Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cicadas?

can bearded dragons eat cicadas

Bearded dragons are some of the cutest pet lizards around!  They make popular pets because they are friendly and relatively easy to take care of.  These lizards might be some of the only reptiles that could really enjoy being petted.  Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they eat all sorts of foods!  That being said, you might notice that your beardies’ favorite food is usually some type of bug!  In the same way that we love rich savory treats, bearded dragons love eating bugs!  But, are all bugs safe for bearded dragons to eat?

Can bearded dragons eat cicadas?

Yes, bearded dragons can and will eat cicadas!  Most bearded dragons love insect treats.  If you do decide to feed your bearded dragon cicadas, you’ll need to make sure they’re pesticide and parasite free.  You’ll also want to make sure they’re not too big or too tough for your bearded dragon to digest. 

So, how do you make sure a cicada is safe to feed your beardie?  We’ll tell you everything you need to know, next!

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Any Insect?

Bearded dragons can eat many different kinds of insects.  However, these reptiles can’t eat them all.

Any insects that are poisonous or venomous should not be offered to your bearded dragon.  Things like spiders, wasps, and scorpions should never be put into your bearded dragon’s enclosure!  Not only could eating these bugs make your bearded dragon sick, but these bugs could also harm your scaly friends.

If you’re not sure if an insect is safe for your pet to eat, it’s best to err on the side of caution.  Bearded dragons can eat many commercially available bugs like fly larvae, earthworms, mealworms, and cockroaches!  Bearded dragons can even eat dead crickets in a pinch!

What About Cicadas?

So what about cicadas?  Will they harm your bearded dragon?

Eating a cicada will not harm your bearded dragon unless something is wrong with it.  Essentially, an organic cicada should be safe for your bearded dragon to eat!  They’re pretty meaty, packed with protein, and could become a quick favorite for your pet.  If you can find cicadas that have been raised in a controlled environment, you can go ahead and give your beardie a taste.

But, there are some things you should be aware of before feeding them to your bearded dragon.

4 Things To Think About Before Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Cicadas

Before eating any food you always want to know that it’s clean, free of harmful chemicals, and can be digested by you, right?  The same is true for your bearded dragon! And unfortunately, when we find bugs in the wild, we don’t necessarily have control over all of these factors.

1. Pesticides

Pesticides are one of the biggest concerns of feeding cicadas to your pet bearded dragon.

Cicadas come seasonally, all at once, and usually in the summer.  Unfortunately, these bugs are regarded as pests by a lot of farmers and homeowners.  This means that in some situations, the crops that cicadas are eating could be covered in toxic pesticides.

If your bearded dragon were to ingest a cicada that had been in contact with pesticides, it could get pretty sick!  Pesticides are chemicals strong enough meant to kill bugs.  And, let’s be real, your beardie isn’t that much bigger than a bug!  So, pesticides will definitely have harmful effects on your pet.

If you think your bearded dragon is sick from ingesting a bug with pesticides, make sure to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible!

2. Parasites

Another problematic thing that cicadas can carry with them is parasites.

Parasites are organisms that live in or on another organism.  Parasites can even live in animals as small as bugs!  Cicadas carry parasites that could potentially affect our bearded dragon.  Now, not all wild cicadas have parasites, but some do.  Unless you know that a cicada is parasite-free, you run the risk of giving your bearded dragon parasites.

Internal parasites can make your bearded dragon very sick.  Without a visit to your veterinarian, they can be hard to recognize and diagnose.  Luckily, most internal parasites are easily treated with oral dewormers and your pet will make a quick recovery!

3. Size

Something that’s easier to see in a cicada is its size.  If a cicada is too big for our bearded dragon to eat, it will have a hard time chewing a digesting it.  In a worst-case scenario, a large cicada might get stuck in the back of your beardies mouth or throat.

What’s a good rule of thumb for the size of for you feed your bearded dragon?

Well, insects should never be larger than the space between your bearded dragon’s eyes!  If they are too big, it’s best to cut the bug into smaller pieces or to skip feeding that bug altogether.

4. Exoskeleton

Did you know that for most of their lives, cicadas wear a thick exoskeleton?  But, when they become adults, cicadas shed this exoskeleton.  Here is a video so you can get an idea of the difference between the two life stages.

If you find a cicada that still has its exoskeleton, your bearded dragon will likely have issues digesting it.  Exoskeletons are super tough keratinous shells.  The best cicada to feed your bearded dragon will definitely be a softer adult!

How Do You Know If A Cicada Is Safe To Feed To Your Bearded Dragon?

If you choose to feed your bearded dragon wild bugs, there will always be a small risk.  Parasites live unseen in many bugs.  But, the biggest threat to your beardies’ health will most likely be pesticides!  If you live on a large piece of land that is pesticide free, you might be able to allow your beardie to go outside and hunt some of its own cicadas.  As long as you can be sure that these bugs haven’t come into contact with pesticides.

In reality, it’s best to feed your beardie bugs that have been raised or bred in a controlled environment!  These bugs are guaranteed to be parasite and pesticide free.  They’re also usually sold at the ideal life stage for beardie consumption!  If you’re a bearded dragon owner already, you probably know that you can find bugs at many pet supply stores and even fishing stores!

Final Thoughts

Your beardie loves bugs!  And as far as cicadas go, they will eat them up, literally!  But, you need to make sure that the cicadas are safe to feed your bearded dragon, to make sure they don’t get sick.

Even though your bearded dragon would gorge itself on cicadas, you still need to feed them a variety of foods.  Otherwise, they could develop nutritional deficiencies which could cause their bones to become weak, cause them to flip on their back, or cause neurological issues.  Giving your pet a well-rounded and healthy diet will give you the best and longest life possible with them!  And, if you love your bearded dragon as much as I think you do, that’s all you’ll ever want for them!