Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?

Cheery Tomatoes on a Wooden Table

As a bearded dragon owner, you’re responsible entirely for their nutrition. So knowing what you can and can’t feed them is crucial. For example, new bearded dragon owners struggle with whether or not they can feed salad foods like tomatoes.

Humans always consider tomatoes good for us, but what about bearded dragons? Can they eat them? In this article, we’ll explore whether or not bearded dragons can eat tomatoes and, if they can, how much and how often.

Quick Answer: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?

A bearded dragon’s diet and nutritional needs are different from ours. In short, bearded dragons can eat tomatoes, but they should only have a quarter of one tomato per month at most, or two grape tomatoes.

As usual, when talking about bearded dragons eating fruit, the answer is usually “yes” followed by “but.” In this case, you should ensure your bearded dragon only eats tomatoes once a month and only a minimal amount.

This limit is down to the nutritional value of tomatoes and their calcium to phosphorus ratio, which we’ll discuss in more detail later. Tomatoes given to bearded dragons also need to be organic. This is because pesticides used on non-organic produce are dangerous for bearded dragons.

How Do You Prepare a Tomato for A Bearded Dragon?

Most vegetables and foods you feed your bearded dragon need different preparation techniques.

If you choose to give your bearded dragon a piece of tomato, you should prepare it in the following way:

  • Wash it thoroughly – this is essential to ensure it doesn’t have herbicides or pesticides. Buying organic is a good idea for this reason too.
  • Keep the tomato raw. Raw tomatoes are the only type of tomatoes you should give to your bearded dragon. Cooking tomatoes decreases their nutritional value. Tomatoes are naturally juicy and soft so cooking them brings no benefits.
  • Cut it into quarters and choose one quarter for your bearded dragon. For grape tomatoes, you can cut two into quarters. Essentially, they need to be small, manageable cubes or chunks. When prepared in this way, they’re easy to consume, and their juice will be able to flow freely onto their other veggies too.
  • A full-sized tomato quarter will need peeling. Grape tomatoes don’t.
  • Use a teaspoon to remove the tomato seeds and then rinse it to ensure no seeds remain.
  • Cut the tomato into pieces around 1 cm big.

Why It’s Important to Prepare Them Properly

Preparing tomatoes this way is essential so your bearded dragon will get some health benefits without any negatives. You’ll probably find your bearded dragon loves tomatoes!

Feeding tomatoes on their own isn’t recommended. For example, they should be offered as a salad topper on spinach or mustard greens. The main meal should be formed of nutrient-dense greens placed underneath the tomatoes.

Ensure your bowl is wide and shallow so your bearded dragon can easily eat the whole meal. With the tomatoes on top, they will be encouraged to eat the entire bowl.

As bearded dragons need lots of calcium, you should also dust your salad bowl with calcium powder.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cherry Tomatoes?

Yes, cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes are fine. In fact, they’re easier to portion up compared to a whole tomato. The usual rules are the same – de-seeding, chopping small and washing, etc. but you can give your bearded dragon two of these.

The nutritional benefits of cherry tomatoes are the same as larger tomatoes. However, they do have more nutrients and minerals per portion.

The biggest problem you’ll have with cherry tomatoes is removing the seeds. The number of seeds will depend on the type of tomato. Grape tomatoes (larger cherry tomatoes) are easier to deal with.

Compared to larger tomatoes, however, cherry tomatoes have the advantage of having softer skins, which means you don’t need to peel them.

A bearded dragon can safely eat two cherry tomatoes a month.

Tomatoes and Their Nutritional Benefits

We know tomatoes are good for us as people, but do you know much about their nutritional content? First, let’s look at what they contain.

Tomatoes: Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Per 100g, tomatoes contain 94.78g of water, 16 calories, 1.16g of protein, 0.19g of fat, 0.9 g of fiber, 9.75g of sugar, 5mg of calcium, 29mg of phosphorus, 42mg of sodium, 16 mg vitamin C, 0.47mg of iron plus small amounts of other vitamins.

As you can see above, tomatoes contain more phosphorus than calcium. This means the calcium to phosphorus ratio is very poor, and the bearded dragon won’t absorb any calcium contained in the tomato.

This is one of the reasons why you should limit this food to once a month.

Like most fruits, tomatoes are poor nutrition-wise and so should only be a complementary food alongside their leafy greens like swiss chard and dandelion greens.

Only 10% of a bearded dragon’s plant consumption should be fruits.

Bearded Dragon Eating

Do Bearded Dragons Gain Any Health Benefits from Eating Tomatoes?

As previously mentioned, fruit should be secondary to vegetables and insects in a bearded dragon’s diet. This is because they don’t have a lot of nutritional value.

There are some fruits, though, that do have good nutrients if they are given in appropriate quantities.

Here are two benefits of tomatoes for bearded dragons:

They Have a Good Amount of Vitamin A

Tomatoes are high in vitamin A, which is suitable for the immune system, vision, and reproduction.

Vitamin A is good for bearded dragons but there can be too much of a good thing. For example, suppose bearded dragons consume too much tomato. In that case, there could be problems with vitamin A toxicity, which can make your bearded dragon ill.

This doesn’t mean you can’t give tomatoes to your bearded dragon but it is one of the reasons we recommend only giving them it once a month so that they can consume other foods that aren’t as high in vitamin A.

If your bearded dragon takes a vitamin A supplement, you’ll need to be even more careful.

They Are High in Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for bearded dragons as it is for us. Vitamin C is necessary for skin strength and elasticity as it is vital in the production of collagen.

Bearded dragons need to get their vitamin C from external sources like fruits and vegetables. The good news is that tomatoes are rich in vitamin C.

If your bearded dragon doesn’t get enough of this essential vitamin, it might end up with skin lesions or anemia.

They Are High in Vitamin E

When you feed tomatoes to your bearded dragon, you’re also providing them with a source of vitamin E. This vitamin plays an integral part in a bearded dragon’s health. It supports a healthy heart, helps to prevent disease, and aids healing.

Vitamin E is also thought to aid shedding. Most beardies shed just fine, but sometimes a bearded dragon will have a stuck shed. This is when they find getting rid of their loose and dead skin challenging.

There are many ways bearded dragon owners can help with a stuck shed, but preventing it with foods containing vitamin E is a good idea.

Tomatoes Have a Low Sugar Content

Unlike most other fruits, tomatoes aren’t high in sugar. For example, a tomato has one-fifth of the sugar content compared to an apple.

If bearded dragons overeat sugar, they can have problems with tooth rot, gums, obesity, sickness, and diarrhea. This means tomatoes are great!

Tomatoes Have a Low Oxalic Acid Content

Oxalates or oxalic acid are compounds that occur naturally in veggies, greens, nuts, and seeds. If a food is too high in oxalic acid, the absorption of minerals like calcium can be restricted. This can be dangerous in high quantities.

Tomatoes and cherry tomatoes have a low oxalic acid content. Compared to spinach, for example, tomatoes only contain 50mg per 100g, which is around half that of spinach.

Tomatoes Contain Fiber

Bearded dragons need fiber for their digestion and to prevent constipation and impaction. It also makes them feel full, so they won’t overeat.

They Have a High Water Content

Since tomatoes are mostly water (around 92%), they’re great for hydration. So if you notice your bearded dragon seems constipated, tomatoes can help keep your bearded dragon hydrated to help things move along.

What Do You Need to Be Mindful of When Feeding Bearded Dragons Tomatoes?

Even though there are some benefits to tomatoes, there are also disadvantages to this fruit.

As mentioned, too much vitamin A is not suitable for bearded dragons. Still, besides this, there are some other problems with tomatoes too. So let’s take a look.

Tomatoes Don’t Have a Lot of Calcium

Bearded dragons need calcium, and lots of it. Calcium is an essential mineral for bearded dragons’ bone health.

Without adequate calcium levels, a bearded dragon can have calcium deficiency, which causes profound health implications.

Over time, a calcium deficiency can lead to metabolic bone disease or MDB, which can be fatal if not treated.

Metabolic bone disease is a progressive disease with no cure. However, you can improve and prevent it from worsening if you spot the signs early.

Most fruits, tomatoes included, don’t contain a lot of calcium. Tomatoes only have 5 mg per 100g.

This doesn’t mean you should keep tomatoes out of your bearded dragon’s diet. Still, you should ensure you provide plenty of calcium-rich foods and a good calcium supplement.

The Calcium Ratio Is Poor in Tomatoes

As mentioned previously, tomatoes’ calcium to phosphorus ratio is way off. So, even though they contain 5 mg per 100g, they won’t even be able to absorb this due to the calcium ratio.

What Is the Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio?

To explain briefly, when a food contains both calcium and phosphorus, the phosphorus will bind to the calcium and prevent the body from absorbing it.

If there is more phosphorus in food than calcium, like in tomatoes, none of the calcium will be absorbed.

Due to the importance of dietary calcium for bearded dragons, it’s important not to give them too many foods that contain a high amount of phosphorus.

The ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio is 2:1, which means there will be twice the amount of calcium compared to phosphorus.

With tomatoes, the phosphorus to calcium is way off. As seen above, tomatoes contain 5mg calcium and 29mg phosphorus per 100g.

Although bearded dragons eat tomatoes safely, this is only possible if they form a small part of their intake. It’s even better if you use a calcium supplement and dust the tomato with calcium powder.

Calcium Powder used to Dust Food

They Have a High Water Content

No, you haven’t got déjà-vu. We have mentioned this as a benefit to tomatoes too. However, eating tomatoes in excess can be problematic if your bearded dragons eat them.

The problems arise because the high water content can cause diarrhea, leading to dehydration. So really, it’s all about providing a balanced diet.

Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?

Yes, a baby bearded dragon can eat tomatoes, but these should be an occasional treat only. Baby beardies only have small stomachs, and a large piece of tomato will take up space in their stomach and not leave much room for better, nutrient-dense foods.

Baby bearded dragons are better at eating things like kale and other leafy greens as these provide heaps of nutrition, including calcium. The same goes for juvenile bearded dragons.

Don’t forget that baby bearded dragons should eat 80% insects and 20% veggies.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomato Plants?

Unlike other plants like dandelion greens, bearded dragons shouldn’t eat any part of a tomato plant. They shouldn’t be given anything like stems, tomato leaves, vines, or flowers.

The tomato plant is part of a group of poisonous plants called the nightshade family. Every aspect of the tomato plant contains toxic alkaloids. These can kill bearded dragons.

Thankfully, the fruit is free from these toxic substances! This means you can feed your bearded dragon fresh tomatoes without worrying about their toxicity.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Green Tomatoes?

No. Green tomatoes aren’t fit for bearded dragon consumption and should never be given to your bearded dragon. This is because they contain solanine, a toxic and poisonous compound that isn’t present in a ripe tomato.

Bear in mind that there is a type of tomato that is green when ripe, e.g., some heirloom tomatoes, but it’s best to avoid them if you’re likely to get confused.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomato Worms?

If your garden is plagued with tomato worms, you might wonder if your bearded dragon can eat them. The good news is that, yes, they can.

Though annoying to us as humans, tomato worms (also known as hornworms) is a type of caterpillar rich in protein and calcium. They also have high water content.

Moreover, their exterior is very soft, so bearded dragons can easily break them down.

However, even though tomato hornworms are nutritious, you should avoid any sort of wild tomato hornworms. Wild tomato hornworms feed on the plant’s stems and leaves containing solanine. They also eat other nightshade plants, like tobacco plants.

Allowing your beardie to eat these worms would mean they’re consuming solanine, which, as we know, is toxic to bearded dragons.

If tomato hornworms appeal to you, you should buy them from a specialist pet store to know they’re fit to consume.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomato Seeds?

Though tomato seeds aren’t poisonous or toxic to bearded dragons, they do need to be removed before feeding.

Regarding the risk of choking, bearded dragons are high-risk animals. Besides choking, tomato seeds could also cause impaction, which comes with health risks.

For these reasons, you should always try to remove the seeds before feeding tomatoes to your bearded dragon.

Final Thoughts on Can Bearded Dragons Eat Tomatoes?

As we’ve seen, you can feed your bearded dragon tomatoes! However, when providing bearded dragons with tomatoes, there are some clear rules to follow.

Firstly, you need to make sure you prepare tomatoes properly. This means washing them, chopping them into small chunks, de-seeding them, and removing their skin (unless they’re cherry or grape tomatoes).

Also, though bearded dragons can safely eat tomatoes this way, you should never feed them more than once per month. You should only provide them with about a quarter of one tomato (or two grape tomatoes).

Moreover, you should avoid green tomatoes and any part of the tomato plant, as this is toxic.

You can, however, feed tomato hornworms provided that they’re sourced in a pet store and aren’t wild tomato hornworms.

Finally, when you feed tomatoes to your beardie, they should ideally be a salad topper.

Essentially, as long as you’re feeding your bearded dragon a diet that meets its nutritional needs, a small amount of tomato is acceptable.

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