The Good And Bad Of Feeding Zucchini To Bearded Dragons
We see zucchini as a healthy and tasty food choice for us. For this reason, many bearded dragon owners consider tossing it into their beardie’s meal rotation. Now you might ask: “Can bearded dragons eat zucchini?”.
The short answer is yes, bearded dragons can eat zucchini, but it should only be offered infrequently and in moderation.
In this article, we look at the nutritional value of zucchini, the good and bad factors of zucchini for bearded dragons, and much more.
Nutritional Value Of Zucchini
Taking a look at the nutritional value of zucchini will help you decide if it is a good mealtime choice.
Nutritional information of zucchini per 100g
|Total lipid (fat)||0.32 g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||3.11 g|
|Vitamin C||17.9 mg|
|Vitamin D (D2+3)||0 ug|
|Vitamin B6||0.163 mg|
|Vitamin A||10 ug|
|Vitamin E||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin K||4.3 ug|
Read on to find out how the above-mentioned nutritional information impact your bearded dragon.
Health Benefits Of Feeding Bearded Dragons Zucchini
A little zucchini occasionally offers the following nutrients that bearded dragons require:
Antioxidants – Prevent inflammation
Vitamin A and C – These are key for growth, a healthy immune system, vision, reproduction, and organ and tissue maintenance and repair.
Vitamin K – Regulates blood clotting and aids in bone and overall health.
Vitamin B6 and Folate – Boost energy and help maintain the nervous system.
Fiber – Supports an excellent digestive system
Thiamine – Helps maintain nervous tissue health
Manganese – Aids metabolism
Magnesium – Promotes brain and muscle health
Potassium – Regulates blood pressure and nerve function
Risks Of Feeding Your Pet Bearded Dragon Zucchini
From the benefits of zucchini in your bearded dragon’s diet, there are plenty good vitamins and minerals. However, zucchini ultimately falls short due to issues relating to calcium.
Zucchini is relatively low in calcium, with just 16mg per 100mg serving. Calcium-rich foods are essential for bearded dragons; they need them for overall health and strong bones. Usually, bearded dragons get more calcium from plants than insects; it is vital to ensure the vegetables they eat are rich in calcium. Zucchini is not rich in calcium, and therefore it is not recommended to fill your beardie’s salad bowl with it daily.
Poor Calcium to Phosphorus ratio
Looking at the nutritional value, it is clear that there is a lot more phosphorus than calcium in zucchini. The ratio is 1:4.4, with phosphorus being predominant. This ratio places zucchini out of the recommended range for regular consumption. The ideal healthy range should be 1:1 to 2.:1, calcium to phosphorus.
Risk of Metabolic Bone Disease
Since zucchini has higher phosphorus levels than calcium, it can make your bearded dragon sick when they overeat it. Phosphorus binds with calcium in the body and prevents calcium absorption into the bloodstream.
Too much phosphorus over time will deplete your pet bearded dragon’s own calcium supply, which can result in calcium deficiency and ultimately metabolic bone disease.
Alert your vet immediately if you notice any signs of metabolic bone disease in your bearded dragon. These include:
- Lack of appetite
- Lethargy and weakness
- Receded lower jaw
- Swollen limbs and jaw
- Bumps along the spine or bones
- Soft jaw, and facial bones
- Bowed limbs and arched spine
- Fractures and broken bones
- Greenstick fractures (folded or bent bones)
- Trembling and twitching limbs
- Tremors and seizures
- Paralysis or difficulty moving
How Often Can Bearded Dragons Eat Zucchini?
At most, you should only feed your pet reptile zucchini once a month. If you are feeding your beardie other foods with low calcium levels and high phosphorus or oxalate levels, you may want to consider feeding zucchini even less.
During those feedings, limit the snacks to no more than a handful of pieces.
How To Prepare Zucchini For Bearded Dragons
As a bearded dragon owner, you must be aware that, like all vegetables and fruit, there is some preparation involved to ensure the food is safe and ready for your beardie to eat. Here are some quick and easy preparation tips.
Choose Raw, Organic Zucchini
Organically grown zucchini is the best option for your bearded dragon. Store-bought zucchini is fine too, but you might inadvertently expose your bearded dragon to harmful toxins.
Organic vegetables are grown without chemical fertilizers or sprays and don’t have any residue that can cause harm.
You should not feed zucchini leaves and seeds of the zucchini plant to your bearded dragon.
Do not let your bearded dragon eat cooked zucchini. During the cooking process, food is stripped of its essential nutrients.
Bearded dragons can eat frozen zucchini if you have no other option, but make sure it is properly thawed before feeding it to your bearded dragon.
Wash And Inspect
Wash the zucchini and examine it closely. Throw out any zucchini with physical deformities. These zucchini are prone to insect infestation. Insects can spread parasites and disease-causing pathogens.
Peel The Zucchini
Raw zucchini has a waxy peel that you need to remove.
Using a potato peeler, strip the tough outer layer off until you see the light-green flesh inside. Make sure to remove all the peel. Even the tiniest piece of skin can cause get stuck in your bearded dragon’s throat, causing him to choke.
Slice And Serve
Once the zucchini is peeled, slice the raw zucchini into manageable pieces. These pieces must not be bigger than the space between your beardie’s eyes.
How you serve the zucchini is totally up to you. Many bearded dragons do not have a problem eating the zucchini on its own. We suggest you feed zucchini to your beardie as a healthy salad with the most suitable greens such as collard greens, dandelion greens, and more.
Always remember to remove uneaten food from your bearded dragon’s terrarium. Spoiled food can be harmful to your bearded dragon.
It is essential to understand that vegetables like zucchini are not the best food to offer your bearded dragon. They can make the occasional yummy treat, but they should never be a staple.
We recommend that before feeding any food item to your beardie, you must try to understand what it can offer in terms of nutrition. Even if a food item seems healthy, there can be health risks.
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