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Can a Bearded Dragon Eat Beetles? (Will they bite?)

If you are looking for the best food for your Beardie (Click here to learn, from this guide, the safest food for your Beardie) then you may be wondering if beetles are a good idea.

Can a bearded dragon eat beetles? No, beetles are not a good idea for your Bearded Dragon. This is because they are difficult for him to consume, with their hard exterior, have limited nutritional benefits, and high-fat content, in their larval form.

Now that you know that beetles are not a good idea, keep reading to see what other risks they provide, exactly what they are, if baby Beardies should be eating them, and much more.

What are beetles?

Mealworm beetle (Tenebrio opacus)

Mealworm beetle (Tenebrio opacus)

Before we go any further, let me break down exactly what a Beetle is. I get it, the chances are you already know what a beetle is, right? But, do you know its scientific classification, how many species in its order, etc?

Scientific Classification

According to Wikipedia, beetles is quite a generic term. It is a collection of insects from the Coleoptera order. For your info, when I say “order” I mean in the scientific term. In simple terms, it is a biological ranking. Species are on the lowest level, followed by the Genus, the family, and then the “order”, are you with me?

Therefore, to put this into perspective, in the Coleoptera order, there are over 40,000 different species. And, to make things even more complex, new species are being found to this day.

What are the most common beetles for Bearded Dragons?

Now that you know about the scientific classification and exactly what beetles are, in general, you know there is a lot to consider. So, considering there are over 400,000 species, it is impossible to break them all down here. So, what beetles are more common to the Bearded Dragon community?

Darkling Beetles

The chances are if you have been around the Bearded Dragon community for a while you will have heard people talk about Darkling Beetles.

The thing to understand is Darkling beetle is a common name for a large family of beetles called Tenebrionidae. So, when someone says Darkling Beetles, they could be referring to over 20,000 specific species, are you with me?

Common Darkling Beetles discussed

Now that you understand that there are many different species in the Darkling Beetle category let me explain some of the common beetles that you may have heard of:

  • Mealworm Beetle
  • Superworm Beetle

Mealworm Beetle

The mealworm beetle’s binomial name is Tenebrio Molitor. But, the chances are you have heard of it larval form, called Mealworms (Click here to see the difference from Superworms).

Mealworms are a common food source for many lizards in captivity. At a glance, in their larval state, the giant mealworm looks like a Superworm. The reality is, most beetles in their larval state, look very similar.

Superworm Beetle

The Superworm Beetle’s binomial name is Zophobas Morio. The larval form is commonly known as Superworms. These Superworms are also quite a common food source in the lizard community. These Suprworms are typically gut loaded before being feed to lizards (Click here to see how and why this is done).

Are there any nutritional benefits for your Beardie?

Now that you know more about their scientific classification, etc, you are probably keen to know if there are any nutritional benefits of feeding your Beardie beetles, right?

They love the taste

The reality is there is limited if any, nutritional benefits of feeding your Beardie Beetles. But, one thing is for sure, the chances are, he will like the taste and will try and chew on them. But, this is not enough for me to justify them as a reliable food source.

Are there any negatives or risks?

So, these beetles have limited nutritional benefits. But, what about known risks, are there any that you should know about? Let’s see…

Superworm Beetles

As we have established, Superworm beetles are a common choice amongst lizard owners, so let me explain any negatives with this one first.

High-Fat content

One of the biggest concerns with Superworm beetles, more so in their larval form, is their fat content. They may be tasty to your BEardie, but they are loaded with fat.

One of the biggest issues with lizards in captivity is obesity. Why? Because they do not get a lot of exercise. In the wild a Bearded Dragon (Click here to see where they came from) is very active, so it is quite a contrast.

My point is this, in captivity, you need to be extra careful with their diet. In particular, avoiding overly fatty foods, such as Superworm beetles, are you with me. At best, they should be regarded as treats.

They may bite

Another issue with Superworm Beetles, mainly in their larval form, is the fact that they will bite. It is a natural defense mechanism, as you can imagine.

So they offer a risk to your hands, as well as your Beardie getting bitten, are you with me?

Mealworm Beetles

Similar to Superworm Beetles, I will break down their risks, as they are another popular choice.

Tough Exterior

These beetles have to protect themselves, as you can imagine. So, they have a tough exterior to warn off predators. If you attempt to feed them to your Beardie you may find that he will struggle to penetrate this exterior.

High Phosphorous Levels

Mealworms have a high level of phosphorous, especially when compared to the calcium they provide. This is important because their calcium and phosphorous level need to have a specific ratio to remain safe for them.

This level is believed to be at least 2:1, in favor of calcium. The issue with mealworms is it does not maintain this ratio. Hence the reason why some owners need to use calcium supplementation for their lizard.

High-Fat Content

With mealworms (Click here to see if your Beardie should be eating Mealworm Pupa), in their larval state, they too have a high-fat content. To be fair, this is quite common for most beetles, especially in their larval state. Why? Because they need this fat to keep them happy during this stage until they transition into a beetle.

Should you give your Beardie beetles?

Coastal bearded dragon with Live food

Coastal bearded dragon with Live food

Now that you know the potential benefits and risks of beetles. You may be keen to have a more definitive answer to see if you should feed them to your Beardie.

To be direct, no, I would not advise you to feed your Bearded Dragon beetles. This is because they offer very little benefit, have a high-fat content, in their larval form and difficult for your Beardie to consume them.

How about your baby Bearded Dragon?

Now that you know that I do not recommend them for your adult Beardie, you may be wondering if the same goes for your baby Bearded Dragon, right?

No, I would not feed your baby Bearded Dragon beetles. This is for the same reasons as above as well as the fact that your baby Beardie is even more delicate, and beetles are not an easy food source for them to consume.

Related Questions:

In this section, I will answer some questions related to Bearded Dragons eating habits and other weird behaviors. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me.

Q: Can a Bearded Dragon get an upset stomach?

Yes, a Bearded Dragon can get an upset stomach. It is believed that this can happen if they eat the wrong foods or foods that are known to act as a laxative, like Aloe Vera (Click here to see why this is not ideal for your Beardie).

Q: Do Bearded Dragons like sweet foods?

Yes, Bearded Dragons like sweet foods such as Apricots (Click here to see if your Beardie should be eating this). The reality is, your Beardie will attempt to eat almost anything you put in front of him, but you need to make sure you only provide the food that is safe for your Beardie (Click here to see what is safe).


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