Bearded Dragons can eat all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and some living protein sources- but there are many things they shouldn’t eat. In this article, I’m answering the question, “Can Bearded Dragons eat papaya?”
Bearded Dragons can eat papaya in moderation when properly prepared. It will contribute toward a well-balanced diet, not as a staple, but as a tasty treat. Papaya is a good source of vitamins and minerals for the beardie to complement other food types.
Health Benefits of Papaya for Bearded Dragons
Though there are several other fruits out there that are better suited to be beardie food, papaya does have some nutritional benefits that will contribute toward its health.
Many vitamins and minerals are packed into papaya, but vitamin C and Fiber are two important ingredients to your lizard.
Reptiles and amphibians typically create vitamin C through a process that involves their kidneys and glucose.
So, though papaya contains vitamin C, it’s helpful but unnecessary. This is a more beneficial element to the fruit if there are signs of a vitamin C deficiency with the Dragon.
Fiber, on the other hand, is a great inclusion and is helpful to assist with digestion.
When used in moderation, the fiber found in papaya will also prevent constipation. You could feed papaya to your Bearded Dragon if it shows any signs of digestive difficulty.
Another benefit is that papaya holds 88g of water for every 100 grams. That’s a good deal of water content.
If you have concerns about your Bearded Dragon being dehydrated, papaya would be a good fruit to remedy that. Take note too much might cause diarrhea, defeating the hydration efforts.
How to Serve Papaya to your Bearded Dragon
Some sources of information argue whether some aspects of papaya are healthy, toxic, or even deadly to lizards.
When it comes to keeping a living thing healthy, it’s best to err on the side of caution rather than taking risks that could be harmful. That’s true whether you’re talking about lizards, birds, cats, dogs, etc…
The fruit is fine for the beardie, but preparation is needed to get around the undesirables.
Preparing Papaya for your Bearded Dragon
There’s no real trick to preparing papaya for your bearded dragon. In all, there are four steps to take.
- Wash the fruit- Almost everyone knows to wash off their fruit before eating it, right? Pesticides, fertilizers, or even simple dirt could still be present and must be washed off.
- Remove the outer peel- Why wash it if you’re removing the peel anyways? If you’re handling the fruit to peel it, then whatever remains on the peel is all over your hands, now coming into contact with the good stuff. Wash it first, then peel it to prevent that from happening.
- Remove the seeds- This is easy enough to do. You can cut it in half or quarter it, then scrape the seeds with a spoon, knife, fork, special scoop, or whatever works for you.
- Cut it into bite-sized pieces- As you might imagine, your Bearded Dragon isn’t going to pick up a spear of papaya and take a bite from it. Cut it down to reasonable pieces that will be easy to eat.
Whether you’ve grown your papaya at home or picked it up from the store, ensure that the fruit is fully ripe before serving it to your lizard. Naturally ripened, room-temperature fruit is best.
Regarding serving size, it would be wise to consult a veterinarian. The amount that would be safe for the beardie will change with age, size, and weight, and the more educated the guess, the safer the amount would be. The safest educated guess would be from a vet who regularly deals with various lizards.
With that disclaimer out of the way, a good way to judge a serving size (or adequate piece) that the beardie could handle as a bite is to cut it down to fit within the space between its eyes. If it is small enough to fit between its eyes, it will fit into its mouth.
How often can Bearded Dragons Eat Papaya?
Due to the phosphorous-to-calcium ratio, not too often. This is a concern that owners need to pay close attention to regarding food.
Bearded Dragons need a healthy balance between phosphorous and calcium to ensure that the reptile can maintain a normal, healthy, and fully functional skeletal structure (among other things).
There is a greater level of phosphorous than calcium in any serving of papaya. So, this needs to be kept in mind when feeding and can be countered with other calcium-rich foods.
Fruits should be an infrequent piece of a Bearded Dragon’s diet, as too much can do more harm than good. Papaya is no exception.
The diet of baby Bearded Dragons will completely change over time as it transforms into a juvenile and then into an adult, so advice from a veterinarian or an experienced owner should be sought after and heeded.
Potential Risks of Feeding Papaya to Bearded Dragon
Owners should understand that papaya is not a typical food source that a lizard of this size would naturally go for in the wild.
That being the case, it should be no surprise that there are elements of this fruit that beardies shouldn’t eat or will need attention to make it a safe treat.
The papaya flesh must be fully ripened to avoid any issues. When ripened, it is softer and easier for the lizard to consume and digest. Beardies will have difficulty breaking down papaya if it has not reached a soft, ripened state.
Aside from store-bought additives that might remain on the surface, the skin can be dangerous for your Bearded Dragon. It’s not so toxic as it is nearly inedible for the beardie and extremely tough to get down and digest compared to the fruit’s flesh.
Papaya Seed is an arena where there seem to be some conflicting ideas. Some say that the seeds are toxic because, in great quantity, there’s a harmful build-up of cyanogenic glycosides.
However, if you’re feeding your beardie that much papaya in the first place, you’re battering the health of the lizard, with that being only one problem out of a handful that is just as dangerous.
In general, and when fed appropriately, seeds cause no harm to your beardies short of the possibility of being a choking hazard.
However, due to the bitterness of the seeds, the beardie may suffer from a bad experience and decide that it doesn’t like papaya due to that taste association.
Are there any Papaya Species Toxic to Bearded Dragons?
There is no information out there as far as studies or research is concerned between different species of papaya and Bearded Dragons. However, it should be noted that a beardie can suffer from an allergic reaction related to eating papaya.
So, regardless of the species, start with an extremely small serving, and keep an eye on the beardie. If it shows no signs of having any problems, it will likely be fine to eat it at a later date (don’t give too much in one sitting).
Fruits and Vegetables that Complement Papaya Fruits
When it comes down to what to serve alongside papaya, it’s best to turn to vegetables rather than other fruits. Most fruits are full of sugar- papaya is also, and you don’t want to give your dragon too much sugar.
A treat for your Bearded Dragons could be papaya blent with Collard greens, turnip greens, or mustard greens, garnished with moderate amounts of peas, chopped bell peppers, or green beans. The addition of papaya adds a sweet element to the meal and is a welcomed treat.
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Feed Bearded Dragons a well-rounded meal, not forgetting that their protein intake should be the majority of their diet, supplemented with fruits and vegetables.
Captive Bearded Dragons’ diet should loosely reflect one in the wild from a nutrition standpoint. The ingredients may change, but the nutrients need to be the same or very close.
Ultimately, it is safe to feed your Bearded Dragon papaya in small measures, more rarely than other foods.
Bearded Dragons must be monitored (often visually) to check if it’s eating right. The right amount of papaya can remedy vitamin C deficiency and dehydration. It can assist in the passing of food through the digestive system.
Too much of it, on the other hand, can cause diarrhea (leading to dehydration), unhealthy phosphorous levels leading to calcium depletion, and sugar-related problems.
If you opt to include papaya as a treat safe for Bearded Dragons responsibly, remove the seeds, ensure the flesh of the papaya is soft, don’t allow them to eat the skin, and include it with a variety of other food types.
Papaya also should be served at room temperature to give your bearded little friend a more natural experience.
For your Bearded Dragon’s health, feed it to them sparingly.
1. Papaya. (2023, January 30). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papaya
2. MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Papaya fruit: Health benefits, uses, and risks. Medical News Today. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275517
3. An unusual combination in papaya (Carica papaya): The good (glucosinolates) and the bad (cyanogenic glycosides). Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889157512001172