The long term health of a bearded dragon can be dependent on providing a varied and nutritious diet. Learn more about the best insects to offer a bearded dragon for good overall nutrition.
Providing a varied and nutritious diet is very important for the long term health of a bearded dragon. The best insects to feed bearded dragons contain good amounts of protein, calcium, and other trace minerals.
Always feed insects that provide the highest nutritional value and closely resemble what a bearded dragon would eat in the wild. Never feed a bearded dragon insects caught in the wild unless they are deemed safe.
Here are the best insects to feed bearded dragons.
This insect feeder is easy for bearded dragons to digest and come in different sizes depending on its life stage.
Purchase dubia roaches at reputable pet stores and through online dealers. They are easy to care for and offer some advantages over crickets:
- They are quiet and do not make any noise
- Are not as smelly as crickets
- Easily bred for a continuous supply of quality insect feeders
- Can not climb which makes it nearly impossible for them to escape
- Moisture Content – 61%
- Protein – 36%
- Fat – 7%
- Ash – 2%
Goliath worms (Amazon) (or Horned worms) are another excellent choice as a staple insect feeder for bearded dragons.
These worms can rapidly grow four to five inches in length and are a good source of protein. Purchase Goliath worms at reputable pet stores or through online vendors. They typically come in large cups pre-loaded with food and contain 15 – 25 worms.
These worms grow very quickly and can be fed to a bearded dragon after a couple days growth.
- Moisture Content – 85%
- Protein – 9%
- Fat – 3%
- Calcium – 46.4mg/100mg
Wax worms (Amazon) are small white-colored worms that are an excellent occasional treat insect to offer bearded dragons. These worms should not be a staple food item, because they tend to be high in fat content.
Feed an adult bearded dragon no more than five to six wax worms per day. Feeding too many wax worms can lead to obesity issues later in the bearded dragon’s life.
Purchase wax worms at most reputable pet stores or online vendors. They are very easy to maintain and can last up to a few weeks with proper storage.
- Moisture Content – 61%
- Protein – 15%
- Fat – 21%
- Calcium – 28.3mg/100mg
Mealworms (Amazon) are a very popular bearded dragon feeder insect. They can grow to a length of about two inches in length, and contain a hard outer shell called chitin. Young bearded dragons can have a difficult time digesting the chitin. Feed mealworms to adult bearded dragons only due to the risk of impaction.
Only offer mealworms (very large mealworms are sometimes called Superworms (Amazon)) as a supplement to staple insects. Five to six mealworms per feeding for an adult bearded dragon should be fine.
Most pet stores and online pet retailers carry a good assortment of mealworms.
- Moisture Content – 62%
- Protein – 20%
- Fat – 13%
- Calcium – 13.3mg/100mg
Crickets (Amazon) offer a good amount of protein and calcium, and are arguably the most popular feeder insect for bearded dragons. They are widely available in most pet stores and bait shops.
Bearded dragons can have some difficulty digesting crickets due to hard body parts, such as the hind legs.
Keeping crickets can be a bit of a challenge – they are masters of escaping and sometimes getting into the home, they can be noisy at night when trying to sleep, and storage can become very smelly.
- Moisture Content – 69%
- Protein – 21%
- Fat – 6%
- Calcium – 34.5mg/100mg
Phoenix Worms (Black Soldier Fly Larvae)
Phoenix Worms (Amazon) (Black Soldier Fly Larvae are the same thing) are a very good feeder insect to offer bearded dragons. They have high levels of protein and calcium to offer and are easy to keep. Phoenix worms are a good supplemental insect for bearded dragon’s diet.
Due to their very small size it can be impractical to offer them as a staple food. The large quantities needed to feed an adult bearded dragon would be difficult to maintain and possibly expensive.
The best way to offer Phoenix worms is placing them in a shallow bowl. Fill the bowl with 10 – 15 worms then add the bowl to the terrarium.
- Moisture Content – 68%
- Protein – 15.5%
- Fat – 8%
- Calcium – 43mg/100mg
Butterworms (Amazon) are another very small worm (about one inch in length) that offers good amounts of protein and high levels of calcium.
This small nutritious worm is an excellent feeder insect to offer as a supplement to other feeders. Purchase butterworms at reputable pet stores and online vendors.
- Moisture Content – 58.5%
- Protein – 16%
- Fat – 5%
- Calcium – 87mg/100mg
Earthworms (Amazon) are not a very popular feeder item for bearded dragons, but are a good source of calcium and moisture. Offer earthworms occasionally to vary the diet and mix things up a bit.
Purchase earthworms from pet stores, trusted bait shops, or online vendors. Rinse the earthworms off before offering to the bearded dragon to remove any bedding particles.
Ensure earthworms purchased from a bait shop do not contain any dyes. Many bait shops dye the earthworms for fishing purposes.
- Moisture Content – 83%
- Protein – 10.5%
- Fat – 1.6%
- Calcium – 444mg/kg
Silkworms (Amazon) are another small, soft-bodied worm that can grow to a length of 3/4″ to 1-1/4″ in length and are very nutritious. They boast a very high amount of protein and moisture content. The fat content is moderate and beneficial amounts of ash (potassium, phosphorus, and calcium).
High amounts of protein make silkworms a nutritious food item for bearded dragons.
Purchase silkworms in cups pre-loaded with food at many pet stores and online retailers.
- Moisture Content – 76%
- Protein – 64%
- Fat – 10%
- Ash – 7%
Locusts are an excellent feeder insect to offer a bearded dragon. They offer high amounts of protein and are relatively low in fat.
The United States bans the shipment of locusts, but they can be found in the UK and other countries.
Taking Care of Feeder Insects
Taking care of feeder insects properly is very important for offering the best insects to feed bearded dragons. Supply a high quality food to gut load the insects, such as Repashy SuperLoad (Amazon). Feeding the feeder insects a high quality food before offering them to a bearded dragon ensures the insects are as nutritious as possible.
Usually most worms come in a container with proper bedding and/or food. For a more complete food source, add Repashy SuperLoad to the container for mealworms, wax worms, Phoenix worms, and earthworms. Mulberry leaves (Amazon) are the main food source of silkworms.
Feeder insects need to be dusted with a quality calcium powder before being offered to the bearded dragon. Repashy Calcium Plus (Amazon) is a highly recommended calcium supplement. For more information on the vitamin and mineral needs of bearded dragons, please read – Vitamins and Minerals for a Bearded Dragon.