Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cactus Pads? – What You Need to Know

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cactus Pads?

Feeding your Bearded dragon the right foods is important if you want a reptile that will live a long and healthy life. You must make sure that they are getting the nutrients that they need to grow.

Many people wonder whether their Bearded dragon can safely consume cactus pads as part of a regular diet of green vegetables.

Bearded dragons can benefit from cactus pads because they are high in calcium, water, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, thiamin, and riboflavin. They also have high water content which is why you should not feed them too much. They can be part of a Bearded dragon’s staple diet in small quantities.

If you are eager to start feeding your Bearded dragon some of these tasty morsels, getting started can be quite easy.

Here is everything you need to know about their nutritional content, how much they can eat, and how to feed them to your beloved Bearded dragon.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cactus Pads?

Cactus pads can be a great staple in your Bearded dragon’s daily diet. However, you need to make sure that the cactus pads are properly prepared before sinking them into the enclosure.

You need to remove all of the spines by hand or using a vegetable peeler. Your Bearded dragon will also need you to cut it up into bite-size pieces before mixing it into the food dish.

Prickly pear cactus is a popular option for many Bearded dragons. They can eat both the cactus pads as well as the prickly pear fruit once the seeds have been removed.

Cactus pads are high in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin A
  • Iron

Other health benefits associated with feeding your Bearded dragon cactus pads is their high calcium content and low fat sources. Calcium is important for bone health.

If your Bearded dragon does not have enough calcium in his diet, his body will be forced to recycle the calcium in his bones. This can lead to a metabolic bone disease which makes it difficult to stand, walk, and climb.

Your Bearded dragon also needs a diet that is relatively low in fat. Some fat in the diet is good because it can give your pet energy, but too much fat can leave them overweight and lazy.

A fat lizard will have a poorer quality of life, so cactus pads are a great option if you want to feed your Bearded dragon a snack without worrying about weight gain.

In addition to being low in fat, they are also low in sugar. This is great because sugar can lead to severe health issues such as tooth decay and diabetes.

Cactus pads are also very high in water, which can be helpful to keep your Bearded dragon hydrated. Keep in mind that adding too much water to your Bearded dragon’s diet can cause problems though. Excess water in the diet can lead to digestive upset, particularly diarrhea.

Once your reptile succumbs to diarrhea, it may actually become dehydrated. It can be a vicious cycle. Feed your Bearded dragon some cactus pads, but make sure the rest of their food has a lower volume of water content to prevent this issue.

Is Prickly Pear Cactus Good for Bearded Dragons?

Many reptile owners love the idea of making their Bearded dragon’s habitat as appealing as possible. Adding live plants to the mix is one way to do that. The Prickly Pear Cactus is an excellent option because it is edible for both humans and Bearded dragons.

There are many different types of Prickly Pear Cactus. All of them contain cactus pads, sometimes referred to as nopales, that are edible for your Bearded dragon.

Some will also produce purple to reddish colored fruit that is also edible once the seeds have been removed.

If you decide to place a cactus inside your Bearded dragon’s habitat, you will need to ensure that it cannot cause harm to your pet. You can often find these plants with the spines already removed or you can do it yourself.

Your Bearded dragon should feel free to munch on this plant whenever he wants. Chances are that it won’t last long in the terrarium if your Bearded dragon really likes it. If he does, then you might want to consider feeding it to him on a regular basis.

It can easily be chopped up into bite-sized pieces and mixed in with his other greens.

Remember that too much Prickly Pear Cactus can also be a problem due to the high water content. You should do your best to regulate how much of this plant your Bearded dragon is consuming as too much can lead to diarrhea and dehydration.

This type of cactus is particularly good for the diet of your Bearded dragon. It contains important vitamins and nutrients including protein, potassium, calcium, fiber, and iron. Calcium is particularly important because it can help to ward off metabolic bone disease.

Fiber is another important component of your Bearded dragon’s diet as it helps to regulate the digestive system.

The cactus pad is even more nutritious with important vitamins like:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin

How Often Should Bearded Dragons Eat Cactus Pads?

Cactus pads and Prickly Pear fruit are both safe to feed your Bearded dragon on a regular basis. The cactus pads can be a great part of the staple diet that you feed to your reptile along with his other leafy greens.

Remember that leafy greens are an incredibly important part of the diet, perhaps even more so than live food. They contain valuable nutrients and vitamins that your Bearded dragon absolutely cannot live without.

Despite the name, this Prickly Pear fruit actually does not contain much sugar at all. This makes it a healthier alternative to some fruits and allows you to make this a part of your Bearded dragon’s staple diet.

Too much sugar in the diet can lead to tooth decay, diabetes, and weight gain.

If you can find cactus pads in your area or online, you can definitely incorporate them into your Bearded dragon’s staple diet.

Keep in mind that cactus pads do have high water content. Too much water can lead to diarrhea which results in dehydration long-term.

While you can feed them cactus pads daily, you should keep the quantity to a minimum. The majority of their food dish should consist of green leafy vegetables like collard greens, mustard greens, alfalfa, and even herbs like cilantro.

Where Can You Find Cactus Pads for your Reptile?

Some parts of the world naturally have more cactus pads than others. In certain regions, you might be able to find them growing wild just beyond your back door. However, they can be a bit tricky to find if you aren’t lucky enough to live in one of these regions.

You might be able to find cactus pads and Prickly Pear fruit at your grocery store. The cactus pads are likely to be sold under the term “nopales” while the fruit is sometimes referred to as “tuna.”

You may have to visit specialty grocery stores such as Hispanic markets in order to find what you are looking for.

You can also purchase them through online retailers like Coastal Silkworms, TexasPricklyPears on Etsy, and Premium Crickets.

If you want to add them to your terrarium as a whole plant, you might be able to find them at a local plant nursery as well. You can grow your own cactus pads to feed to your Bearded dragon.

Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Cactus Pads

Cactus pads, particularly Prickly Pear Cactus, are an excellent addition to a Bearded dragon’s diet. They have a high nutritional value and are packed full of vitamins and nutrients necessary for a healthy reptile.

You can even feed them cactus pads daily, but the quantities should be kept to a minimum due to their high water content. If you are lucky enough to find cactus pads at your local grocery store, your Bearded dragon is sure to appreciate them!

Related Questions

Is nopales good for Bearded dragons?

Nopales is a prickly pear cactus and can indeed be given to your Bearded dragon. Before feeding it your reptile, make sure to remove all spines and cut it up into small pieces to prevent choking.

It is a good source of calcium and vitamins while remaining low in fat. Be careful with how much your Bearded dragon eats daily as it does have high water content.

Can Bearded dragons eat aloe vera?

Bearded dragons can indeed eat aloe vera, so you may want to consider placing one of these plants in the terrarium. Keep in mind that you don’t want them to eat too much of it as this can lead to digestive tract upsets, diarrhea, and ultimately dehydration.

Can Bearded dragons eat broccoli?

All Bearded dragons need green vegetables as part of their staple diet, and broccoli should certainly be included. Along with other dark green vegetables, broccoli can be fed to your Bearded dragon daily in healthy quantities.


Axelson, Rick, and Laurie Hess. “Bearded Dragons – Feeding.” VCA Corporate,

England, Jeff. “9 Safe Plants for Bearded Dragon Habitats.” Reptile Advisor, 21 Feb. 2020, 

“Why Bearded Dragons Need Calcium (What You Simply Must Know).” Total Bearded Dragon, 1 Jan. 2020,


Hi, I'm the owner of Juniper Pets! You can often find me playing fetch with my dogs, working out or cooking up something legendary in the kitchen. Hope you enjoy my blog!

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