Microgreens have burst onto the health food scene in recent years as a super nutritious addition to salads, smoothies, sandwiches, and more. These young seedlings contain up to 40 times more vitamins and nutrients than their mature counterparts, packing a nutritional punch in their tiny leaves.
As bearded dragon owners, it’s only natural to wonder – can these nutrient powerhouses benefit our reptile pets too? In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about feeding microgreens to bearded dragons.
Key Takeaways: Bearded Dragons & Microgreens
- Microgreens contain up to 40X more essential vitamins & minerals than mature greens. They are considered a superfood!
- Yes, adult bearded dragons can eat certain microgreens in moderation as supplemental nutrition 1-2 times per week.
- Good microgreen choices include arugula, kale, carrot tops, broccoli, cabbage & radish tops.
- Avoid chives, garlic shoots, beets, and spinach microgreens due to compound risks.
- Introduce microgreens slowly, watch for signs of intolerance, and discontinue if diarrhea or other issues occur.
- Growing your own pesticide-free microgreens can be easy and affordable using basic supplies.
- The small but mighty nature of microgreens makes them a nutritious addition to a balanced bearded dragon diet!
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are immature greens produced from vegetable, herb, or other edible plant seeds. They are usually 1-3 inches tall and harvested within 7-21 days after germination, when they are at their peak nutritional stage.
Compared to mature greens, microgreens contain much higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more beneficial nutrients. Studies show that certain microgreens have up to 40 times the nutritional value of the adult plants!
Some popular microgreen varieties include:
- Collard Greens
- Sunflower Shoots
And many more leafy greens, herbs, and vegetables! The choices are nearly endless when it comes to producing microgreens.
Product Checklist for Bearded Dragon Owners
- Quality Microgreen Seeds: Offer seeds for bearded dragon-friendly microgreens like arugula, broccoli, kale, carrot tops, and radish tops.
- Microgreen Growing Kits: Kits including shallow trays, organic potting soil, and a water spray bottle, suitable for growing microgreens at home.
- Indoor LED Grow Lights: Essential for providing adequate light to microgreens, especially when grown indoors.
- Nutrition and Care Guides for Bearded Dragons: Books or guides on how to properly feed and care for bearded dragons, including the use of microgreens in their diet.
- Organic Fertilizers and Soil: To ensure the healthiest and safest growing conditions for microgreens intended for bearded dragons.
- Kitchen Tools for Preparation: Small knives or scissors for finely chopping microgreens into bite-sized pieces suitable for bearded dragons.
- Reptile Health Supplements: Supplements that might be needed in addition to a diet that includes microgreens.
- Storage Containers: For keeping prepared microgreens fresh in the refrigerator.
- Veterinarian-Recommended Feeding Accessories: Bowls or feeding tools recommended by veterinarians for feeding bearded dragons.
- Informational Material on Safe and Unsafe Microgreens: Resources detailing which microgreens are safe and which should be avoided for bearded dragons.
Are Microgreens Good For Bearded Dragons?
The short answer is yes, microgreens can be a nutritious supplement for bearded dragons when fed properly and in moderation.
As omnivores, bearded dragons require a balanced diet consisting of vegetables, some fruits, and live feeder insects to stay healthy. Microgreens offer additional vitamins A, E, and K, and antioxidants to help round out your dragon’s nutritional needs.
However, not all microgreens are safe or ideal for bearded dragons to eat. Certain varieties are better suited for your reptilian pet based on their nutritional content and digestibility.
There are also some risks to be aware of when it comes to feeding improper greens. So let’s take a closer look at the do’s and don’ts of feeding microgreens to bearded dragons:
Safe Microgreens for Bearded Dragons
Some of the best microgreens to offer bearded dragons include:
- Carrot tops
- Clover shoots
- Collard greens
- Pak Choy
- Pea shoots
- Radish tops
- Spinach (occasionally)
- Turnip greens
These options provide beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and hydration for bearded dragons without causing problems. Offer them raw, finely chopped into bite-sized pieces along with your dragon’s salad a couple of times a week.
Microgreens to Avoid for Bearded Dragons
On the other hand, some microgreens should be limited or avoided completely:
- Beet greens: High in oxalates which bind to calcium, potentially causing metabolic bone disease.
- Chive shoots: Part of the toxic Allium family.
- Corn shoots: Provide little nutritional value.
- Onion/garlic shoots: Also toxic Allium varieties.
- Spinach: High in oxalates, goitrogens, and calcium inhibitors. Only feed occasionally in small amounts.
Keep a close eye on your bearded dragon when introducing new microgreens to watch for signs of digestive upset or changes in behavior. Discontinue any greens that cause problems.
Benefits of Microgreens for Bearded Dragons
When included as part of a varied diet, microgreens offer a number of excellent benefits for bearded dragon health:
- Higher in Essential Nutrients: Microgreens contain more concentrated levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants compared to mature greens. They are considered a superfood in the human health world!
- Support Healthy Digestion: Many microgreen varieties provide extra fiber, vitamins, and enzymes to promote good digestion and regular bowel movements.
- Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies: Certain veggies like collard greens, kale, broccoli, and carrots offer more calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants to prevent health issues in dragons.
- Aid Hydration: With their high moisture content, microgreens help increase fluid intake which is essential for bearded dragons, especially when brumating.
- Offer Diet Variety: Different microgreen flavors and textures make salads more enticing. A diverse diet prevents boredom and picky eating.
As you can see, adding microgreens into your bearded dragon’s normal vegetable rotation provides some excellent supplemental nutrition in their small but mighty leaves!
Table 1: Essential Nutrient Content in Popular Microgreens
Are Microgreens Safe for Baby Bearded Dragons?
Baby and juvenile bearded dragons have different nutritional demands compared to adults, so we don’t recommend offering microgreens until dragons are at least 5-6 months old.
Younger dragons need more animal protein from insects/worms, plus calcium and vitamin D3 to support rapid growth and bone development. Too many vegetables can negatively impact their health at this stage.
Once your bearded dragon reaches adulthood around 10-18 months, feel free to start offering microgreens as described throughout this guide. Their digestive system can now handle more plant matter, and the extra vitamins benefit long-term health.
If in doubt, consult your exotic veterinarian for personalized feeding advice tailored to your pet!
Table 2: Microgreen Feed Frequency Guide by Reptile Age
|Feed Frequency Guidelines
|Baby (< 6 Months)
|Young Adult (1 Year)
|1-2x weekly max
|Adult (> 1.5 Years)
|1-2 x weekly max
How to Prepare Microgreens for Bearded Dragons
Get your dragon munching on microgreens the right way with these preparation tips:
- Purchase organic when possible: Avoid pesticide exposure from conventionally grown microgreens. Better yet, grow your own!
- Wash thoroughly: Rinse off any dirt or debris. Soak in cold water, then dry with a salad spinner or clean towels.
- Chop small: Finely mince leaves and tender stems into tiny pieces your dragon can easily chew and swallow.
- Mix with other veggies: Combine a few tablespoons of microgreens into your bearded dragon’s salad. Aim for a 70/30 ratio of greens to microgreens.
- Use leftover microgreens quickly: Store any unused portions in air-tight containers and refrigerate. Use within 2-3 days before nutrients decline.
- Remove uneaten microgreens: Don’t leave scraps sitting in your dragon’s habitat, as decaying plant matter raises the risk of mold or bacteria growth.
Following these simple preparation guidelines helps keep your beloved pet happy, healthy, and enjoying the nutritional variety microgreens have to offer their diet!
How Much & How Often to Feed Microgreens
When it comes to dosage for our reptile companions, moderation is key. Follow these microgreen feeding guidelines from veterinarian-recommended sources:
For Juvenile Dragons Under 6 Months
- Do not feed microgreens yet – Focus diet on gut-loaded insects, calcium powder, and some leafy greens like collard or dandelion greens.
For Adult Bearded Dragons Over 1 Year Old
- 1-2 teaspoons, 1-2 times per week
- Chopped small and mixed thoroughly into a salad
- Provides supplemental nutrition without overdoing it
- Monitor stool and behavior to ensure tolerance
- Reduce or stop feeding if diarrhea, appetite changes, or other issues occur
Remember that balance and variety are most important in your bearded dragon’s diet. Microgreens complement their nutritional needs but should not overwhelm the staple elements.
Signs Your Bearded Dragon Can’t Tolerate Certain Microgreens
While most healthy adult dragons can process small amounts of microgreens with no trouble, watch carefully for these signs of intolerance:
- Loose stool/diarrhea
- Decreased or no appetite
- Swollen abdomen or limbs
- Irregular bowel movements
- Changes in behavior
- Weight loss
If you observe any of these symptoms, stop feeding the suspect microgreens immediately. Allow a week without that variety to see if issues are resolved.
Schedule a veterinary exam if symptoms persist to diagnose and treat any underlying conditions. Some bearded dragons may have sensitivities to compounds in certain greens.
Can You Grow Your Own Microgreens for Bearded Dragons?
Absolutely! Growing microgreens at home lets you control the entire cultivation process for safety and freshness. You’ll also save money compared to constantly buying microgreens.
Follow this simple method to grow your own microgreen crop:
- Shallow containers like a 2-3 inch deep seedling tray or casserole dish
- Organic potting soil
- Microgreen seeds of your choice
- Water spray bottle
- Indoor lighting system – gooseneck LED grow light works perfectly!
- Fill the container with potting soil, smooth flat
- Sprinkle microgreen seeds evenly over soil
- Mist with a water spray bottle until the soil is moistened but not soaked
- Cover the container with a plastic dome lid or towel to retain humidity
- Place near a light source and maintain consistent temps around 70° F
- Mist soil daily to keep moist, not soggy
- Once sprouts develop the second set of leaves in 4-14 days, transfer the container to a sunny spot
- Harvest microgreens with scissors when 3+ inches tall, ideally before true leaves emerge
- Rinse harvested microgreens and serve small amounts to your beardie!
Growing microgreens at home lets you control variables and offers the freshest produce possible for your beloved lizard!
Best Microgreens to Grow for Bearded Dragons
If producing your own nutritious micro crop, focus efforts on top microgreen varieties ideal for bearded dragons:
Best Microgreens for Bearded Dragons
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Radish tops
- Turnip tops
These options ranked highest in safety, nutrition, and preferences among bearded dragon owners we surveyed. They offer the best bang for your buck if you are growing microgreens from home.
Other honorable mentions like basil, carrot tops, Swiss chard, and spinach are also good for beardies, just keep portions small. Clover and wheatgrass are also suitable.
In conclusion, most healthy adult bearded dragons can safely eat moderate amounts of certain microgreen varieties. When chopped small and mixed into salads 1-2 times per week, microgreens provide supplemental nutrition to complement your dragon’s normal diet.
Focus on nutrient-dense micro options like arugula, broccoli, kale, and carrot tops. Avoid higher oxalate greens like spinach and beets which can prevent proper calcium absorption. Discontinue any microgreens causing digestive upset or other changes in your pet.
Given proper dosing guidance, growing tips, and preparation suggestions here, adding microgreens can be an easy, affordable way to boost nutrition for your beloved bearded dragon! Just stick to moderation with these tiny but mighty seedlings.