Can Bearded Dragons Eat Stink Bugs: Everything You Need to Know About Safely Feeding Insects to Your Pet

No, bearded dragons cannot eat stink bugs. Stink bugs are semi-toxic to bearded dragons and may contain pesticides, poisons, and parasites. Eating stink bugs can cause a bearded dragon to become ill, leading to anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea in reptiles, severe dermatitis, and respiratory problems.

Although bearded dragons can eat a variety of bugs, including crickets, mealworms, and roaches, it is important to avoid feeding them wild bugs. While it may be tempting to feed your bearded dragon insects caught in the wild, it is important only to feed them insects specifically bred for consumption. 

Insects caught in the wild may carry diseases or toxins that can harm your bearded dragon. Purchasing insects from a reputable supplier is recommended to ensure they are safe for your pet.

The Risks of Feeding Stink Bugs to Bearded Dragons

Choking Hazard

Stink bugs have hard exoskeletons, which can be difficult for bearded dragons to digest and may even cause choking because bearded dragons cannot chew their food; instead, they swallow their prey whole.

When a bearded dragon swallows a stink bug, the hard exoskeleton may get stuck in its throat or digestive tract, causing choking. However, smoking can lead to serious health complications, including injury to the throat or esophagus, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, death.

It’s worth noting that not all bearded dragons are at the same risk of choking when consuming stink bugs. Younger or smaller bearded dragons are more susceptible to choking hazards than their larger counterparts because their throats are smaller, making it easier for hard objects to become stuck.

To minimize the risk of choking, it is important to avoid feeding bearded dragons insects that are too large for them to swallow whole. It’s also a good idea to avoid feeding bearded dragons insects with hard exoskeletons, as they can pose a similar choking risk.

Pesticide Poisoning

Pesticides are chemical substances commonly used in agriculture to control pests, such as insects, rodents, and weeds. When stink bugs are exposed to pesticides, they can absorb the chemicals into their bodies, which can be passed on to the bearded dragon when it consumes them. 

They can be harmful to non-target organisms, including bearded dragons, if they are ingested. The toxic effects of pesticide exposure in bearded dragons can vary depending on the type and amount of pesticide involved. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning may include lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and in severe cases, death.

To minimize the risk of pesticide poisoning, it is essential to avoid feeding bearded dragons and stink bugs exposed to pesticides. This can be challenging, as it is difficult to know whether a particular stink bug has been exposed to pesticides. 

One way to reduce the risk is to avoid feeding bearded dragons wild-caught insects and instead use commercially raised insects that are less likely to be exposed to pesticides. It’s also essential to wash any insects thoroughly before feeding them to bearded dragons, as this can help remove any pesticide residue that may be present on their bodies. 

Nutritional Imbalance

While stink bugs can provide some nutritional value to bearded dragons, they should not be the primary source of their diet. Overfeeding stink bugs can lead to an imbalance in the bearded dragon’s diet, leading to malnutrition and health problems.

Stink bugs are a source of protein and fat, but they are not a complete source of nutrition for bearded dragons. Bearded dragons require a balanced diet that includes a variety of insects, vegetables, and fruits to meet their nutritional needs. Overfeeding stink bugs can lead to a diet that is too high in protein and fat, which can cause nutritional imbalances and health problems.

One of the potential consequences of overfeeding stink bugs is a calcium deficiency. Bearded dragons require calcium for healthy bone growth and development, and stink bugs have a low calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. 

If bearded dragons are fed too many stink bugs and insufficient calcium-rich foods, such as leafy greens, they may develop metabolic bone disease characterized by weak and brittle bones.

Another potential consequence of overfeeding stink bugs is obesity. Stink bugs are high in fat, and if bearded dragons are fed too many stink bugs, they may consume more fat than they need, leading to weight gain and obesity. Obesity can lead to various health problems, including heart, respiratory, and joint problems.

To minimize the risk of nutritional imbalances, it is important to feed bearded dragons a varied diet that includes a variety of insects, vegetables, and fruits. It’s also essential to ensure that bearded dragons get enough calcium through calcium supplements or calcium-rich foods such as leafy greens.

Parasites and Diseases

Like all insects, stink bugs can carry various parasites and diseases that can be transmitted to bearded dragons when they consume them. Some common parasites transmitted to bearded dragons through stink bugs include mites and internal parasites such as nematodes and protozoans. 

These parasites can cause various health problems, including skin irritation and digestive and respiratory problems. In addition to parasites, stink bugs can also carry a variety of diseases that can be transmitted to bearded dragons. 

One of the most common diseases that stink bugs can carry is Salmonella, a bacterial infection that can cause symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Salmonella can be transmitted to bearded dragons through contaminated food, contact with surfaces, or objects contaminated with bacteria.

I always practice good hygiene when handling my bearded dragons and their food to avoid contamination. This includes washing hands before and after handling bearded dragons and their food and disinfecting surfaces and equipment used for feeding.

Alternatives to Stink Bugs for Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are omnivores and require a balanced plant and animal matter diet. Here are some safe and nutritious foods to offer your bearded dragon:

  • Leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and mustard greens
  • Vegetables such as carrots, squash, and bell peppers
  • Fruits such as apples, berries, and melons
  • Protein sources such as crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches
  • Commercially available bearded dragon pellets

It’s important to offer a variety of foods to ensure your bearded dragon gets all the nutrients they need. Avoid feeding your bearded dragon any wild insects, as these may contain harmful pesticides or parasites.

If you’re looking to offer your bearded dragon a variety of insects, there are plenty of safe options. Here are some other insects that are safe for bearded dragons to eat:

InsectNutritional Benefits
CricketsHigh in protein and easy to digest
Dubia RoachesHigh in protein and calcium
MealwormsHigh in protein and fat
WaxwormsHigh in fat and good for adding weight to underweight dragons