Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Crickets: What You Need to Know

Bearded dragons can eat dead crickets, but it is generally not recommended as they are less nutritious than live crickets. Dead crickets may also be less appealing to bearded dragons, as they do not move or exhibit the same behaviors as live crickets. Dead crickets can quickly spoil and harbor harmful bacteria or parasites, which can cause digestive issues and other health problems for your bearded dragon. 

Benefits of Feeding Dead Crickets


One potential benefit of feeding dead crickets to bearded dragons is convenience. Dead crickets are easier to store and transport than live crickets, making it more convenient to keep a supply of feeders on hand for your bearded dragon. 

You don’t have to worry about keeping the crickets alive or providing them with food and water, and you can easily purchase them in bulk and store them in a freezer until you need them. This can be especially useful if you live in an area where live crickets are not readily available or if you need to keep a backup supply of feeders.


Another potential benefit of feeding dead crickets to bearded dragons is their longevity. Dead crickets have a longer shelf life than live crickets, so you don’t have to worry about them dying off before using them. This means you can buy them in larger quantities and store them longer without worrying about them dying off or becoming unhealthy for your bearded dragon to eat. 

This can be especially useful if you have a busy schedule or need easy access to a store selling live crickets. However, it’s still important to ensure the dead crickets are fresh and stored properly to avoid potential health risks for your bearded dragon.

Reduced Risk of Escape

Another benefit of feeding dead crickets to bearded dragons is a reduced escape risk. Live crickets can be very agile and quick, making them difficult to catch and feed your bearded dragon. 

Additionally, live crickets can sometimes escape from their enclosure and hide in your home, which can be a nuisance or even a potential health risk if they carry diseases or parasites. Feeding dead crickets eliminates this risk, as they cannot escape and cause problems. This can make feeding your bearded dragon a much more stress-free experience for you and your pet.

Reduced Noise

Another potential benefit of feeding dead crickets to bearded dragons is reduced noise. I’ve tried keeping live crickets, but I only received sleepless nights because they can be very noisy, especially at night, and their constant chirping can disrupt your sleep or that of your family or roommates. 

Feeding your bearded dragon dead crickets eliminates this problem, as they do not make any noise. This can be especially useful if you keep your bearded dragon in a bedroom or other shared living space where noise levels can be an issue. Additionally, if you are using crickets as a food source for other pets, such as reptiles or amphibians, feeding them dead crickets can also reduce the overall noise level in your home.

Potential for Gut-Loading

Another benefit of feeding dead crickets to bearded dragons is the potential for gut-loading. For example, gut-loading is feeding insects a nutritious diet before feeding them to your bearded dragon, which provides additional nutrients to your pet. 

While live crickets can also be gut-loaded, it can be not easy to ensure they eat the nutritious food you provide, as they may prefer to feed on the substrate or other items in their enclosure. With dead crickets, you have more control over their diet and can easily gut-load them by feeding them a nutrient-rich diet before freezing them. This can give your bearded dragon a more well-rounded and nutritious diet.

Risks of Feeding Dead Crickets

  • Nutritional deficiencies: Dead crickets may not be as nutritious as live ones. They may have lost some of their nutritional value if they have been dead for a long time. This can lead to deficiencies in your bearded dragon’s diet, negatively impacting its health.
  • Bacterial growth: Dead crickets can become a breeding ground for bacteria if not stored properly. This can harm your bearded dragon’s health if they ingest bacteria along with the cricket.
  • Lack of hydration: Live crickets provide moisture to your bearded dragon as they are mostly made up of water. Dead crickets may provide less hydration, leading to dehydration if your bearded dragon is not getting enough water from other sources.
  • Insects sprayed with chemicals: If the crickets were sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals before being killed, these chemicals could still be present on the dead cricket. Based on my observation, this can harm your bearded dragon if they ingest the chemicals with the cricket.

Feeding Dead Crickets to Your Bearded Dragon

Preparing the Dead Crickets

When feeding dead crickets to your bearded dragon, it is important to ensure they are properly prepared. First, ensure the crickets are fresh and alive for a while. Dead crickets left out for too long can develop harmful bacteria that can make your pet sick. 

To prepare the dead crickets, you can gut-load them with nutritious food. This means feeding the crickets with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables before offering them to your bearded dragon. You can also purchase commercial diets for gut-loading crickets at local pet shops or online reptile stores. Ensure the diets are organic and do not contain any harmful pesticides that could affect your lizard’s gut.

Feeding Dead Crickets to Your Bearded Dragon

When feeding dead crickets to your bearded dragon, it is important to ensure they are recognized as food. To help your pet recognize the dead bugs as food, grasp a dead cricket using tongs or tweezers and move it around as though it were still alive. This should entice your bearded dragon to eat it. 

You can also give your bearded dragon dead crickets by sneakily hiding them in veggies. This can help your pet associate the dead crickets with the taste and texture of vegetables, making it more likely to eat them in the future.

It is important to note that feeding dead crickets to your bearded dragon should not be a regular occurrence. Live crickets are a better source of nutrition and exercise for your pet. Dead crickets should only be given as a treat or in emergencies when live crickets are unavailable.

Alternatives to Feeding Dead Crickets

While dead crickets can be fed to bearded dragons, it is not recommended due to potential risks such as bacterial infections and lack of nutrients. Here are some alternative options that can be included in your pet’s diet:

Live Crickets

Live crickets are a great source of protein for bearded dragons. They provide essential nutrients and are an excellent way to stimulate your pet’s hunting instincts. However, ensuring that the crickets are healthy and not carrying any diseases or parasites is important. Therefore, purchasing crickets from a reputable supplier is recommended, and gut-load them with nutritious food before feeding them to your pet.

Other Insects

Aside from crickets, other insects can be included in a bearded dragon’s diet. But not waxworms and super worms since they are high in fat, according to the VCA Animal Hospital. However, it is important to feed them in moderation as they are high in fat. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, peppers, and leafy greens like kale and parsley can also be included in the diet.

Commercial Bearded Dragon Food

Commercial bearded dragon food can be a convenient option for pet owners. These foods are formulated to provide essential nutrients and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals. However, choosing a high-quality brand and reading the label carefully is important to ensure it meets your pet’s nutritional needs.