Food sources for bearded dragons tend to be sparse in their natural habitat, so they have adapted to eat both plants and animals.
This article will discuss everything you need to know regarding adding butternut squash to your bearded dragon’s diet, the positive and negative dietary effects, and the best ways to prepare it.
Let us jump right into it.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Butternut Squash?
The simple answer is yes. A bearded dragon’s diet changes as it matures, but both plant and protein are necessary to their diets.
As hatchlings and juveniles, they require their diet consists of 80% protein and 20% vegetables. When they become adults, that ratio changes to 20% protein and 80% vegetables.
Bearded dragons typically eat all kinds of squash, including acorn squash, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, and butternut squash.
They also eat various other things, but our focus is on butternut squash.
The Positives Of Butternut Squash For Bearded Dragons
Your bearded dragon will receive a lot of nutritional benefits from butternut squash.
The calcium content in butternut squash is higher than in other squash varieties. And, like in humans, calcium is essential for the growth and maintenance of bones, muscle function, and metabolism.
Ensuring there is enough calcium in their diets is crucial to your bearded dragon’s overall health. A low blood calcium level can result in muscle twitches and lethargy, both of which can be detrimental to their health, comfort, and happiness.
Vitamin A is also abundant in butternut squash. While all vitamins and minerals play a vital role in maintaining your bearded dragon’s overall health, they tend to be particularly sensitive to Vitamin A.
In high doses, it can be toxic to them. Butternut squash is a safe source of Vitamin A since it contains beta-carotene and is not a Vitamin A artificial supplement.
Beta-carotene is safer because your bearded dragon’s body can convert it into the amount of Vitamin A it needs, excreting the rest, thus preventing a toxic level from being absorbed.
Vitamin C, again similar to humans, is an integral part of your bearded dragon’s diet. Butternut squash is higher in Vitamin C than other squash varieties, preventing them from developing a deficiency.
A Vitamin C deficient bearded dragon will exhibit signs such as:
- Signs of bruising
- Bleeding gums
- Separation and tearing of the skin
- Occasional diarrhea
Low Sugar Content
Low sugar content in butternut squash also makes it a great snack for your bearded dragon. An excess amount of sugar in their diet (more than 5%) can lead to your pet being overweight, eventually leading to disease.
Bearded dragons have not evolved to cope with excess weight, so it can be potentially fatal to them. Sugars can also get caught in their teeth and gums (especially with softer foods), causing periodontal disease.
The low phosphorus concentration is also a positive nutritional component of butternut squash. Phosphorus is a chemical that prohibits the absorption of calcium.
As previously discussed, calcium is crucial to your bearded dragon’s health, so feeding them foods high in phosphorus should be avoided altogether.
The Negatives Of Butternut Squash For Bearded Dragons
The good news is, there are not many adverse effects on your bearded dragon from consuming butternut squash.
Of course, too much of anything is not healthy. Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that contribute to your bearded dragon’s well-being, but an overload of these will cause problems.
For example, as explained above, too little Vitamin C can cause issues such as diarrhea. However, too much Vitamin C can cause diarrhea as well.
Bearded dragons are especially susceptible to Vitamin A toxicity. Although the beta-carotene in butternut squash is the safer option, an overload is still possible.
Your safest bet is to create a balanced diet, including butternut squash. A suitably varied diet will ensure no vitamin overload, keeping your bearded dragon as healthy as can be.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Butternut Squash Raw?
Yes, bearded dragons can eat butternut squash raw. There is no harm in feeding them raw butternut squash as they have grown accustomed to raw food in the wild.
Vitamin and mineral wise, feeding your bearded dragon the butternut squash raw assures that they will be getting the entire amount. Many essential nutrients are lost during the cooking process.
However, it is important to make sure you give them small pieces, especially if the butternut squash is raw, as they tend to choke on harder foods.
How To Prepare Butternut Squash For Bearded Dragons
The best way to prepare butternut squash for your bearded dragon is to peel it, chop it up into small pieces (no bigger than the space between their eyes is a reasonable estimate), or grate it with a cheese grater.
Feed it to them raw. If you cook the butternut squash, it breaks down the proteins, causing a loss of much-needed vitamins and minerals.
However, aside from the loss of nutrients, cooked butternut squash is not necessarily dangerous to your bearded dragon. Some bearded dragon owners have said that theirs will not eat the butternut squash if it is raw. Others have said the opposite is the case.
Try serving it to your bearded dragon in different ways (grated vs. cubed) and see which they like more before opting to cook it. It is simply healthier for them raw, so exhausting all the uncooked options first is a good idea.
Final Notes & Foods To Limit/Avoid
(Check out what vegetables can bearded dragons eat.)
No two bearded dragons are the same. They all respond to their owners and environments differently, which can also mean they will also prefer certain foods over others (yes, just like humans).
They all have unique and distinct personalities, which is part of what makes them such fascinating pets. Each bearded dragon will develop its own preferences when it comes to food, so be sure to provide them with as many different options as possible.
Avoid iceberg lettuce (or any other head lettuce) and celery as these are high in water and fiber but low in nutrients. These foods can cause stool problems for your bearded dragon.
Avocados, mushrooms, and citrus fruits are big no-nos since they are poisonous to bearded dragons and cause major digestive issues. Fruits are safe in small, modest amounts. They are high in water and sugar, so you do not want to give them too much.
A helpful tip: Sometimes, young bearded dragons will not eat their greens. If this a situation you are faced with, try mixing in some fruits to help attract them to their green foods.
There are many options for foods to include in your bearded dragon’s diet. Butternut squash is definitely a good option. It is healthy, contains essential nutrients, and is a general favorite of all bearded dragons.
Due to their inherent pickiness when it comes to food, your preparation of the raw butternut squash may need to vary.
As long as the pieces are small enough, you are good to go. So get creative and have fun preparing food for your bearded dragon. They will surely be grateful to you.