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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cactus? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

pencil cactus

Vet approved

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Your pet bearded dragon relies on you to take care of all their needs. You must provide them with an inviting and interactive habitat, give them attention and companionship regularly, and make sure they’re getting all the nutrition that they need to have a happy and healthy life. So, you might wonder whether your bearded dragon can eat things like cacti as part of a healthy diet.

The short answer is yes, bearded dragons can eat certain types of cacti and their leaves as part of a well-balanced diet. In fact, cacti can be a regular and healthy addition to your pet bearded dragon’s diet overall. However, it is important to keep in mind that no single food, including cactus, should be a predominant part of their diet; many different things should make up their food consumption. So, here is everything that you should know about cacti.

bearded dragon divider

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Prickly Pear Cactus?

Yes! Bearded dragons seem to enjoy munching on the prickly pear cactus, which is good because it happens to be a nutritious food option for them. The problem with this type of cactus is that it is prickly—as the name suggests—due to the spines that grow on it. These can harm bearded dragons, so they must be removed before you offer the cactus as part of a meal or a snack. Prickly pear also has a calcium: phosphorus ratio of 2.3:1, making it nearly ideal for a beardie that needs around 2:1.

Fortunately, there are spineless prickly pear cacti that you can purchase for your beardie to ensure their safety and optimize convenience. These are easy cacti to grow in your garden, as they require little water and can thrive in dry conditions.

The prickly pear fruit can also be eaten by your beardie, just be sure to remove the seeds and skin.

Prickly pear cactus in a field
Image Credit: MonikaP, Pixabay

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dragon Fruit Cactus?

This tropical food is derived from the cactus family. The fruit is edible and so are the pads or “leaves” of the plant. You can give your bearded dragon a bit of both, but while the pads can be offered regularly, the dragon fruits should be offered less often because of their high sugar content. Dragon fruit cacti are a good source of nutrients and antioxidants that can help keep your bearded dragon’s immune system in ideal shape.

What About Other Kinds of Cacti?

There are many other kinds of cacti that bearded dragons can eat, and these typically overlap with those that humans can eat, such as the Barbados gooseberry. Edible cacti are low in sugar and high in fiber. However, to ensure complete nutrition, make sure cacti don’t make up a large part of your pet’s overall diet. There should be plenty of room for things like leafy greens and crickets.

Christmas Cactuss
Image Credit:Schwoaze, Pixabay

How to Feed Cactus to Your Bearded Dragon

After checking with your veterinarian, the first thing to do is make sure all the spines are removed from any cactus that you plan to feed your bearded dragons. Once that is done, thoroughly rinse the cactus to ensure that any residual bacteria and dirt are removed. Finally, cut the cactus into small bite-sized chunks for your beardie to enjoy.

You should not season or cook the cactus before giving it to your bearded dragon, as they would never naturally eat cooked or seasoned food in general. Cooking cacti can reduce the amount of nutrients that are available in the food, and seasoning can be downright harmful to your pet’s health.

Another option is to grow a spineless cactus inside your pet bearded dragon’s habitat. Doing so is low maintenance and offers your pet something fun to explore during their day.

bearded dragon divider

Wrapping Up

Yes, bearded dragons can eat some types of cactus as part of their regular diet. This food is nutritious and provides a texture and taste variety that bearded dragons tend to appreciate. Just make sure to remove the spikes before offering any to your reptile buddy. If you aren’t sure whether a certain type of cactus can safely be fed to your bearded dragon, contact a veterinarian experienced in caring for reptiles to get expert guidance and advice.

Featured Image Credit: ignartonosbg, Pixabay

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