phosphorus, some of which have balanced, and others unbalanced, ratios 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.

Infestations:

Cabbage and other vegetables with large voluminous heads of leaves tend to harbor pests, fungi, and/or bacteria in their leafy crevices. If you are serving cabbage to your pet, make sure that you do a close inspection and a heavy washing of the cabbage for these items mentioned.

Can They Eat Cabbage Stalk or Core?

Great question!

Many bearded dragons do not like the taste of the stalk and will skip over it if given a choice.

The hard-to-chew core is also a choking hazard for your lizard, so I say no to feeding cabbage core to your pet.

chopped green cabbage in a bowl

Can They Eat Cooked Cabbage?

Do not allow your bearded dragon to have cooked cabbage.

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.

Summary:

Bearded dragons can be fed quite a plethora of fruits, vegetables, and insects safely, including cabbage.

However, it is important to know how much, how often, and how to properly serve cabbage 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.

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