If you own a bearded dragon, you naturally want your lovely pet to have a balanced diet that will keep it healthy and happy. So, how does milk factor in your beardie’s diet? Let’s find out.
Can bearded dragons drink milk? The simple answer is no. Bearded dragons should not be given milk under any circumstances. Their digestive systems are not capable of processing milk. Drinking milk offers no advantages; rather it can lead to serious health issues in bearded dragons.
Milk is a good source of calcium and protein. We drink milk and it is one of basic kitchen ingredient. Also, pets such as cats and dogs are regularly given milk as food. However, when it comes to bearded dragons, milk is an absolute no-no.
Why is milk not safe for bearded dragons?
Regular consumption of milk is associated with good calcium levels. Milk also contains a good amount of proteins. Bearded dragons obviously require both the nutrients. Hence, milk might seem like a good option to give your beardie a protein and calcium.
Also, it is liquid, so it provides hydration too. So why is milk not a safe option for bearded dragons in spite of being nutrient-rich? After all, we do give milk to our other pets such as cats and dogs.
The most obvious sign that milk is unsafe for bearded dragons is that bearded dragons are reptiles, not mammals. The female bearded dragons do not produce milk for their young ones. All female mammals produce milk for their babies.
And mammals such as cats, dogs, and even humans can continue to consume milk from other animals such as cows and buffalos long after they have been weaned from their mothers. But, obviously, this does not apply to bearded dragons.
When it comes to reptiles, their bodies are not designed to digest milk and absorb the nutrients from it.
What can happen if bearded dragons drink milk?
Milk contains a form of carbohydrate known as lactose. Reptiles are mostly lactose intolerant. A bearded dragon’s gut would not handle lactose well. Its body does not produce the necessary enzymes required for digesting milk.
Milk can cause a gastrointestinal upset and bloating. In advanced cases, it can cause severe diarrhea and damage to the digestive tract.
If you accidentally give milk to your bearded dragon or your beardie accesses and ingests milk, you should keep a close eye on your pet and immediately call a vet.
Can bearded dragons be fed other dairy products?
Again, the answer is no. Cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, or any other dairy products should strictly be avoided. Some of the dairy products are also quite high in fat. So along with containing lactose, these foods are bad for a bearded dragon due to being too fatty.
Consuming foods very high in fat can cause stomach problems and even kidney failure in beardies. Hence, it is best to keep your pet beardie away from all dairy products.
If not milk, what should you feed a bearded dragon?
People would want to give milk or other dairy products for three main reasons:
For calcium, it is best to rely on a combination of calcium powders and UV lamps in the bearded dragon’s terrarium. Calcium powders fortified with Vitamin D3 are also available. You can dust your beardie’s food with these powders to give them the calcium boost they need. Of course, calcium dusting needs to be done in moderation taking into account the beardie’s age. Too much calcium can cause an imbalance leading bone health issues.
For meeting a bearded dragon’s protein requirement, gut-loaded insects are the best. ‘Gut-loaded insects’ refers to insects such as dubia roaches and crickets which are fed lizard-friendly food. This food, rich in nutrients makes the insects all the more nutritious for the beardies. Do note that an adult beardie’s protein requirement is lower compared to a beardie who is still growing. Also, too much protein is not good for the beardie.
For keeping your bearded dragon hydrated, give it plain drinking water. Many beardies don’t drink water directly. If yours does not drink water, spray or mist it with water. Beardies absorb the water through their skins and remain hydrated. Alternatively, you can also run small baths for your beardies so that they can soak in the water and keep themselves moisturized.
Some bearded dragon owners believe that since beardies are lactose intolerant, they can be given vegan alternatives to dairy products such as soy milk or greek yogurt.
While it is true that these foods might not cause the beardie as much harm as dairy products, they are still not recommended.
What other foods should you avoid for a bearded dragon?
While you keep your bearded dragon away from milk and other dairy products, it is best to steer clear of the below foods too.
- Avocado – While you can feed your beardie most vegetables and fruit, avoid avocados at all costs. They contain oxalic acid which can make your beardie sick even if it has avocados in small quantities. Consumed in higher quantities, it might prove fatal.
- Fireflies – This is one insect you should never feed your beardie. It is toxic for beardies and can kill them.
- Beet Tops – Beet tops can hamper calcium absorption. Since calcium is quite important for beardies, it is best to avoid this food.
- Spinach – While greens are good for your beardie, spinach is an exception. Spinach, too, inhibits calcium absorption making it an unwanted item on your beardie’s diet chart. However, spinach if given occasionally, in small quantities, is not harmful.
- Rhubarb – Rhubarb is very toxic to bearded dragons. Eating rhubarb can be fatal for a beardie.
- Lettuce – Lettuce is not as dangerous as the other foods on the list. However, it is known to cause issues with the digestive tract including diarrhea. Also, the nutritional content of lettuce leaves is not relevant to a beardie’s needs.
If your beardie eats any of these foods, it is best to notify your vet so that the beardie can be helped before its condition worsens.
The diet for bearded dragons in captivity should be as close as possible to their diet in the wild. There is absolutely no reason to burden their digestive system with foods that we humans find healthy and good.
Even if beardies can digest some of the treats we give them, these are mostly unnecessary and sometimes even damaging. You can ensure that your beardie is getting a balanced diet by feeding it, in moderation, insects, veggies, and fruit.
Do bearded dragons sleep? Yes, they do. You can find bearded dragons burying themselves in sand to sleep. It is also common to find bearded dragons sprawled out at weird angles or lying on their backs as they fall asleep while basking.
Can bearded dragons eat eggs? Bearded dragons can have cooked eggs in small portions as rare treats. Due to the high protein content, eggs are not an ideal food for adult beardies. The protein in eggs is a lot more compared to a beardie’s requirement.
Do beardies like water? Most beardies like water. Giving them access to a small tub of water is a great way to let them play around and, at the same time, stay hydrated.