Bearded Dragon Crickets – Everything you need to know

As you know, bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they eat both, plants and insects. Among many insects, many dragon owners prefer crickets. But why? In this article we will discuss the following:

  • Why crickets are good for bearded dragons?
  • Is cricket a balanced diet for Bearded Dragons?
  • Can a Bearded Dragon eat a dried cricket?
  • Are Crickets good for the bearded dragon’s digestion system?
  • How to choose the right crickets for your bearded dragon?
  • How to feed Crickets to Bearded Dragons?
  • What is Gut Loading in crickets and why is it important for the bearded dragon?
  • How to Gut Load crickets before giving them to bearded dragons?
  • How Many Crickets to Feed a Bearded Dragon?
  • How many crickets should a baby dragon eat?
  • How many crickets should a Juvenile dragon eat?
  • How many crickets should an adult dragon eat?
  • When to Feed Your Bearded Dragon Crickets?
  • How to maintain and care for Crickets-feeder?
  • Can a bearded dragon eat dead crickets?
  • What are alternatives to Crickets?

You can also read “A Well-Balanced Bearded Dragon Diet Plan for Health and Vitality“.

Crickets are the natural diet of bearded dragons in the wild. They are tiny, easy to eat, a good source of nutrients, and good for the bearded dragon’s digestion system. This is why many dragon pet owners prefer them over other insects.

Crickets are packed with protein, which plays an important role in the overall growth and health of bearded dragons. Crickets also have balanced fats, vitamins, dietary fibers, and minerals. They contribute to a wholesome diet for your exotic dragon.

Cricket are very well-balanced diet for your bearded dragon. Your dragon can eat canned crickets, live crickets, or even dried crickets. All are good for your pet lizard.

Cricket’s hard outer shell provides crunchiness, which is good for the bearded dragon’s digestive system. Moreover, their natural defensive behavior of running and hopping serves as an integral part of the bearded dragon’s hunting instinct, thereby they stimulate physical as well as mental exercise.

You need to consider 3 things while choosing the right cricket for your bearded dragon, i.e. cricket size, the activity level of crickets, and the general health of crickets.

The most important thing is the size of the cricket. For this, remember this golden rule. The size of crickets or any insect should not be bigger than half the width of the beardie’s head. For example, if your pet’s head is three (3) inches wide from eye to eye, choose insects that are no longer than 1.5 inches long. This golden rule helps prevent choking, impaction, and other digestive issues in your pet bearded dragon. Large crickets may stuck in a dragon’s throat or be difficult to digest, and cause health risks.

The second important consideration is the activity level of the cricket. You may select the crickets which are lively and energetic. Avoid the crickets which are lethargic or inactive, they may be ill and pose a health threat to your bearded dragon. Similarly, active crickets show that they contain more nutrient levels and are good for the health of your bearded dragon.

Only healthy food can be used as a healthy diet, so you have to look for the overall health of your crickets. Healthy crickets provide more proteins, fats, dietary fibers, etc. Avoid cricket which shows any abnormalities in behavior or shape. They may be sick or suffering from some disease.

Feeding crickets to your bearded dragon is an enjoyable sight. Watching your dragon chasing crickets and eating them, they enjoy it. But feeding cricket also requires some considerations like gut-loading, size of crickets, and when to feed your bearded dragon crickets. How many crickets can a bearded dragon eat? etc. So, which leads us to more questions. Let’s discuss them one by one:

Before feeding crickets, you need to prepare them for the bearded dragon so that your dragon can absorb maximum nutrients from them. This process is called gut loading.

In this process, you need to feed nutritious foods to the crickets before feeding them to your pet dragon. This eaten food will increase the nutrient level of crickets and when your bearded dragon eats them, he will get the maximum benefit from them.

Some important steps to properly gut-load your crickets are as under:

These commercial products are made from nutrients that are beneficial to bearded dragons. They are easily available at pet stores or online.

You need to give time to crickets to properly digest the nutrients. For this reason, the recommended time to gut load them is 12-24 hours before feeding them to a bearded dragon. Less time or more time will waste the nutrients.

Along with the gut load, you need to provide water to crickets so that they can absorb nutrients effectively.

Several factors determine the number of crickets that you feed to your bearded dragon, i.e. bearded dragon age, size of crickets, health, etc.

The age can be divided into 3 categories, i.e. baby bearded dragon, Juvenile Bearded Dragon, and Adult bearded dragon. At each age group, their requirements for proteins are different.

The baby bearded dragon is in the growing stage and they need more proteins for their growth. They need twenty (20) bearded dragon crickets per meal and they need three (3) meals in a day. In total, they need sixty (60) crickets to be fed to them.

Juvenile bearded dragons have a voracious appetite. They need a protein-rich diet to support their rapid growth. They should eat around ten to twenty (10-20) bearded dragon crickets per meal and they would need to be fed two to three (2-3) times a day.

Adult bearded dragons need a balanced diet. They require insects as well as plants daily. For them, around five to seven (5-7) bearded dragon crickets per meal are enough and they only need to be fed once a day.

As already discussed earlier, the most important thing is the size of the cricket. For this, remember this golden rule. The size of crickets or any insect should not be bigger than half the width of the beardie’s head. For example, if your pet’s head is three (3) inches wide from eye to eye, choose insects that are no longer than 1.5 inches long. This golden rule helps prevent choking, impaction, and other digestive issues in your pet bearded dragon. Large crickets may stuck in a dragon’s throat or be difficult to digest, and cause health risks.

A healthy bearded dragon, needs more healthy crickets, to maintain his protein consumption. An active bearded dragon may consume more crickets but you need to consider his age as well. Remember that, only feeding crickets is not good for your bearded dragon, you need to provide a balanced diet.

After knowing how many crickets to feed bearded dragons, the second most important question is when to feed them. What is the most suitable time for bearded dragons to eat crickets so that they can digest them completely and get maximum health benefits? The feeding time depends upon the age or growth cycle of the bearded dragon. So, let’s discuss it in detail.

In rapid growing age, i.e. baby bearded dragons or juvenile bearded dragons, bearded dragons need frequent doses of proteins. They need frequent feed of crickets or other insects which are protein-rich. So, as a guideline, up to 4 months of age, your bearded dragon needs crickets 2-3 times per day and the number of crickets given should be eaten within 15 minutes.

Bearded Dragon Crickets should be given in the day, ideally early in the day. The reason for this feeding time is that bearded dragons are most active during the day, and their body temperature is optimal for digestion. Early given food will be completely digested before they go the sleep. But if the same bearded dragon crickets are given at night, or later in the day, the bearded dragon will have less time to digest the cricket and this may also cause digestion problems.

Adult bearded dragons or bearded dragons aged 18 months or above need less protein intake. They only need to be fed crickets once a day. So, morning time is good for them.

Here is a brief feeding schedule for your reference:

  • Hatchlings (up to 4 months): Crickets 2-3 times per day
  • Young Adults (4-18 months): Crickets once daily
  • Adults (Above 18 months): Crickets every other day; fresh vegetables daily

But these general guidelines will differ with every bearded dragon. As every dragon is unique, so their feeding requirements are also unique. All you need to do is to notice their age, and physical activity and decide the best diet for them.

As crickets are a critical component of bearded dragons’ diet, so care and maintenance of a cricket feeder are also important. To get maximum nutritional value from crickets, they need to be kept in good health conditions. So, how to do that? You need to consider the following questions.

  • How to keep the bearded dragon crickets environment clean?
  • What diet should be given to crickets?
  • How to house bearded dragon crickets?
  • How to control the temperature of crickets?

Regularly clean the cricket feeder or cricket habitat. Remove dead crickets and cricket waste. Provide them with a clean environment to live healthily. The dead crickets or cricket’s waste can quickly become toxic for live crickets.

Always feeding your crickets nutrient-rich food, especially for gut-loading. You can use a commercial cricket diet or a simple homemade meal or fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Gut load the crickets 12-24 hours before feeding them to your bearded dragons.

A well-ventilated container helps to maximize the crickets’ lifespan as well as their health needs. You can increase the crickets’ crawling area by using egg crates or cardboard rolls, thereby minimizing overcrowding.

Crickets are also habitant of desert so they prefer a temperature similar to your bearded dragon, usually 70-75°F.

By dead crickets, if you mean dried crickets, then it’s fine. Your bearded dragon can eat dried crickets. But if you feed them rotten dead crickets, bearded dragons will be exposed to the risk of disease. Also, dead or dried crickets are less in nutrient value. So, it is preferable to feed them live crickets.

You can read about behaviors of bearded dragons that indicate illness “6 Different Bearded Dragon Behaviors that Can Indicate Illness

Several insects are also available which are high in nutrients and can be fed to your bearded dragon as an alternative to crickets. In this way, your dragon will have a change of taste and he will not be bored with the same diet.

Mealworms are a good option except they have a hard exoskeleton which can be difficult for bearded dragons to eat and digest when fed in quantity. On the other hand, they are a great source of protein and fat. So they should be incorporated sparingly and never be a primary source of food.

Superworms are similar to mealworms but have a smaller exoskeleton, making them a better and easier-to-eat option for bearded dragons. They’re filled with protein and fatty acids.

Waxworms are high in fat. They should be given as occasional treats rather than a main food source. Underweight bearded dragons should be given waxworms as they will help them to gain weight.

This is also a popular option in the bearded dragon community. They are higher in protein and lower in fat than crickets and mealworms. So they make themselves a healthier choice. They also move slowly, and your bearded dragon can easily chase them and eat them.

Remember that, to increase the nutrient values, all these alternatives also require the same gut-loading before feeding them to bearded dragons.  

Always avoid insects caught in the wild. They may contain harmful parasites or pesticides that are potentially harmful to your bearded dragon’s health.

If you need any more info or want to ask anything about bearded dragons, feel free to Contact Us.

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