Bananas are great, and they are found at grocery stores everywhere. We know that dragons enjoy eating fruit as part of a healthy diet, so could bananas be an option for your reptile to enjoy?
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bananas? Yes, bananas are a safe fruit for your beardie to enjoy. It should only be given occasionally. I personally only give my dragons fruit about once a week in limited quantity-and bananas are no exception. Keeping it to a minimum will ensure bananas are a safe treat.
Now you know that bananas are meant to be an occasional treat, but why is this? Keep reading on to find out all you need to know about bearded dragons eating bananas.
What’s in A Banana (For Beardies)?
Bananas are great for us humans, but for bearded dragons, it is a different story. The fruit is high in phosphorus. Phosphorus is known for binding to calcium, which can lead to MBD (metabolic bone disease) in bearded dragons.
The dragon may run the risk of becoming calcium deficient and could end up with very weak bones as a result of eating too much banana.
Aside from that, what else is in a banana?
Here’s what you get with 100g of banana:
- Calcium 5 mg
- Phosphorus 22mg
- Iron .3 mg
- Sodium 1 g
- Magnesium 27g
Aside from this, bananas have lots of natural sugar, which is not good for your bearded dragon. Too much sugar can lead a bearded dragon to become obese.
Why Give A Bearded Dragon A Banana?
For starters, it is a fun way to give your dragon some enrichment in his life.
Eating a new food can be a fun way to break up the usual routine of crickets, roaches, and veggies. Plus, keeping it rare will make it enjoyable and special for your dragon.
Aside from being a treat, the texture of a banana is soft. It’s easy to chew and enjoy for your dragon!
Plus, dragons can eat the skin with no fear. If a piece gets into the habitat by accident and your beardie eats it, it won’t bring any harm.
Why Keep It Occasional?
Your dragon is going to love bananas and will possibly cutely stare at you in hopes you cut another small piece off. Resist the urge to do this and now we will find out why.
Once again, the high phosphorus levels in the banana are the main point of concern. Bearded dragons need lots of calcium to maintain healthy bones-this is why you dust their food with a calcium supplement.
Phosphorus binds with calcium. But how? And what are the effects?
Phosphate and Calcium Balance
To learn about why the balance of calcium and phosphate matter, I had a look at a fact sheet from Kidney Health Australia.
For starters, what is phosphate? It is a mineral that combines with calcium and thus forms the hardness of our teeth and bones.
Calcium is stored in bones, and dragons need it to stay healthy. Dragons get calcium from the food they eat, and if the levels are too low, calcium is taken from the bones to make up the difference.
Kidneys are the regulators of calcium and phosphate in the body, and if their function is compromised, excess phosphate cannot be expelled. It will build in the body of the dragon and bind to calcium, which lowers the levels of calcium in the body.
Thus, calcium is pulled from the bones of the bearded dragon, leading them to be deformed and weak or develop MBD.
Let’s talk about the effects of metabolic bone disease and how to prevent it.
Signs of MBD
If your bearded dragon has the metabolic bone disease, look for the following signs:
- Muscle tremors, twitches, especially in fingers and toes
- They have a difficult time walking around and may be unable to control their back legs.
- You feel hard knots under the scales as you feel the bones of your dragon.
- The jaw may recede, and bones are easily broken as a result of not being healthy.
You must monitor your dragon every day to make sure that none of these symptoms happen. If you do notice them occurring, get to a veterinarian right away.
Make sure you keep fruits to an occasional basis, feed live food 2 to 3 times a week for adults and veggies 6 out of 7 days. I recommend day 7 as a fasting day, where you offer nothing but water. Be sure that you are providing adequate light and calcium when feeding your dragon.
Preventing Metabolic Bone Disease
You are probably wondering at this point what you can do to ensure your dragon is always in balance when it comes to calcium and phosphorus.
Thankfully, it is not so difficult. Start by providing your beardies a great calcium supplement like this one.
without vitamin D3. Too much Vitamin D3 could harm your dragon, and he can get that through proper UVB lighting.
A good UVB bulb is this Reptisun. You replace these lights every six months.
Make sure you do not make the mistake of thinking the sun will keep your dragon healthy- UVB waves cannot pass through glass. This bulb is your one-stop shop to making sure your reptile is healthy and getting the necessary light.
Keep the basking place nice and warm, too. 95 to 100F is just fine for the basking spot. It helps them metabolize and digest their food properly.
High Oxalate Foods: Avoid These, Too
So, I want to reiterate: Bananas are not harmful to your dragon. A small piece will not hurt them. Large quantities, on the other hand, will.
Other foods are like this, too, specifically high oxalate foods. Spinach is one such example. The oxalates in this food bind to calcium, which causes the calcium to leave your dragon’s body in the form of waste.
Better options for the bearded dragon include collard greens, turnip greens, or even green beans.
Serving A Banana
Now that you know the dangers of feeding too much banana, let’s learn how to feed your bearded dragon a banana the right way.
First, peel the banana and cut them into small coins. Then, quarter the bananas, so they are easy to consume.
You can set them into a serving dish for your dragon to enjoy. I give my dragons two small “banana coins” chopped up into 8 tiny pieces, and that’s it. I usually only give this once a month, if that.
Now you know about what it means to feed a banana to your bearded dragon. Again, it’s nothing to be afraid of- bearded dragons really love these fruits, and if they eat one, it’s OK. Even the skin is perfectly fine if consumed.
That being said, it is akin to humans eating candy. Too much of it would lead to nutritional deficiency. It’s best to provide them live food like dubia roaches, crickets and locusts, and healthy veggies. Water should always be available, and tank temperatures should be monitored closely.
Keep your servings of bananas to a minimum, and you will not open yourself up to ailments like metabolic bone disease or an obese, lethargic bearded dragon.