Although bearded dragons are very fond of fruits and vegetables, these feisty little reptiles are far from vegetarians. While you won’t find them stalking small mammals or prey larger than themselves like snakes do, bearded dragons do enjoy a variety of insects and worms.
What bugs can beardies eat?
Roaches, crickets, and various worms are common feeder foods for bearded dragons. All of these provide a variety of nutritional benefits such as fat, high water content, protein, and calcium, so some are choice staple foods while others should only be used as treats or supplementally.
Let’s take a look at sixteen of the best bugs to feed bearded dragons as well as which bugs you should not feed them. We will also dive into which bugs dragons should eat every day and some popular favorites among beardies so that you can give your reptilian pal the tastiest and most nutritious diet of grubs.
Bug #1: Dubia Roaches
As a bonus for you, they are easy to breed so you don’t have to keep buying them from the pet food store. Unlike other feeder bugs, they do not give off an unpleasant odor, they are quiet, and they will not climb your dragon’s enclosure trying to escape.
Dubia roaches are a great staple feeder that both you and your beardie will love.
Bug #2: Goliath Worms
Check out this video to see the size comparison between juvenile bearded dragon and his first goliath worm snack:
Goliath worms shouldn’t be relied upon as the primary staple in a bearded dragon’s diet because they are not a good source of protein and ingesting too many can induce diarrhea in your beardie.
Bug #3: Waxworms
Waxworms are great to feed bearded dragons because they are easy to obtain, and your dragon will see them as a special treat. However, try to avoid feeding them too many waxworms because these critters are extremely high in fat.
Limit your beardie’s waxworm intake to two to six worms per day. If your bearded dragon is obese or struggles with weight-related issues, waxworms may not be the best choice for your pet.
Bug #4: Mealworms
Mealworms are one of the best supplementary bugs for your bearded dragon’s diet. Not only are they considered one of the favorite foods of bearded dragons, but they also provide a well-rounded balance of nutrition. Five to six worms per day in addition to a staple feeder will make your beardie a very happy camper.
However, mealworms are not recommended for baby beardies and should only be fed to adults. The chitinous exoskeleton of mealworms can be difficult for a baby to digest and may cause intestinal issues.
Bug #5: Superworms
Like mealworms, superworms should only be fed to adult bearded dragons because of the chitin in their exoskeleton and their enormous size. Both of these factors could present a choking hazard or digestive problems for baby beardies.
Bug #6: Crickets
Crickets are an extremely popular feeder insect for bearded dragons. Most dragons love to eat them live as they make good prey for hunting. Some enjoy dried or canned versions to snack on. Either way they eat them, crickets are a great source of protein and calcium.
Unlike Dubia roaches though, crickets can be difficult to keep, smelly, and noisy. Some people have a hard time keeping them alive, and you should never feed your bearded dragon a dead cricket unless it was pre-killed and properly processed.
Crickets should also come with the caution that the hind legs can be difficult to digest and may get stuck in your beardie’s throat. Be especially careful when feeding crickets to baby dragons and don’t use insects that are too large for your baby beardie to swallow.
Bug #7: Black Soldier Fly Larvae
One of the most nutritious bug foods you can give your bearded dragon is black soldier fly larvae. Also known as phoenix worms or nutrigrubs, these little wriggly worms are an excellent source of protein and calcium. They are great for baby bearded dragons because of their size and high nutrition content which is important for a baby’s growth and development.
However, black soldier fly larvae can get very expensive due to the sheer amount of these small insects that you would need to feed an adult dragon to sustain a healthy diet. These are more commonly used as supplemental feeders.
Bug #8: Butterworms
Butterworms are similar to black soldier fly larvae in their high protein and calcium content, but they are larger in size, making them a more appropriate staple food for adult bearded dragons. Most pet stores and bait shops will carry butterworms, so they are readily available for purchase for your dragon’s meals.
Bug #9: Silkworms
Silkworms are one of the best bugs for bearded dragons because they provide nutrients that most worms usually lack. They are high in potassium, calcium, and phosphorus – all necessary minerals for growing beardies that you usually have to supplement with in powder form.
Silkworms are also a great feeder for baby dragons because they are easy to digest on top of all the nutrients a growing beardie needs. However, they can be impractical to use as a staple in your bearded dragon’s diet because they can be difficult to find.
Bug #10: Earthworms
Earthworms may seem an unusual choice for bearded dragons, but they make for a good meal and are very abundant. Earthworms are high in calcium and moisture, helping to hydrate your beardie.
The only precaution you should take is to avoid purchasing earthworms from bait shops that dye them for fishing. The dyes in the earthworms can be harmful to your beardie.
Bug #11: Locusts
Like crickets, locusts are great feeders for bearded dragons because they are rich in protein. Locusts can great fairly large though, so you want to make sure you have insects small enough for your dragon to handle.
Also, if you live in the United States, this is not a good food option for your beardie because locusts are banned. However, they can be legally purchased in the United Kingdom and other countries.
Bug #12: Cockroaches
Cockroaches offer much of the same benefits to your bearded dragon as Dubia roaches. They are high in protein and calcium and provide a soft shell for easy digestion.
However, one of the reasons Dubia roaches have an advantage over cockroaches as a preferred feeder is their lack of ability to escape. Cockroaches can fly, so if your beardie doesn’t hunt down dinner in a reasonable amount of time, you may find these bugs in unwanted places in your house.
Bug #13: Morioworms
Morioworms are a delicacy for bearded dragons and provide good fats that dragons need for growth. However, because of this high fat content, they shouldn’t be a staple food for your beardie. Morioworms are best suited to be used as treats to show your bearded dragon your affection for him.
Bug #14: Orange Head Roach
There are many different species of roaches and each one has unique nutrients that are good for bearded dragons. While dubia roaches and cockroaches are good sources of protein, orange head roaches are great for hydration.
However, this species may be difficult to source and should only be fed to adult bearded dragons. Due to their size, baby dragons have a hard time swallowing and digesting them.
Bug #15: Discoid Roach
Discoid roaches are also great feeder bugs for adult bearded dragons. They provide an excellent source of fat and are easily digestible. Take care not to feed your beardie too many of these though at the risk of introducing any weight problems.
Bug #16: Turkistan Roach
If your beardie likes crickets, he’ll love Turkistan roaches. These insects are similar in size to crickets but pack way more protein and calcium. They would make perfect staple feeders for your bearded dragon if they weren’t so difficult to find.
What Insects Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon Daily?
Your bearded dragon needs a balanced diet of both plant material and insects. Bugs that are great for daily staples include superworms, black soldier fly larvae, hornworms, crickets, and roaches.
Each of these bugs provides a necessary nutrient such as calcium, protein, fat, and water that are vital to your dragon’s health and growth. Other species mentioned above are more suited to supplementing your beardie’s diet or for use as treats.
What Is a Bearded Dragon’s Favorite Insect?
Just like you or me, bearded dragons all have their own unique personalities so different beardies may have different favorite insects to munch on. However, crickets and mealworms seem to be the most popular bugs with dragons.
Crickets are great to hunt when given as live feeders and mealworms make for a tasty well-balanced meal. Try introducing your beardie to a variety of the insects mentioned in our list to see which one strikes your buddy’s fancy!
What Bugs Should I Not Feed My Bearded Dragon?
Even though there are plenty of bugs that bearded dragons can and should eat, there is also a list that they should avoid at all costs.
Never feed your bearded dragon bugs that are not supplied by a feed shop. Wild versions of typically edible insects like crickets can carry parasites and diseases or be covered in pesticides which could make your bearded dragon very ill.
Box elder bugs and any bugs that glow such as fireflies and glowing worms contain toxins that will poison your bearded dragon if ingested and can be fatal. Likewise, any insect such as wasps or bees that are venomous can also be harmful to beardies if they try to consume them.
Bearded dragons need a well-balanced diet of both bugs and plants. There are many bugs that are great for beardies like roaches, crickets, and a variety of worms. These sources of meat provide dragons with the protein, calcium, and fat they need to grow big and stay strong.
Just remember to always source your beardie’s feeder bugs from a vetted pet food supply company to protect your dragon from contracting unwanted parasites or running the risk of illness due to pesticide poisoning or eating a species that could kill them.