Due to their versatility, tomatoes are a favorite food item in the majority of homes, if not all of them. Tomatoes are one of the most consumed food items in America, but did you know that they were thought to be poisonous for many years?
This is likely because they belong to the same family as deadly nightshades and other poisonous plants.
Tomatoes are very nutritious. But you may be wondering whether bearded dragons can eat them. In this article, we’ll discuss everything related to bearded dragons and tomatoes. Whether they are safe, if they improve their diet, and how to prepare tomatoes for your bearded dragon.
Let’s get straight into it.
Nutrition facts for tomatoes
The nutritional value of 100g of tomatoes:
|Carbs, by difference||3.18||grams|
Note: We have included only the most relevant information.
Can bearded dragons eat tomatoes?
Bearded dragons come from habitats where food is in short supply, and that’s why they eat a wide variety of food items. They need a varied diet because they are omnivores, which includes a variety of plants, including weeds, fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
Bearded dragons can eat fresh tomatoes, but as with other kinds of fruit, they should eat them in moderation. You must be wondering why I said “fruit.” Technically, a tomato is a fruit, but nutritionists recognize it as a vegetable (but we’re not here to nitpick).
Fruits should comprise 10% of a bearded dragon’s plant-based diet since they lack many essential nutrients to be healthy. However, beardies can benefit from their nutritional value if eaten in appropriate portions. Therefore, you must never offer tomatoes to bearded dragons daily or as part of their main diet. You can offer them as an occasional treat or as part of a salad.
Can bearded dragons eat all kinds of tomatoes?
There are many different types of tomatoes, but the common varieties are cherry tomatoes, green tomatoes, and grape tomatoes. Bearded dragons can eat regular, cherry, and grape tomatoes as long as they eat them in small amounts.
Cherry tomatoes have a little more sugar compared to grape and regular tomatoes, but they’re safe for beardies to eat in smaller amounts. If taken in large quantities, the sugar can cause digestive problems.
Bearded dragons should not eat green (unripe) tomatoes. They contain a toxic component called solanine, which is harmful to your pet.
Can bearded dragons eat tomato seeds?
Tomato seeds are not toxic to bearded dragons but should be avoided because they can cause choking and may lead to impaction. Also, these seeds have a little nutritional benefit for beardies, so it’s a good idea to avoid them altogether.
Can bearded dragons eat tomato leaves and stems?
Bearded dragons shouldn’t eat tomato leaves and stem because they are toxic. The leaves and stems are high in alkaloids like tomatine and solanine, which can be detrimental to a bearded dragon’s health. Tomatine and solanine are present throughout the entire tomato plant, but they’re mostly concentrated on the leaves and stems.
Although it’s slightly toxic, tomatine can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, heart, and liver if taken in large amounts. On the other hand, solanine may harm the gastrointestinal system and the nervous system as well.
Can bearded dragons eat tomato worms?
Tomato worms or tomato hornworms are safe for bearded dragons to eat. They are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and moisture. While they’re highly nutritious, you should offer hornworms in moderation since they absorb some toxins by feeding on tomato plants, which contain high solanine levels.
You should never offer your pet wild tomato worms since they feed on plants in the nightshade family, which are highly toxic to beardies. The safest hornworms are found in pet stores because they have been fed non-toxic vegetation.
Can baby bearded dragons eat tomatoes?
Baby bearded dragons grow quickly and need as many nutrient-dense foods as possible to support their growth. Their diet should mainly consist of insects (around 80%) to provide them with sufficient protein to grow and develop. The plants they eat (20%) should be high in calcium and other essential nutrients.
Tomatoes are not an essential food for them. However, they can still eat them in small amounts. You can offer a small piece of tomato, less than you’d offer an adult bearded dragon.
Health benefits of tomatoes for bearded dragons
While tomatoes play a secondary role in a bearded dragon’s diet, they have several benefits for your pet.
Low sugar content
Of all the fruits you can give your beardie, tomatoes are among the fruits with the least sugar content. Sugar doesn’t offer your pet any healthy benefits apart from an energy boost.
Tomatoes have low sugar content, so, unlike foods with high sugar levels, they can’t affect your pet’s heart health and cause health complications such as obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver.
Low oxalic acid
Oxalic acid (oxalates) is a compound found in many plants, including vegetables and fruits. In large quantities, oxalic acid can prevent calcium absorption in a bearded dragon’s body, causing calcium deficiency or metabolic bone disease (MBD).
Tomatoes are low in oxalic acid, making them a great addition to your pet’s diet.
Excellent source of vitamin A
Tomatoes contain a good amount of vitamin A, a vital nutrient for a bearded dragon. It can help boost the immune system, vision, reproduction, and overall growth.
However, you need to be wary because too much vitamin A can be toxic and make your pet ill.
Contain antioxidants, and other minerals and micronutrients
Tomatoes contain antioxidants such as lycopene, which can promote heart health and boost the immune system.
In addition, they contain other essential vitamins (including vitamins C, K, and B9) and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. All of these nutrients can improve a bearded dragon’s health.
Risks of feeding tomatoes to your bearded dragon
While they have some amazing benefits for bearded dragons, tomatoes also have drawbacks, leading to health complications, especially if they’re taken often or in large amounts.
Like citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruits, tomatoes contain citric acid.
Although the acid is not as much as in citrus fruits, it can upset their stomach and cause digestive problems and diarrhea if bearded dragons eat tomatoes frequently. Over time, the diarrhea can result in dehydration.
Tomatoes contain too much phosphorous
Phosphorous works the same as oxalic acid in bearded dragons. It binds with calcium, preventing calcium absorption into a beardie’s bloodstream. Calcium is one of the most important minerals in these animals for bone development and growth. Therefore, if your pet eats foods with high phosphorous levels, it can develop calcium deficiency, which can be fatal.
Phosphorous is not the only nutrient that makes tomatoes unsafe. But they also have a low calcium content. Too little calcium is dangerous for bearded dragons.
Vitamin A toxicity
Tomatoes not only contain vitamin A but also beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A when it gets into a bearded dragon’s body.
Too much vitamin A can be toxic to beardies, especially if given too many tomatoes and vitamin A supplements together.
They can suffer from symptoms such as dehydration, weight loss, body swelling, and decreased energy levels.
How to prepare tomatoes for your bearded dragon
You should offer your pet tomatoes occasionally, a quarter of a regular tomato once a month. Considering the health risks that we’ve discussed, feeding tomatoes to your beardie once a month is considered a safe limit.
Note: Bearded dragons can eat raw tomatoes, so you don’t need to cook them.
Here’s the best way to prepare and offer tomatoes to bearded dragons.
- Buy organic tomatoes – these are free from pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals.
- Supervise to ensure that the tomato is ripe – don’t offer overripe, bruised, or rotten tomatoes.
- Wash thoroughly to eliminate dirt, debris, and chemicals.
- Cut the tomato into a quarter, or use one cherry tomato.
- Remove all the seeds – they are a choking hazard.
- In a bowl, chop the quarter into small pieces – as a general rule of thumb, you should feed bearded dragons food about the same size as the width between their eyes.
- Serve as salad toppers.
Tomatoes supply your pet with a lot of nutrients, but always remember that moderation is key. You should serve no more than a quarter of a tomato once a month to ensure that your pet reaps all of its benefits.
Although they have all these nutritional benefits if taken in limited amounts, tomatoes contain alkaloids, a compound that can be toxic to bearded dragons. In addition, they are acidic, contain high phosphorous levels, and can cause vitamin A toxicity.
If you choose to offer tomatoes to your beardie, wash them well, and remove the seeds, stems, and leaves. And since they have low calcium levels, you can dust them with a calcium supplement.