Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach? (Yes, but Beware of Oxalates)

Bearded dragons can eat spinach, but only in small amounts about once a month.

Spinach is a superfood and contains many minerals and nutrients, but your bearded dragon doesn’t HAVE to eat spinach. Your pet will do quite well without this vegetable.

Spinach has a better calcium to phosphorus ratio than most vegetables. But, it has a lot of oxalic acids which doesn’t allow the bearded dragon to absorb calcium.

You can feed your bearded dragon two baby spinach leaves every month or around one-quarter of a mature spinach leaf.

closeup of a pile of spinach
Spinach is considered a superfood and contains many minerals and nutrients.

We don’t suggest feeding spinach to a juvenile beardie and it’s best to provide this vegetable as part of a salad mix.

Spinach Nutritional Value

There’s a reason why spinach is considered a superfood. According to the FDA, 100 g of spinach contains the following:

  • Iron: 1.05 milligrams
  • Zinc: 0.42 milligrams
  • Water: 92.4 grams
  • Iodine: 6.1 micrograms
  • Protein: 2.91 grams
  • Sodium: 107 milligrams
  • Calcium: 67 milligrams
  • Vitamin A: 306 micrograms
  • Vitamin C: 30.3 milligrams
  • Potassium: 460 micrograms
  • Manganese: 0.426 milligrams
  • Magnesium: 93 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 41 milligrams
  • Vitamin B-6: 0.214 milligrams
  • Beta-Carotene: 3670 micrograms

There are some differences between mature and baby spinach. According to the FDA, a 100 g portion of baby spinach contains:

  • Iron: 1.26 milligrams
  • Zinc: 0.45 milligrams
  • Water: 92.5 grams
  • Iodine: 10 micrograms
  • Protein: 2.85 grams
  • Sodium: 111 milligrams
  • Calcium: 68 milligrams
  • Vitamin A: 283 micrograms
  • Vitamin C: 26.5 milligrams
  • Potassium: 582 milligrams
  • Manganese: 0.488 milligrams
  • Magnesium: 92.9 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 39 milligrams
  • Vitamin B-6: 0.195 milligrams
  • Beta-Carotene: 3400 micrograms

Spinach provides your bearded dragon with many nutrients and contains more value than baby spinach.

The presence of nutrients like Vitamin A and Vitamin C is valuable in your pet’s diet.

How to Feed Your Bearded Dragon Spinach

Here’s how bearded dragon owners serve spinach to their pets:

  1. Choose about two baby spinach leaves or one-quarter of a mature spinach leaf.

    Pro Tip: Always buy organic spinach to ensure that your beardie doesn’t consume pesticides.

  2. Wash the spinach leaves and stems to ensure that they have no chemical residues on them.
  3. Cut the spinach into small, bite-sized pieces.
  4. Place the spinach in the food bowl for the bearded dragons.
  5. Add other elements like collard greens, beet greens, or bell peppers.
  6. Sprinkle the whole bowl of food with calcium powder.
  7. Feed the dragon!

When you allow your bearded dragon to eat spinach, preparation is essential.

While some people may suggest cooking the spinach leaves to remove some of the oxalates, we do not advise it.

Bowl of cooked spinach
Cooking spinach removes some of the temperature-sensitive nutrients.

Yes, cooking spinach removes some of the oxalic acids. But it also destroys many of the valuable minerals and nutrients.
If you decide that you’d like to cook some spinach for your beardie, don’t add salt or other flavorings.

Here’s how:

  1. Place a pot of water on the stove on medium heat.
  2. Allow the water to come to a rolling boil.
  3. Add the spinach.
  4. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for three to five minutes.
  5. Use a sieve or colander to remove the spinach from the water.
  6. Allow the spinach to cool.
  7. Feed the spinach to your dragon as you would raw spinach.

How Often Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach?

Bearded dragons can consume spinach around once a month, or once every two months.

As a bearded dragon owner, you may even decide to forego spinach.

Bearded dragons can eat spinach and it contains many useful nutrients and other trace minerals.

However, the nutritional value is offset by the oxalic acid contents, which prevent calcium absorption.

While you can counteract the effects by using a calcium supplement, this is only viable if the spinach is fed sparingly.

Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach?

You shouldn’t feed spinach to a baby bearded dragon.

While you could feed a baby bearded dragon tiny pieces of spinach, it’s not an excellent choice. Young dragons are more vulnerable to the negative side effects of raw spinach.

A baby bearded dragon is more susceptible to metabolic bone disease. It needs valuable food with every meal that contributes to its overall health.

We suggest sticking to safer, more valuable foods that are less likely to compromise your dragon’s ability to absorb calcium.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Baby Spinach?

You can give your bearded dragons baby spinach, but it has all the same risks as mature spinach.

wooden bowl containing baby spinach leaves
Baby spinach varies slightly from mature spinach, but has all the same risks as mature spinach.

Can bearded dragons eat baby spinach? Yes, but stick to the same rules as if feeding mature spinach to your bearded dragon.

Only feed them around two leaves once a month. Baby spinach varies slightly from mature spinach but has all the same risks as mature spinach.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach Leaves?

Yes, bearded dragons can eat spinach leaves and they’re the part you usually feed your pet.

Not only can bearded dragons eat spinach leaves, but most of the trace minerals and nutrients exist in the leaves.

The stems are valuable as well, but the leaves are more beneficial to the bearded dragon’s diet.

You can feed your bearded dragon about two baby spinach leaves once a month.

Otherwise, you can use around one-quarter of a larger leaf.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Spinach Stems?

Yes, a bearded dragon can eat spinach stems. Not only can a bearded dragon eat spinach stems, but it will probably enjoy them.

If you feed your bearded dragon spinach stems, you need to ensure that you cut them into small pieces. Spinach stems can be fibrous, so you need to make them easy to consume.

Pros of Feeding Spinach to Your Bearded Dragon

There are benefits to adding this superfood to a beardie’s diet. Let’s take a look at some of the major ones.

The Right Ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus

Many vegetables have the wrong ratio of calcium to phosphorus. Bearded dragons need a ratio of two parts calcium to one part phosphorus.

Spinach is one of a select few vegetables that contains almost the correct ratio.

It contains around 67 milligrams of Calcium and 41 milligrams of phosphorus. That’s a ratio of 1.6 parts calcium to one part phosphorus.

While it’s not perfect, it’s better for your bearded dragon than the ratio in many other fruits and vegetables.

Many Trace Nutrients

Spinach contains many trace nutrients that are beneficial to bearded dragons.

The presence of iodine contributes to healthy thyroid function. This plant contains nearly 3% protein, which is beneficial to bearded dragons.

Other beneficial elements include Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Beta-carotene.

Cons of Feeding Spinach to Your Bearded Dragon

As with most feeding options, there are some cons to feeding spinach to your bearded dragons. Let’s take a look at some major problems with this vegetable.

Many Different Plants are Called Spinach

In modern climes, spinach has become an almost universal term for the greens of certain plants.

Malabar spinach growing in a garden
Malabar spinach is a potentially perennial vine that has significant nutritional differences to real spinach.

People refer to mustard greens as “mustard spinach”. “Swiss chard” is another green that can go by the name of spinach.

Amaranth, orach, and certain other annuals also go by spinach. And then there are certain perennial vines like Malabar spinach that also go by the name of spinach.

This diversity doesn’t sound like a problem does it? Nor is it, except for one thing: every single one of these “spinaches” has a different nutritional value.

Every 100-gram portion of Swiss chard, for example, contains around 17 milligrams less calcium than spinach.

If you’re feeding spinach to your bearded dragon, ensure that you’re buying true spinach and not another “spinach”.

High Levels of Oxalates

Spinaches contain a lot of oxalic acids which contribute to metabolic bone disease in a bearded dragon.

This is because oxalic acids bind calcium and prevent calcium absorption. A bearded dragon’s diet needs to feature a specific calcium to phosphorus ratio.

Without a healthy calcium balance, bearded dragons can’t form healthy bones.

By using a calcium powder, you can help balance your beardie’s diet, but it won’t solve the problem.

High Water Content

While water is good for bearded dragons, eating food that consists mostly of moisture isn’t.

Bearded dragons need to take in as much nutrient value from their meals as they can. Like watermelon, spinach consists of around 92% water, leaving little room for nutritional elements.

The high water content can be useful when bearded dragons are dehydrated or have been sick.

Bearded dragons that don’t want to drink will often happily eat a moisture-rich snack.

Feeding Bearded Dragons a Balanced Diet

Bearded dragons need a diverse diet to prevent disorders like metabolic bone disease, malnutrition, and obesity.

Let’s take a closer look at the main food groups for bearded dragons, and how to give them the health benefits of a specific diet.

Live Foods

Juvenile dragons need a diet that consists mainly of feeder insects (around 80%) while older dragons need around 20%.

There are many excellent live foods on the market which you can buy or breed at home. Some of these live foods include:

  • Mealworms
  • Superworms
  • Dubia roaches
  • Turkistan roaches
  • Young hissing cockroaches
  • Black, red, and gray crickets
  • Black soldier fly larvae (phoenix worms)
  • Nightcrawlers and red wrigglers (earthworms)

It’s best not to overfeed mealworms, as they have a high-fat content. You should avoid waxworms entirely because they can cause obesity.

Of the feeder insects on this list, animals like dubia roaches and crickets offer the best additions to your dragon’s diet. They contain a higher proportion of protein, but less fat.

Vegetables

Vegetables constitute about 80% of an adult dragon’s diet and around 20% of a juvenile beardie’s.

There’s a lot to consider where the veg is concerned. You need to ensure that your bearded dragons eat enough leafy greens and get adequate nutrients.

You need to pay careful attention to which plants contain oxalates and which are goitrogenic.

Plants that contain oxalic acid can be damaging if fed in high amounts.

Oxalates bind calcium and prevent the bearded dragon’s body from absorbing it.

Goitrogenic plants affect thyroid function and can also prevent your beardie from accessing and using essential minerals.

All of the plants in the cabbage family (Brassicaceae) contain some level of goitrogens. This includes:

  • Kale
  • Mizuna
  • Kohlrabi
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Rocket and Arugula
  • Pak Choi and Tatsoi
  • Turnips and radishes
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Cabbages and Chinese cabbages

Many different vegetables have high levels of oxalates, including:

  • Okra
  • Beans
  • Leeks
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Rutabagas
  • Swiss chard
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Collard greens
  • Beets and beet greens
  • Turnips and turnip greens
  • Escarole, chicory, endive, and raddichio

Many of these vegetables are beneficial, even essential, parts of a bearded dragon diet. The key is to keep track of what you feed the beardie, and when.

Other foods like carrots and carrot tops can also feature in their diet occasionally.

Fruits

Fruits aren’t an essential part of the bearded dragon diet. As much as you need to take care when bearded dragons eat spinach, you need to keep an eye on their fruit intake.

This category should never make up more than 15% of an adult dragon’s diet, and only 5%-10% of a young dragon’s diet.

Most fruits have the wrong ratio of calcium to phosphorus, and many have exorbitant sugar contents.

When fed with live foods as well as other greens and vegetables, fruit makes a beneficial addition to the bearded dragon diet.

Some of the many options for fruit in a bearded dragon diet include:

  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Peach
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Apricot
  • Papaya
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Peeled apples
  • Pitted cherries
  • Seedless raisins
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Green & red grapes
  • Honeydew & cantaloupe
  • Canned pineapple and prunes
  • Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries

With most of these fruits, a few small pieces every two or three weeks is enough for your beardie. Always research a fruit before deciding whether to serve it.

Calcium and Multivitamins

The final major element of a bearded dragon diet is calcium and vitamins.

Most meal plans don’t include enough vegetables and fruit with an appropriate ratio of calcium to phosphorus.

This isn’t a lack of effort on the part of the owner, but the result of the natural nutritional values of the vegetables we eat.

To compensate for the lack of calcium in their diets, you need to use a calcium supplement. It will help to keep the ratio balanced and prevent metabolic bone disease.

In some cases, you may need to use a multivitamin for your bearded dragon.

We suggest seeking veterinary advice before deciding whether to add vitamins to your pet’s diet.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article about “Can bearded dragons eat spinach?”

If you’d like to learn more about a healthy bearded dragon diet, check out our complete feeding guide.

Does your bearded dragon like spinach? Let us know in the comments.

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