Bananas (musa spp) are widely eaten at homes in cooked form or as snacks when ripe. It concerns many whether bearded dragons can feed on bananas, whether ripe or raw. May be you even wonders if banana peels, leaves or stems can be used to feed these lizards.
So, can bearded dragon eat bananas? The direct answer is YES! Bearded dragons will comfortably feed on bananas whether ripe or unripe. Bananas have rich vitamin composition (needed to boost immunity), high dietary fibers (specially unripe bananas – which prevents constipation), high potassium content (needed to regulate blood pressure and kidney stones).
Bananas have strong antioxidants (dopamine, catechins – reduces heart diseases), low salt and sugar content (especially unripe bananas- which reduces diabetes and teeth decay), low water level (that reduce over hydration) as well as rich mineral components such as folate, iron, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, manganese & calcium, which improves growth and development of bones, tissues and organs.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bananas?? 7 Secrets
Yes, but bananas shouldn’t be fed as the main meal since they contain low calcium: phosphorous ratio (leads to metabolic bone disease). These are the key considerations in caring for beaded dragons.
They have relatively high sugar level (some ripe bananas – causing diabetes) as well as low glycemic index (controls carbs uptake into the bloodstream). Controlled and supplemented banana feeding is therefore required.
1. Rich Vitamin Composition
Bananas are rich in vitamin A (10.67mg – which is necessary for normal vision, boosts reproduction and immune system), vitamin B1 (that helps in breakdown of carbohydrates to give energy on your beardie as well as boost nerve signals).
Bananas also have vitamin B6 (0.4mg-needed for creation of red blood cells and metabolism of protein & fat) and vitamin C (8.4mg-necessary for growth & development as well as repair of all worn out body tissues).
Ripe bananas have more vitamins than starch as compared to unripe ones, especially Williams and apple banana species. Related – Can Bearded Dragons Eat Grapes?
2. High Dietary fibers
Bananas have a high dietary fiber-mainly pectin (that’s water-soluble) which is needed to prevent constipation. For every 100g of banana meal, there is 3.1g of both soluble and insoluble fibers that helps lower cardiovascular disease CVD and coronary heart disease CHD.
Notably, unripe bananas have high fibers than ripe ones and at times are difficult for your beardie to digest. It is required that you feed your beardie with bananas that are just about to ripen so that you may acquire maximum nutrients from either side (ripe and unripe).
Though edible, green bananas should, least be used as meal for your beardie as it draws a lot of water during digestion thus leading to constipation on excess feeding.
3. High Potassium Content
For every 100g of banana fruits, there is 422mg to 453mg of potassium mineral on average. This quantity is quite high as compared to other fruits such as grapes, mangoes or apricots.
Potassium mainly regulates fluid balance, nerve signals and enables smooth muscle contraction of your beardie. NB: Ripe bananas have more potassium content that unripe ones.
In addition, high potassium in bananas will help reduce water retention in the body and lower blood pressure of your beardie. Importantly, potassium will protect your beardie against kidney stones and osteoporosis/stroke.
4. Strong Antioxidant
Bananas (especially Cavendish species) are considered to have high antioxidants such as dopamine, cetachins and gallocatechins. Gallocatechins will help reduce cholesterol (that cause clogging of inner lumen of blood vessels) accumulation in your beardie by breaking any cholesterol traces.
On the other hand, dopamine will enhance oxidation of low-density lipoproteins and reduce plasma oxidative stress.
Importantly, the Trans-β carotene and cetachins found in bananas will further help reduce heart diseases and generative illness that may attack your beardie.
5. Low Salt and Sugar content
Apple bananas, cooking banana and Williams’s banana species have low salts and sugar levels, especially when raw. There is actually 4.5mg to 12mg sugar for every 145g of banana fruits.
Starch in unripe bananas inhibits salts and sugar concentration – just like with Cucumbers. However, as these bananas ripen, the sugar and salt levels increases.
Excess sugar in some ripe banana species such as red bananas will cause insulin resistance that lead to diabetes mellitus/insipidus in your beardie or cause obesity. In addition, sugar accumulation on their teeth will cause teeth decay.
Low salt in the blood is needed for healthy beardie’s life since excess salt will cause water retention and high blood pressure, which may lead to stroke or heart attack.
6. Low Water Level
As compared to other fruits such as mangoes, pawpaw, grapes or berries, bananas have far low water content. On average, bananas contain 34.5% to 59.2% water, which is mixed with solid carbs and calories content.
Unripe bananas (especially plantains and red species) have a higher water content that reduces as the banana ripens. Read too – Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cantaloupe?.
Low water content in necessary to reduce over hydration on your beardie. Excess water causes runny/watery poo, drooling, kidney failure as well as osmotic imbalance in your bearded dragon.
The water content in bananas, unlike in other fruits, is store in combined form thus will only be used after the food is completely digested.
7. Rich Mineral Content
Bananas are rich in minerals such as Iron (which prevents anemia), Calcium (5mg – for strengthening of bones and teeth), Magnesium (27mg), Zinc (0.2mg), Sodium (1mg) and Manganese (0.3 mg) for every 100g of bananas.
These minerals will help boost growth and development of body tissues of your beardie as well as boost its immunity.
8. No cholesterol and improves insulin sensitivity
Most banana species such as Cavendish and Williams are cholesterol free. This means that your beardie won’t suffer from cholesterol associated disease such as heart failure or arteries clogging/thrombosis, which lead to death of many bearded dragons.
In addition, ripe bananas improves insulin sensitivity making it quick acting and thus reducing chances of diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure on your beardie.
Can Bearded Dragon Eat Bananas Peels, Stems and Leaves?
Most beardie species will eat banana peels and leaves but not banana stems. Actually, banana peels contain vitamin B6 (which protect Type 2 diabetes, weight loss), vitamin B12, polyphenol and carotenoids, which boost health immunity of your beardie.
Normally, feed your beardie with fresh peels of ripe bananas. Unripe banana peels are highly rejected by most beardie species.
Banana peels are not beardies’ favorite, therefore, your will need to mix chopped pieces with other fruits like grapes, guavas or main meals.
How to prepare Bananas for your bearded dragon.
Follow the following procedure when preparing bananas for your bearded dragon.
1. Harvest bananas while unripe and separate them from stalk.
2. Allow them to drip water for two to three days if you intend to feed your beardie when they are still raw.
3. You can keep them for one or two weeks (until they near ripening) in open air without adding any substance that may quicken ripening process – this will help maintain high nutrients content available.
4. Clean them with warm or treated water before peeling to remove any chemical or poisonous insects such as fireflies that may be on the skin.
5. Peel the bananas and chop them into small pieces that are not larger than the space between the beardie’s eyes.
6. Alternatively, you can chop the bananas without peeling after cleaning – however, some beardie species won’t eat bananas with peels.
8. You should supplement banana feeds with main diet always. Feed 250g to 600g of bananas per given meal.
NB: It’s necessary to feed you beardie with bananas nearing to ripen than feeding them with immediate or over ripen bananas.
How Often Should You Feed Your Bearded Dragon?
Bananas should be used as occasional meal due some problems (mentioned in this article) that may arise when used as main diet for your bearded dragon. Feed your beardie once or twice per month with banana salad.
Avoid excess use of green bananas combination when preparing the meal since they have very low glycemic index that lowers the carbs uptake rate.
Baby beardie shouldn’t be fed using immediate harvested unripe bananas or fully ripe bananas as this may affects its digestive track or make it docile.
Occasional feeding is also attributed by low calcium: phosphorous (0.3:1). High phosphorous quantity in bananas as compared to calcium affects the calcium (necessary for bones and teeth strengthening) uptake leading to a calcium deficiency disease called metabolic bone disease.
NB: It is importance to improve calcium levels using power calcium supplement regularly.
Which Types Of Bananas Should You Avoid Feeding Your Bearded Dragon?
1. Bananas with too much starch
Excess starch (especially found in unripe bananas) is hard to be digested by many beardie species. In addition, starch draws a lot of water during digestion leading to constipation if continuous banana feeding is undertaken.
You will need to use bananas with less starch level like apple bananas or allow them to ripen to lower the starch levels before feeding your beardie.
2. Banana with excess phosphorous content
However, you should always select a banana species that has the lowest phosphorous content as it inhibits calcium uptake into the blood leading to calcium deficiency.
3. Green bananas
Most green bananas/plantains species have high starch content (when raw) and low glycemic index, which affects the digestion of most beardie species. In addition, plantains have higher phosphorous content that is undesirable for your beardie.
4. Bananas with too much sugar content
Excess sugar will cause high blood pressure, heart attack/stroke as well as kidney fatigue on your beardies if not controlled. In addition, sugar from bananas clogs on the teeth leading to teeth decay.
Avoid regular feed of such bananas as red bananas in order to curb associated sugar problems
5. Bananas with low glycemic index
Glycemic index determines how fast carbs in food enters bloodstreams. A lower index is associated with high loss of carbs from the meals due to low absorption into the blood stream.
Actually, low glycemic index in bananas results from high starch and fiber structure (especially immediate harvested unripe bananas).
You will have to select banana species such as Williams that has higher glycemic index for your beardie.
6. Bananas with low calcium: phosphorous ratio
Most banana species have low calcium: phosphorous ratio thus occasional feeding is recommended. However, some banana species have higher ratio than others do. Therefore, you are required to select those bananas that have higher calcium: phosphorous ratio in order to reduce occurrence of metabolic bone disease that may occur.
So, can bearded dragons eat bananas? Bearded dragons will not only eat bananas, but will also feed on their peels and leaves. However, bananas should not be used as main diet. Occasionally, feed your beardie with 250g to 600g of banana salad that is supplemented with other main meal.
Avoid banana species that have high sugar level, low glycemic index as well as low calcium: phosphorous ratio. Importantly, always engage qualified veterinary to provide medical checkups after every 3 months in case you often feed your beardie with bananas.