Reptiles are fascinating animals that are found in the wild and are also kept as pets. Reptiles are different from us in so many ways, they’re cold-blooded, they shed their skin, and they eat pretty weird things! Among the many eccentric food items your pet reptile might consume are insects. Some reptiles need insects added to their meals while others survive on insects alone!
So out of all of the reptiles that eat bugs, which reptiles eat crickets?
Crickets are a great source of protein and nutrients for both wild and pet reptiles. Crickets are easy to catch and hunt for wild reptiles and easy to purchase for pet reptiles. Many reptiles like bearded dragons, leopard geckos, and green anoles eat crickets. Some snakes, like garter snakes, even eat crickets!
In this article, we’ll list reptiles that eat crickets. Most of these reptiles are also pet reptiles so hopefully this article will help you decide whether or not to feed your pet crickets.
Do All Reptiles Eat Crickets?
Though many reptiles eat crickets, not all of them consume these little insects. Some reptiles are complete herbivores and will only eat bugs accidentally. Sulcata tortoises, Russian tortoises, and Uromastyx are all examples of reptiles that don’t eat crickets.
These animals don’t consume any live food and instead, survive on plants for their entire lives. Bugs aren’t easily digested by herbivores and these reptiles generally aren’t fast enough to hunt and catch something like a cricket.
On the other hand, you have larger reptiles that are carnivores. While some medium-sized carnivores will eat bugs, large carnivorous reptiles like Komodo dragons will not. Crickets are too small to give them any real nutritional value and a large predator won’t usually spend its time hunting such a small meal.
Even though these reptiles won’t often eat crickets, they might go after a small bug in a life-or-death situation. Emaciated animals in the wild would probably eat anything they could get their teeth around just to survive.
So, now that we have some examples of turtles and lizards that don’t eat crickets, what about snakes?
Do Snakes Eat Crickets?
For the most part, snakes do not regularly consume crickets. However, there are quite a few exceptions to this rule which we’ll talk about below. Most snakes are carnivores. Carnivores eat mainly animal protein and don’t usually rely on insect protein. This has a lot to do with the size and speed of carnivores compared to the size and speed of insects.
Most insects are just too small and fast to be worth a carnivore’s time. Snakes that eat crickets are usually opportunistic feeders that will eat almost anything they can find. These snakes are usually a bit on the smaller side and tend to be fast.
Are Crickets Good For Reptiles?
Crickets are a surprisingly nutritious feeder insect for reptiles.
Crickets are packed full of protein and contain all the essential amino acids that you might find in poultry or fish. These feeder insects are a great choice for any insectivorous or omnivorous pet reptiles. Crickets can either be fed fresh or frozen and thawed. Either way, there is one important thing you’ll want to do before feeding your crickets out.
To make crickets even more nutritious, reptile keepers almost always “gut load” them. Gut loading is the process of feeding your feeder insects before feeding them out! We know, there’s a lot of feeding involved in that process.
Gut loading allows your crickets to eat and digest nutrient-rich foods before they’re fed out. This makes them even more calorie-dense and full of vitamins and minerals that are important for your pet’s health.
If you’re not sure how to gut load your feeder insects, take a quick look at the video below.
Crickets are definitely a good food choice for certain reptiles and they can become even better through the process of gut loading.
10 Reptiles That Eat Crickets
Not only are crickets great for your pet reptile but they’re also easy to access and pretty affordable. All of these factors combined make them an excellent protein choice for many reptiles. We’ll talk a little bit about each reptile that can eat crickets now.
1. Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet reptiles on the market. These lizards are hardy, easy to care for, and have unique personalities. They also have a very user-friendly diet since they don’t require any live animals for prey.
Bearded dragons can eat crickets, and should eat some kind of feeder insect every day. A typical adult bearded dragon diet usually consists of plant matter and insect protein. That almost always looks like e a plate of leafy greens with some vegetables, fruit, and bugs sprinkled on top.
Crickets are a great bug choice for adult bearded dragons because they’re stimulating to hunt and pretty easy for these animals to chew and process. If you’re feeding crickets out to a young bearded dragon, you may need to remove the bugs’ legs as those can be difficult to digest.
Bearded dragons can eat tons of other insects besides crickets. If you’re interested in checking out some other bug choices for your beardie, read our article all about it here.
2. Leopard Gecko
Leopard geckos are another incredibly popular pet reptile that eats crickets.
Even though leopard geckos are smaller than bearded dragons, they eat more bugs. That’s because leopard geckos are strictly carnivorous, or to be even more specific they’re strict insectivores. Leopard geckos survive on a diet of insects alone.
Crickets make a great food choice for leopard geckos for a variety of reasons.
Leopard geckos are natural hunters. They usually need movement to stimulate their hunting reflexes. Live crickets are a great way to get your pet engaged and active in the hunt.
Crickets come in a variety of sizes and you’ll need to take advantage of these options for your leo. Leopard geckos are small lizards and usually need either extra small or small crickets. Adult leopard geckos should only require a few crickets every two or three days which makes crickets an extremely economical food source.
As long as you make sure your bugs aren’t any bigger than the space between your leopard gecko’s eyes, you shouldn’t see any issues.
3. Crested Gecko
Crested geckos are another interesting and tiny lizard species. Unlike most pet reptiles, crested geckos stay small for their entire lives and are easy to house for people who rent or live in small spaces.
Crested geckos are considered either omnivores or vegetarians depending on who you ask. In the wild, these little lizards eat mainly plant material with a few bugs added in.
In captivity, crested geckos can survive on a plant-based diet but usually require supplemental insects to thrive. While insects can be fed as a powdered formulation on top of a gecko’s plate, you can also try to give your gecko live insects.
Crickets are an appropriate choice for a crested gecko as long as they’re small. Larger crickets may be too tough for these little lizards and may end up causing digestive issues such as impaction.
4. Veiled Chameleon
Veiled chameleons are the first reptile on our list that isn’t easy to care for. These pets are finicky and sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. That being said, their diets are pretty simple as they eat mainly insects with some plant matter.
Crickets are a great feeder insect choice for veiled chameleons. Even though chameleons tend to move slowly, they’re great, stealthy hunters and will usually let prey approach them. Their scales help them to stay camouflaged in the foliage and they’ll shoot their tongues out at the perfect moment to catch a cricket.
One of the best things about veiled chameleons is that they’re diurnal. This means that you’ll get to watch your pet hunt throughout the day.
Live crickets can keep your chameleon, and you, entertained for hours!
5. Tokay Gecko
Tokay geckos are exciting pet reptiles that look like rare Pokemon. They’re one of the few pets that have a blue color scheme and are distant relations of leopard geckos.
Like leopard geckos, tokay geckos are opportunistic carnivores. This means that they’ll usually eat bugs or insects but will eat just about anything else if they’re in a pinch. In captivity, tokay geckos are fed a diet made up solely of feeder insects like roaches, mealworms, and crickets.
For tokay geckos, crickets are great mental and physical stimulation. It might take these lizards a few minutes to hunt and chase down a cricket. But, once they get ahold of one, they’ll eat enthusiastically with no problem!
6. Chinese Water Dragon
Chinese water dragons are another pet lizard that loves to eat crickets.
These pet reptiles are a great alternative to iguanas for people who may not have as much space. They’re a little bit smaller and generally have a more relaxed temperament. Chinese water dragons are considered to be one of the more affectionate species of pet reptiles.
Chinese water dragons are found in Asia in the wild and can have a very colorful diet. In one day, a water dragon might eat insects, fruits, and other plant matter. In captivity, the bulk of this pet’s diet is made up of bugs.
Chinese water dragons are active climbers and will make use of the vertical space in their enclosures to hunt. Crickets make a great food choice for this reptile because they can hop up high onto the branches where your pet will spend most of its time.
One thing to note is that Chinese water dragons are semi-aquatic and like to spend time in the water or even swimming. So, make sure to keep an eye on where the crickets go and try to keep them out of the water. If a cricket drowns in the water it’s a waste of food and can contaminate that water source.
7. Green Anole
As you can see in the video above, green anoles love crickets both in the wild and in captivity. Like many of the reptiles on our list, green anoles are arboreal lizards making them apex predators for jumping and flying insects.
In the wild, green anoles might eat things like small flies and gnats. In captivity, those tiny flying bugs can be hard to supply, and crickets make a great substitute.
Green anoles are super small and you’ll need to get the tiniest crickets available for them. Because anoles eat primarily insects, they’re not very messy and don’t smell. They can make great pets for people who rent or live in small spaces.
8. Blue-Tongued Skink
Blue-tongues skinks are one of the less well-known pets on our list of reptiles that eat crickets. Skinks are large omnivorous reptiles that will eat just about anything they can sink their teeth into!
Skinks are known for eating plant, animal, and insect matter. Their meals usually look like a big mix of many different foods. Skink plates usually contain leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits. They’ll also contain some sort of animal protein like chicks or eggs and insect protein, like crickets!
Skinks make great hunters for crickets because of their size and quick hunting skills.
While crickets might seem too small to satisfy a blue-tongued skink, they’re a great addition to help round out a meal made up of many other food items.
9. Garter Snake
Garter snakes are native to North America and can sometimes be kept s pets. They may have one of the most interesting diets as a snake. Because of their slim figures, garter snakes will eat just about anything they can swallow whole. That means these snakes hunt things like tadpoles, and earthworms, as well as fish in the wild!
In captivity, garter snakes can be fed a variety of animal and insect proteins. Crickets are definitely a fun and enriching bug to offer to your garter snake. Ideally, they’ll be stimulated by the movement of the crickets and become engaged in the hunt.
Many garter snake diets vary based on personal preference so if your snake doesn’t go after the crickets you offer them, that’s normal too!
10. Ring-Necked Snake
Ring-necked snakes are super small snakes that have a similar diet to garter snakes.
These snakes are thin for their entire lives and usually won’t go after larger prey items like rats or even mice. More often, you’ll observe wild ring-necked snakes eating things like slugs, salamanders, and worms. In captivity, crickets are something that can be fed to your pet snake.
For both ring-necked and garter snakes, it’s important to keep in mind that crickets should never be their only food source as these snakes need a source of animal protein as well.
Bonus: Juvenile Reptiles
As a bonus addition to our list of reptiles that eat crickets, we’d like to mention juvenile and baby reptiles.
When reptiles are growing, they usually need a higher percentage of animal and insect protein in their diets. Crickets are a great source of protein that can be safely offered to juvenile reptiles.
Because their exoskeleton isn’t very tough, they’re easily digested. For very young reptiles, you’ll probably need to remove the legs from your crickets as those can be difficult for them to swallow.
There are so many pet reptiles that eat crickets. Crickets are an amazing source of protein and amino acids and can be made even more nutritious through gut loading. Though many of the cricket-eating reptiles are arboreal lizards, some terrestrial lizards, and snakes also enjoy these bugs as well.
Since crickets are affordable and pretty easy to keep, we encourage you to try and offer your pet some crickets! You may be surprised to see how excited they get!