Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Crickets?

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Crickets?

Crickets are a favorite food of bearded dragons, and it is rather entertaining to watch your beardie stalk its insect prey and successfully capture a jumping cricket in its mouth.  Even better is giving them a nice pet for a job well done. However, not all live crickets stay alive during shipping, so you may have a few carcasses in your delivery.

Can you feed dead crickets to your bearded dragon?

You should only feed dead crickets that have been pre-killed and preserved by drying, canning, or freeze drying to your bearded dragon. It is not a good idea to feed your beardie dead crickets that you don’t know when or how they died.

Dead crickets can harbor bacteria and parasites as they begin to decompose. These can make your bearded dragon ill, so it is best to avoid feeding your beardie any cricket that you find dead. Additionally, the cricket may have died because of a harmful microbe, so even freshly dead it may be a health hazard to your dragon.

Will Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Crickets?

Although bearded dragons shouldn’t eat dead crickets that are not properly processed, they usually won’t discriminate. After all, a meal is a meal. If you offer your beardie dead crickets that are dried or canned, they may not be as open to eating them, but it is better than nothing.

As you can see in this video, the status of the cricket makes no difference to the beardie:

Similarly, if your dragon typically eats live crickets and some of these die in its enclosure, your bearded dragon may not hesitate to scarf up an easy snack. If there are still live ones jumping around though, your beardie will most likely go after those first.

To avoid your dragon eating undesirable dead crickets that may be a risk to their health, always make sure to clean out your bearded dragon’s tank of any cricket carcasses at the end of the day.

Should I Be Worried If My Bearded Dragon Eats a Dead Cricket?

If your beardie snacks on a dead cricket before you are able to remove it from your dragon’s reach, there is no need to have the veterinarian on speed dial. However, you should keep an eye on your bearded dragon to watch for any possible signs of a bacterial infection or parasitic sickness.

The more worrisome form of dead crickets to be on your guard about are those that have been dead for a long or unknown period of time and wild crickets that you did not order for food. These are the most likely to cause serious illness in your beardie.

Can A Dead Cricket Make My Bearded Dragon Sick?

If crickets are properly killed and processed, such as those that are canned, dried, or freeze-dried, there should be low concern about your beardie getting sick from consuming these unless your dragon has a sensitivity to certain preservatives used.

On the other hand, if your bearded dragon eats a wild cricket that has died in its enclosure, your beardie may be at risk of being poisoned by pesticides the insect was exposed to, infected with parasites such as horsehair worms, or getting sick from bacterial contamination. Just like any other seemingly harmless food sources such as tap water which can contain chemicals hazardous to reptiles, crickets taken from your own backyard could pose more of a threat than you may realize.

Oftentimes, beardies that become ill from consuming a contaminated dead cricket exhibit signs of gastrointestinal distress such as vomiting. Check your dragon for these kinds of symptoms or any other unusual behavior such as extreme lethargy to alert you to the possibility of a health condition brought on by eating a dead insect.

Call your veterinarian at once if you have reason to suspect that your bearded dragon may be ill from eating a dead cricket. To avoid any future mishaps, carefully monitor your dragon’s meals and access to potentially harmful food sources.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Freeze Dried Crickets?

Even though bearded dragons shouldn’t eat freshly dead crickets, they can eat crickets that have been freeze-dried. Many companies sell freeze-dried crickets including the very popular Flukers.

You would think that crickets are crickets in any form, however, most beardies prefer to hunt for their food. You may have to put a little effort into convincing your dragon that freeze-dried crickets are good to eat by offering the insects with a pair of long tweezers and mimicking live movement.

You could also add the crickets to your bearded dragon’s water dish, which will help rehydrate it so that it looks plump and palatable, and squirt it with a water gun. This will help trick your beardie into thinking the insect is still alive and taking a leisurely bath in its water dish, which may make it more appealing to eat.

If all else fails, treat your dragon like a toddler and hide the freeze-dried crickets among a dish of its favorite vegetables. Freeze-dried crickets may not be a bearded dragon’s ideal version of a protein-packed snack, but they are still a good resource to have in your beardie’s food arsenal.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Canned Crickets?

Canned crickets may be more convenient to for you to purchase and store than live crickets, but they often offer less nutritional value. However, bearded dragons can eat canned crickets but may need a little incentive to consume them.

Canned crickets are oftentimes less palatable than live prey, but they still provide a source of protein that your beardie needs to stay healthy. You may need to feed your dragon more canned crickets than you would live ones to ensure that your bearded dragon is getting the proper amount of daily nutrition.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dried Crickets?

Dried crickets usually receive a similar reaction as freeze-dried crickets when presented to a bearded dragon for food, but they can and will eat them. As opposed to freeze-dried, dried crickets are usually baked in a convection oven so rehydrating them to their former plumpness is not an option.

However, dried crickets can be a preferable diet choice for your convenience since live crickets tend to be loud, smelly, and sometimes difficult to keep alive. You can use the same coaxing techniques as you would for freeze-dried crickets to convince your dragon to eat dried crickets.

Are Dried Crickets Good for Bearded Dragons?

Dried crickets are a good source of protein for your bearded dragon who needs a steady supply to aid with growth and muscle maintenance. Although dried crickets have nutrients and preservatives added to them for the benefit of your beardie’s health, live crickets still tend to be a better option.

When crickets die, the moisture in their body evaporates along with any natural nutrients. If you are looking to feed dried crickets to your dragon instead of live ones, make sure that there are added nutrients. Otherwise, your bearded dragon might not get a lot out of them.

Baby bearded dragons especially need a high concentration of nutrients and protein that dried crickets can provide. Just make sure that the crickets are not too big for your baby beardie or else it may cause a choking hazard.

Conclusion

Bearded dragons are spectacular buddies for any reptile lover and their own love of eating crickets helps them stay healthy and keeps them active. However, if you don’t want to keep live crickets to use as food because let’s face it, they’re smelly, loud, and a pain to keep alive, you can always give your beardie pre-killed and processed crickets.

Crickets that have been dried, canned, or freeze-dried are perfectly safe for your dragon to eat, although they may not provide as many nutrients as their live counterparts. However, you should never allow your bearded dragon to eat a freshly dead cricket or a cricket carcass.

Dead crickets can carry bacteria, diseases, and parasites which can make your dragon extremely sick. Do your reptile buddy a favor and make sure he doesn’t eat these kinds of dead crickets because he won’t be as selective as you will about his food.