Staple Insects for Bearded Dragons

A bearded dragon’s well-being and health primarily depend on proper nutrition. There is a diverse source of perfect feeds for these lovely pets. Each nutritional feeder insect comes with a nutrient proportion that helps your beardie live healthily.

The best staple insects for bearded dragons include dubia roaches, hornworms, waxworms, superworms, mealworms, crickets, nutrigrubs, silkworms, butterworms, and earthworms. Avoid wild-caught insects, fireflies, butterflies, caterpillars, venomous bugs, ladybugs, and box elderbugs as they harm beardies.

In this discussion, we will identify staple insects for bearded dragons. Also, we will identify what insects to avoid for bearded dragons. Keep reading!

Bearded Dragon Eating Crickets

10 Staple Insects for Bearded Dragons

Here are ten staple feeder insects for bearded dragons you can consider as a meal for your beardies:

1. Dubia Roaches

Dubia roaches are the top staple insects for Dubia roaches. Their well-balanced nutrient composition of high proteins and low fats makes them perfect for beardies. In addition, feeding them to your beardie has incredible benefits compared to other feeders.

Here are some benefits of feeding Dubia roaches to bearded dragons:

  • Compared to other insects, such as crickets, Dubias are less noisy, making them friendly to your beardie.
  • Have less odor: other insects may have an unpleasant smell that seems unfavorable to bearded dragons.
  • Quickly breed under typical conditions: this provides you with some extra bulk of feed for your pet.
  • Less likely to fly and climb: Dubias don’t climb on smooth surfaces such as the walls of a plastic container. This makes them easily stored and fed to bearded dragons.
  • You can easily keep and manage Dubia roaches: you may only require a dark place that can be provided by egg crates and provide some residue salad from your usual beardie’s salad to help them stay gut-loaded and alive.

As seen here, keeping and feeding dubia roaches to your dragon is quite easy and beneficial. In the wild, bearded dragons eat wild roaches for survival as well.

Dubia roaches’ nutritional value

Component (extra small)Amount 
Moisture (%)71.5
Protein (%)21.4
Fat (%)3.1
Ash (%)1.3
Fiber (%)2.6
Calcium (mg/kg)700
Phosphorus (mg/kg)2600
Component (extra large)Amount
Moisture (%)65.6
Protein (%)23.4
Fat (%)7.2
Ash (%)1.2
Fiber (%)2.9
Calcium (mg/kg)800
Phosphorus (mg/kg)2600

2. Horn Worms

Also known as Goliath worms or hornworms, they are a staple insect for bearded dragons due to their excellent nutrient composition. However, they have a high moisture content that can be harmful to your beardie when fed in excess. Therefore, they should be used to supplement by combing them with other insects such as Dubia roaches.

The most prominent feature of these feeder insects is their high growth rate. They can grow between four- and five inches in length. You can purchase these feeder insects as a start for your project as you can feed them within a short period to your bearded dragon, depending on their size.

In addition, they can be used as a hydration agent for beardies. However, you should be careful to provide a limited amount since an excess amount can result in a runny stool.

Hornworms nutritional value

Moisture (%)85
Protein (%)9
Fat (%)3.07
Ash (%)N/A
Fiber (%)N/A
Calcium (mg/kg)464
Phosphorus (mg/kg)1394

3. Waxworms

Waxworms are other staple insects for bearded dragons. They are known to have a high-fat content that makes it necessary to combine them with other staple feeder insects, such as Dubia roaches. If you notice a weight problem with your beardie, you should avoid waxworms.

Feeding your bearded dragon with too many waxworms results in obesity and other related complications. To keep your beardie healthy, you can feed 2-3 waxworms daily combined with other feeder insects.

Waxworms are readily available from pet stores that sell reptile feeders locally and online. They have an easy storage approach since you need to store them in a tight container that sustains them.

Waxworms nutritional value

Moisture (%)58.5
Protein (%)14.1
Fat (%)24.9
Ash (%)0.6
Fiber (%)3.4
Calcium (mg/kg)243
Phosphorus (mg/kg)1650

4. Superworms

Superworms have a high nutrient composition, making them a remarkable staple insect for bearded dragons. However, their slightly high-fat content necessitates supplementing them with other staple insects. 

You can feed your beardie up to 10 superworms per day combined with other feeder insects such as Dubia roaches.

Sometimes, people mistake superworms for giant mealworms. However, they are different and have better nutritional benefits than mealworms.

Also, they have a soft chitin (outer layer) that makes them easy to digest. This makes superworms perfect for bearded dragons at any age, but they should be the appropriate size.

Ssuperworms nutritional value

Moisture (%)57.9
Protein (%)19.7
Fat (%)17.7
Ash (%)1.0
Fiber (%)2.7
Calcium (mg/kg)177
Phosphorus (mg/kg)2370

5. Mealworms

Mealworms are also staple insects for bearded dragons. They have varying sizes and can grow up to two inches in length. However, they have hard chitin (outer layer). This makes them unfriendly to young bearded dragons since they can be hard to digest.

Mealworms are used as meal supplements for beardies. An adult bearded dragon can be fed at most 6 mealworms per day. Young dragons (6-12 months) should not be fed with mealworms. 

Mealworms nutritional content

Moisture (%)61.9
Protein (%)18.7
Fat (%)13.4
Ash (%)0.9
Fiber (%)2.5
Calcium (mg/kg)169
Phosphorus (mg/kg)2950

6. Crickets

Crickets are considered among the most nutritious staple insects for bearded dragons. This is because they have a high calcium and protein composition. They eat plants and other safe items for your pet.

You can readily be available at online retailers and general local pet stores. However, you should avoid buying crickets from bait shops since they are known to carry multiple diseases and parasites.

Crickets have some hard body parts that can be indigestible by bearded dragons. For example, their hind legs may require adequate hydration before feeding to bearded dragons.

The negative implications of crickets are that they are hard to keep, noisy, have a foul odor, quickly jump from storage containers, and can easily die. Also, they tend to carry more diseases and parasites than other feeder insects, such as Dubia roaches. Therefore, when feeding crickets to your beardies, you should take them for a fecal exam every six months unless there are no notable signs of appetite loss and parasites like lethargy.

When such signs are noted, plan for a fecal examination as soon as possible.

Crickets nutritional content

Moisture (%)77.1
Protein (%)15.4
Fat (%)3.3
Ash (%)1.1
Fiber (%)2.2
Calcium (mg/kg)275
Phosphorus (mg/kg)2520

7. Nutrigrubs (Phoenix Worms)

Also known as Black Soldier Fly Larvae, nutrigrubs are staple insects for bearded dragons. They are known to contain high protein and calcium content, but the calcium proportion is higher. 

Therefore, they are a perfect calcium supplement for your bearded dragon with calcium deficiency. You can use them in place of calcium powder supplements that do not contain D3.

Nutrigrubs are suitable for young bearded dragons due to their small size. However, the unnoticeable size can make them less attractive to adult bearded dragons. 

Also, mature dragons may require high amounts of feeder insects that can be less affordable. These feeder insects can be easily kept in their original purchasing containers without a food supply.

Moisture (%)85
Protein (%)9
Fat (%)3.07
Ash (%)N/A
Fiber (%)N/A
Calcium (mg/kg)464
Phosphorus (mg/kg)1394

8. Silkworms

Silkworms are also some readily available staple insects for bearded dragons. However, they are less widely used. This is because they offer a fair amount of calcium but have low protein content for beardies. Luckily, they are soft-bodied and thus easily digested.

Finding silkworms can be quite time-involving and expensive. Therefore, it is impractical to use them as regular staple insects for bearded dragons.

Moisture (%)82.7
Protein (%)9.3
Fat (%)1.1
Ash (%)1.1
Fiber (%)1.1
Calcium (mg/kg)177
Phosphorus (mg/kg)2370

9. Butterworms

Butterworms are also good staple feeder insects for bearded dragons. They almost resemble Nutrigrubs but are relatively larger. They have a high protein and calcium composition suitable for bearded dragons. Notably, they have a recognizable size that tempts beardies to eat them. However, they can be fed to bearded dragons as a staple insect with the correct amount and size without any complication. 

Nutrigrubs nutritional content

Moisture (%)60.2
Protein (%)15.5
Fat (%)29.4
Ash (%)0.8
Fiber (%)1.4
Calcium (mg/kg)125
Phosphorus (mg/kg)2250

10. Earthworms

Earthworms are popular staple insects for bearded dragons. They are famous for their excellent source of moisture and calcium. When mixed with other feeder insects, you can occasionally feed your beardies on earthworms. 

When buying earthworms, a trusted bait shop, a pet store, or an online vendor. Remember to rinse off earthworms before giving them to a bearded dragon to eliminate any bedding material particles. 

Also, ensure you purchase earthworms that do not have dyes. Most bait shops sell dyed earthworms that are used for fishing.

Earthworms nutritional content

Moisture (%)83.6
Protein (%)10.5
Fat (%)1.6
Ash (%)0.6
Fiber (%)N/A
Calcium (mg/kg)444
Phosphorus (mg/kg)1820

What Insects To Avoid For Bearded Dragons

There are multiple insects to feed your bearded dragon. However, not all will be safe for your lovely pet.

Here are 6 insects you should avoid feeding your bearded dragons with:

1. Wild-Caught Insects

You may think of feeding your bearded dragon with wild-caught insects to save you some money. However, most insects in your yard may be harmful to your pet. 

Most wildly-caught insects contain diseases and parasites that can easily transmit to your beardie. To be safe, get the feeder insects from a reputable pet shop and ensure they are screened for harmful parasites.

2. Fireflies

Fireflies contain toxins that act badly on bearded dragons within a short time. Therefore, you should never allow your beardies to feed on fireflies.

Sadly, there have been reported cases of luminescents and fireflies causing death to reptiles due to indigestion. It is believed that these insects have toxins that enable them to seem attractive.

3. Butterflies And Caterpillars

Butterflies and caterpillars seem harmless to bearded dragons but are very deadly. Typically, these insects feed on different kinds of toxic plants to bearded dragons. Therefore, when beardies feed on them, they directly absorb toxins from these plants that are harmful to their health.

4. Venomous Insects

Venomous insects include bees, wasps, scorpions, hornets, centipedes, and some species of spiders. Putting such live insects in your beardies tank can trigger stinging or biting injuries. 

Also, when your pet ingests such venomous insects, they are exposed to toxins that can cause illness or death.

5. Ladybugs

Fireflies and box elder ladybugs are poisonous to bearded dragons. Therefore, ensure you don’t expose your beardie to the wild or enclosure where such insects can get through.

6. Box Elder Bugs

Box elder bugs are highly toxic and harmful when fed to bearded dragons. They can most likely cause fatal illness and death.

Bottom Line

Choosing the proper diet for your bearded dragons gives them good health. You can choose among the various staple insects for bearded dragons to give your beardie a healthy diet. 

Besides that, consider avoiding the highlighted harmful insects for bearded dragons. This will ensure your beardies thrive like you always dream about. Happy beardies petting!

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