Look at a ripe avocado in the store, and you immediately imagine a nice bowl of guac, a yummy addition to your salad, or even just cutting it up and eating it on its own. Could your bearded dragon get in on the fun?
Can bearded dragons eat avocado? Bearded dragons should NEVER be fed avocado. These veggies have a high amount of oxalic acid. It is a killer for beardies when consumed in high doses. Even just a small amount of avocado could make the bearded dragon sick, whereas larger doses over time could mean death for your reptile.
Now you know the answer-one that could save your bearded dragon’s life. To learn more about why avocados are a terrible idea, and to learn about a safe substitute, keep reading on.
Why Are Avocados Bad?
As we briefly discussed, Oxalic acid is the reason you want to avoid giving avocado to your bearded dragon.
Oxalic acid is a compound that occurs in many plants and includes things like cocoa, nuts, veggies, and leafy greens.
In plants, this compound usually binds to minerals and thus forms oxalate. Calcium oxalate and iron oxalate are two such examples. This binding can happen in the colon and kidneys, plus other areas of the urinary tract.
Mineral Absorption Is Decreased
Your bearded dragon needs plenty of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Calcium is one such mineral beardies absolutely need in order to live healthy lives.
It presents another problem when it comes to oxalates: they inhibit the absorption of calcium and other minerals for your bearded dragon.
Oxalate binds to minerals inside the gut and stops a number of them from being absorbed, especially if your bearded dragon consumed something with fiber.
If he doesn’t get enough helpful minerals, the results could be heartbreaking. I will talk about that in just a moment.
The bottom line? Avoid fibrous foods and oxalate-rich foods. Spinach is one such example-bearded dragons like it, but it should be avoided.
More on Calcium for Beardies
I promised I would talk about why calcium mattered for bearded dragons, so here we go. I cannot stress enough how important this is for your bearded dragon-so listen up!
Bearded dragons need calcium to function at its peak. If the body of a bearded dragon is low on calcium, it takes some from the bones and leaves the poor reptile with a weakened bone system.
The amount your reptile will need is dependent upon his age. Thankfully it is easy to get, as we simply dust their food with a supplement, and everything is fine.
Here’s what you should be feeding based upon age:
- Baby dragons aged 0 to 2 months old should get calcium dusted food every day.
- Juvenile bearded dragons aged 2 to 12 months should get calcium dusted food every other day.
- Adult bearded dragons aged over a year old have a lesser calcium need, as they are fully grown. However, you should still dust the food every 2-3 days with calcium.
There is such a thing as too much calcium, and I will cover that, too. Balance in the diet is the key to a healthy bearded dragon.
Too Little Calcium: The Issues
Suppose you were feeding your beardie high oxalate foods like avocado every day or failing to dust the food with calcium. What could the effects be?
The problem is known as calcium imbalance and can be caused by:
- Having inadequate calcium in the dragon’s diet
- Having too much calcium in the diet
- No UVB/inadequate UVB, thus inhibiting calcium absorption
- Improper digestion as a result of having no heat in the habitat
Metabolic Bone Disease is the most prominent condition that occurs in bearded dragons when there is a calcium imbalance that takes place.
It leads the dragon to permanent bone damage, pain, and discomfort, and dying.
These are the symptoms of a calcium imbalance. Sadly, some people had to learn the hard way-read them now so you can avoid them (and the feelings that come with having to witness such behavior).
- Limbs can twitch or shake
- Dragon behaves in a way that is weak or lethargic
- Receding of the lower jaw
- Fracturing of bones
- Dragon eats substrate as a means of mineral balancing, may become impacted as a result
- Dragon will pull itself along which means limbs are paralyzed
Indeed, this is hard to think about when considering your precious bearded dragon. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to find out how to help your beardie absorb calcium.
Help Your Beardie Absorb Calcium
You’ve already learned that avoiding high oxalate foods is one way to keep your dragon’s calcium up. You learned that bearded dragons need calcium supplements based on their age.
But what about lighting? Let’s talk about it.
So, your dragon has the best calcium supplement and plenty of crickets. But if he doesn’t have a good UVB light, you are in trouble.
The solution? Have one before you even adopt a bearded dragon. The purpose of a UVB light is to provide a place to bask and help his body produce the necessary Vitamin D3.
Change out that lamp bulb every six months for the best results. It keeps the UVB rays fresh and gets the dragon the appropriate and adequate amount of light. It helps keep his body temperature up to an appropriate level, and aids in the digestion of food.
Help Your Beardie Avoid Kidney Stones
Bearded dragons get hard objects in their colons as opposed to what we humans know as kidney stones, but nonetheless, it is another reason why you should avoid high oxalate foods like avocado.
Here are some things you can do to help your dragon stay healthy and avoid these hard objects in the colon.
- Make sure fresh, clean water is offered all the time. Says kidney,org, “crystals form when there is too much oxalate in too little liquid in the urine.” Making sure your bearded dragon stays hydrated is critical in making sure these stones don’t have a chance to even form. Keep that water dish full.
- Offer high calcium foods to your dragon-that is, follow the calcium dusting recommendations as I talked about earlier.
- Adult beardies can have veggies every day, but make sure they are veggies your dragon can enjoy without having to worry too much about oxalate. Bok choy, kale, collard greens, broccoli, beet green, escarole, and bell peppers are some great options you can give your beardie to enjoy.
The bottom line is this: Avoid avocado thanks to its high oxalate content. There are plenty of other great veggies out there your bearded dragon can enjoy.
To sum it up:
- Avocados contain high amounts of oxalate.
- Oxalate binds to minerals like calcium and prevents them from getting absorbed.
- Too little calcium for a bearded dragon can result in paralysis of the limbs, lethargy, or even death.
- Bone structure may be permanently damaged.
- Provide a UVB light and calcium supplement according to age.
- Give your beardie other veggies to enjoy.
Thanks to the many different veggies out there, your dragon can still enjoy a balanced diet free of avocado. Enjoy!