One of the issues with feeding a bearded dragon is finding a large enough variety of fruits, veggies and greens.
The fact that they can be picky eaters doesn’t help matters any.
Radishes are cheap, and easily available, so I found myself wondering, can bearded dragons eat radishes?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat radish greens regularly, as they are very healthy. They can also eat the radish fruit occasionally and in small amounts. Radish leaves are nutritious vegetables high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium and fiber and can offer your dragon a tasty and healthy treat alternative.
So, if you are stuck with feeding your dragon the same food every day, have a look at the section below on why to include radish leaves in their diet and find some inspiration for sprucing up their meals.
Why radish greens?
Although we as humans often throw the greens away and opt for the spicier red fruit of the radish, the greens are surprisingly tasty and very nutritious. A good source of bearded dragon nutritional information is the dragon tales blog. Let’s have a look at the minerals and vitamins these leaves can offer your beardie.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid). This vitamin helps maintain a healthy skin and digestive system in beardies. If your dragon eats a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and citrus you will not need to supplement him with it. It is also produced in the kidneys and digestive tract of reptiles so vitamin C deficiencies in beardies are rare.
- Vitamin B6. The B vitamins are all linked to a healthy nervous system as well as properly functioning muscles. Deficiencies can result in paralysis or flaccid limbs.
- Magnesium. Magnesium is essential for your dragon’s skeletal development, nerve function and hormonal balance and is thus a very important element in their diet.
- Phosphorus. The metabolism of this mineral is strongly linked to that of calcium, and a phosphorus deficiency will most likely lead to a calcium deficiency and sub-optimal skeletal development.
- Iron. This mineral is necessary for healthy blood and the prevention of anemia. Dragons can overdose on iron, which can cause long-term health issues so monitor your dragon’s iron intake carefully.
- Calcium. This is probably one of the most important minerals for your dragon, as they need it for proper bone development and egg production. Thus, this mineral is vital for juveniles and gravid females. Make sure to provide enough vitamin D3 along with calcium as dragons cannot metabolize calcium without it. Adequate exposure to UV light helps with the production of D vitamins, so the addition of a UV light or access to enough natural sunlight will help with calcium absorption.
- Vitamin A. This vitamin is used by the body for reproduction, bone development, vision and skin health. Dragons can overdose on vitamin A as they can store it in their bodies, so make sure to alternate the radish leaves with other greens to offer a variety. Vegetables with carotene compounds such as squash and carrots can be given on radish free days as carotene can be converted to vitamin A in the body.
- Potassium. This mineral helps with the optimal functioning of the kidneys in reptiles and deficiencies can lead to kidney problems or disease.
- Fiber. As with humans, fiber is needed for the proper functioning of your dragon’s digestive system, which includes proper water absorption.
How to include radish greens in your beardie’s diet
As mentioned before it is important to give your dragons a wide variety and diverse diet that includes lots of greens, fruits, vegetables and insects. You should also vary the diet to include different combinations of food items on different days to keep your dragon healthy. Always make sure to chop the food items into smaller pieces as they cannot chew their food.
If a dragon refuses to eat certain foods, especially if the item is new, you can consider one of the following strategies.
- Feed the new item when you are sure your dragon is very hungry. This may encourage him to try new things and sample your radish leaves.
- Try feeding the radish leaves as a snack, instead of in a salad. You can even try feeding by hand if your dragon is keen on taking food that way.
- Alter the way in which you feed him, so for example try to scatter the leaves on the enclosure floor instead of in his bowl, to encourage him to scavenge.
Once you are confident that he likes radish greens, you can include these periodically in salad mixes to increase the diversity of his daily nutrition. Here is a guide from beardeddragon.org to help you formulate a balanced salad for your dragon.
- Create a list of the dragon salad ingredients you have access to and divide them into three main groups, namely:
- Greens – these include kale, lettuce, collard greens, dandelion greens and off course radish leaves.
- Vegetables – such as squashes, peppers, sprouts, carrots and on occasion radish fruit.
- Fruits – for example apples, berries, citrus, pineapple and papaya.
- Now, to formulate your salad choose three items from your greens list. Make sure to mix these up to include all of them in his diet regularly.
- Choose two items from the vegetables list to add to your salad.
- Lastly choose one fruit to include. Papaya is a good option as it is very nutritious. Most fruit are good for snacks, but large amounts of these can cause weight and other health problems – so use them sparingly.
- You can chop all of the items up by hand or in a food processor if you wish. Fruit that produce a lot of juice, such as papaya, should be chopped by hand and placed in a separate bowl, to prevent the juice from spoiling the salad.
- Lastly, sprinkle the salad with a high quality mineral and vitamin powder.
- Serve and let your beardie enjoy!
So there you have it – a good recipe for a dragon salad! I hope you have enjoyed the post and if you are not already doing so, that you will consider including radish greens in your dragon’s diet.