Can bearded dragons eat bananas?
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Can I feed my bearded dragon bananas?” this article is perfect for you.
Keep reading to discover the potential health benefits and some of the pitfalls associated with giving this fruit to your beardie.
Let’s jump right in…
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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bananas?
Yes, it is safe to serve your bearded dragon bananas. However, they should only be given sparingly as an occasional tasty treat.
Bananas offer beardies some nutritional value, but too many can throw their otherwise healthy diet out of balance causing health problems.
More on that later….
First, let’s explore how bananas should fit in with your beardie’s overall balanced diet.
What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
When talking about how suitable a food type is for an animal, it’s helpful to know what their overall diet should look like.
Veterinary Dr. Rick Axelson explains that bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat a mixture of both animal- and plant-based foods.
The optimal ratio of animal-based (insects) to plant-based (fruit and veg) food varies with age.
For example, younger beardies tend to eat more meat, while older lizards eat more plant material.
As a rough guide, the mix should be about 50/50%. But, of course, every animal is different; for bespoke nutrition guidance, you should speak to your favorite vet.
The ratio can shift to as much as 70/30% in either direction, depending on age and other factors.
Fruit should only make up 10% to 20% of the plant material in a well-balanced beardie diet.
This is because fruit is relatively low in minerals and high in sugar when compared to vegetables.
Bananas aren’t the only fruit you can feed your lizard. For example, you can feed your bearded dragon grapes, apples, strawberries, and apricots too.
10% to 20% sounds very precise, but in real terms, what does that mean?
Read on to find out…
How Often Can I Feed my Bearded Dragon Bananas?
As I mentioned earlier, the ideal amount of plant-based food in your beardies diet varies depending on their age.
Younger lizards require more of their diet to come from animal sources, while older lizards need to eat more plant-based foods.
Veterinary Dr. Edele Grey recommends feeding no more than one thin slice of banana at a time. This should be cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
Skin on or off? I’ll tell you a little later…
Dr. Grey suggests that younger beardies, who are still developing and growing, should only be given a small amount of banana no more than once a month.
Adult bearded dragons can have a little more- up to one or two times a month.
You should consider banana as a rare treat as it’s high in sugar. Also, the calcium/phosphorus content can cause serious issues.
More on that coming up…
But before we move on, have a quick peek at the key nutritional values in 100 g of banana:
|Vitamin C||8.7 mg|
|Vitamin A||3 µg|
Are Banana Peels & Leaves Safe for Beardies?
Can I feed my bearded dragon banana peels? Yes, you can!
Veterinary Dr. Edele Grey explains that banana peels are actually the healthier option for your bearded dragon.
They contain more fiber and less sugar while still being rich in the vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your beardie.
The only drawback is that the banana skin is more of a choking hazard. Just make sure you chop it up small enough, and it won’t be a problem.
You don’t have to feed the peel alone; try slicing the banana with the skin still on to add a variety of texture to the treat.
Can I feed my bearded dragon banana leaves? I couldn’t find a vet who has gone on record to answer this one.
However, there a number of articles that suggest it is acceptable to feed your beardie banana leaves.
Not only is it safe, but banana leaves contain vitamin B6, which offers many benefits to beardies.
Vitamin B6 helps to metabolize fats and protein, and plays a role in regulating weight.
It also promotes good immune and nervous system function and aids brain development.
5 Reasons Banana is Good for Bearded Dragons
1. Source of Calcium?
You can see in the chart above that bananas contain 5 mg of calcium per 100 g serving. That’s great, right?
Unfortunately, the high phosphorus content means that beardie bodies aren’t able to make use of the calcium and can actually end up in deficit.
We’ll touch on this in greater depth soon…
2. Source of Vitamins
Bananas contain essential nutrients such as vitamin A and vitamin C. These are used in the body in a variety of processes.
They can have a beneficial impact on the immune and reproductive systems as well as vision and growth in general.
3. Source of Potassium
Bananas are packed full of potassium, with around 358 mg of the stuff being found in 100 g of the fruit.
What does potassium do?
It helps to do several things in the body. For example, potassium helps with kidney function, regulating fluid levels, and supports healthy muscle function.
4. Other Minerals and Antioxidants
Antioxidants found in bananas, such as dopamine and catechins, can help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart problems.
The 0.26 mg of iron and 27 mg of magnesium in every 100 g of banana helps to keep your beardie’s tissue and bones healthy and strong.
5. It Encourages Them to Eat Their Greens
Bearded dragons aren’t always keen to chow down on a pile of healthy green leaves. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be able to empathize with them on that one.
Bananas, and other tasty beardie treats, can be a great way to sweeten the deal and encourage your lizard to make a start on the food in their bowl.
Once they get going, it’s far more likely they’ll continue to eat the remaining contents of their food bowl, boring greens and all!
5 Reasons Banana is Bad for Bearded Dragons
1. Metabolic Bone Disease and Calcium Deficiency
Can bearded dragons eat bananas? I could never fully answer this question without mentioning metabolic bone disease (MBD).
According to Veterinary Dr. Rick Axelson, MBD is probably the most common health problem seen in pet beardies.
It occurs most frequently in young bearded dragons (2 years and under), resulting from a poor diet that is low in calcium and high in phosphorus.
The condition causes calcium-deficient bones to lose density and become weak, soft, and deformed.
Many bearded dragon owners are mindful of the need to include supplemental calcium powder as a part of their pet’s varied diet.
However, not all are aware of the balance that needs to be struck between calcium and phosphorus.
If a beardie doesn’t get enough calcium in his diet, his body will extract it from the bones, leading to MBD.
To further complicate things, consuming too much phosphorus will prevent dietary calcium absorption from taking place.
Dr. Axelson suggests your beardie’s diet should contain calcium and phosphorus at a ratio of 2:1.
As you can see in the nutritional stats above, bananas contain around 4 times more phosphorus than calcium. Way off the desired calcium ratio.
Eaten in any significant quantity, this is a sure-fire recipe for a bearded dragon developing metabolic bone disease.
Signs and symptoms of MBD include:
- Swelling of the lower jaw
- Swelling of other facial bones
- Swelling of the rear limbs
- Legs shake when trying to walk
- Crouching low to the ground
- Inability to walk
- Loss of appetite
Bananas are relatively high in both calories and sugar compared to many of the leafy green vegetables and insects that form the bulk of a typical beardie diet.
Weight gain causes a multitude of health issues in many animal species, and bearded dragons are no exception.
Excess weight puts a strain on the body’s organs which can lead to fatal system failures or a significantly reduced lifespan.
While the soft, mushy inside of a banana presents little challenge to beardies, the fibrous peel can be more problematic.
In any case, veterinary Dr. Edele Grey suggests cutting the banana into pieces no bigger than your beardie’s eye.
This will minimize any risk of choking. It’s super important as bearded dragons don’t chew their food.
More on banana peel soon…
4. Digestive Problems
High sugar content isn’t only a problem in terms of weight gain. Large amounts of sugar can cause reptiles to suffer from digestive issues.
This includes but is not limited to diarrhea, an issue that can then lead to dehydration.
5. Dental Health
Sugar content rears its ugly head again. Just as if you were to eat too many sugary treats, your beardie’s dental health can really suffer if they consume too much.
Tooth decay and mouth rot are all potential outcomes of a bearded dragon eating too much sugar.
Learn more about bearded dragon diet expenses and find complete lists on what else to feed them (and what NOT to feed them) in our brand-new book!
- Hartley, Alina (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 132 Pages - 07/14/2021 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)
How to Prepare Banana for your Bearded Dragon
1. Buy Organic
If you have the option, buy organic bananas for your beardie. They are far less likely to have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.
2. Give it a Wash
Even if you buy organic, give the banana a good rinse before you do anything else.
This gives you the best chance of removing any nasties from the banana’s skin and minimizes the risk of your beardie ingesting them.
3. Get Chopping
To minimize the risk of choking, chop your banana into chunks that are no bigger than your beardie’s eye.
This is especially important if you’re giving them bananas with the peel still attached.
4. Watch Them Eat
It’s worth watching your beardie as they eat banana for the first time. You’ll get to see if they like eating the peel as well as how they get on with the portion size.
5. Clean up
Once your beardie has finished eating, make sure to take old food away. You don’t want the eating food that has gone bad!
Also, water-soluble nutrients, like vitamin C, will quickly disappear if left in the open air. So the leftover banana won’t be as nutritious.
How much banana can I give my bearded dragon?
Vets advise that you only feed your beardie a small amount of banana. A slice of banana at a time, no more than once or twice a month, is the recommended upper limit. Reduce this to once a month for preadolescent beardies.
Can baby beardies eat bananas?
While banana is not toxic for baby bearded dragons, it can cause significant bone development and health problems. For this reason, it’s best to limit this treat to a small amount once a month for beardies under 2 years of age.
Can bearded dragons eat bananas? That’s the question I set out to answer in this article.
We looked at the nutritional value of bananas and what aspects would be beneficial to a bearded dragon.
You found that bananas are a great source of potassium, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
However, we found that too much of a good thing can come with some unwanted side effects.
If you feed your beardie too much banana, you run the risk of them suffering from MBD.
This condition is brought on by insufficient calcium, which results in soft, deformed, weak bones.
Veterinary advice is to feed a slice of banana one to two times a week. Try to think of bananas as an occasional healthy treat for your bearded dragon.
Thanks for taking the time to do some research before giving your beardie a new snack. If you’re still in any doubt, speak to your favorite vet.
- Axelson, R (DVM) n.d., Bearded Dragons – Feeding, VCA Animal Hospital, viewed 14 June 2021, <https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/bearded-dragons-feeding>.
- Hughes, E 2021, Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bananas? Vets lay out the rules, FeedingMyPet, viewed 14 June 2021, <https://www.feedingmypet.com/can-bearded-dragons-eat-bananas/>.
- Banana, Raw 2020, U.S. Department of Agriculture, viewed 14 June 2021, <https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102653/nutrients>.
- Axelson, R (DVM) n.d., Bearded Dragons – Diseases, VCA Animal Hospital, viewed 14 June 2021, <https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/bearded-dragons-diseases>.
- Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bananas? What You Need To Know 2021, Pets o’clock, viewed 14 June 2021, <https://www.petsoclock.com/can-bearded-dragons-eat-bananas/>.
Can bearded dragons eat bananas in your opinion? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Barry Stingmore is a British content writer living in Fuerteventura, Spain. An animal lover at heart, he shares his home with a dog and four rescue cats and has a passion for writing about animals big and small.
Barry loves finding answers to your animal-related questions, the more research involved the better! You can rely on him to find the facts.