Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they can eat meat and plant material. The reptiles can eat quite a good number of vegetables and fruits but it is important to make sure they’re safe for the pet. Tomatoes, for example, are common in the kitchen. But can bearded dragons eat tomatoes?
The answer is yes and no. Bearded dragons are omnivores, so they can eat both plants and meat. Tomatoes are technically a fruit that falls into the plant category, so it is okay to feed them to your bearded dragon. However, the vines and foliage are toxic to reptiles and should not be given to them.
Can lizards eat tomatoes?
The fruit of the tomato is safe for your pet lizards to consume, but not the leaves or stems. I have not seen any reports that these parts have caused any adverse effects on lizards in captivity, but they can’t be ruled out as a possibility.
The tomato plant is categorized as a nightshade plant. These plants should never be fed to reptiles and if you see them growing anywhere near where you keep your pets then remove them right away.
However, as I’ve noted above, some parts of the tomato plant are great sources of nutrition for lizards like bearded dragons.
Benefits of Tomato Fruits for Bearded Dragons
The tomato fruit itself has some great benefits for bearded dragons, so you might still want to include a little bit of this fruit in the diet of your beardie. Here’s the nutritional value of tomatoes for bearded dragons and other pet lizards:
First of all, vitamin C is an essential vitamin for bearded dragons. Since they don’t produce their own vitamin C, it must come from external sources. Tomatoes are rich in this vitamin which is great for bearded dragons.
Lizards require vitamin C for the production of collagen, which is important for their skin’s elasticity and strength. It’s not exactly clear how much vitamin C is in tomatoes, but it can be guessed that the vitamin content of tomatoes would vary depending on what part of the world they were grown in.
What happens if my bearded dragon doesn’t get enough vitamin C? If a lizard suffers from serious vitamin deficiency, they are likely to suffer from symptoms like anemia and various skin lesions.
Bearded dragons won’t necessarily have visible signs of vitamin deficiencies early on because their bodies will start storing up more Vitamin C for later use when needed which may lead to other complications arising due to lack of this vitamin over time.
In addition to vitamin C, vitamin A found in tomatoes can help protect bearded dragons from common ailments such as respiratory infections, skin problems, or eye inflammation.
How much vitamin A is in tomatoes? For a normal human diet, a three-quarter cup serving of tomato juice contains 42 mcg of vitamin. It’s not 100% clear how much tomatoes you can feed beardies to achieve their vitamin A requirement.
However, you might want to know that bearded dragons are particularly sensitive to Vitamin A toxicity and are much safer fed on beta carotene or carotenoid supplements instead of fruits that are rich in this vitamin. The carotenoids are converted into vitamin A and the rest will be secreted unchanged.
It can also depend on whether you’re talking about raw or cooked tomatoes which would have different levels of vitamin contents.
Tomatoes are also rich in potassium which helps with healthy muscle function. Potassium is an essential nutrient for bearded dragons. Tomatoes are potassium-rich, which can be great news if your beardie’s diet has been lacking this vital mineral.
A high potassium-to calcium ratio is not good for the bones, potassium is not just important for bone strength. It’s also crucial to other aspects of your pet lizard’s health such as heart function and digestion.
Another benefit of tomatoes is that they contain calcium which bearded dragons need for their bones and teeth. In fact, some calcium supplements are made from ground-up tomato seeds since they have a high calcium content.
Pet owners also sometimes provide supplemental calcium for Bearded dragons in order to prevent health problems like soft-shell or crickets shell shedding conditions caused by low levels of calcium in the diet.
Tomatoes can be added as part of an occasional treat given once every two weeks if it’s diced into small pieces so long as there are no other fruits already on offer at other times during the week when feeding fruit slices.
Tomatoes are also high in antioxidant content which is great for bearded dragons. Antioxidants help remove toxins from the body and can neutralize free radicals that cause damage to cells, organs and tissues.
The tomatoes found in grocery stores may not be as rich in antioxidants since they’ve been sitting around for a long time before purchase but there’s still some antioxidant benefit left even when cooked or processed tomatoes have had their vitamin C content reduced by up to 50%.
Bearded dragons need water to help keep their skin and eyes moist. The water content in tomatoes is as high as 92% so they’re a great choice if you’re looking to keep your bearded dragon hydrated using fruits.
Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for bearded dragons. As they have to eat less fiber than other animals, it’s crucial that their diet contains a lot of fiber-rich veggies like tomatoes. It can help bearded dragons that aren’t eating due to compaction.
Tomatoes contain a good amount of fiber, so feeding your beardies with ripe tomatoes helps enrich their diet with it. Fiber helps bearded dragons by making them feel fuller for longer, so they eat less and won’t have the risk of growing too fat – which is usually characterized by big fat pads in bearded dragons.
Amount of Tomatoes to Feed Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons require a diet that consists of insects, fruits, vegetables and live prey. While many people assume that bearded dragons can eat tomatoes, it is not recommended to feed them tomatoes as they are not natural foods for the animals. The amount of tomato you should offer your pet depends on his age or size.
The best way to determine how much food an animal needs is by consulting with a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.
A general rule would be one tablespoon per twice a week for smaller pets (less than six inches) while larger pets could consume up to two tablespoons of tomato twice a week.
Precautions When Feeding Beardies with Tomatoes
If you’re considering adding tomatoes to the diet of your bearded dragon, take note of a few precautions. There are some parts of the tomato plant that are safe while others may not be safe for a bearded dragon to eat.
Here are the important precautions to note:
Avoid canned tomatoes
The first precaution to note is that canned tomatoes should always be avoided. Canned tomatoes have a high level of sodium and other additives that may not be great for the bearded dragon’s diet. This makes canned tomato sauce, canned crushed tomatoes, and canned diced tomatoes off-limits.
In addition to avoiding any canned product, you will need to avoid any tomato products that have spotty skin or are too ripe. The spots can indicate an issue where the fungus has developed before it was harvested which can lead to some serious health problems if eaten by your pet.
Avoid tomato stems and leaves
The tomato plant belongs to the nightshade family of plants. These plants are considered poisonous for bearded dragons. However, there are some exceptions: if you’re feeding your dragon tomato fruits, then they should be okay as these fruits are not toxic to bearded dragons.
Other nightshade plants you might want to be careful with when feeding bearded dragons include potatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, petunias, jalapenos, etc. Before feeding your bearded dragon on these plants or their parts, you want to consult a reptile veterinarian to avoid any side effects for your pet.
Oxalic acid in tomatoes
Bearded dragons can eat tomatoes, but oxalic acid in the fruit poses a problem. The oxalates bind to calcium making it difficult for the reptile to absorb dietary calcium. This can lead to calcium deficiency, which in turn can cause metabolic bone disease (MBD). Note that bearded dragons need calcium supplementation to maintain good bone health.
This is why it’s important not to feed bearded dragons too much tomato. You should be aware of oxalate content because oxalates are also found in numerous other foods like broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens and carrots. It may be best to avoid these vegetables as well if MBD seems likely or has been diagnosed by your veterinarian.
There are many benefits that come with tomatoes in a bearded dragon diet. They’re rich in potassium which is essential for the proper functioning of all sorts of vital organs; they can help provide necessary vitamins A and C to beardies that may not be getting enough from their regular food source.
Tomatoes can also give dragons some much-needed variety so they don’t get bored or suffer vitamin deficiencies over time because they’re eating one type of fruit constantly.
Keep in mind that bearded dragons also do better when they eat less acidic foods so the sour taste that can be found in tomatoes can cause gastrointestinal corrosion that leads to digestive problems in beardies. Make sure to reduce keep the amount of tomatoes in the reptile’s diet to a minimum.