Yes, bearded dragons can eat carrots. Carrots have a lot of benefits that people can derive. They are considered an essential part of the human diet as they are the source of several crucial vitamins. Whether the same can be said for your beardies is what we seek to answer in this article.
We will explore whether it is safe to feed carrots to your dragon and, if so, the benefits and how you should go about it.
Benefits of Carrot Meals
Just like in human beings, there are some excellent nutritional benefits for your bearded dragons when you incorporate carrots in their meals.
Carrots are good sources of essential nutrients like Vitamin A, dietary fiber, and beta-carotene.
Vitamin A and beta-carotene are vital in boosting the immune system, maintaining eye health, and ensuring healthy skin.
On the other hand, dietary fiber aids in digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. It also helps ensure a healthy exoskeleton which is necessary, especially in young beardies.
Even with all these benefits, it is essential to ensure that feeding carrots to your dragons are done in moderation and substituted with other nutritious vegetables to aid digestion.
Another good source of vegetables is carrot tops.
Negative Impacts of Excessive Carrots
While carrots are good for your beardies, it is good to exercise moderation when feeding your beardies. Some unhealthy side effects may result from your beardie eating excessive carrots. Some of these include:
1. Vitamin A Toxicity
Too much vitamin A becomes toxic for your beardie. While the beardie needs vitamin A, it can become excessive, affecting its proper body functions.
Vitamin A toxicity is associated with several symptoms like swelling, dehydration, weight loss, decreased energy, and a low appetite.
2. Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
Too many carrots can cause metabolic bone disease, which results from low calcium levels in the body. Calcium is the mineral responsible for the proper growth and development of your beardies bones and exoskeleton.
Carrots contain high levels of phosphorous, which, although beneficial in small amounts, in large quantities of it can be dangerous.
In large doses, phosphorous binds with calcium in your beardies’ body to form a compound that is hard to absorb in the body. Thus, high phosphorous levels may result in a lower rate of calcium absorption.
If your beardie feeds on so many carrots, it may cause indigestion. Since bearded dragons are omnivorous, their digestive system is not well-adapted to handle the digestion of too many carrots.
For this reason, if you feed excessive carrots to your beardies, it may result in indigestion.
How Many Types of Carrots Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
When it comes to feeding your beardies with carrots, you may wonder whether it is okay to feed the different types of carrots available.
From baby carrots to steamed and purple carrots, there will be variations on what each type of carrot can offer to your bearded dragon.
Below are some comparisons of different types and forms of carrots that are worth noting and their benefits to the lizard.
All Color Carrots
Carrots come in various colors, and while they may seem so different, they all share significant properties like nutrient contents.
Whether you like the yellow or the red, purple or the white carrots, they also have the same nutrients, and it all depends on your preference. Whichever color you choose, your beardie will get the same nutrients.
Raw vs Cooked
Another concern that most beardie owners struggle with is whether to feed their beardies raw or cooked carrots. The good news is that your beardie can comfortably eat both types.
When working with a raw carrot, it requires some work as you will need to cut the carrots into small pieces or grate them so that your beardie is not at the risk of choking.
Preparing raw carrots involves more work, but the carrots are more nutritious than the cooked ones. For your beardies’ well-being, it is worth putting in the extra work becue it ensures that you give it optimally healthy food.
Large vs Baby Carrots
Most bearded dragon owners prefer feeding large carrots to their beardies than baby carrots. There is a good reason behind this.
Most baby carrots have a lot of preservatives, especially when they have not been thoroughly washed.
When feeding your beardies, try to avoid chemicals as they can cause harm to your bearded dragon. Baby carrots may also have a lot of chemical residues, which is not healthy for your beardie.
If you want to feed baby carrots to your beardies, the best suggestion would be to grow them yourself organically, free from any chemicals and preservatives.
Can You Feed Your Bearded Dragon Carrot Tops?
Another good substitute for carrots is carrot tops. The fresh greens make a good alternative for your beardies in terms of their dietary needs. Carrots offer a variety of vitamins like Vitamin A, C, and B6.
Besides vitamins, your beardies will also enjoy minerals like calcium and potassium. These are crucial for the skeletal development of your beardie. In addition, calcium helps to strengthen your beardies’ bones.
Side Effects of Excessive Carrot Tops
Several negative impacts can result from feeding your beardie too many carrot tops. First, carrot tops are rich in oxalates which bind with calcium, thus preventing its absorption in the bloodstream.
Low calcium levels in the bloodstream result in a severe bone disease called Metabolic Bone Disease, which weakens your beardies bone structure.
The second reason you should not feed excessive carrot tops is that they can cause kidney stones.
Oxalates contain a lot of different types of salt, which end up in your beardie’s kidneys; excessive intake of carrot tops will cause an accumulation of these salts in the kidneys, resulting in kidney stones that are very painful and uncomfortable for your beardie.
The high levels of Vitamin A in carrot tops, while it may be good in small doses, too much of it can result in Hypervitaminosis A, or in other words, an overdose of vitamin A.
The effects of Vitamin A overdose in carrot tops are similar to those of carrots, and they include swelling, weight loss, decreased appetite, and dehydration.
Carrot tops should be fed as treats and not staple foods to avoid the above side effects. Feeding the beardies with carrots once a month is an ideal frequency.
There are other different vegetables that you may turn to that have less adverse effects than carrot tops.
How Do I Give My Bearded Dragons Carrots and Carrot Tops?
When preparing carrots and carrot tops for your beardies, it is crucial to ensure that they are safe for your beardies to eat. Safe means there is a reduced risk of your beardies choking.
It also means that the carrots and carrot tops are free of any chemical residues and preservatives that may be harmful to your bearded dragon.
Here are tips on preparing carrots and carrot tops for bearded dragons.
- Thoroughly wash the carrots using running water and a brush to ensure that they are free from any mud. For the carrot tops, use running water while rubbing them between your hands to ensure no dust or chemical residues are left.
- Use a cheese grater to slice the carrots. Doing so will significantly reduce the risk of your beardies choking on them. For the carrot tops, chop them into small pieces that are easy to chew.
- You may choose to feed them separately or with a salad; either way, your beardies will enjoy the meal!
- If you choose to feed your beardies steamed or cooked carrots, you may consider slicing or chopping them up into smaller pieces to make it easier for your beardie to eat.
How Many Carrots Can Bearded Dragons Eat?
When left on their own, bearded dragons can feed on too many carrots to the extent that they suffer indigestion.
Due to the sweet nature of carrots, your beardies may not know when to stop, and it is upon you to control the number of carrots the pet eats.
We have already seen that carrots are essential for your dragons’ proper growth when fed in moderation.
The problem arises when you feed the pet too much of them. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that you are conscious of the quantity and frequency at which you provide the carrots.
The recommended feeding frequency is about once every week and in small portions. Anything more than that may prove harmful for your dragons.
The same applies to the carrot tops. Excessive feeding on carrot tops can cause your dragons to suffer from vitamin A overdose.
In addition, if they contain preservatives and chemicals, these might poison your beardie, especially when they feed on excessive carrot tops.
Thoroughly clean your carrot tops before feeding your dragon to reduce the chances of poisoning.
What Can Bearded Dragons Eat as Vegetables?
Due to the adverse effects resulting from too many carrots and carrots tops, it is essential to get alternative vegetables that your beardies can feed on without suffering these effects.
There are a variety of vegetables and greens that your dragons can enjoy daily and will serve as a good alternative to carrots and carrot tops.
Below is a list of the vegetables of safe vegetables you can feed your beardies daily and those you can give as occasional treats.
Each of them has its advantages over the other, allowing you to choose what to feed your beardie as per its dietary needs.
Best Greens to Feed Your Beardie
These are greens and vegetables that you can safely feed your beardie daily without experiencing any significant side effects.
1. Cactus Pad
As a desert delicacy, a cactus is rich in Vitamin A and C and contains high antioxidants and fiber levels.
Carefully navigate the sharp thorns on the outer surface and curve the fleshy inner coat. Wash it and cut it into small pieces. Your beardie will largely benefit.
2. Dandelion Leaves
They are rich in vitamin A and calcium, which are essential elements for the proper growth of your beardie.
Since they have moderate levels of oxalates, it is best to feed them together with another green high in calcium.
3. Mustard Greens
The peppery taste in mustard greens becomes irresistible for your beardies. The taste, compounded with the fact that they are rich in calcium, Vitamins A, C, and K, makes them a great staple green for your beardie.
You can consider serving them with collard greens to offset the elevated levels of oxalates.
4. Turnip Greens
Turnip greens are known to be rich in calcium, Vitamin A, and C. Their spicy taste makes them an exciting delicacy for your beardies.
The only disadvantage is the high levels of oxalates which means that you should watch the proportions you feed your beardies.
Cabbage has high levels of essential nutrients like potassium, calcium, fiber, and Vitamin C. It is an excellent complement to salad and will boost your dragon’s health.
The above vegetables are just a few of the safe alternatives to choose from. The most important thing to do is to consider the levels of both nutrients and harmful components in a vegetable before choosing it as a staple vegetable for your beardie.
Staple vegetables should have as few harmful components as possible.
It is evident that carrots and carrots tops are essential vegetables for your dragons. However, it would be best to feed them to your dragons in moderation since high levels of Vitamin A may not be suitable for your dragons.
Instead of relying on carrots alone, you can mix them with other vegetables to reduce the carrot proportions you feed your dragons.
Further, it is essential to ensure that the vegetables you feed your pet beard are free from preservatives and chemicals. You can do this by ensuring that you wash them thoroughly before feeding them to your beardie.
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