How Many Bugs Should I feed my Bearded Dragon?
AuthorPosts 1 Favorite
January 2, 2021 at 2:09 pm #19875
How Many Feeder Insects for my Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons have a complex diet. They are omnivores, which means they need both insects and vegetables. What type of vegetables bearded dragons need is another topic. In this article, we want to identify how many crickets a caring pet parent needs to provide for their pet. Younger bearded dragons have a bigger appetite for bugs, compared to their elders. So how many bugs should I be feeding my bearded dragon? Well, it mostly depends on their age, and which bugs you’re feeding them.
Not all feeder insects offer the same nutritional value. Some offer more protein, but too much fiber. While others have the preferred amount of fat, but not enough calcium. This guide should help new and experienced pet parents provide the preferred amount of bugs for their voracious bearded dragon.
A typical carnivorous diet requires:
- High Protein (30-60%)
- High Fat (40-70%)
- Low carbohydrates & indigestible fiber
Bearded dragons aren’t only carnivores. But their nutritional requirements are still very similar. The high amount of protein will help build new cells, repair injuries, and create new essential proteins. Fat serves as an energy source. Mineral content plays a critical role in preventing serious diseases like metabolic bone disease. And low fiber helps your bearded dragon digest and absorb more of the nutrients.
It’s well known in the reptile community that bearded dragons and other reptiles need a sufficient amount of calcium. Many insects do not offer the proper amount of calcium. Which means most feeders do need to be dusted. However, there is one insect listed below that does not need to be dusted. And in our opinion, they are the best feeder to offer your bearded dragon.
How Many Crickets for a Bearded Dragon?
- Young Bearded Dragon (1-3 months old) = 25 – 60 1/8″ crickets (one week old) three times per day. Twice per day is acceptable, but your pet will grow more slowly. Make sure to have 450 crickets on hand per week.
- Juvenile Bearded Dragon (3-9 months old) = 40 – 65 medium crickets daily, twice per day feedings.
- Maturing Bearded Dragon (9+ months old) = 50 – 70 medium crickets per week. An average of 10 crickets per daily feeding, or 20 crickets every other day.
Crickets are the most popular feeder insect on the market. They are inexpensive, and rapid breeders. However, they are not a perfect feeder, and should be supplemented with other insects, gut load meal, and calcium powder.
Crickets are made of 66% protein, and 22% fat. They are slightly higher in protein than what is recommended. Too much protein can cause kidney problems. However, younger bearded dragons can benefit from the extra protein, which will help them grow faster and stronger. Crickets are not a dependable source of fat, which means they will need to be supplemented with other feeders like superworms or black soldier fly larvae, whom have higher fat contents.
Crickets are lacking the proper mineral content. A healthy bearded dragon needs to receive 2 g/kg of calcium for every 1 g/kg of phosphorus.
- calcium – 2.1 g/kg
- Phosphorus – 7.8 g/kg
- Calcium-to-Phosphorus Ratio – 1 : 3.7
As seen above, their ratio is off. Crickets will need to be dusted with calcium powder, or they will need to be supplemented with a feeder that does have the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio.
How many Superworms for a Bearded Dragon?
- Young Bearded Dragons (1-3 months old) = 10-20 <1” Superworms 3-4 times a week
- Juvenile Bearded Dragons (3-9 months old) = 5-10 1”-1.5” Superworms 3-4 times a week
- Maturing Bearded Dragons (9+ months old) = 2-3 2” Superworms twice a week
Superworms are a very popular feeder insect for bearded dragons and other reptiles. They have a fat content of 42% and protein content of 47%; both in the nutritional ranges that bearded dragons prefer. Their high fat content means they will work well as a supplemental feeder to crickets.
Superworms also have less fiber than crickets, which means they will be easier for reptiles to consume, and digest their valuable nutrition. Although superworms sound great, they have a very poor calcium to phosphorus ratio:
- calcium – 1.2 g/kg
- phosphorus – 8.3 g/kg
- Calcium-to-Phosphorus Ratio – 1:6.9
Considering that bearded dragons need a 2:1 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, it’s obvious to conclude that superworms need to be dusted with calcium powder. If not, then, just like crickets, they will need to be complemented with a calcium-rich feeder insect.
Something to note about superworms is the difficulty and time required to breed them. Unlike crickets, superworms go through a metamorophosis. Beetles lay eggs, and from those eggs, hatch the superworms. The superworms will require about 1 month to grow into a suitable size for adult bearded dragons. This is where breeding superworms becomes challenging – superworms then need to be transitioned into an incubation bin, where they can pupate, which they then transform back into the beetles. Due to this long breeding cycle, superworms are more scarce and more expensive than crickets.
How many Dubia Roaches for a Bearded Dragon?
- Young Bearded Dragon (1-3 months old) = 30 – 50 micro roaches (1/4-inch nymphs) three times per day. Twice per day is acceptable, but your pet will grow more slowly. Make sure to have 1,050 roaches on hand per week.
- Juvenile Bearded Dragon (3-9 months old) = 25 – 50 medium roaches (1/2-inch nymphs) twice daily.
- Maturing Bearded Dragon (9+ months old) = 3-5 adult roaches (1″ adults) almost daily. Because of the higher fat content of these feeders than crickets, obesity may result if the beardie is fed these insects 7 days per week. Skipping a day or even two may be needed.
Like the other feeder insects, dubia roaches hit the spot with both protein and fat content. They offer a fat content of 24%, and protein content of 46%. Their fat content is a little light, so it’s a good idea to supplement them with fatty feeders like superworms.
Dubia roaches rank better for minerals. However they still need to be dusted with calcium.
- Calcium – 5.8 g/kg
- phosphorus – 5.9 g/kg
- Calcium-to-Phosphorus Ratio – 1:1
Aa 1:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio is much better than both crickets and superworms. So if you’re missing the calcium dust for your feeder insects, then dubia roaches will be the more nutritional option. But, they miss the prefered 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio, so they do need to be dusted.
Their fiber content is equal to superworms, which means bearded dragons will have an easy time digesting them, and absorbing their nutrients.
- Young Bearded Dragons (1-3 months old) = ~20 ¼” BSFL 2-3 times per day (about 400 small BSFL per week)
- Juvenile Bearded Dragons (3-9 months old) = 20-40 ½” BSFL 2 times per day
- Maturing Bearded Dragons (9+ months old) = 10-15 ¾” BSFL every other day
It is our opinion that black soldier fly larvae are the best feeders for your bearded dragon. First, they provide an adequate amount of fat (36%) and protein (45%) for both growing dragons, and mature dragons. They also have a low amount of fiber, which means they can easily be digested. But what’s most impressive with BSFL is their calcium to phosphorus ratio:
- Calcium – 24 g/kg
- phosphorus – 9.2 g/kg
- Calcium-to-Phosphorus Ratio – 2.6:1
BSFL are naturally loaded with calcium. This means they are excellent for bearded dragons, and will help ensure they are never deficient with calcium. And for this reason, we consider them one of the best feeders to offer your pet.
Don’t Use Just One Feeder – Use a Variety!
Yes, we do believe that BSFL are the best feeders for your pet. However, we do not recommend only using BSFL. Just like humans, bearded dragons need a variety of feeder insects for a healthy, balanced diet that resembles a natural life style. Crickets may not have the desired minerals, but they are more active, and will stimulate your bearded dragon’s natural, predatory nature. BSFL my fulfill all nutrients, but they just sit in a bowl and squirm around. This is not very stimulating for your dragon. So although we do have a favorite, all feeder insects (and even small pinky mice for adults) will be much appreciated by your amazing pet. And if you’re looking for additional advice on bearded dragons, read through our care guide for more great tips and advice.Login/Register To Reply
January 2, 2021 at 2:46 pm #19890
Thank you. I feel like this is a common concern