Last updated on March 2nd, 2023 at 03:50 pm
The general feeding guidelines for bearded dragons (see our in-depth feeding guide here and a complete food list here) are to feed them “greens” along with an insect protein source.
When beardie owners head to the grocery store to buy “greens” for their pets, it’s easy to see why they immediately reach for lettuce. It’s easy to find, inexpensive, and the right color. Surely lettuce counts as “greens,” right?
Well, kind of. Sometimes, picking out the right food for your bearded dragon is easy. Other times, it can be confusing, especially if you start Googling things like “can bearded dragons eat lettuce?”!
This is especially true of lettuce. Some people will tell you that lettuce is a fine food for your scaly friend. Others will tell you never to feed it to them. People will even tell you that some kinds of lettuce are good while others are bad. Since all sides can make a convincing argument, it’s hard to know whether or not lettuce makes a good food or not!
What can make matters worse is that lettuce might be the only “greens” your local grocery store even carries!
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Lettuce?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat lettuce, but not as a daily staple. Since lettuce has little to no nutritional value, it does not make a healthy regular food choice. Lettuce is also high in water, which can cause dangerous bloating. Even “healthier” varieties like romaine should be fed only as a treat.
What should you feed instead of lettuce? Make sure to check out our complete food list here and click the “veggies” tab. That will give you a complete list of all the greens you’ll find at your local grocery store, along with a recommendation of whether or not they make a suitable daily feeder.
Remember that you are open to more than just lettuce or types of lettuce for your bearded dragon’s greens requirements. An extensive list of veggies will fill this role well and keep your beardie healthy!
Why Lettuce Shouldn’t Be Used As a Daily Feeder For Bearded Dragons
Most types of lettuce consist of mostly fiber and water. Neither of those things is bad for your bearded dragon, so it can be counterintuitive why you shouldn’t feed it to your beardie daily.
One problem lies with satiety. Satiety is when food makes you feel full. When you feel full, you stop eating. And this is precisely what happens when you feed too much lettuce to a bearded dragon.
When a beardie eats a lot of lettuce (and most of them will, as it’s a delicious snack!), it fills up their belly with non-nutrient-dense food. It makes them feel full, so they don’t eat the other food you offer.
This means that they are eating but not getting any nutrition. Over time this can be devastating to your bearded dragon’s health.
Another problem lies with the water content found in all lettuce varieties. Lettuce is typically over 90% water. While we do want our beardies to get some moisture from their food, we don’t want them to get too much.
For this reason, foods high in water should only be given sparingly or as a treat. Foods like watermelon, peppers, celery, and lettuce are all too high in water to be regularly fed to your bearded dragon.
So, it’s okay to feed a little bit of lettuce as a treat, but it shouldn’t be a primary food source.
What About Romaine Lettuce?
Enter the internet, where anyone can post anything, and Google can rank it at the top of the search results even if it’s completely false.
If you Google “can bearded dragons eat lettuce,” the number one result (at least at the time we’re writing this in Oct 2022) states that lettuce is a no-go, but romaine has all the nutrition your beardie needs.
This is incorrect!!!
Romaine lettuce is not a good daily food for bearded dragons. As with all other lettuce varieties, it is lacking in nutritional value and too high in water content to be healthy. It’s okay to feed romaine as an occasional treat, but more nutrient-dense greens should be used as a staple food.
We take pride in only giving you information that qualified veterinarians or breeders have confirmed. If you want to make sure you always have reliable bearded dragon information, make sure and check with us!
If we don’t have the answer, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will always find the correct answer or refer you to someone who can!
And please remember that your vet is the first person to ask about ANY health issues!
Lettuce Alternatives That Are Great For Your Bearded Dragon
Outside of lettuce itself, you will have several excellent lettuce-like options commonly found in even the most barren produce departments.
Escarole and endive, while not technically lettuce, are found in the grocery store with the other lettuce varieties. They have been two of our go-to foods for our beardie, Bacardi, since the day we brought her home.
Both of these foods make a great daily feeder, and we’ve found that most bearded dragons like one or both of those options.
Adjacent to the lettuce section at your grocery store, you’ll find their selection of greens. This is another excellent substitute for lettuce in their diet. High-quality options for daily feeding include, but are not limited to:
- Collard greens
- Turnip greens
- Mustard greens
- Bok choy
One of the most important things you can do to ensure that your bearded dragon thrives is to feed them food that nourishes them. The older they get, the more this nourishment will come from greens. But that only works if they are the right greens.
This knowledge includes knowing which kind of lettuce is acceptable and which is not.
If you want to make every food choice for your beardie as easy as possible, please reference our complete food guide. There we list several hundred food options and whether or not there are suitable for your bearded dragon!
Sources and Further Reading
The diet of free-roaming Australian Central Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps)
POGONA BARBATA (Eastern Bearded Dragon). DIET. Pogona
A Preliminary Feeding Study in Bearded Dragon Lizards, Pogona vitticeps
Survey of Feeding Practices and Supplement Use in Pet Inland Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps) of the United States and Canada
Will lettuce harm my bearded dragon?
No! It’s only harmful if you make lettuce their daily feeder. If you want to feed them lettuce occasionally as a treat, go for it! They may enjoy the dietary change.
What if my bearded dragon doesn’t like greens?
Beardies are notoriously picky eaters. It can take a lot of trial and error before you find something they like and will eat. Be patient and try new things until you find something they will eat.
It’s also very important to try the same thing several times. Many things can impact your bearded dragon’s appetite, and until you’ve tried several times, you can’t be sure what they will and won’t eat.
What if the only green my beardie likes is lettuce?
You are not alone! This is more common than you might realize.
First, understand that leafy greens are not the only veggie you can feed your beardie regularly. Squash is a tasty alternative that many bearded dragons love for its sweet flavor.
Second, try using small amounts of lettuce mixed with other greens. Your bearded dragon often eats a lot of the other greens while trying to get to all the lettuce. We’ve done this with Bacardi many times!
8 thoughts on “Can Bearded Dragons Eat Lettuce?”
Oops! I guess we need to mix up the greens some, we’ve always fed red and green lettuce as a daily salad.
I never would have thought of this, which is weird because it’s the same advice for humans. Lettuce has no nutritional value for anyone, people or bearded dragons! We never fed ours lettuce, but it’s good to know just in case!
So few people know there is no nutritional value, you are ahead of the game!
We’ve used red and green lettuce for years and there doesn’t seem to be any problems. Are you sure you aren’t just talking about iceberg lettuce?
Yes, I’m sure. Keep in mind that nutritional deficiencies can take years to show up as physical symptoms. A lot of times, that’s too late to fix anything. If you are using a good multi-vitamin, that will help, but our best advice is to move away from the lettuce and try to find something with more nutritional value that they like as much as the lettuce.
The article shouldn’t be titled “can they eat lettuce”. It should be “should they eat lettuce as their primary food”. Please change it.
I don’t remember calling the grammar police.