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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Crickets?

Feeding your bearded dragon an appropriate diet is crucial for its health and well-being. If your pet recently ate a dead cricket, it is natural to wonder ‘can bearded dragons eat dead crickets’?

While bearded dragons are omnivores and get most of their nutrients from plants and insects, there are some things that you should never feed them. Are dead crickets one of them? Let us find out.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Crickets?

Bearded dragon eats dead cricket
Bearded dragon eats dead cricket

Bearded dragons should only be fed dead crickets in moderation. You can safely feed freeze-dried, frozen, or canned dead crickets to your bearded dragon in small quantities. Dead crickets should not be your pet’s whole diet as they need live crickets for optimum nutrition.

A word of caution when feeding crickets to your Beardie:

  • If you had ordered live crickets but found some dead in the package, do not assume that it is safe for your pet. Call the manufacturer to assess the probable cause of the insects’ death. It is best to err on the side of caution and discard the bag.
  • Always remember that dead crickets cannot fulfill all of your pet’s nutritional needs. Therefore, it is vital that you also feed other foods – especially live insects – to your Beardie.

 What Happens If My Bearded Dragon Eats a Dead Cricket?

Bearded dragon eats a dead cricket
Bearded dragon eats a dead cricket | Credit: JoranDamo / YouTube.com

It is very natural to worry if your pet has eaten a dead cricket. Perhaps you had ordered a pack of live insects and one or two bugs were dead which your pet ended up eating.

Don’t worry: nothing will happen to your beardie if it has eaten a couple of dead crickets. Your Bearded Dragon can chew and digest dead crickets easily.

However, if your pet eats a lot of dead crickets, it won’t get the nutrition its body requires. Resultantly, over time, it could lose weight and become relatively thin.

The reason why dead crickets are harmful to bearded dragon when eaten in excess is:

  • The dead insect’s body loses moisture rapidly and along with it all of the nutrients it once held.
  • Dead crickets are also likely to attract parasites and bacteria which could harm your Beardie and make it very ill.
  • We will never know the exact cause of the cricket’s death. If the cricket had a disease or infection or was treated with pesticides, eating it could harm your pet and make it very sick.

6 Reasons Why Should You Feed Live Crickets to Your Bearded Dragon

There are several reasons why you should feed live crickets to your beardie. Live crickets mimic your pet’s natural diet, encourage natural hunting instincts, and provide it with better nutritional value.

Bearded dragon is hunting live crickets
Bearded dragon is hunting live crickets | Credit: Casual Pro / YouTube.com
  1. Live Crickets are what Beardies eat in the wild

Bearded dragons live in woodlands, deserts, coastal savannahs, and forests. They are often found in tree stumps and branches or boulders. In the wild, their diet primarily comprises live insects and plants. 

Feeding live insects like mealworms, crickets, waxworms, dubia cockroaches, etc. closely mimics your pet’s diet in the wild. 

  1. Encourages natural hunting instincts

Feeding live crickets can encourage your beardie’s natural hunting instincts and even help it get some much-needed mental and physical stimulation. In captivity, your bearded dragon relies on you to feed it but in addition to feeding, you must also make sure that your pet leads an active lifestyle. 

Without physical and mental activity, your pet could get obese and depressed. Live crickets can encourage your pet to move and think and that can be entertaining for your pet while also fulfilling its nutritional needs.

  1. Live Crickets have a higher nutritional value

There is little doubt that feeding your bearded dragon live crickets is a lot better than feeding canned or dead insects. Live critters are packed with proteins and other vital nutrients that are necessary for your bearded dragon’s health and well-being. 

The last thing you want is to feed your buddy food with low to zero nutritional value. Doing so could cause your beardie to deteriorate, lose weight, and even invite a host of diseases. Over time, a poor diet could even kill your beardie.

Live crickets bring nutritional value to Bearded Dragon
Live crickets bring nutritional value to bearded dragon
  1. You can ‘gut load’ the live crickets

You can ‘gut load’ the live crickets before feeding them to their pets. Gut loading is a process that involves feeding the crickets a couple of days before offering them to your beardie.

Gut loading enhances the cricket’s nutritional content greatly. You obviously cannot ‘gut load’ dead or canned crickets.

  1. Most Beardies love the taste of live crickets

Live crickets are softer, tastier, and meatier. Most beardies love their taste immensely. A dead cricket rapidly undergoes water loss. Along with the loss of nutrients, the water loss makes the dead crickets dry and unpalatable. They are simply not tasty enough and many picky beardies even refuse to eat canned or dead crickets.

  1. Live crickets are less a risk than dead crickets

This is one of the main reasons to feed only live crickets to bearded dragons. As mentioned earlier, one can never know the cause of death of the cricket – unless you yourself killed it before feeding it to your Beardie. If the cricket has some sort of infection or parasite or was killed due to pesticides,  then it could make your beardie very sick and might even kill it.

How to Keep Crickets Alive for Bearded Dragons?

You can do several things to ensure that your beardie has a steady supply of live and nutritional crickets. This is very important to ensure your pet’s well-being:

  1. House your crickets in a proper tank

You can use a plastic container, an old aquarium tank, or even a Rubbermaid tank. Whatever tank you choose, ensure that it has a lid. Alternatively, use a mesh screen to cover the tank or make holes in the tank’s lid.

Using a substrate is not a necessity. However, if you do choose a substrate, add some coconut fibers or wood shavings.

Exo Terra Exo Terra Cricket Pen, Small, 18 Cm X 14 Cm X 11 Cm

Exo Terra Exo Terra Cricket Pen, Small, 18 Cm X 14 Cm X 11 Cm (7\U201D X 5.5\U201D X 4.3\U201D)
  • Complete cricket care kit includes food dish and water bowl
  • Removable, well-ventilated lid
  • Easy cricket dispenser
  • Makes cricket feeding neat & tidy
  • Size: Small - 18 cm x 14 cm x 11 cm (7” x 5.5” x 4.3”)

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  1. Ensure proper temperature

To keep your crickets thriving, ensure that the tank is kept at a temperature between 75-85 F. If you live in a cold region, add an incandescent bulb to maintain this temperature.

  1. Clean the cage regularly

Make it a point to clean the tank every week. Remember: crickets hate strong chemical fumes so only use water and mild soap for cleaning. You might have to transfer your crickets to another tank temporarily while cleaning.

  1. Gut load your crickets

To ensure optimum nutrition for your beardie, feed your crickets nutritious food like potatoes, carrots, apples, lettuce, etc. Crickets also eat dry dog and cat food, seeds, nuts, wheat bran, and alfalfa. Some people move their crickets to a separate tank during gut loading.

Sta-Green 8-Quart Organic Vermiculite

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dried/Canned Crickets?

You can feed your bearded dragon dried or canned crickets, but only in moderation. Canned or dried crickets should not comprise your beardie’s entire diet since they cannot be gut-loaded and aren’t as nutritious as live crickets. 

Canned and dried crickets also do not move and that means they cannot provide any mental stimulation to your beardie.

Are There Any Benefits of Feeding Dried/Canned Crickets to Bearded Dragons?

Yes, there are a few benefits of feeding cried/canned crickets to beardies:

  • Canned/dried crickets are readily available in the market. They are easier to store and convenient to feed as no prep work is needed.
  • Unlike live crickets, the dried or canned ones won’t try to escape.
  • Canned or dried crickets won’t feed on the dirt inside your beardie’s tank. They won’t eat your dragon’s poop.
  • They won’t die during the shipping process or try to escape. Once you get your package, simply store it at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  • You can hand over the packet to a friend who will be looking after your beardie when you travel. Alternatively, add a few canned crickets to your pet’s tank before going out.

Zoo Med Laboratories Can O Crickets Pet Food, 1.2 Ounce Each (3 Pack)

Zoo Med Laboratories Can O Crickets Pet Food, 1.2 Ounce Each (3 Pack)
  • 3 Pack Of Zoo Med Laboratories Can O Crickets Pet Food, 1.2 Ounce Each
  • Perfect for reptiles, birds, and amphibians, it makes feeding easy.
  • Locked in flavor and freshness with natural juices preserved in the can.
  • Softened exoskeleton makes for easier digestion.
  • A great alternative to buying live food and having to store it, you can always be prepared by having a can on hand.

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How Many Canned/Dead Crickets to Feed a Bearded Dragon?

When feeding canned or dried crickets, moderation is key. Here is a table for your ready reference:

Age of Bearded DragonHow OftenHow Much
Baby (0-6 months)Daily, unless sick3-4 small dried crickets
Juvenile (6-12 months)3 times a week (every other day)5-7 small dried crickets
Adult (over 12 months)Every 3-4 days6-8 small dried crickets

What Can Bearded Dragons Eat?

According to the experts at VCA Hospitals, you can feed plant and animal foods to your beardie. Grasshoppers, mealworms, waxworms, crickets, and other insects are the best sources of proteins for your beardie. You can feed these live. If you feed canned worms and insects, ensure it is in moderation.

Bearded dragons can also eat slugs, moths, and earthworms. Among plant-based foods, you can feed broccoli, sweet potato, cabbage, parsnip, Swiss chard, okra, kale, dandelion, turnip greens, etc.

NEVER feed mushrooms, onions, spinach, beet tops, chives, celery, orange, lemons, etc. to your pet.


Can Bearded Dragons eat dead insects?

While bearded dragons can eat dead insects, they should only be fed in moderation. Dead insects do not have the same nutritional value as live insects.

Can Bearded Dragons eat dead mealworms?

Yes, you can feed dead mealworms to your bearded dragon in moderation. Remember: dead worms do not have the same nutritional content as live worms.

Can crickets make Bearded Dragons sick?

Very large crickets and dead crickets could make your pet sick if fed in excess. Crickets treated with pesticides or those killed by an infection or parasites could also make a bearded dragon very ill.

Key Takeaways – Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Crickets?

You can feed your bearded dragon dead crickets, but only in moderation. They cannot and should not be made your beardie’s whole diet since they cannot be gut-loaded and aren’t as nutritious as live crickets. Dead crickets also do not move so they do not provide any mental stimulation to your beardie.

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