Bearded Dragons are omnivores, which means that they eat a combination of different food types including both animal and plant proteins. As pets, they are given a diet that primarily consists of insects, although some do enjoy the occasional pinkie (baby mouse), along with leafy greens and other vegetables. They can also be given the occasional piece of fruit with watermelon being one choice.
Watermelon is primarily water, which makes it a great choice for pets like Bearded Dragons that don’t really drink water straight from a bowl. It also has some other health benefits, which we cover below. However, because it is high in sugar and it doesn’t have a desirable phosphorus-to-calcium ratio, it should only be fed occasionally and in small amounts. Other fruits that can be fed to Bearded Dragons include apples, cantaloupe, and figs.
Bearded Dragon Diet
Originating from Australia, Bearded Dragons are omnivores. In the wild, they eat a diet that consists primarily of insects but also includes some vegetation such as leaves and plants. When kept as a pet, owners should attempt to replicate this diet as closely as possible. Generally, it is recommended that pet Beardies be fed 25% insects and 75% vegetation 1. This vegetation includes leafy greens and salads like cucumbers, with the latter being especially beneficial because it has high moisture content and provides water to the Beardie that they might not otherwise get.
However, it is OK to feed a small amount of some fruits to your Bearded Dragon, and this includes the aptly named watermelon.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
Watermelon is not only safe to be fed in small amounts but actually offers some health benefits.
- High Moisture Content – It is difficult to get Bearded Dragons to drink water directly from a bowl, and even moving water features like waterfalls and fountains are not guaranteed to encourage water intake. Watermelon is more than 90% water, which means it can be a good source of hydration for your Beardie.
- Good Vitamin C Content – Vitamin C performs many of the same functions for Bearded Dragons as it does in humans. Primarily, it supports the immune system and can help prevent illness. It also encourages a healthy heart and liver, and it can improve the health of the Beardie’s skin.
- Magnesium and Potassium – Magnesium is especially effective at combating inflammation, which makes it useful in the fight against inflammatory illnesses. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure. Both of these important minerals are found in watermelon.
While watermelon does have several key health benefits, several concerns regarding this particular fruit mean it should only be served as an occasional treat and not as a regular or primary food.
- High Sugar Content – Watermelon is packed with natural sugars. It’s what gives the fruit its sweet flavor and what makes it so appealing to humans and many animals. But a high sugar content can lead to a Bearded Dragon putting on too much weight and even becoming obese. It can also lead to tooth decay, liver problems, and diabetes.
- High Phosphorus Content – Watermelon does contain both phosphorus and calcium, like most fruits and vegetables. However, it has more phosphorus than calcium and because phosphorus binds with calcium, this means that the Bearded Dragon does not get much, if any, calcium. A diet with a high phosphorus content can lead to calcium deficiency which leads to brittle bones and other bone-related conditions.
- High Moisture Content – The high moisture content of watermelons can be seen as a health benefit and also a detriment. Too much moisture can cause diarrhea, which is potentially dangerous for Bearded Dragons. This shouldn’t be an issue with a few small pieces of watermelon fed every few weeks, but it can be a major concern if too much of the fruit is fed, too often.
How Much and How Often to Feed Watermelon
So, watermelon is safe to feed in moderation and only occasionally. It doesn’t need preparation, other than cutting up, and you should stick to feeding a few very small pieces once a month or less often.
The 3 Other Fruits You Can Feed to Bearded Dragons
Although watermelon is not recommended as a regular food source, there are some fruits that are considered generally safe for Beardie consumption.
- Apple – Apples contain vitamins A and C, which benefit the immune system and also help maintain good eye health, reproductive health, and growth.
- Cantaloupe – Cantaloupe is another great source of vitamins A and C. With these vitamins, your Bearded Dragon can fight off infection and disease while also maintaining good vision.
- Fig – Fresh figs not only contain vitamins A and C but are also quite high in calcium, while having a beneficial phosphorus-to-calcium ratio. This means that the calcium has high bioavailability, and your Bearded Dragon will enjoy its benefits without the risk of calcium deficiency.
Although watermelon does have some health benefits for Bearded Dragons, it isn’t all good news. The moisture-rich fruit is packed with vitamins A and C but while it does contain calcium, it also contains high levels of phosphorus which negates the benefits of the calcium and can contribute to a calcium-deficient diet. And while the moisture found in watermelons may be considered beneficial because it ensures that your Beardie remains hydrated and is getting its water from somewhere, too much moisture can lead to diarrhea and other gut-related problems.
Watermelon can, therefore, be fed to a Bearded Dragon but only in moderation and no more often than once a month or so. This means that your Beardie gets to enjoy the sweet goodness of the fruit but without too many adverse effects.