Tomatoes are delicious and healthy, making them a great addition to salads, tacos, and other meals. They are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, making them a popular choice. Interestingly, tomatoes are regarded as both a fruit and vegetable.
Pet bearded dragons have a diverse diet that includes small vertebrates, insects, plants, vegetables, and fruits. A pet beardie owner is bound to wonder which choices are safe for the various categories. One pertinent question is whether tomatoes are safe for your beardie when it comes to its diet.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?
Bearded dragons can eat tomatoes, although this should be in small quantities. The pet will benefit from the fruit’s high Vitamin A and low oxalates. Unlike human beings who can eat both cooked and raw tomatoes, it is best to give your pet beardie raw tomatoes.
The nutritional benefits of this fruit make it a worthy consideration for a beardies diet, despite the few disadvantages it has.
Let us explore the benefits of tomatoes for beardies dragons and understand whether all tomatoes are safe and suitable for the lizard. We also get to explore other commonly asked questions about bearded dragons and tomatoes.
Tomatoes Nutritional Value per 100 g
Here are some of the most relevant nutrients in a tomato that relate to a bearded dragon’s diet.
|Name||Amount per 100 g of tomatoes|
|Vitamin A||75 ug|
|Vitamin K||7.9 ug|
|Vitamin B6||0.06 mg|
Health Benefits of Tomatoes To Bearded Dragons
Tomatoes have various benefits as a secondary meal for bearded dragons. Although they are not as nutritionally beneficial to these reptiles as green leafy vegetables, there are still reasons why you should consider including them in the beardie’s diet from time to time.
Here are the key benefits of tomatoes in a beardie’s diet.
1. Low In Sugar
Many fruits are rich in sugar, potentially affecting the pet’s digestive health. However, unlike most other fruits, tomatoes are low in sugar, making them a good fruit choice for the reptile.
Too much sugar in bearded dragons can lead to gum problems, tooth rot, diarrhea, obesity, and illness.
2. Low In Oxalates
One of the significant concerns with bearded dragons is the amount of oxalic acid in their diet. They are a naturally occurring compound in green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and veggies.
Oxalates hinder calcium absorption by binding it. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to this as low calcium levels are detrimental to a beardie’s health.
Calcium deficit puts the animal at the risk of developing metabolic bone disease and other bone-related diseases. Early signs of low calcium levels in a beardie include limping, leg tremors, and a challenge in lifting themselves off the ground.
Luckily, tomatoes are low in oxalic acid; therefore, they do not threaten the amounts of calcium your reptile absorbs.
3. Rich In Vitamins
Tomatoes have beta-carotene, and it transforms to Vitamin A once in the body. Vitamin A boosts the immune system, vision, protein synthesis, and reproduction. Even so, it is vital to understand that extremely high levels of Vitamin A can be toxic to the reptile.
If your bearded dragon is not feeding on high Vitamin A foods such as sweet potatoes or supplements with Vitamin A, then the amounts of this vitamin in tomatoes are nothing to worry about.
In addition, they have Vitamin C, which is the highest vitamin content in the fruit. The levels are ideal for your bearded dragon, and this vitamin is vital for the repair, growth, and maintenance of vital body tissues. In addition, it is a great immune booster and antioxidant.
In the absence of Vitamin C, the beardie will be at risk of contracting infections such as scurvy which affects the wound and the healing process of wounds.
Vitamin K is also present in tomatoes, although in small amounts. It aids in blood clotting wounds healing and supports bone health.
4. Contains antioxidants
Tomatoes have lycopene which is a strong antioxidant. It is red and plays a significant part in the red coloration of ripe tomatoes. The antioxidant is vital in preventing cancer, promoting a healthy heart, healthy skin, and reducing inflammation.
Risks of Tomatoes To Your Bearded Dragon
Although tomatoes are packed with antioxidants and vitamins, they are not an excellent everyday vegetable for your bearded dragon. You need to limit them to a small amount once a month.
Tomatoes will not make a great staple food choice because they pose a health risk to your pet beardie when eaten in plenty.
Here are the major risks of feeding your bearded dragon with tomatoes too frequently.
1. Vitamin A Toxicity
While the amounts of this in tomatoes are not worth worrying about as long as you are not giving your beardie tomatoes daily, it is something that is worth keeping in mind if you are also giving your bearded dragon other Vitamin A-rich foods.
Supplements with Vitamin A also increase its levels in the beardie’s body which can be toxic. High levels of vitamin A in beardies lead to health problems such as dehydration, weight loss, energy decrease, and swelling.
Tomatoes are acidic, although they contain lower citric acid than citrus fruits. Acidic foods are harmful to a bearded dragon’s digestive system and can hinder nutrient absorption in the reptile’s gut leading to nutrient deficiency or imbalance.
In addition, it can lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Because of this, tomatoes are not good frequent food for these reptiles.
3. Low Calcium Levels
Calcium is a vital mineral for beardies and most reptiles. It is even more crucial during their growth and development stage when they are young aged below 1 year. It supports the formation and growth of bones in the reptile.
In situations where there is a deficit, the beardie might suffer malformation, slow growth, metabolic bone disease, among other illnesses, some of which are irreversible in severe cases.
Tomatoes are low in calcium, putting your pet at significant risk of developing these illnesses. As such, these fruits do not make a good source of proteins on their own. It is vital that you feed your bearded dragon with calcium-rich foods to cover any deficit.
Calcium supplements are also vital for both juvenile and mature bearded dragons. They ensure that the pet gets the necessary amounts for the various needs.
4. Low Calcium: Phosphorus Ratio
Another vital nutritional concern with tomatoes for bearded dragons is the low calcium to phosphorus ratio that is recommended at a minimum of 2:1. Sadly, tomatoes have higher phosphorus than calcium, which is far below this ratio.
Phosphorus hinders calcium absorption because it binds to it. Therefore, the bearded dragon absorbs lower calcium levels into the bloodstream.
Due to this, a beardie should not be fed with high phosphorus foods, and the ratio in their diet should not fall below a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio.
In addition, binding calcium can also lead to kidney stones which is the formation of stones in an animal’s renal tract.
5. High Water Content
Tomatoes comprise about 95% of water levels. It makes them a good source of hydration but also presents a health risk. However, feeding the beardie with high water content foods can cause diarrhea which might, in turn, lead to dehydration.
These reptiles are adapted to semi-arid environments. As such, their digestive system lacks the mechanism to digest food with high water levels.
In addition to tomatoes, other high water content foods you should not frequently give to the beardie include watermelons and iceberg lettuce.
Can I Give My Baby Bearded Dragon Tomatoes?
Baby beardies are those below one year. Their diet comprises 80 % meat, and the rest is plant-based. This is significantly different from the mature ones whose diet consists of 50% meat and 50% plants.
The high protein needs support their body’s high needs for growth, development, and maturity of various organs.
It is, therefore, vital that baby bearded dragon’s diet includes nutrients rich foods. Since tomatoes are about 95% water, they are low-nutrient fruits, making them unsuitable for baby bearded dragons.
Should you opt to include them in the diet, make the tomatoes an occasional meal and do not feed them with the fruit more than once a month. The portions should also be significantly small.
Alternative and more beneficial fruits that you can give your bearded dragon instead of tomatoes include papaya, figs, apricots, dates, and mangoes. Even so, it is best to avoid fruits with bearded dragons totally.
As for adult bearded dragons, tomatoes are a safer fruit than babies. Their diet also allows more room for vegetables and fruits.
Effective Tips On How To Serve Tomatoes To A Bearded Dragon
Tomatoes are an occasional decent treat for bearded dragons. In general, you should provide the reptile with no more than a quarter of tomato within one month.
Start by choosing fresh red tomatoes. They should not be rotten, and you should also not give them to the pet if they are not fully ripe. Remove any greenery attachment such as a vine. Next, thoroughly wash them to remove any pesticide residues, dirt, or chemicals they may have.
Once clean, slice the tomato into a quarter and remove the pulp and seeds. These two contain toxins that are poisonous to beardies, especially the young ones. Chop the quarter slice to make it easy for the bearded dragon to bite and chew. You may then give the sliced tomato to your pet beardie mixed with vegetables or on its own.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomato Leaves and Stems?
No, You should not feed your pet beardie with tomato stems or leaves. In addition, you shouldn’t let the pet nibble on the plant’s flowers or vine. The tomato plant is a part of the nightshade family, which is poisonous to the reptile.
Other than the tomato fruit, all the other parts of the plant comprise harmful alkaloids such as solanine and tomatine, which can be fatal to the beardie and should thus be avoided. When consumed in large amounts, tomatine causes gastrointestinal problems and damages the liver and heart.
Can I Give My Bearded Dragon Canned Tomatoes?
No, Canned tomatoes are not suitable for bearded dragons. They contain preservatives, sodium, and other kinds of seasoning that may affect the beardie’s digestion.
When choosing foods for this reptile, it is worth remembering that its body is adapted for the foods in the wild environments, and some of the additives in human foods might be fatal to the bearded dragons.
In addition, green tomatoes are also not safe for a bearded dragon. They, too, contain tomatine and solanine, the toxic alkaloid.
Heirloom tomatoes are green when unripe and ripe. It can be confusing, and to avoid taking a risk; you should avoid them.
They also come in other colors such as yellow, black, and purple, which are safe for your pet beardie but only if given in sparingly.
Which Types Of Tomatoes Can I Give My Bearded Dragon?
Cherry tomatoes are safe for bearded dragons because they too contain vital antioxidants and vitamins. However, you should adhere to the feeding guidelines of minimal amounts monthly and remove the pulp and seeds before chopping them for the bearded dragon.
As with the regular tomatoes, you should only stick to fresh and ripe ones; canned and unripe cherry tomatoes are unsuitable for a bearded dragon.
The grape tomato is another type of small tomato you can give the bearded dragon. They, too, are small, but you should still slice them into bite-size pieces to avoid a choking hazard. However, they are high in sugar and can therefore cause stomach upsets.
As for plum tomatoes, they are also a good option, mainly because they contain lower water volumes than ordinary tomatoes.
Alternative Fruits and Vegetables For Bearded Dragons
You can decide to totally avoid feeding your beardie with tomatoes, which is okay. In such a case, you need to consider healthier and safer alternatives for your pet. These alternatives include apples, squash, cabbage, bell peppers, green beans, collard greens, sweet potato, zucchini, mangoes, and turnip greens.
These alternatives, especially the green leafy vegetables, can be a good choice for forming a staple meal for the beardie. The vegetables have plenty of vitamins and minerals that play a vital role in keeping your pet in perfect health.
How Often Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon With Tomatoes?
It is best to give a beardie a quarter of tomato once a month. You may opt to spread the quarter tomato size over the month, but the cumulative amount in a month should not exceed the size of a quarter tomato. Tomatoes and fruits do not comprise a significant part of the reptile’s diet, and you should therefore limit their intake.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomato Worms?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat tomato worms. Tomato worms are also called hornworms, and they are safe for bearded dragons. Even so, you should ensure that you get them from a source that rears them without using pesticides.
Hornworms grown with pesticides might have chemical residues that might harm your pet, while those from the wild might have parasites.
These worms are a major pest in tomato plants and provide your reptile with an excellent protein source. Although rich in proteins, tomato worms should not be a staple meal in your bearded dragon’s diet.
They have high-fat content that might lead to overweight or obesity challenges in the pet.
One or two times a week will be sufficient, and you should dust them with calcium to ensure that your pet gets sufficient amounts of this vital mineral.
What Can’t A Bearded Dragon Eat?
A beardies diet is omnivorous, comprising of both animal protein and plants. Not all of them are safe, and there are several foods you should never feed your beardie with because they are toxic to the reptile.
Unsafe foods for a bearded dragon include avocados, garlic, onions, beef, bread, eggplant, fireflies, fish, spiders, ticks, chicken, and iceberg lettuce. Besides, it would be best if you did not feed a bearded dragon with foods from the wild.
Bearded dragons love the taste of tomatoes. Tomatoes provide the reptile with various antioxidants and vitamins besides being hydrating. However, they are low on calcium, acidic, have low calcium to phosphorus ratio, and have high Vitamin A levels.
The tomato content makes it an excellent occasional meal choice for a beardie but should not be part of their staple diet.
Go for red tomatoes, as unripe ones contain flavonoids that are harmful to your pet. Cherry tomatoes are also suitable for a beardie, but you should still adhere to giving a small amount once a month. Grape tomatoes are high in sugar and thus do not make an ideal tomato choice for a beardy.
We hope that you now feel more confident in making the most suitable meal choices for your bearded dragon with this article.