Cabbages, whether red, green or variegated, are vegetables that are often eaten together with course meals across the world.
Previously we checked what bearded dragons eat. It may even concern you if these lizards can eat all cabbage species or not.
So, can bearded dragons eat cabbages? The simple answer is YES! Bearded dragon will feed on all varieties of cabbages without any problems. Actually, cabbages have rich vitamin composition (needed to boost beardie’s immune system), and high calcium: phosphorous ratio (that prevents metabolic bone disease).
Cabbages have high dietary fiber (which prevents constipation), large mineral contents (needed for growth and development of tissues), contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, low fat content (thus preventing obesity) as well as relatively low sugar level that help reduce cases of diabetes and high blood pressure on your bearded dragon.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cabbage?
But it is necessary to keep close monitoring of the sugar and water levels of your beardie as excess intake may result from unregulated cabbage feeding. Read also; Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?
1. High calcium: phosphorous ratio
Cabbages have proven to be one of the best vegetables with very high calcium: phosphorous ratio of 2:1 or 2.4:1. This ideally mean that your bearded dragon will enjoy high uptake of calcium (necessary for strengthening of bones) into bloodstream without phosphorous inhibition. Actually, phosphorous is a dangerous cofactor that inhibits calcium absorption in the blood if it occurs in high quantity in any animal feed.
Problems that results from excess phosphorous (such as metabolic bone disease – calcium deficiency disease) will be reduced far or get eliminated by feeding your beardie with cabbages.
Green cabbages like Savoy and Nana cabbage species show high calcium: phosphorous ratio as compared to red and variegated cabbage species. Read also – Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mango?
Storing harvested cabbage for 2 to 5 days before feeding your beardie will improve the calcium uptake level and reduce phosphorous activeness. This is important.
2. Rich Vitamin Composition
Vitamin K, which regulates clotting of blood in case of injuries and building/replacing worn out tissues, is found in very large quantities in cabbages (especially Savoy species). For every 100g of cabbage, there is 54% to 83% of RDI of Vitamin K.
As compared to compared to other vegetables like kales and corianders, cabbages shows 64.6mcg extra of vitamin K. Cabbages also have vitamin D and B12, but in low quantities as compared to other vitamins.
Also, cabbages Vitamin C (51.5mg of RDI- needed from proper functioning of the bones, blood vessels and smooth skin /muscle flexibility), Vitamin B1 (0.11mg – which boost nerve signals and accelerates carbohydrates breakdown to give energy for your beardie), Vitamin B6 (required for fat/protein metabolism and red blood cell creation) as well as vitamin A that boosts the beardie’s vision during the night.
3. High dietary fiber 2.5g
For every 100g of fresh cabbage, there is 2.5g to 3.21g of fibers. Green cabbages have more fibers than variegated and red cabbage species.
Fibers will keep a healthy digestion/alimentary canal by fueling regular and smooth bowel movement. It is the insoluble fibers found in cabbages that adds bulk to the stool network, bind it well thus preventing your beardie from constipation (difficulties in releasing bowels).
Cabbages also have 1.2g to 1.5g of soluble fibers, which adds to the main meal during digestion – these cruciferous fibers decreases the cholesterol level and helps break down low-density lipoproteins that may lead to heart attack or high blood pressure.
Feed your beardie with cabbages that are 3days after harvesting to a period just before the outer leaves begins to turn yellow so as to acquire maximum fiber content – fibers loses action ability when the cabbage turns yellow.
4. Large mineral contents
Cabbages have high mineral component such as potassium (367mg per 100g of cabbage) that is needed in to regulated nerve signals, ensure smooth contraction of muscles, maintain optimal osmotic balance as well as prevent kidney stones and lower blood pressure.
In addition, cabbage has other minerals like magnesium (12mg), iron (0.47mg), zinc (0.18), manganese (0.19mg) and sodium (0.78mg) that help in growth and repair of beardie’s tissues as well as boost its immune system.
5. Low fat content
Cabbage generally have low fat content of about 0.2g for every 100g of cabbage. This quantity is very low as compared to over vegetables like lettuce of broccoli.
Fat is quite dangerous for beardie as excess of it accumulates at the tail and berry lining making it inactive or docile. Read Also; Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bananas?
In addition, excess fat will cause your beardie to generate high blood pressure and heart failure or stroke if not attended to accordingly.
In comparison, red cabbage species have lower fat content than variegated and green cabbage species. You can therefore supplement main meal with savoy or red cabbage species if you want to lower fat intake of your beaded dragon.
6. Relatively low sugar and starch level
Fresh Cabbage has lower sugar content of about 2.3g to 3.4g for every 150g of cabbage. This sugar level is relatively low and will not have effect your pet beardie if proper feeding routine is followed as advised in this article (below).
High sugar level will lead to high blood pressure, heart attack as well as kidney failure. Further, excess sugar may cause diabetes.
Cabbage has low starch content (7.3%). Excess starch (in combined form) in a meal will be difficult for most beardie species to digest. Actually, starch draws a lot of water from intestine for digestion process and needs high energy thus may cause constipation.
Low starch as compared to other nutrients (all combined) is needed to help ease digestion process of your beardie.
NB: Yellow cabbages (about to dry) are more sugary and should be avoided as beardie’s meal.
7. High energy generation
When broken down through digestion, cabbages will give out 103 kJ to 113kJ or 25cal of energy for every 100g of cabbages. The value is quite high as compared to other vegetables such as kales, green beans or corianders.
Enough energy is needed for beardie’s daily activities such as moving about, feeding as well as keeping it warm (homeostatic function)
8. Powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
Cabbages have powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols that will prevent your beardie from damages caused by free radicals (molecules with odd electrons that damages body cells) on body tissues.
The anti-inflammatory compound (kaempferol and sulforaphane) found in cabbage will protect your bearded dragon from diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease as well as heart disease.
Importantly, these compounds will also reduce any chronic and acute inflammatory diseases. Read also; Can Bearded Dragons Eat Grapes?
How to Prepare Cabbages for Your Bearded Dragon
Follow the procedure below when preparing cabbages for your bearded dragon:
1. Harvest mature cabbages (avoid immature cabbages as they have low calcium level and nutrients aren’t fully stocked) and remove the base stalk – this prevents draining of nutrients from the cabbage.
2. Store the cabbage for 3 to 6 days before feeding your beardie – this will improve calcium uptake, drain excess water and reduce phosphorous activeness.
3. Remove the outer foliage leaves (may have infections) and clean the cabbage with warm water or treated water to remove any poisonous insects (fireflies) or chemical that may be in contact.
4. Split the cabbage (into 3 or 4 pieces) and remove the mid-rib/talk – this is hard for beardie to digest.
5. Chop the cabbage in to small sizes (size not larger than the space between beardie’s eyes). Always check (when chopping) any possibilities of insects or worms that could have hid between leaf blades.
6. Mix the cabbages with fruits like grapes, mangoes or bananas to improve the taste (normally, cabbages are not beardies’ favorite meals).
7. Feed your beardie with 250g to 650g of cabbages once or twice per week. You can supplement cabbage salad with other main meals like mealworms or silkworms.
Cabbage Species You Shouldn’t Feed Your Bearded Dragon
1. Cabbages with very low glycemic index
Glycemic index determines how carbs are absorbed into beardies bloodstream. Most cabbage species such as nana cabbage and red cabbage have relatively low glycemic index that affects starch breakdown.
This is attributed by presence of certain cofactors that prevent starch conversion/digestion. Select cabbage species that have a higher glycemic index e.g. savoy so as to eliminate digestion problems that results from undigested starch
2. Cabbages with high water content
Freshly harvested cabbages have high water content of 60% to 85% (116g out of 150g) in relation to dry matters. As said earlier, cabbages should be stored for 3 to 6 days to drain excess water.
Avoid feeding your bearded dragon with variety of cabbages that have high water content e.g. nana cabbage, before draining period.
Excess water that accumulate in the beardie due to continuous cabbage feeding will make your pet docile, have low blood pressure or experience diarrhea and runny poo. Moreover, over hydration that result from excess water will lead to osmotic imbalance thus causing homeostatic problems in your beardie.
3. Cabbages with high sugar level
Many varieties of cabbages have relatively low sugar content (2.3g to 3.4g for every 150g of cabbage). However, sugar level increases as the cabbage over stay after harvesting (as it tends to turn yellow).
On the other hand, species like red cabbages and variegated cabbages have higher sugar content if they over stay in the farm or in store thus should be used within the first 10 days after harvesting.
High sugar level (as stated in this article) cause high blood pressure, kidney fatigue as well as heart problems. You will need to select low sugar cabbage for your beardie’s health safety and avoid cabbages that have overstayed in stores (15- 24 days).
Which Parts of Cabbages Don’t You Feed Your bearded dragon
It is required of you to remove the following parts of the cabbages before feeding your beardie:
1. The middle stalk/midrib
This is the hardest part of the cabbage that is found at the center and prolongs outside to form the taproot network. Though nutritious, your beardie won’t be in a position to digest it easily (hard).
In addition, the section has tough starch composition that impairs the digestion process. Actually, the stalk may get stuck in the alimentary canal causing impaction or chock your beardie to death.
2. Foliage leaves/first leaves
First/foliage leaves of cabbages should be removed as they contain many chemicals (acquired at initial stage – if cabbage is not organically grown) that may impair/affect your beardie’s digestive system.
Moreover, these leaves stores excess oxalate (impairs digestion) needed for cabbage build up at the earlier stage of growth and development.
Bearded Dragons will feed on all species of cabbages to acquire vitamins, minerals and enough energy needed for growth and development. Moreover, cabbages have dense fiber network that will add bulk to beardie’s stool thus preventing constipation.
High calcium: phosphorous ratio should be one of the reasons of selecting cabbages as regular diet for your bearded dragon.
Remember to involve qualified veterinarian often to check your beardie’s health, if your consider cabbages as a diet, since they contain average sugar and water level that may rise if not monitored.