Yes, bearded dragons can eat some species of beetles. There are around four hundred thousand types of beetles, and not all can be used as feed for bearded dragons. Out of the four hundred types of beetles, only some kinds of darkling beetles are used as food for bearded dragons.
- Can You Feed Beetles to Your Bearded Dragon?
- What Are the Types of Beetles I Can Feed My Bearded Dragon?
- What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Beetles?
- Can Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Beetles Cause Any Harm?
- Frequency of Feeding Beetles to Bearded Dragons
- Should The Beetles Be Fed Alive or Dead?
- Can Young Bearded Dragons Eat Beetles Too?
Can You Feed Beetles to Your Bearded Dragon?
Beetles are one of the main sources of protein for bearded dragons. Beetles are, therefore, a common dietary choice for bearded dragons along with other choices of insects.
Along with a healthy diet of fresh leafy greens and a select choice of fruits, it is also recommended to include gut-loaded insects like beetles in your bearded dragon’s diet.
Some types of beetles are nutritious for your bearded dragon and provide essential nutrients like protein, fats, and fiber to your pet.
Using beetles in the diet, however, depends on many factors, including the age of your bearded dragon, the type of beetles used, and the number of beetles fed.
Remember, its important to keep you bearded dragon hydrated!
What Are the Types of Beetles I Can Feed My Bearded Dragon?
Darkling beetles are commonly used to feed bearded dragons.
However, it is important to understand that the darkling beetle is a common name for all species belonging to the beetle family, Tenebrionidae. There are around twenty thousand different species belonging to this family. All of them are not edible for the bearded dragon. Some of them are edible.
The following are the two most common species used to feed bearded dragons:
- Mealworm Beetle
Mealworms are the larvae of Mealworm beetles. Mealworm beetles, also known as Tenebrio Molitor, can grow up to 2.5 cm. The fully grown adult beetle can grow up to 1.8 cm. Mealworms are yellowish in color.
- Superworm Beetle
The binomial name for super worm beetles is Zophobas morio. Their larval forms are commonly known as, super worm, king worm, and morio worm. The larvae can grow up to a maximum length of approximately 5.7 cm. The adult beetle grows around the same size as an adult mealworm beetle.
Fully grown super worms are similar to mealworms except that their tail parts are dark and blackish.
What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Beetles?
Beetles used for feeding bearded dragons have limited nutritional value. However, it is not the case that it is entirely pointless or a waste to feed them beetles. They do contain some nutritional value for which beetles can be used to feed bearded dragons.
Here is some information about the nutritive value of beetles:
- High Protein Content
Both mealworm beetles and super worm beetles contain high amounts of protein. They are a good source of protein for your bearded dragons.
- Low Sodium Level
The darkling beetles contain low sodium levels. In case your bearded dragon has a high blood pressure problem or a heart problem, then darkling beetles are suitable for them.
- High in Fiber
Being high in fiber, both in the larvae form and the insect form, darkling beetles are good and a rich source of fiber. Good fiber in the diet ensures that your bearded dragon does not suffer from constipation.
- Nutrition Through Gut Loading
Along with this, you can gut load both super worm and mealworm beetles and ensure that your bearded dragon gets the missing nutrients through them. Gut-loading the darkling beetles before feeding them to bearded dragons is a common practice for providing good nutrition to bearded dragons.
Some of the things you can use to gut load the darkling beetles are vegetables, fruits, and oats.
Bearded dragons also find it interesting to have a variety of dietary options like beetles in their diet. If they are not offered a varied diet that includes insects, they may lose interest in eating and may enter brumation.
Can Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Beetles Cause Any Harm?
There are certain disadvantages for each type of darkling beetle.
- High Fat Content
Both mealworm beetles and Superworm beetles, especially in their larval form, have a high-fat content. Consumption of too many beetles too often can cause complexities like obesity in your bearded dragon.
- High Phosphorus Level
Along with this, mealworms have high phosphorus levels. If the level of phosphorus is not in proportion to the calcium levels the darkling beetles provide, then it is not safe for your bearded dragon to consume too many of them.
Alternatively, calcium supplements can be provided to your bearded dragon to maintain the ratio of phosphorus to calcium, while feeding beetles.
- Difficulty in Digestion
A risk regarding super worm beetles in their larval form is that they bite as a form of self-defense.
Similarly, mealworm beetles defend themselves if they sense a threat. However, their self-defense is a tough exterior, which your bearded dragon can find hard to chew and eventually digest.
- Health Issues
Excessive intake of mealworm beetles can cause heart and liver problems in your bearded dragon. It can also cause chitin buildup in your bearded dragon’s gut. Too much chitin in the gut can cause digestive problems like intestinal impaction.
It is important to note not to leave any beetles in the pet enclosure as beetles have a tendency to bite when threatened and may end up biting your bearded dragon.
Frequency of Feeding Beetles to Bearded Dragons
Knowing the limited nutritional value of darkling beetles, and the health risks associated with giving too many beetles, it is advisable to not include beetles in your adult bearded dragon’s diet too often.
You can give them small amounts of beetles once every week. Five – six mealworm beetles are sufficient for a fully-grown bearded dragon.
Should The Beetles Be Fed Alive or Dead?
It is recommended to feed live beetles to your bearded dragon.
- Dead insects offer very little nutritious value. Frozen or canned darkling beetles in either the larvae form or the insect form is devoid of the right essential nutrients.
- The live insects also challenge the natural hunting skills of your bearded dragon.
- It is also possible to gut-load live beetles and provide your bearded dragon with some additional nutritional supplements. However, make sure you provide them with store-bought beetles which are then gut fed.
- Avoid feeding beetles from your garden or other areas as they could be poisonous or may contain harmful pesticides or chemicals inside them, which can eventually harm your bearded dragon.
Can Young Bearded Dragons Eat Beetles Too?
It is advisable not to give a young bearded dragon fully grown beetles. The hard exoskeleton of a fully grown beetle makes it difficult for the young bearded dragon to chew and digest.
Along with this, young bearded dragons are prone to chitin buildup in their guts from too many insects which can cause intestinal impaction and affect their overall health.
Young bearded dragons tend to eat more insects rather than vegetables and fruits. So, a healthy portion of mealworms should be provided to younger bearded dragons.
Once they are in the age range of five to eighteen months, they can be introduced to a darkling beetle every once in a while. After eighteen months of age, a bearded dragon is considered a fully grown adult. This is when bearded dragons can be given darkling beetles once every week.
Will My Bearded Dragon Eat Darkling Beetles?
Darkling beetles have a tough exoskeleton. Adult bearded dragons are capable of eating darkling beetles as long as the darkling beetles are not too big. It is easier to feed high-fat content mealworm or super worm beetles to the younger bearded dragons.
The younger bearded dragons thrive more on insect food rather than vegetables and fruits. Adults on the contrary can eat a comparatively huge produce of fruits and vegetables.
How to Gut Load Mealworm and Super Worm Beetles?
You can gut load the mealworm and super worm beetles by doing the following:
- Place a container with food such as premixed food, leafy greens, and vegetables in a container.
- Make sure the food has high water content as beetles do not directly drink water.
- Then, put the worms in the food container and give them approximately 48 hours to consume as much food as they can.
- Once done, you can remove the beetle worms from the container and provide them to your bearded dragon for immediate consumption.
- You can supplement the food in the container with powdered vitamin and calcium supplements.
- Do not provide water directly to the darkling beetles as it can cause a negative impact.