Having dinner with your beardie, he’s heartily munching on veggies. You are devouring chicken; you enjoy it grilled, broiled, baked, fried…chicken pasta, chicken bake, chicken nuggets, honey butter chicken, melt-in-your-mouth chicken, the list is infinite.
A thought crosses your mind. Chicken for your bearded dragon, though? Is this a healthy option for reptiles?
Can bearded dragons eat chicken? Beardies can eat chicken, but only a very small portion on the rare occasion. Beardies don’t eat chicken in their natural habitat. Beardies are omnivorous, though. So, they can eat meat, and having a tiny nibble of chicken won’t do your beardie any harm.
A little bit of chicken for your beardie should be fine. I personally would not offer chicken to my bearded dragon. Chicken does not form part of the bearded dragon diet I have my beardies follow. I urge you to continue reading to hear me out and learn more.
Why It’s Not Recommend?
You may want to be a great beardie parent and offer him some chicken as a treat, but you really would be doing more harm than good. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why I would not recommend you feed your bearded dragon chicken.
Chicken may be packed full of protein for us humans, but it’s not as healthy for bearded dragons. Firstly, research has not proven whether it’s safe or not to feed a bearded dragon cooked chicken. Raw chicken most likely will be harmful to your beardie due to the salmonella risk.
Fat and phosphorous content levels are very high in comparison to the necessary nutrients that a beardie requires in his daily diet. The excessive phosphorous content within chicken tends to block the calcium absorption in your beardie’s body.
The consequences are dire for beardies who do not absorb sufficient calcium in their bodies. Serious health conditions such as metabolic bone disease then become a significant risk for bearded dragons.
Life will not be as pleasant for your beardie in a situation like this; avoiding chicken completely would be better for your beardie.
Bearded Dragons and Calcium
Calcium is an essential nutrient for bearded dragons to thrive and maintain bone health. Beardies grow happy and healthily with a balanced diet containing the required levels of calcium, including the correct lighting conditions.
Bearded dragons who do not obtain the required calcium from a balanced diet will have much difficulty in thriving and inevitably suffer from significant health issues.
Due to its high phosphorous content, chicken decreases the chances of calcium being sufficiently absorbed.
Beardies bodies will be forced to recycle calcium from the bones and reuse it in the event that the amount of calcium drops below the required level.
Beardies are, therefore, exposed to the risk of suffering from serious health issues such as metabolic bone disease. Why put your beardie at risk?
Nutrition of Chicken
If particular nutrients, specifically calcium, phosphorous, water, protein, fat, sugar, and fiber, are too high, bearded dragons are negatively affected.
Bearded dragons always need calcium to outweigh the phosphorous in food. It is definitely not the case with chicken.
Further, chicken contains a considerable amount of fat and high protein levels, and bearded dragons will find it quite difficult to digest if they do consume chicken.
Bearded dragons are omnivorous and can eat chicken, so if they have a few tidbits, they should be fine. You should, however, steer clear of feeding your beardie chicken because it just isn’t a food that they should be eating.
If fed chicken regularly, it can and will make them feel ill, due to its nutritional content.
How Much Chicken Can You Offer Your Beardie?
Let’s reiterate. Please do not feed your beardie chicken. If you really must, then the answer is, in extremely small amounts, once every three months.
I am against feeding chicken to bearded dragons due to the high phosphorous content, which decreases calcium absorption.
As previously mentioned, phosphorous blocks intake or the conversion of calcium. The calcium phosphorous ratio should always be 2:1. Chicken measures at a ratio of 1:16.7.
That’s ghastly! You would be depriving your bearded dragon of calcium feeding him chicken, and risk him suffering.
Diseases related to poor bone health is incredibly common in captive bearded dragons and can be triggered by calcium deficiency. Again, is it really worth the risk?
Let’s read below as to what exactly poor bone health could mean for your beardie.
Bearded Dragons and Disease Relating to Bone Health
Bearded dragons, stalwart creatures, are not at risk of suffering from ailments or serious illnesses if beardie parents ensure that the living space for their beardies is set at the appropriate temperature.
The UV lighting should be correct, and the proper humidity levels are maintained, including good housekeeping all round. More importantly, beardie parents should take care to ensure that beardies obtain optimal nutrition from a suitable diet meant for bearded dragons.
Beardie parents should carefully consider whether chicken is an appropriate snack for their beardies after reading the information below. If you get the diet wrong, the consequences are harrowing.
Calcium deficiency, amongst other factors, gives rise to an entire span of conditions that relate to fragile and brittle bones and ultimately lead to abnormal bone health for your beardie.
Calcium supports proper development and protection of bones, including appropriate muscle and cellular process functions necessary for life.
Bearded dragons deficient in calcium suffer from decreased serum blood calcium levels, which result in various conditions relating to abnormal bone health.
Young bearded dragons deficient in calcium will recycle and absorb calcium from bones to maintain healthy levels of calcium in the blood, leading to weakened bones or skeletal malformation.
One major common cause for abnormal bone health is exposure to anything which may decrease calcium levels and consequently result in a deficiency. Poor diet is a significant contributor to low levels of calcium.
The phosphorous levels in chicken are high in relation to calcium; calcium is consequently bound within the intestinal tract due to excessive phosphorous. Calcium levels are decreased and less available to be taken up by the body.
Signs and Symptoms Relating to Poor Bone Health
Beardies with poor bone health conditions will exhibit signs which vary from being less harsh to more critical. Here’s what to look out for so you can react quickly:
- Specific areas on your beardie’s body may contain lumps.
- Your beardie may not be able to move around and walk properly nor lift itself up.
- Your beardie displays jerky actions or gestures.
- Your beardie’s back legs may be swollen.
- The bones in particular areas of your beardie’s body are softened.
- Your beardie’s spine or tail appears bent.
- Your beardie’s body is deformed.
- Your beardie refuses to eat much food
- Your beardie prefers eating sand, mainly sand with calcium
- Your beardie displays a lack of energy, a lack of physical strength in his back legs, seems depressed, and experiences bouts of twitching, quivering, or epileptic fits.
So next time you are eating chicken, and you are considering offering a piece up to your beardie, please do yours a favor and think again. Protect him from the unnecessary pain that could possibly be caused by eating a little chicken.
Bearded dragons CAN eat chicken, in small amounts. I strongly advise beardie parents to avoid feeding chicken to their bearded dragons, at all costs.
Chicken is so high in phosphorous; you are putting your beardie at risk of calcium deficiency. You could potentially and unnecessarily be harming your bearded dragon, especially because calcium deficiency and poor bone health disease are prevalent with bearded dragons in captive.
So beardie parents, please lay off the chicken! With the correct diet, beardies never have to suffer, nor do you.
Please also check out this article I have written for more information. The article covers a proper beardie diet, including supplements, to make sure that you are providing your bearded dragon with everything he needs to live a healthful life.
May you and your beardie always be fine and dandy, more importantly, healthy and happy!