Can Bearded Dragons Eat Turkey? (Bad Idea?)
If you are a fan of beardie’s like me, you will be keen to offer them the right food (Click here to see what foods they should eat, and what to avoid), but what about meats such as Turkey?…
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Turkey? No, it’s not recommended. The reason is it has very little nutritional benefits for them and there are other more nutritional meats, such as insects that will better for them. Some keepers do feed it to their beardies, but mainly as an occasional treat.
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Now that you know that turkey is not the best, let me explain to you exactly why turkey is not great, the exact nutritional benefits it offers, if the processed turkey is any better (hint: not much different) and other alternatives that are better suited, keep reading…
Why is turkey not a good idea?
Earlier I mentioned that turkey is not a good idea. But, what is it, exactly that is wrong with turkey, from a nutritional perspective?
In general, it has more salt and fat than a Bearded dragon should be consuming. As I said, you can probably get away with it occasionally, but it should never be considered their staple diet. Later on I will list the nutritional content of the turkey to help you understand my point.
What is Turkey (the animal)?
As they say, you are what you eat, but what exactly is a turkey, and how did it get that name? Let me explain…
According to Wikipedia a Turkey is a big bird and it’s from the Meleagris genus. It has a distinctive wattle that hangs down, looks like a piece of excess skin, are you with me?
The male is larger and has some stand-out colors. This trend of the male being more colorful has been seen in many other animals such as other species of lizards.
Where is it from?
These turkeys are native to the Americas. You may be wondering, if that is the case how did they spread out to Europe and other areas? Well, in the 1500s they were introduced to Europe & Asia by Spanish sellers.
And, what about their name? Why Turkey?
It is believed that one of their routes to get into Europe was via Turkey, and for that reason, the name stuck.
Nutritional Break-down of Turkeys
You may be wondering, what does turkey actually have in it? Have a look at the table below, compiled with the help of wikipedia (amount per 100g):
What meat can Bearded Dragons Eat?
Now that you know that bearded dragons should avoid turkey, what meat sources can they actually eat is the obvious next question, right?
They can eat quite a wide variety of meat. This is typically in the form of live insects. However, some insects are better than others, as you would assume. Here are a few examples:
- Mealworms (more on this later)
However, it does not just have to be live insects, it can also be animals such as pinky mice (but these are only a consideration for adult Beardies – but, more on pinky mice later).
Can Beardies Eat Turkey in the form of Lunch Meat (Sandwich style)?
So far I have explained some of the concerns with turkey and the meats that you would typically expect them to eat. But, even though the answer may be obvious right now, based on my last sections. What about turkey sliced meat, you know the one you usually put in sandwiches?
I get it, this type of meat is convenient, cheap and easy to get hold of. Also, you do not have to mess with live insects, right? I get the reasons why someone would be interested in. But, the short answer is no, Bearded dragons should not be fed turkey lunch sliced meat.
Why? Simple, it is packed with salt and fat (not as much fat at some meats, I get that, but still). These foods are even questionable for humans, to be honest (but that is whole other topic).
Ok, What about ground turkey?
So, by now you should be getting the trend. And, you should definitely know that sliced turkey is a big no-no. But what about the ground turkey, surely that’s ok, right?
The short answer is no, Bearded dragons should not eat ground turkey. But, why? Well, if you look at things logically, is this something that is available in the wild, in their natural habitat?
Exactly, no it’s not. Therefore, it should not be considered as pet food in our domesticated environment. This is why live insects are good, they are more akin to their natural habitat, are you with me?
Is Cooked food even an option?
So far I have given many meat-related foods a kicking when it comes to feeding your bearded dragon. However, does this mean that no cooked food is an option?
Generally speaking, no, cooked food is not a good idea for Beardies. However, from time to time many lizard keepers do feed them this, for example, these owners discuss it. But, the point is, it should never be considered as an alternative to their main (staple) diet, such as vegetables and live insects.
Can the cooked food have seasoning?
As discussed, in moderation, many lizard keepers have fed their beardies cooked meat. But what happens if that cooked meat has seasoning on it (e.g. salt, pepper, spices)?
The short answer is no, bearded dragons should not be eating seasoned cooked food. The problem with this seasoning is, even if it doesn’t have salt directly on it, the seasoning is likely to have a high salt content. So, it is not worth chances it.
Are pinky Mice better than serving turkey?
Early I mentioned pinky mice as a consideration. But, are they a better option than serving turkey? Arguably they could be considered a better option. But, they should still only be considered a treat.
However, before you go ahead and buy a selection of live pinkie mice and throw them in your beardies enclosure, let me explain why this is a bad idea.
Be careful of live pinkies
The problem is, pinkies are fighters! If you throw a pinkie mice in with your beardie and it inevitable tries to eat it live. The pinkie with bite your beardie pretty badly. They will not go down easy.
Therefore, many owners suggest it is better to feed them frozen pinkies instead. This will avoid the headache and potential injury.
Why are crickets a better option than turkey?
If you have looked into food for your Beardie, then there is a good chance that you have heard of owners discussing or buying crickets. But, why are they a better option than turkey?
Comparing turkey and crickets for Beardies is simply no challenge. Crickets have a great amount of protein and calcium and are a popular choice for that reason. Also, Beardies love live insects, the movement entices them.
The only gripe is their hard body. They can sometimes cause some digestion issues due to this. However, owners still persist to use them.
Are Mealworms a better option than Turkey?
So, now that you know why crickets are a better option. What about mealworms, no doubt you have heard of these before, right (Click here to learn more about mealworms).
Mealworms are perfect for many lizards, but according to this site, they are not ideal for bearded dragons. But, why is this? They say that they have too much fat and also phosphor.
To make matters worse, they have little protein and calcium, which is needed by your beardie. So, let me be clear, other owners do still feed them this. But, it is not their main staple food are you with me?
It’s like us humans, we know if we eat fatty fast food too much its bad, but arguably, in moderation (as a treat) it’s not that bad. Does that make sense?