Can bearded dragons eat parsnips? I received this question a week ago. This is one of the questions that linger in the mind of a bearded dragon owner especially the beginners.
When I was just started my journey of caring for a bearded dragon (Sam), I had even more questions in my head. I knew that bearded dragons can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables but I did not know which one was safe.
So, can bearded dragons eat parsnips?
No. Not as staple food. Parsnips contain a disproportionate ratio for calcium to phosphorus and high acid and water content. However, bearded dragons can have it on an occasional basis.
Parsnips are some of the root vegetables that you should be careful in giving to your beardies. I always recommend that you examine first the nutritional content of the food before feeding.
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What Are Parsnips?
Parsnips are very similar to parsley and carrot plants. They are root vegetables that grow annually.
But unlike carrots that are orange or red, parsnips have cream-colored flesh and skin with a tuberous-shaped roots.
Before giving any food to bearded dragons, you need to consider the nutritional content of the food. This is because not all fruits and vegetables are safe for beardies.
That said, let’s look at the protein, fat, sugar, fiber, acid, phosphorus, calcium, and water content of parsnips.
For a fruit or vegetable to be safe for bearded dragons, it should have a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 for calcium to phosphorus.
The table below shows everything we need to know about parsnips in terms of nutritional facts.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
|314 kJ (75 kcal)
|8% (0.09 mg)
|4% (0.05 mg)
|5% (0.7 mg)
|Pantothenic acid (B5)
|12% (0.6 mg)
|7% (0.09 mg)
|17% (67 μg)
|20% (17 mg)
|10% (1.49 mg)
|21% (22.5 μg)
|4% (36 mg)
|5% (0.59 mg)
|8% (29 mg)
|27% (0.56 mg)
|10% (71 mg)
|8% (375 mg)
|1% (10 mg)
|6% (0.59 mg)
From the table above, it shows that there is a disproportion for calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. It also shows that parsnips have high acid and water content. Therefore, parsnips are not good for the bearded dragon.
However, I want to emphasize though that parsnips are not poisonous to bearded dragons if consumed in small amounts.
Therefore, bearded dragons can eat parsnips in occasional basis. I don’t recommend it as a staple food.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Big Chunks of Parsnips?
Well, the size of the food should depend on the size of the beardies’ mouth. As a rule of thumb, bearded dragons should not eat food that is bigger than the distance between his two eyes.
This is because the distance between two eyes resembles the size of food the bearded dragon’s mouth can take.
Another straightforward rule states that don’t feed a food bigger than the bearded dragon’s mouth.
In other words, smaller or younger beardies should receive small food especially the hard ones such as parsnips. Baby bearded dragons could choke or experience digestive problems when ingested big chunks of food.
To avoid this problem, the safest way is to grate fruits or vegetables to make it easier for young beardies to consume.
However, if your beardies are big and old enough to take those big slices of parsnips, they will be fine. Bigger beardies are less prone to choking and other digestive issues.
What to Do When Bearded Dragons Won’t Eat Vegetables?
Dealing with a picky bearded dragon can be a challenge. Sometimes it leads to frustration if you have no idea what to do.
But the good news is that there are easy and effective strategies you can employ to entice your bearded dragons to eat their vegetables.
In this post I will share some suggestions and on how to make your beardies love vegetable salad.
That said, here are the tips you can follow.
1. Mix a Variety of Foods
Sometimes the reason why bearded dragons don’t eat their food is because of the poor food choices. If this is the case, you can improve or change the fruits and vegetable choices.
One of the best strategies is to mix up three to four types of foods to make the serving more colorful.
Then chop the greens and fruits into small bite-sizes to prevent the beardies from choosing their favorite veggies. This will also allow your reptile pets to easily consume their meal.
Remember that the mouth size should be considered when feeding bearded dragons. Smaller beardies should have small bite-size foods.
2. Add Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is a great addition to the bearded dragon’s salad. It will not only entice the beardies to eat their salad but also will provide them with a good source of vitamins.
Just a pinch of bee pollen will do. Make sure that you don’t give too much of it. My beardies love it and I hope that yours too.
3. Add Salad Dressing
Another great way to convince your beardy to eat the salad is by adding the dressing. I use Nature Zone salad dressing (Click here to check it on Amazon) for my bearded dragons. For some reason they love it.
Mix 1 tablespoon of salad mix to their salad. This is to gradually make them love green salad.
However, as soon as your beardies learn to eat veggies, you can decrease the amount of dressing. This is to prevent them become dependent on it.
4. Add Live Feeders to the Salad
Aside from salad dressing, adding live feeders to the bearded dragon’s salad is another great strategy. This will make beardies excited to eat their salad.
However, before adding live feeders, make sure that they are somehow disoriented to limit their movement when added to the salad. You don’t want your feeder crawling or jumping in the salad. A violent shake will do.
But if you feel guilty about this violent act, you can then put the live feeders in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes. This is enough to get the live feeders slow.
Put the dizzy feeders in the salad bowl then add the greens on top. My bearded dragons would hunt the feeders but also eating the greens.
5. Start young
What I mean by this is that if you want to get your bearded dragons get accustomed to greens and vegetables, start feeding them when they are young.
This is I think important especially if you plan to feed adult bearded dragons with more fruits and vegetables.
The early training will help achieve your goal.
6. Hand Feeding
Hand-feeding is another great way to help your bearded dragons eat their green salad. However, if you are afraid of getting bitten, I don’t recommend this strategy.
But if you want to go on this route, you can use tongs when feeding. Hand-feeding could be a great bonding moment between you and your reptile.
The possible drawback of this strategy though is that beardies could become used to this eating strategy. Next time, he might not eat alone. So there are many things you need to consider though.
Final Thoughts on Can Bearded Dragons Eat Parsnips
Parsnips are not great food for bearded dragons. The reason is that these root vegetables contain a disproportionate ratio for calcium to phosphorus. They also contain water something not good for bearded dragons.
However, this does not mean that parsnips are poisonous to bearded dragons. They can eat these vegetables in small amounts or on an occasional basis only.
The lesson here is that do not feed your beardies unless you check the nutritional content of the food.
Many foods that are safe for humans but dangerous to bearded dragons. So you need to be careful.
I hope this helps. Learn more about bearded dragons here.