Are Tomatoes Good for Bearded Dragons?

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Can bearded dragons eat tomatoes?

Scrunchy, juicy, and common in the healthy human diet, tomatoes seem like a natural choice to add to our beardie’s food bowl.

But are they really safe and is there any benefit to including them in your beardie’s diet?

Read on to learn more!

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?

bearded dragon with red background; can bearded dragons eat tomatoes?

Unfortunately, tomatoes do come with health risks, so adding them as an occasional treat or salad topper is fine.

However, it should not be fed on a daily basis as part of a regular feeding schedule.

Fresh tomatoes are okay for bearded dragons to eat so long as they are uncooked and ripe. But just like celery or carrots, they are better off fed in moderation, as a salad topper or a treat.

Raw tomatoes do have some health benefits, but they can be dangerous in large amounts or if fed on a regular basis.

As a bearded dragon owner, it is important to understand the pros and cons of tomatoes before adding them to their diet. 

Check this beardie eating tomatoes:

READ MORE: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Carrots?

Are Tomatoes Good for Bearded Dragons?

There are several nutritional benefits of tomatoes for bearded dragons:

  • Tomatoes are an excellent source of beta carotene.

This converts into vitamin A, which is essential for eye health, skin development, and protein synthesis. Nevertheless, too much vitamin A can be toxic.

So owners should beware of feeding foods that are exceptionally high in vitamin A like sweet potatoes, with tomatoes. This is especially true if bearded dragons are getting multivitamin that already contains vitamin A.

  • They are full of antioxidants such as lycopene, which boost the immune system and are great for heart health.

Lycopene is also good for the skin and reduces inflammation.

  • Tomatoes are low in sugar, making them better than other fruits.

High sugar can cause digestive issues, unhealthy weight gain, and tooth decay. This is one reason that fruit should never be more than 10% of the plant matter that an owner feeds their pet dragon.

  • They are also a good source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient for the growth, repair, and maintenance of all body tissues.

C is also an excellent antioxidant and immune booster.

  • Folate (vitamin B9) can also be found in tomatoes.

It is good for reproductive health and pregnant pet dragons and is essential for cell growth.

  • Tomatoes also contain vitamin K, a vital component of blood clotting, and potassium. Potassium is necessary to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. 
  • They are low in oxalates or oxalic acid.

Foods with high amounts of oxalates are dangerous because they bind with calcium and prevent it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

This can lead to a calcium deficiency and eventually to metabolic bone disease (MBD). This disease causes shrunken bones and lethargy and is highly debilitating for bearded dragons.

As the disease develops, they can start to limp and eventually struggle to lift themselves up altogether. Binding with calcium can also create calculi, or stones in the renal tract, otherwise known as kidney stones.

Health Risks of Tomatoes

Unfortunately, feeding more than the occasional piece of tomato too often can cause health issues:

  • Tomatoes are not a good source of calcium, an essential nutrient for beardies.

Too little calcium is very dangerous for beardies. Therefore, owners usually include a calcium supplement that one can generally find in most pet stores as part of a healthy diet. They also ensure that their pet dragons get enough calcium by gut-loading feeder insects and feeding calcium-rich dark, leafy greens. 

  • Worse than simply being a low calcium food, tomatoes have a poor calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of 0.2:1.

The ideal ratio for bearded dragons is between 1.5:1 to 2:1. This is important because too much phosphorus works exactly the same way as oxalates. It binds with calcium and stops the absorption of calcium. This mineral combination can then cause kidney stones, but it can also cause MBD.

  • Tomato fruits contain citric acid.

Although they are not as acidic as citrus fruits, this acidity can cause gastrointestinal issues and diarrhea. In turn, this can lead to dehydration in our pet dragons. Acidity also prevents dragons from absorbing essential nutrients in the gut, causing deficiencies and imbalances.

  • Tomatoes are also 95% water content.

At first glance, this may look like an excellent source of hydration. However, feeding too much food with high water content, like iceberg lettuce and watermelon, can lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Remember, bearded dragons evolved in the desert and are not used to too much moisture.

Related: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Celery?

Feeding Tomatoes to Bearded Dragons

What Kinds of Tomato Can My Bearded Dragon Eat?

fresh cherry tomatoes on top of a table: can bearded dragons eat tomatoes?

All tomatoes are mostly similar in nutritional value, and you can feed most kinds to your bearded dragon.

Cherry tomatoes and regular tomatoes are fine, so long as they are ripe. Unripe, green tomatoes contain the poisonous compound solanine, which is toxic for your bearded.

Keep in mind that some heirloom tomatoes are green when ripe, but to avoid confusion, avoid feeding green tomatoes altogether.

Other heirlooms can be different colors, including black, purple, or yellow. It won’t hurt to feed the occasional piece to your pet dragon but only feed it sparingly. 

You can feed small tomatoes, such as grape tomatoes, to your bearded dragon too. However, you need to be careful with grape tomatoes as they contain more sugar, which can cause digestive problems.

Also, even though grape tomatoes are small, take the time to slice them up. Feeding them whole can cause choking.

Plum tomatoes have a lower water content than regular beefsteak tomatoes, but owners should also feed these with caution. 

Beware of tomatoes on the vine, or that still have any greenery attached. Any part of the plant that does is not a ripe tomato can contain dangerous levels of solanine. 

How to Feed Tomatoes to My Bearded Dragon?

To prepare tomatoes for a bearded dragon:

  1.  Wash the tomato thoroughly to avoid pesticides—try to buy organic
  2. Slice one medium-sized tomato into a quarter or take two or three cherry tomatoes.
  3. Remove the tomato seeds as these can be possible choking hazards. Tomato seeds also contain no nutritional value for your beardie.
  4. Cut the quarter or the cherry tomatoes into small bite-sized pieces
  5.  Feed as salad toppers with their staple foods. It’s best to feed in a bowl outside the vivarium.
  6. Remove any uneaten food. You don’t want your beardie touching any spoiled food!
  7. If the tomato is soft, bruised, or spoiled, don’t feed it to your pet dragon. If you wouldn’t eat, there’s no reason to give it to your pet. 

How Much Tomato Can a Bearded Dragon Eat?

a lady chopping ripe tomatoes

You can feed your adult bearded dragon about a quarter of tomato ( medium-sized) or two to three cherry tomatoes about once a month. This should only be mixed with their salad and staple foods. It’s best that owners also add some quality calcium powder to offset the high phosphorus content. Bits of tomato should always be fed sparingly, even if your bearded dragon loves the taste of tomatoes.

Check our new e-book for a guide to bearded dragon’s diet expenses:

 FAQs 

Can bearded dragons eat tomato hornworms?

a green tomato hornworn climbing a tomato tree

Can bearded dragons eat tomato hornworms?

Tomato worms or tomato hornworms are great feeder insects for bearded dragons. They are high in protein, so they make a good choice for a balanced diet and other insects like dubia roaches. Only feed captive-bred hornworms since wild tomato hornworms could have parasites.

How often can bearded dragons eat tomatoes?

Bearded dragons should not eat tomatoes more than once a month. Although they have health benefits like vitamin A and vitamin C, the health risks make them potentially dangerous. The high water content, acidity, and bad calcium-to-phosphorus ratio can make a bearded dragon sick. 

Can bearded dragons eat tomato leaves or the tomato stem?

Bearded dragons should never eat any part of the tomato plant other than a piece of the ripe tomato. Unripe tomatoes, leaves, or stems all contain the toxic compound solanine. If ingested, it causes a range of health issues, from diarrhea to painful joints and even death.

Can baby or juvenile bearded dragons eat tomatoes? 

baby bearded dragon on top of a branch of tree

There’s no good reason to include tomatoes in a baby bearded dragon’s diet. Juvenile bearded dragons should eat more feeder insects than vegetables. In fact, they should get about 80% of their diet from insects.

This leaves only 20 % of their diet should come from highly calcium leafy greens such as dandelion greens or swiss chard to help their bone development.

As they age and their diet gradually becomes more plant-based, bearded dragon owners can create more variety by occasionally offering a bit of tomato here and there. 

Conclusion

While tomatoes are generally listed as one of the safe fruits for bearded dragons, too much can definitely be harmful. It’s better than bearded dragon owners limit tomatoes to a small portion about once a month.

In addition, they should ensure that that most of their plant matter comes from high-calcium leafy greens such as mustard greens, collard greens, and swiss chard.

References

  • “10 Water-Rich Foods to Help You Stay Hydrated.” 2021. Bupa.co.uk. 2021. https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/ten-water-rich-foods-hydration#:~:text=Tomatoes%20are%20made%20up%20of%20about%2095%25%20water..
  • Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, RDN (Ice. 2019. “Tomatoes 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.” Healthline. Healthline Media. March 25, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/tomatoes#:~:text=Tomatoes%20are%20the%20major%20dietary,%2C%20folate%2C%20and%20vitamin%20K..
  • “Comparing Antioxidants Levels in Tomatoes of Different Color: Specific Antioxidants Are Associated with Particular Tomato Colors.” 2019. ScienceDaily. 2019. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190227124838.htm#:~:text=Polyphenols%20are%20powerful%20antioxidants%20that,flavanones%2C%20flavonols%2C%20and%20anthocyanins..
  • “Guinea Lynx :: Ca:P Ratio Chart.” 2021. Guinealynx.info. 2021. https://www.guinealynx.info/diet_ratio.html.
  • Hall, Harriet. 2012. “Killer Tomatoes and Poisonous Potatoes?” Science-Based Medicine. February 14, 2012. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/killer-tomatoes-and-poisonous-potatoes/.

Are tomatoes ok for bearded dragons? What are your thoughts about it? Please share with us below!

Tamsin
Tamsin

Hi, I’m Tamsin. I’m a serious animal lover and dog behaviorist and trainer. In fact, I live on a farm with nine rescues! So, I love writing about and creating awareness around the health and wellness of all animals. Find her on Linkedin. Read her latest articles Learn more about her HERE.

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