Live Food For Bearded Dragons
August 4, 2021
Just like yourself, your beloved bearded dragon needs to be fed a balanced and varied diet to live a healthy and long life. Unlike us, a huge component of their diet is made up of live food.
There's a massive variety of live foods for your bearded dragon in Australia and right around the world. Different insects have different nutritional content so let’s look at the five most common live foods and see which is best to feed your bearded dragon.
Crickets are the most commonly fed live insect to bearded dragons worldwide. In Australia we have the domestically-produced brown house cricket. The brown cricket is cheap, easy to breed in large numbers, and is a readily-available source of insect protein for bearded dragons. You'll find brown crickets in most pet stores around the country.
However, crickets do lack quite a bit of nutrition. They have a very poor calcium-to-phosphorous ratio, which means they're very high in phosphorus, but have little to no calcium inside the cricket itself. Bearded dragons require quite a bit of calcium, so if you’re feeding them crickets, they'll need to be dusted or supplemented with a calcium powder first.
Crickets are good as part of a varied diet, you just don't want to be feeding ONLY crickets to your bearded dragon or they won't get the nutrients they need.
Wood Cockroaches or woodies are another readily-available insect in Australia to feed your bearded dragon. Like crickets, wood cockroaches are low in calcium, so they too need to be supplemented or dusted with a calcium supplement.
Woodies are a lot faster than crickets, and climb very well. So when putting them into your bearded dragon’s enclosure, don't throw too many in at once as they will crawl and hide amongst the plants and the branches. Just feed your beardie a couple of woodies at a time.
HOW TO KEEP LIVE FOOD FRESH
Cricket Keepers provide a large and ventilated environment keeping your live food fresh and thriving. They feature dispensing tubes designed to make dusting and catching the insects easy.
Mealworms are another live food to feed your bearded dragon. Mealworms, both regular size and giant, are quite controversial, as they're not particularly nutritious and are the equivalent to us eating a block of chocolate. You should therefore, only feed your bearded dragon two or three mealworms, as a treat, once or twice a week. Avoid giving mealworms to bearded dragons under six months old, as their hard shells can cause impaction and blockages.
Silkworms are like multivitamin tablets, making them a super nutritious addition to your beardie’s diet. Unlike other insects that have a hard skin, exoskeleton or shell, silkworms are soft making them easy for your bearded dragon to digest. Their only downside is they have a high moisture content, so if you're feeding your beardie large numbers of juicy silkworms they may get a little bit of diarrhea or some runny poo.
Black soldier fly larvae are by far the most nutritious feeder insects on the planet and are like a superfood for bearded dragons!
One black soldier fly larvae has twenty times the calcium content of a single cricket, so you don't have to supplement them or add any additional calcium. Black soldier fly larvae are also high in protein, low in bad fats and high in the good fats, perfect for helping your bearded dragon grow. They also have an antimicrobial property that helps to limit the growth of the coccidiosis organism, which is a parasite inside the bearded dragon's guts.
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A Varied Diet
Don’t forget, the secret to having a healthy bearded dragon in captivity is a varied and nutritious diet. We know bearded dragons love protein in the form of live insects, but being omnivores, they need to balance their insects with a variety of fresh fruit and veggies daily.
Click here to view our full range of reptile food
You can also offer your bearded dragon a commercial diet. These are pellets and various formulas that make up your beardie’s varied diet. They’re not to be offered on their own, but when mixed through your beardies other foods can provide great additional nutritional value.
Lastly, there's always going to be gaps nutritionally in your bearded dragon's diet, so it’s important to supplement your bearded dragon’s diet with calcium. Crickets and woodies are very low in calcium, so they need to be dusted with a pure calcium supplement powder before feeding. If your calcium supplement contains vitamin D, use the supplement two to three times a week at most, as you can overdose your bearded dragon by giving them too much vitamin D.
With so many food options available, you now know what live foods are best to feed your beardie and how to supplement these foods to ensure your bearded dragon is getting the calcium and nutrients it needs for a healthy and happy life.
For more detailed information on live food and so much more, check out the petopia® online Bearded Dragon Masterclass. The course teaches prospective and existing reptile carers how to successfully look after these fascinating animals in captivity. The Masterclass includes over two hours of engaging, cinematic content and is divided into easily digestible chapters focussing on topics including natural behaviour, anatomy, habitat, general husbandry, diet, and conservation.