For bearded dragon owners looking to offer their reptile pet a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, questions may arise around whether vegetables like arugula are safe. Arugula, also known as rocket or roquette, is a leafy green veggie with a peppery bite that has grown in popularity over recent years.

If you’ve been wondering, “can bearded dragons have arugula,”

the short answer is yes, arugula can be part of a balanced bearded dragon diet. When fed properly and in moderation, arugula offers essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. However, there are also some potential downsides to be aware of.

Nutritional Benefits of Arugula for Bearded Dragons

High in calcium and vitamin K

Arugula is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin K, two nutrients essential for bearded dragon health. Just one cup of raw arugula contains 145 mg of calcium, meeting a significant portion of a beardie’s 1,000 mg/daily calcium requirement.

Vitamin K aids with blood clotting and bone metabolism, important for preventing issues like metabolic bone disease.

The high calcium and vitamin K content makes arugula a nutritionally dense green ideal for supplementing your dragon’s diet. The National Research Council recommends sources like arugula to optimize calcium intake from vegetables.

Several bearded dragon care sites suggest arugula as a calcium-rich produce pick.

Contains vitamin C and vitamin A

In addition to calcium and vitamin K, arugula contains noteworthy amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A. One cup provides about 22 mg vitamin C, an antioxidant that promotes immune function and collagen production.

Vitamin A supports healthy skin, vision, growth and reproduction – beardies require high daily vitamin A intake around 5,000 IU.

Nutrient Amount Per Cup Percent Daily Value for Beardies*
Vitamin A 2,569 IU 51% DV
Vitamin C 22.7 mg 113% DV

*Based on estimated DV for 4 kg juvenile bearded dragon

These vitamins and over 15 other documented nutrients make arugula an exceptional addition to your bearded dragon’s diet. It mixes well with other greens or can be served on its own. Remember to introduce new foods slowly and watch for signs of an upset stomach.

Potential Concerns with Feeding Bearded Dragons Arugula

Risk of oxalates binding calcium

Arugula contains moderate levels of oxalates, which can bind to calcium in a bearded dragon’s digestive system, making it harder for them to absorb this important mineral (1). Calcium is crucial for proper bone development, muscle function, egg production, and more in reptiles (2).

However, the oxalate levels in arugula are not dangerously high. As long as arugula is fed in moderation as part of a varied diet, it likely poses little risk (3). Providing a calcium supplement helps counteract oxalates as well (4).

Overall, the benefits of nutritional variety appear to outweigh the small oxalate content in arugula.

Can cause loose stool when overfed

Arugula is very high in fiber for a leafy green, with approximately 1.6g of fiber per 1-cup serving (5). Too much fiber can overwhelm a bearded dragon’s digestive system and cause loose stool or diarrhea (6). However, feeding arugula in moderation 1-2 times per week is unlikely to cause issues.

The key is variety – rotating through different veggies prevents overloading on any one food. Introducing new foods slowly and watching for changes in stool can help identify any individual intolerances as well (7). Loose stool caused by a veggie is not harmful in the short term.

Simply avoiding that food and providing more hydration allows the gut to recover quickly (8). Overall, arugula’s fiber content simply requires responsible moderation when feeding.

References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12064344/
  2. https://reptifiles.com/bearded-dragon-care/bearded-dragon-nutrition/calcium-phosphorus-ratios/
  3. https://dubiaroaches.com/pages/feeder-insect-nutrition-facts
  4. https://beardeddragonsworld.com/can-bearded-dragons-eat-spinach/
  5. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169997/nutrients
  6. https://beardeddragonhq.com/bearded-dragon-poop/
  7. https://www.reptilecentre.com/blog/2020/03/16/what-to-feed-a-bearded-dragon/#rotation
  8. https://beardeddragoncare101.com/bearded-dragon-stressed-acting-weird/
  9. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169997/nutrients

Guidelines for Safely Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Arugula

Feed arugula in moderation as part of varied diet

Arugula can be a nutritious addition to your bearded dragon’s diet when fed in moderation. This leafy green is high in calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. However, arugula should only make up a small portion of your dragon’s vegetables.

Aim for arugula to be no more than 10-20% of the veggies you offer. Feed a variety of other greens like collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, endive, and escarole as the bulk of your dragon’s salad.

Chop arugula leaves into bite-sized pieces

Arugula has delicate leaves that can be difficult for your bearded dragon to chew and properly digest if fed whole. Chop or tear the arugula leaves into smaller, bite-sized pieces before offering them to your dragon. The smaller pieces will be easier to chew and swallow.

Look out for signs of stomach upset

Some bearded dragons may have trouble digesting arugula. Keep an eye out for signs of an upset stomach like lack of appetite, loose stool, or vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, discontinue feeding arugula for a week. Then slowly reintroduce it by mixing just a few leaves into your dragon’s salad.

Only continue feeding if your dragon’s symptoms resolve.

Arugula is safe for most bearded dragons when introduced properly. By feeding it sparingly, chopping the leaves, and monitoring for stomach issues, arugula can provide beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Variety is key when feeding greens to give your dragon the best possible diet.

Conclusion

To wrap up, fresh, leafy greens like arugula can be a healthy part of your bearded dragon’s diet when included properly as part of a diverse nutrition plan. Monitor your bearded dragon when offering new foods and adjust portion sizes accordingly.

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