Last updated on May 10th, 2021 at 01:09 pm
Bearded dragons are picky eaters. Ours is no exception, especially when it comes to getting her to eat her veggies. Whenever we find something she actually likes and will eagerly eat, it’s always a good day!
So when we found out that Bacardi, our beardie, looooooooooved carrots, we got excited! We started adding carrots to her salad daily and life was good.
Then we started seeing people online say that carrots were not good for bearded dragons. Some said they were okay once in a while. Others said never to use them. Still, others made a case that they are great daily veggies.
So we set out to find the real deal about feeding carrots to a bearded dragon on a daily basis. It took a while, but we finally got a fact-based answer from an expert.
Carrots can be fed to bearded dragons daily with no risk to their health. Some people fear that the vitamin A in carrots can be dangerous. What they are not taking into account is that carrots contain vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Bearded dragons convert beta-carotene to vitamin A safely and excrete any excess.
To see all the foods you can and can’t feed a bearded dragon, make sure and check out our complete bearded dragon food list with 237 different foods listed. We’ll show you what’s safe, what’s not, and what the healthiest food choices are for your beardie!!!
What makes a good daily vegetable for bearded dragons?
As a bearded dragon owner, you’ve probably realized that beardies are picky eaters. Much like small children, they’ll often turn their noses up at the very foods that are best for them. That makes feeding your beardie a healthy diet challenging.
This picky eating leads many dragon owners on a search for a list of foods that are not only good for their beardie but also something that their beardie enjoys and will eagerly eat.
Finding the intersection of nutrition and appeal is the key to finding a solid list of great daily feeder veggies for your beardie.
It doesn’t matter how nutritious something is, if your beardie won’t eat it, it’s not a good choice for your regular feeding schedule.
For us, radicchio is a good example of this. It’s a great option for daily feeding. But our beardie can’t stand it. If we tried to force the issue, she simply wouldn’t eat. Your beardie, on the other hand, may love it!
Between those, you’ll find plenty of options. Your beardie is bound to like at least a few of them!
The value of carrots for bearded dragons
Carrots have a unique place on the list of veggies one might feed their bearded dragon. Their combination of bright color and sweet taste makes them something that a majority of bearded dragons will not only eat but enjoy.
This is definitely the case with our beardie. If we put a salad down for her of mixed greens only, she may or may not wander over and eat. If that same salad has carrots in it, she eagerly makes her way to her dish and enjoys some salad.
If you haven’t noticed, beardies aren’t exactly precise with what ends up in their mouth. In going after those carrots, she ends up eating a lot of the adjacent greens too.
This makes carrots especially valuable to those of us with picky eaters on our hands. By finding a few things to sprinkle in amongst that day’s greens, we can get our beardies to inadvertently eat things they normally wouldn’t.
Another reason why carrots are special is that unlike fruit (another thing you can sprinkle in to get your beardie to eat their veggies), carrots can be fed every day. They are low in fat, high in fiber, and have only about half the sugar of a comparable amount of fruit.
The two drawbacks you’ll hear about carrots are oxalates and vitamin A. After much research, it turns out that neither is cause for concern when it comes to carrots.
Oxalic acid is found in a variety of green veggies. It’s most predominant in green leafy vegetables like romaine, parsley, and spinach. Oxalic acid binds to calcium and therefore makes it bio-unavailable to the bearded dragon that eats it.
Since calcium is a critical mineral for bearded dragons to consume, having it bound to oxalates instead of being absorbed is a bad thing. High oxalate foods are not recommended for your beardie.
But oxalic acid is present in a LOT of fruits and veggies in moderate amounts. It’s hard to avoid altogether and in moderate amounts, it’s generally not harmful.
So what does this mean for carrots? It’s okay to feed a small amount of carrot to your beardie every day. When combined with the proper diet, and supplementation schedule, no harm will come due to the oxalate content of carrots.
The next source of concern is vitamin A. Too much vitamin A is very bad for your bearded dragon. It will make them sick and possibly worse.
That said, your beardie still needs a healthy level of vitamin A. It’s a more complex issue than simply avoiding it.
The key is having the right ratio of vitamin A to vitamins D and E. Those 3 work together and having too high a ratio of A to the other two spells problems for your bearded dragon.
Luckily, mother nature has a solution for you. And it’s built right into those carrots your beardie loves so much.
Carrots don’t actually have vitamin A in them. What they have is beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid. It’s the thing that makes carrots orange in the first place. When eaten by your beardie, it is converted internally to vitamin A.
The cool thing about mother nature is that your beardie will only convert as much as they need and will excrete the rest. Unless you are stuffing them with vast amounts of carrots every day, they simply can’t get too much vitamin A from eating carrots.
Vitamin A vs Beta-carotene
We have first-hand experience with the difference between giving a bearded dragon straight vitamin A versus giving them beta carotene. It was an expensive and scary lesson to learn!
When we first got Bacardi, our bearded dragon, we thought we were doing everything right. She was a rescue and had some health issues to start with, but we felt like we had set up the perfect home for her to be healthy and happy.
A few weeks after bringing her home, her energy levels were way down. She was lethargic and not moving around much at all. She also stopped eating, even her roaches. If Bacardi doesn’t scarf down roaches when they are put in front of her, you know something is wrong!
Then she started vomiting. Once or twice a day she threw up anything that she did manage to eat. We immediately called the vet.
The vet came out, gave her a shot, told us to change around her supplements a little (giving her a multivitamin every day was the biggest change), and said not to feed her for a few days.
After a few days, she seemed better, so we offered her food and the new regimen of daily multivitamins. Within a week she was sick again.
So we called the vet out a second time. He gave another injection, ran some more tests, and added twice-daily injections for the next month to the prescribed treatment. Yep, we had to give her a shot twice a day for a month!
For the first two weeks, she did not get any better. We were very worried. She stopped eating completely. But by the end of the month, she seemed back to being healthy again. She started eating and therefore getting her vitamins again.
And then she got sick a third time. At that point, we panicked a little. We spent hours and hours searching the web for what might be the problem. And that’s when we came across a description of the symptoms of a vitamin A overdose.
Bacardi had every single one. But where was it coming from? It turns out that a certain brand of reptile vitamin, the one we were using, has a ton of vitamin A in it. Waaaaaay too much for a bearded dragon!
We found out that a different brand used beta-carotene instead for exactly this reason. We immediately switched her multivitamin.
Within a week she was fine. No, better than fine. She was up and eating and exploring and digging and healthier than we’d ever seen her.
We were still giving her the multivitamin daily, but just the one with beta-carotene instead of vitamin A.
It turns out that nature really does know what it’s doing! And this is how we learned first hand that beta-carotene is just fine to give your beardie daily. Vitamin A is not.
The problem is that most people assume carrots have vitamin A in its raw form. They don’t know anything about beta-carotene and how it is used by your beardie to make just the right amount of vitamin A.
Feed the whole carrot
So that was a pretty long way to tell you that carrots are just fine to feed to your beardie daily. But we didn’t talk about which part of the carrot.
So far, we’ve only been referring to the orange part. But what about the greens on top? Well, those are good to feed your beardie too! They are healthy and nutritious and a good thing to mix in with the carrot itself.
The goal, after all, isn’t to feed your beardie only carrots. It’s to mix carrots into other greens so that they eat the entire salad!
But whether it’s just the orange carrot itself or the whole thing, greens and all, don’t hesitate to give your beardie carrots every day. They’ll most likely love them and that’s a win in any bearded dragon owner’s book!