Kale is all the rage right now, with people putting it into smoothies, salads, and even making chips out of it. Could your bearded dragon get in on the kale craze? Does it make a good snack for reptiles?
Can bearded dragons eat kale? Yes, bearded dragons can eat kale as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Kale has large amounts of calcium, which is needed for your dragon to have healthy bones. It is low in calories and is mostly water, so your beardie doesn’t have to worry so much about weight gain when eating this veggie.
Now that you know, beardies can enjoy kale in moderation. But how do you serve it? Is there anything to be concerned about? Read on to find out how to feed kale to your reptile safely.
What’s in Kale?
Now, let’s talk about the nutritional content of kale.
This data is taken from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). It is the nutritional content of 100g of kale.
- 6 g is water
- 35 calories in this serving size
- 9 g of protein
- 49 g of fat
- 4 g of carbs
- .9 g of sugar
- 254 mg of calcium
- 2 g of fibre
- 93 mg of Vitamin C
- 241 mg of Vitamin A
- 389 µg of Vitamin K
As you can see, this is a pretty nutritious veggie. The benefits speak for themselves- for example. Vitamin C is excellent for immune system support. Meanwhile, Vitamin K can be synthesized by the intestines of reptiles, but deficiencies can occur if your beardie is using oral antibiotics on a long-term basis.
And the calcium is excellent for helping the bearded dragon stay healthy and avoid ailments associated with calcium deficiency.
So, Is It Safe to Give?
Yes! Bearded dragons in the adult stages should be eating veggies six out of 7 days. (The 7th day should be a fast day with just water for bearded dragons). Kale is one such veggie you can give without having to worry so much about how much you’ve given them.
Granted, you can’t set the whole bag in the enclosure and let them run wild. Bearded dragons need a balanced diet of live food like crickets, locusts, and dubia roaches, plus a variety of veggies to keep it interesting and keep their vitamins and minerals up.
Aren’t There Oxalates in Kale?
If you don’t know what an oxalate is, fear not- we will discuss it now. Oxalates are compounds that you find in nearly every fruit and veggie to some extent. These are something to reckon with when you own a beardie because Oxalates bind to calcium and inhibit their absorption.
Oxalates will bind to calcium during digestion in the stomach and intestines and end up leaving the body in fecal matter. Oxalates that do not bind to calcium end up leaving the body in the form of urine after they’ve passed through the kidneys.
Kidney stones are mostly oxalate calcium-8 out of ten, in fact, according to kidney.org.
If there are too much oxalate and too few liquids in the urine, the fragments of oxalate create crystals. These crystals increase and begin to stick together and thus form a kidney stone as a result.
Thankfully, kale has really low amounts of oxalate. You can feed this green to your beardie with no fear at all. On the other hand, here are some veggies you should watch out for that are known to be high in oxalate, according to oxalate.org:
- Spinach- 970 mg
- Watercress – 310 mg
- Collards- 450 mg
- Broccoli – 190 mg
Why Does Calcium Matter?
We learned earlier that there is 254 mg of calcium in a 100g serving of kale. Why should this make you and your beardie jump for joy?
Without a diet that is rich in the mineral, your bearded dragon will likely contract a metabolic bone disease or display the signs of a calcium deficiency. (Side note: These symptoms are painful for the bearded dragon and quite heartbreaking to watch if you are a bearded dragon owner.)
Now don’t misunderstand me here-you cannot give kale as a substitute for a good calcium supplement. Kale can be offered as a daily veggie, but you should still make sure your beardie gets his food dusted with an appropriate mineral supplement.
Here are the guidelines you should follow to ensure your dragon gets the best dose of calcium possible.
- Adults that are aged one year and up should be getting calcium dusted food every 2-3 days.
- Juvenile dragons aged 2 to 12 months old should be given calcium every other day.
- Baby dragons aged 0 to 2 months should be given calcium dusted food every day.
Make sure to serve calcium in moderation- too much of a good thing can be just as bad as too little of it. You can check out my article here on calcium for beardies for more info.
What If My Dragon Doesn’t Get Enough Calcium?
If your bearded dragon eats too little calcium, a calcium imbalance will occur. It will also happen if they eat too much calcium.
If you are not supplying a UVB light for your beardie, this can lead to impaired calcium absorption. It can also happen if your UVB light is not adequate.
Metabolic Bone Disease is a real threat when it comes to your bearded dragon. The disease leads the dragon to feel pain and extreme discomfort. It can also result in death.
The symptoms are painful to think about when you imagine your bearded dragon. Learn about them here, so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
- Limbs may twitch or shake
- Bearded dragon may eat substrate which can lead to impaction- this is done out of a need to balance the minerals in the body
- Bone fractures can occur
- Lower jaw may recede
- Dragon becomes lethargic, looks weak
- The beardie may drag itself around the habitat because the legs are paralyzed
The bottom line? Don’t fear this stuff- just get yourself a good calcium powder and apply as I suggested above. Also, supplement with good veggies like kale to keep that calcium at optimum levels.
Preparing the Kale
Begin by selecting good, fresh kale at your grocery store. Look for kale that is bright green in color, not yellow.
Bring it home and wash it immediately. If you are not going to serve your beardie that day, store it in an airtight container surrounded by a paper towel. Kale lasts for about three days this way.
When you are ready to serve it to your beardie, wash your hands and get a cutting board and a knife to cut it up into small pieces for your dragon to enjoy. (Kids, make sure to ask for help). Offer a small amount at first to see if they like it, and then give them a little more if they enjoy it.
Make sure you remove any uneaten kale after mealtime is over.
Now you know- kale is great to serve to your bearded dragon as part of their daily veggie intake. Given that it can be found just about anywhere, it makes a great and inexpensive choice. Enjoy this nutritious green with your beardie!