It’s always interesting when you learn that your pet can eat what you eat. As bearded dragons are not typically picky-eaters, the question arises: can bearded dragons eat cauliflower?
Cauliflower is one of the healthiest vegetables for humans, and regular intake of this vegetable can reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease.
However, what is good for the goose might not be for the gander. Is your beardie a gander, as opposed to you being a goose?
In this article, you’ll learn if bearded dragons can and should eat cauliflower and the nutritional benefits of cauliflower to beardies.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cauliflower?
Bearded dragons can eat cauliflower, although this may not be the ideal diet for your pet beardie.
Cauliflower is high in goitrogens, a compound that disrupts the production of thyroid hormones in bearded dragons. If beardies consume goitrogens in excess, it can lead to several metabolic diseases.
Also, cauliflowers don’t have balanced phosphorus to calcium ratio, deeming the vegetable unsafe for bearded dragons.
Cauliflowers also have a high moisture content, and water isn’t something that bearded dragons enjoy consuming.
From the sparse information above, you can easily deduce that not everything good for your gander is also good for your beardie’s goose. Cauliflower might be crucial to your diet, but for bearded dragons, they’re not very important.
Should Bearded Dragons Eat Cauliflower At All?
Now you understand that cauliflower contains goitrogens and some other nutrients that nobody cares about. Does that mean that bearded dragons shouldn’t eat cauliflower at all?
Something important to know about bearded dragons is that they won’t always turn down unhealthy food. They are instinctively programmed to survive on any available food, so your beardie might seem to enjoy its meal of cauliflower.
However, you should only feed an insignificant amount of cauliflower to bearded dragons, if you feed them any at all.
The goitrogens in the cauliflower are a major source of concern and can lead to many health complications in beardies, some of which you’ll learn in the next sections.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. You don’t want to feed your beardies with what has more complications than the associated health benefits.
However, if you must feed your bearded dragons with cauliflower, there is a recommended daily amount. Even with the recommended daily amount, you’ll have to adjust your bearded dragon’s diet to match the additional (unneeded) nutrients the vegetable supplies.
Nutritional Benefits of Cauliflower
Before looking into the nutritional benefits of cauliflower (if any), it helps to look at the nutrients that the vegetable contains.
The most standout component of cauliflower is water; they contain almost 90g of water for every 100g. Given that beardies don’t require lots of water to survive, this is just overkill.
Cauliflower also contains proteins, fiber, sugar, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins, and supplies energy. While this is a whole lot of nutrients, many of these are in very minute quantities, and are in fact, useless for bearded dragons.
However, the fiber in cauliflower assists beardies with digestion and excretion. Fiber is famous for not being a major nutrient but invaluable in any diet.
Cauliflower is also low in sugar and fats, which is also a good thing for beardies. These nutrients are known to cause many health issues like diarrhea and obesity.
So, if your beardie’s diet already contains fats and sugar, cauliflower isn’t going to significantly increase the rate of intake of these nutrients.
Vitamin C, which is also moderately present in cauliflowers, is crucial for bone and teeth formation and maintenance.
How Much Cauliflower Should I Feed To My Bearded Dragon?
Since excess cauliflower is bad for beardies, and moderate cauliflower can be beneficial, how much cauliflower is optimal for a bearded dragon?
Cauliflower is only healthy for bearded dragons in minute quantities; a beardie should only consume as little as 10g of cauliflower per month.
To put that into perspective, one floweret of cauliflower is 13g.
In essence, you shouldn’t feed more than one floweret of cauliflower to your bearded dragon per month.
If you have a growing bearded dragon (less than one year), 10g of cauliflower will be on the unsafe side. 6g of cauliflower per month will do.
Instead of looking for a scale that will help you weigh grams of cauliflower, why don’t you ignore it altogether?
Risks of Feeding Bearded Dragons With Cauliflower
As I’ve hinted at the beginning of this article, the risks of adding cauliflower to a bearded dragon’s diet far outweigh the benefits.
In this section, I will analyze some of the risks for you to compare if they are even worth taking in the first place.
- It is high in goitrogens.
The abundance of goitrogens in cauliflower isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Most other veggies are high in goitrogens too. It’s just that beardies and goitrogens don’t have a good relationship.
Goitrogens subdue the thyroid functions in bearded dragons, negatively impacting the rate of metabolism. If beardies consume excess goitrogens, it can lead to a condition known as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can lead to many other health issues in beardies, including a negative impact on metabolism.
Cauliflower isn’t the only vegetable high in goitrogens; cabbages and broccoli, among some other vegetables, can also trigger a similar reaction when consumed in excess.
- Imbalanced calcium-phosphorus ratio
Calcium is a crucial nutrient to beardies for one main reason: it helps prevent the highly feared Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). MBD is an irreversible condition that can lead to walking difficulties at its best and paralysis at its worst.
Most beardie keepers understand that calcium helps prevent this disease, but not many know that the phosphorus to calcium ratio also matters.
Phosphorus is capable of binding calcium, preventing it from serving any useful purpose in bearded dragons. On the other side, phosphorus doesn’t serve any useful purpose to beardies.
However, 100g of cauliflower contains 44mg of phosphorus and 22mg of calcium; you see the problem there, right?
You can fix this. When you feed your beardies with cauliflower, you should feed them with something with a high calcium content (with low phosphorus) in their subsequent meals.
But why cauliflower in the first place?
Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon Raw or Cooked Cauliflower?
There are no nutritional benefits related to cooking a cauliflower, not even for beardies. Instead, cooking cauliflower rids it of some of the nutrients it contains.
Therefore, you should refrain from cooking the cauliflower before serving it to your beardie.
Good alternative vegetables to cauliflower for bearded dragons
Since many vegetables contain goitrogens, making them unhealthy for bearded dragons, what are the healthy vegetables for beardies?
Many handy vegetables are deemed healthy for beardies. Here are some of them.
- Turnip greens
- Butternut squash
- Bok Choi
- Sweet potatoes
Cauliflower might be plenty good for you, but that doesn’t make it plenty good for your beardie too.
Bearded dragons can quickly develop MBD, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that they don’t. Feeding them with cauliflower is a pretty bad way to make sure they don’t.
While there are safe amounts of cauliflower that won’t cause much harm to your bearded dragon, our question is: why cauliflower?