Best Insects For Bearded Dragons

Would you like to feed your pet the healthy diet it needs for a long and happy life?

Are you looking for the best insects for bearded dragons?

The best insects for bearded dragons are those high in protein and calcium but low in fats. They also need to be smaller than the space between a bearded dragon’s eyes.

These insects include:

  • Crickets
  • Silkworms
  • Orange head roaches
  • Turkistan roaches
  • Discoid roaches
  • Dubia roach
  • Phoenix worms
  • Wax worm
  • Mealworm
  • Goliath worm
  • Earthworm
  • Super worms

Read on for more details on why these are good for bearded dragons.

bearded dragon eating

12 Best Feeder Insects For Bearded Dragons

These best feeder insects for bearded dragons have different reasons why they’re on the list.

In this section, we dig into why they made the list and how they fit into your beardy’s diet.

Cricket

crickets

Live crickets have forever been a staple of a bearded dragon diet.

They are the cheapest of all the insects you’ll find on this list.

They’re found quite easily and are common in all chain pet stores and even some fishing shops.

Nutritionally, crickets are pretty healthy with a decent protein/calcium to fat ratio.

They are an excellent choice as the main insect you feed your bearded dragon.

Gut loading them for higher calcium is simple compared to some other insects.

It’s easy to store and keep them, but they are fragile and tend to die off quickly if not cared for properly.

When you’re in a pinch you can find dried crickets and canned insects with roughly the same nutritional value but we don’t recommend dried or canned cricket to be given regularly.

Cricket Nutritional Information:

  • Moisture – 73%
  • Protein – 18%
  • Fat – 6%
  • Fiber – 2%
  • Ash – 2%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1:9

Silkworm

silk worm

Silkworms are a favorite of bearded dragons for their size and active movement.

They enjoy catching and eating them.

These insects have been around for a long time in feeding pets because of their high protein.

They are the kings of protein.

These aren’t too hard to find, but they only eat mulberry leaves or chow, making them harder to keep.

Silkworm nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 79%
  • Protein – 13%
  • Fat – 2%
  • Fiber – 3%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1:2.4

Orange Head Roach

orange head roach

The orange head roaches are another favorite of adult bearded dragons.

These may be too large for a young beardy.

They have excellent nutritional value, but they are harder to get a hold of.

Orange head roach nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 79%
  • Protein – 11%
  • Fat – n/a
  • Fiber – n/a
  • Ash – 0%
  • Ca:P Ratio – n/a

Turkestan Roach

Turkestan Roach

Turkestan roaches are very similar to crickets in what they offer.

These are small enough baby bearded dragons can eat them.

They’re the same size overall as crickets.

These are a little harder to come by compared to crickets, but they have more nutritional value in protein and calcium than the other bugs.

Turkestan roach nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 71%
  • Protein – 18%
  • Fat – 6%
  • Fiber – 2%
  • Ash – 2%
  • Ca:P Ratio – n/a

Discoid Roach

Discoid Roach

These roaches are larger and meatier than other roaches making them perfect for adult bearded dragons.

Beardies also love the taste of the bugs.

Be careful not to force-feed them too many of these.

They are a little higher in fat and can make your beardy obese if you’re not careful.

Discoid roach nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 66%
  • Protein – 20%
  • Fat – 7%
  • Fiber – 3%
  • Ash – 1%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1:3

Dubia Roach

Dubia Roach

These are the most common roaches for their high protein value.

They’re also easier to care for as the bearded dragon owner.

They’re a bit meatier than some of the other insects which mean you don’t have to buy as many to keep your pet fed and happy.

Dubia roach nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 65%
  • Protein – 21%
  • Fat – 9%
  • Fiber – 5%
  • Ash – 1%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1:3

Phoenix Worm

Phoenix Worm

Phoenix worms are easy to care for and have high nutritional value.

In another article, we’ve covered phoenix worms in more detail.

Phoenix worm nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 64%
  • Protein – 17%
  • Fat – 11%
  • Fiber – 6%
  • Ash – 5%
  • Ca:P Ratio – variable

Wax Worm

Wax Worm

Wax worms are high in fat and should be treated as a treat.

Giving one to your pet bearded dragon from time to time is a good way to mix up their diet and keep them interested in each feeding.

Wax worm nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 62%
  • Protein – 14%
  • Fat – 18%
  • Fiber – 3%
  • Ash – 1%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1:7

Mealworm

Mealworm

Meal worms are another staple feeder insect many owners go to for their affordability.

The shell makes it more difficult to digest for a juvenile bearded dragon so if you go with these wait until you have an adult dragon.

Mealworm nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 65%
  • Protein – 19%
  • Fat – 9%
  • Fiber – 2%
  • Ash – 2%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1:7

Goliath Worm

Goliath Worm

Also known as a horned worm, these feeders are a staple insect for a treat packed with moisture and great for hydration.

Goliath worm nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 85%
  • Protein – 9%
  • Fat – 3%
  • Fiber – 1%
  • Ash – 1%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1:3

Earthworm

Earthworm

Earthworms are ok as bearded dragon food but don’t use earthworms raised for bait.

We also don’t recommend using the earthworms you find in your garden since they could carry unwanted parasites.

Use a reputable feeder for your bearded dragon insects and worms.

Earthworm nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 82%
  • Protein – 11%
  • Fat – 3%
  • Fiber – 2%
  • Ash – 1%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1.5:1

Super worms

Super worms

Super worms are high in fat and phosphorous so they should only be given as a rare treat.

Super worm nutritional information:

  • Moisture – 60%
  • Protein – 19%
  • Fat – 16%
  • Fiber – 4%
  • Ash – 1%
  • Ca:P Ratio – 1:18

Insect Nutritional Reference Chart

InsectMoistureProteinFatFiberAshCa:P
Cricket73%18%6%2%%21:9
Goliath Worm87%9%3%1%1%1:3
Silkworm79%13%2%3%1%1:2.4
Orange Head Roach79%11%n/an/a0%n/a
Turkestan Roach71%18%6%2%2%n/a
Discoid Roach66%21%9%5%1%1:3
Phoenix Worm64%17%11%6%5%vary
Wax Worm62%14%18%3%1%1:7
Mealworm65%19%9%2%2%1:7
Earthworm82%11%3%2%1%1.5:1
Super worm60%19%16%4%1%1:18

How To Feed A Bearded Dragon Live Food?

When it’s time for your bearded dragon’s protein or feeder insect meal, you need to make sure you’re feeding your bearded dragon healthily and safely.

The way you feed adults and baby bearded dragons are the same, although the frequency and content of the meals look a little different.

You want to feed the bearded dragon as much as they’ll eat of the food in a 10-15 span or until they stop eating.

After this time is up or they stop eating, you need to remove the food.

Don’t let it sit in there until later.

Depending on the insect, you may not want to use only one type of an insect for the whole feeding.

Some insects are high in fat, which is fine in smaller amounts.

The amount they’ll eat fluctuates depending on several different factors including:

  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickness
  • Brumation
  • Growth spurts

All of these may decrease their appetite at certain times.

It’s important all the insects are alive when you feed them to the beardy.

Dead insects lose some of their nutritional value and can make your pet sick if they’ve been dead for even a short period.

Note: Make sure the worms you’re feeding your pet are not longer than the distance between your beardy’s eyes.

Food that is larger than this amount may end up getting stuck in the digestive tract.

In the best case, this results in the impaction of feces, which needs to be released.

In the worst cases, the pressure on the spine from the blockage may result in paralysis or death.

What Is A Balanced Bearded Dragon Diet?

Giving your bearded dragon a balanced diet is vital for it living a long and healthy life .

Just because an adult bearded dragon may eat a bucket of crickets doesn’t mean it should eat this every meal.

The type of food and the frequency of the meals changes depending on your beardy’s age.

Younger beardies need more protein meals more often.

Adult beardies eat less often and need more green in their diet.

Note: All of these insects fit into part of the insect/protein part of a bearded dragon’s healthy diet.

This easy reference chart should help you get a better idea of what feeding a bearded dragon entails.

AgeDiet RatioAmountFrequency
0-3 Mo70% Insect 30% Veg30-80 Insects Daily3-5 Feeding Daily
3-8 Mo70% Insect 30% Veg30-80 Insects Daily2 Feedings Daily
8-12 Mo70% Insect 30% Veg30-80 Insects Daily1 Feeding Daily
1+ Year30% Insect 70% Veg50 Insects WeeklyRotation*
Rotation* – 1 Day Salad, 1 Day Insect, 1 Day Nothing & Repeat

Note: Each live insect should be smaller than the distance between the bearded dragon’s eyes.

This prevents injury from eating and you should pay extra attention to this for younger bearded dragons.

When you go to give a bearded dragon a meal, you should feed the reptile all it’s willing to eat in one sitting.

Once it’s full, remove the food from the enclosure.

Why Is Calcium So Important For Bearded Dragons?

Just like with humans, calcium is needed to keep your beardy’s bones and body healthy and strong.

The reason we pay so much attention to calcium with a bearded dragon is because of their unique health tendencies.

In captivity, bearded dragons are prone to metabolic bone disease, which is a severe weakening of the reptile’s bones and body due to calcium deficiency.

This disease can result in death if left untreated.

There are three parts to a bearded dragon owner’s standard of care to help keep their calcium levels up.

#1 UVB Rays

Believe it or not, healthy calcium starts with sunshine!

Bearded dragons need UVB rays to absorb the high amounts of Vitamin D their bodies natural need.

Their higher need for D is due to their natural Australian desert habitats.

Vitamin D, besides its energy and mood-boosting properties, is also key in the absorption of calcium.

So if you pump your pet with calcium but it’s low in Vitamin D, it won’t absorb all the good stuff you’re giving it.

Make sure your basking setup includes a UVB bulb like this one on Amazon.

The light should be on from 12-18 hours per day.

Use a timed switch to make it easier on you.

#2 Calcium-rich Food

When choosing the staples of your bearded dragon’s diet, make sure you opt for insects and greens rich in calcium.

See the above list for calcium-rich insects.

This is the best and most natural way for beardies to absorb calcium.

#3 Calcium Supplement

It’s also standard to give some calcium supplementation to the bearded dragon’s food.

This is usually done by gut loading and/or sprinkling a supplement on their food.

Gut loading involves feeding the insects a special food 24 hours before you feed them to your reptile.

This food increases the insects’ calcium levels.

We recommend this food for crickets by Flukers, found on Amazon.

As an alternative, sprinkle a supplement over their food, although this is less effective.

It is much easier for the owner.

Try this supplement by Rep-Cal, also found on Amazon.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning about the best insects for bearded dragons.

These are an important part of a beardy’s healthy diet as long as you don’t feed them an insect meal too often.

You also need to watch out you don’t feed them too many insects high in fat.

Remember, you’re looking for insects high in protein and calcium first.

This avoids metabolic bone disease.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also enjoy learning about the best fruits, vegetables, and salads for bearded dragons.

The Bearded Dragon Handbook

Bearded Dragon Handbook 3d

You’ll save time and money right away with this easy-to-follow digital handbook. This is the guide you’ve been looking for everywhere.

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