Blackberries are a tasty treat that both humans and animals love. It’s hard to find a living being that won’t take a bite of this fruit!
But can bearded dragons eat blackberries?
This guide will explain the impact this fruit will have on your beardie and teach you how to prepare these berries correctly.
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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Blackberries?
Blackberries are a tart treat that most bearded dragons are more than willing to gobble up. These lizards adore fruits, and many herpetology lovers like to use them as toppers to make greens more enticing.
Bearded dragons can eat blackberries. However, they need to be occasional treats rather than dietary staples. While the berries are full of beneficial nutrients, eating too many can cause more trouble than you or your beardie bargained for.
Are They A Healthy Snack?
Don’t let the small size of these fruits fool you. Even a few pieces pack a big, nutritious punch for your bearded dragon. Not only do they taste great, but your bearded dragon can experience some fantastic health benefits when they have blackberries.
One of the best things about blackberries is that they’re chock-full of vitamins. Each morsel contains Vitamins A, C, and K.
Vitamins A and C do a lot to improve your reptile’s immune system. They also help with ocular health, reproduction, and overall development. Meanwhile, Vitamin K focuses on tissue and blood clots.
Blackberries even have Vitamin B6 and folate. They improve the central nervous system, boost metabolism, and govern red blood cell formation.
On top of the nutritional vitamin profile, blackberries have tons of great minerals as well. The fruits contain magnesium, zinc, potassium, and more.
As if that weren’t enough, blackberries are famous for their antioxidants. Antioxidants are renowned for their ability to prevent cell oxidation and fight off the effects of free radicals. With continued consumption, they may decrease your lizard’s risks of suffering from cancer, heart diseases, and other unwanted health conditions.
Expert Tip: Of course, blackberries are also a reliable source of hydration. Flavorful taste aside, the berries are about 88 percent water. As a result, your beardie can experience a healthy boost of hydration whenever they eat one. It’s a great way to combat dehydration when you have a stubborn lizard that won’t drink!
Bearded dragons need a good amount of calcium to stay healthy. Unlike the reptiles that roam free in the wild, pet bearded dragons don’t have daily access to the sun. As a result, they cannot get Vitamin D3, which plays a big part in their ability to absorb calcium.
Sure, there are ways to overcome a lack of sunlight. UVB lights, a proper habitat setup, and supplements are all great choices. But many herpetology enthusiasts prefer to plan their bearded dragon’s diet to maximize calcium absorption.
The issue with most fruits is that phosphorus outweighs calcium. Phosphorus binds to calcium, which prevents your bearded dragon’s body from absorbing the calcium they need to keep their bones safe.
With blackberries, that’s not the case. Blackberries have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1.3:1. That means that there’s still calcium leftover even after the phosphorus does its worst. It’s in the safe range for bearded dragons and won’t contribute too much to their risk of metabolic bone disease.
Last but not least, there’s fiber. Blackberries have plenty of dietary fiber to keep your bearded dragon regular. The right amount can keep their digestive system running smoothly.
Needless to say, bearded dragons can have blackberries because these fruits are anything but empty calories. They’re nutritionally dense and act as a healthy alternative to other snack options.
How Often Can You Give Blackberries To Your Bearded Dragon?
Even with all the impressive nutrients in blackberries, limiting how many your bearded dragon eats is very important.
At most, you should only feed your bearded dragon blackberries once every other week. During those sparse feedings, you can provide two or three berries maximum.
Expert Tip: If you’re providing other fruits in their diet, you may want to consider limiting them even more! Bearded dragons on a fruit-rich diet should only consume blackberries once a month or so.
With all of the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, you might find it tempting to make blackberries a regular part of your lizard’s diet. However, doing so will only create a slew of health problems that can potentially shorten your bearded dragon’s lifespan.
While blackberries are nutrient-rich and tasty, they also have some unsavory qualities.
The first is the sugar content. There’s a lot of sugar in blackberries! That’s why they taste so great!
Unfortunately, too much sugar can wreak havoc on your bearded dragon’s health. Captive reptiles don’t have the means to burn as many calories as their wild counterparts. As a result, the risk of gaining unwanted weight is relatively high.
Excess sugar can lead to obesity. Not only that, but it can cause blood sugar issues, heart failure, and diabetes. These are all health complications that you can easily avoid by not letting your bearded dragon have too many blackberries (and other sources of sugar).
Another problem is the oxalates. Also known as oxalic acid, oxalates are a compound that occurs naturally in many foods. They’re not inherently bad, but having too much can lead to adverse effects for bearded dragons.
Oxalates react similarly to phosphorus. They bind to calcium and inhibit natural absorption. While the calcium to phosphorus ratio in blackberries is in the safe range for bearded dragons, eating too many can cause trouble because of the oxalates.
Regular blackberry consumption will dramatically increase your bearded dragon’s risks for metabolic bone disease. If you’re even remotely familiar with this disease, you know how big of a deal that is. Metabolic bone disease can create brittle bones, leading to significant injuries and skeletal deformities.
The sugar and oxalic acid content are bad enough. But believe it or not, even the moisture content in blackberries is another cause for concern.
A boost of moisture here and there is excellent for combating dehydration. But too much water presents a considerable problem. Bearded dragons aren’t built like humans. They can’t deal with excess water in their system.
So while bearded dragons can eat blackberries, eating too many can lead to diarrhea and a host of other stomach issues.
How To Prepare Blackberries For Them To Eat
So, you know that bearded dragons can eat blackberries and want to include these fruits in their diet. Fortunately, doing this safely is pretty simple.
As long as you prepare the blackberries correctly and limit intake to a few pieces every other week, your pet should be fine. Here is the right way to let your beardie have blackberries.
Source Healthy Berries
Organic store-bought blackberries are your best option.
Organically grown berries are usually grown without hormones, chemical fertilizers, and potentially dangerous herbicides. They’re practically home-grown, which makes them a much safer bet for your beardie.
Expert Tip: Frozen blackberries are fine as well. However, make sure that you thaw them out first. Frozen morsels can potentially result in choking or impaction.
Avoid feeding your bearded dragon blackberry jams, compotes, or any other processed foods. While they taste similar, cooked and processed berries don’t have the same nutritional content. They might as well be empty calories. Plus, most cooked foods have added sugar!
Give the blackberries a good wash before letting your bearded dragon eat them. Pay special attention to any residue or debris. You want to provide nothing but the soft berry.
That means you’ll also be removing any stem remnants and leaves. Technically speaking, bearded dragons can eat blackberry leaves. However, they have very minimal nutritional content (making them not worth the trouble).
Chop If Necessary
Bearded dragons can usually eat blackberries whole. Average-sized pieces shouldn’t be an issue at all.
That said, bigger blackberries might need a bit of extra preparation. The same goes for firmer morsels or berries that you feed younger beardies. If the blackberries look a little too big, just chop them in half!
Bearded dragons will want to eat plain blackberries without much effort on your part. The aroma is more than enough to entice them!
If you want, you can add them to a mix of greens. Doing so can make the entire meal more flavorful, ensuring that your bearded dragon eats everything without hesitation.
Make sure to keep an eye on your beardie in the days following (especially after you’ve recently introduced this fruit into their diet). They may experience an upset stomach if they’re not used to eating blackberries. Start slow and work your way up to the recommended amount if that’s the case.
Your pet bearded dragon can have blackberries, you just need to monitor its intake and spend a few minutes preparing the fruit! As long as you’re able to do that, blackberries will make a fantastic snack to include in their diet.
If you have any blackberry-related stories or questions, we’re more than happy to help. Just send them our way and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.