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Can You Leave Crickets in Your Bearded Dragon’s Cage?

Every now and then, your dragon might not finish eating all of the crickets you have given them in their tank. 

Many owners have considered simply leaving the uneaten crickets in their dragon’s tank with how tricky they are to handle. 

But is this safe?

On the whole, it is best to remove any crickets your bearded dragon hasn’t eaten from their tank, as the crickets will often bite and generally annoy your lizard while they are sleeping or resting. Additionally, crickets are very smelly and will cause your dragon’s tank to have an unpleasant odor.

Keep reading to learn more about why you should remove any uneaten or dead insects, especially crickets, from your lizard’s tank after feeding times. 

leaving crickets in bearded dragon cage

Is It Safe To Leave Uneaten Crickets In Your Bearded Dragon’s Tank?

As a bearded dragon owner, it is normal for you, not to want to deal with the leftover crickets in your lizard’s tank. 

These common feeder insects are fast, small, and tough to handle without them leaping out of your hands and escaping. 

However, it is important to always remove any live or dead crickets your dragon hasn’t eaten from their tank.

Many issues are associated with leaving crickets or other bugs in your dragon’s tank, many of which are both dangerous and generally unpleasant for you and your lizard.

Will Crickets Attack Your Dragon?

Crickets will tend to gang up on your dragon while they are relaxing or sleeping, and they will even bite your lizard’s face and body, which is incredibly painful and irritating for them.

Desperate, hungry crickets are especially dangerous for baby bearded dragons, as they are much smaller and weaker than adults, meaning crickets can harm them more easily. 

Even if you have gut-loaded your crickets, they will eventually become hungry and seek other food sources. 

If your baby beardie is under attack by a group of crickets you’ve left in their tank, they might sustain serious injuries and infections. 

Cricket bites are painful for both baby and adult dragons, especially because the bugs tend to look for soft, vulnerable spots on your dragon, like their eyes, soft bellies, and mouths. 

These bites, if left untreated, will quickly cause infections and other health issues.  

Do Crickets Smell Bad If Left in the Tank? 

Crickets are very stinky bugs, and their odor will permeate the air in your dragon’s tank and make the entire tank smell bad after just a few hours. 

This is especially true for dead crickets; as they decompose, the smell will only become worse.

 The lamp in your dragon’s tank will “bake” any dead crickets left near the basking area, making the smell even stronger and more disgusting.

If you’re experiencing a smelly tank read our post on dealing with bad bearded dragon smells.

Will Crickets Eat Your Dragon’s Food? 

The crickets you leave in your dragon’s tank will attempt to eat other foods you put out for your lizard, like vegetables and fruits. 

This will be frustrating and upsetting for your dragon whenever they’re eating. 

Even if you have gut-loaded your feeder crickets with cricket food before putting them in the tank, they will still quickly become hungry due to their small size and rapid metabolisms. 

You wouldn’t enjoy bugs chowing down on your food while you’re eating, and your dragon definitely won’t appreciate it, either. 

Are Crickets Messy?

 If you have dusted your crickets with a calcium powder (which you should), they will create a mess of white powder throughout the tank as they move around and shake bits of calcium everywhere.

Even if you use a gut-loading food or liquid calcium supplement, they’ll get in the way of the beardie’s space. 

The sad part is you need to provide calcium multivitamin supplements gut-loading because of how prone to calcium deficiency they are. 

Crickets also poop a lot, and even after a short period, you will notice small piles of cricket droppings throughout the tank, particularly in corners and other hard-to-reach places. 

Your dragon will often end up walking through the poop and spreading it further around the tank, creating lots of unnecessary, smelly, and avoidable messes.

Keeping crickets isn’t tough, but dealing with the commercial cricket food or fresh food may get a little smelly and messy.

Will the Crickets’ Chirping Bother Your Lizard? 

Finally, crickets are very noisy, and the chirping cricket song they constantly emit will be very annoying for your dragon while they are attempting to rest at night. 

Combined with their relentless attacks on your dragon, this will create a hostile, painful, and upsetting environment for them.

Generally, you should immediately remove any extra crickets, alive or dead, from your beardie’s tank immediately after feeding times. 

Your dragon will be much happier and healthier, and its tank will be cleaner as a result. 

How Should You Remove Crickets From Your Dragon’s Tank? 

So, you now know to get rid of the leftover crickets in your beardie’s tank. 

The next question you likely have is: how do you get rid of them without them jumping everywhere and escaping into your home? 

Members of the reptile community cite many tips and tricks for getting rid of unwanted crickets or other insects in your lizard’s tank. 

Some people just reach into the tank with their hands and scoop out the crickets themselves, but this is risky as the crickets can squirm and leap out of your hands as you’re handling them. 

Additionally, while the tank is left open, the crickets you aren’t currently holding will quickly escape, as they can jump very high and far distances. 

While grabbing the crickets yourself is the most direct and obvious option, it isn’t the most logical or efficient choice. 

Another better method of removing the extra bugs is to use a small handheld vacuum or vacuum tube attachment in the tank. 

Be sure to remove your lizard from the tank and place them in a temporary holding tank before vacuuming, as the sound and appearance of a large, foreign object will frighten them. 

Remove any water dish or food bowl in the tank and any loose decor to avoid making an even bigger mess. 

The crickets will probably hide inside or under anything they can find in the tank, so you’ll need a watchful eye to find and properly remove them. 

Whether you’re looking for a single cricket or a dozen stray crickets, the vacuum’s suction will be strong enough to remove them fairly efficiently. 

Another option is to use a long pair of tongs to grab the crickets. 

This is particularly useful for dead crickets, as many people are squeamish at the sight and smell. 

They are also helpful for large, adult crickets, as they are easier to grab thanks to their size. 

It will also help to only feed as many crickets as your dragon can eat at a time. 

We have a great post on the number of crickets bearded dragons will consume daily that will help you to better gauge your pet’s feedings.

As a general rule of thumb, you should only put one to two of the bugs in your lizard’s tank at once and wait until they have eaten them to give them more. 

Keep the crickets stored in a container between feedings, and only remove them one at a time during feeding times. 

Finally, many bearded dragon owners tend to just avoid crickets entirely, as there are plenty of other bugs which are far slower and easier to remove from the tank post-feeding sessions, like Dubia roaches and superworms. 

As a food item for your dragon’s diet, crickets are packed with protein, but their odor and how difficult they are to handle make them a source of frustration for reptile owners everywhere.

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