Top 10 Alternative Foods: What Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon Instead of Crickets?

Are you tired of feeding your bearded dragon the same old crickets? It can get quite monotonous for both you and your pet. Well, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of other options that are both healthy and delicious for bearded dragons to devour.

Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they consume both plant and animal matter. Apart from crickets, they also enjoy a variety of insects such as locusts, roaches, and mealworms. But don’t worry if insects don’t appeal to you or your bearded dragon, you can always switch over to plant-based options such as dark leafy greens, fruits, and veggies that are high in fiber and calcium.

Another great alternative to crickets is live prey such as small rodents, which can provide your bearded dragon with some much-needed exercise and mental stimulation. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are also reptile-specific commercial diets available that can offer a wide range of nutrients. So why stick to crickets when there are so many healthy and tasty options out there for your bearded dragon?

Alternative Protein Sources for Bearded Dragons

While crickets are a popular and convenient protein source for bearded dragons, they are not the only option. In fact, some bearded dragons may even prefer a variety in their diet. Here are some alternative protein sources for your bearded dragon:

  • Mealworms: These are a common alternative to crickets and are higher in fat and protein content. However, they can be harder to digest, so they should be offered in moderation.
  • Roaches: Dubia roaches, in particular, are a nutritious option for bearded dragons as they have a good calcium to phosphorus ratio. They are also easy to digest and can be fed as small as hatchlings.
  • Waxworms: These are higher in fat and should only be fed as an occasional treat or supplement. They can be used to entice a picky eater to eat a new type of food.
  • Superworms: These are larger than mealworms and can be used as a protein source for adult bearded dragons. However, they should not be fed to hatchlings as they are harder to digest.

In addition to these alternative protein sources, there are also vegetarian options for bearded dragons. Some options for vegetables that are high in protein include collard greens, dandelion greens, and alfalfa.

When feeding your bearded dragon alternative protein sources, it is important to offer a varied and balanced diet. Some bearded dragons may be picky eaters, so try offering different types of food to see what they prefer. It is also important to ensure that the food you are feeding is fresh and of high quality.

Vegetables and Fruits That Can Be Fed to Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons require a varied diet to be healthy and thrive. Feeding them solely on crickets can be monotonous and inadequate in providing the necessary nutrients. Luckily, bearded dragons can eat a variety of vegetables and fruits as well to supplement their diet. Below are some examples:

  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Bok choy
  • Kale
  • Endive
  • Squash (butternut, acorn, and spaghetti)
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Bell peppers (red, green, and yellow)
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Mangos
  • Papayas
  • Figs
  • Apples (without seeds)
  • Bananas

Nutritional Benefits of Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that can improve a bearded dragon’s health and keep them happy. Veggies like collard greens and kale provide a high amount of Vitamin A, which can improve vision and skin health. Fruits like blueberries are rich in antioxidants and can strengthen the immune system. It’s best to select veggies and fruits that are high in fiber, low in sugar, and are safe for bearded dragons to consume.

Preparing Vegetables and Fruits for Feeding

It’s essential to properly prepare vegetables and fruits before feeding them to your bearded dragon. First, rinse the vegetables or fruits to remove any pesticides or dirt. Then, chop them into small pieces to make it easier for your pet to eat. Avoid feeding them anything that’s too large or tough to chew. You can also lightly steam the vegetables to make them softer and easier to digest. Finally, serve them in a shallow dish, and remove any leftovers after an hour to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth.


While crickets are a staple in a bearded dragon’s diet, supplementing their diet with vegetables and fruits can ensure that they get the necessary nutrients to lead a healthy life. Remember to choose veggies and fruits that are safe and healthy for them to eat and to properly prepare them for feeding. With a varied diet and plenty of fresh water, your bearded dragon will thrive and live a long, happy life.

Commercial bearded dragon food options

Bearded dragons require a diverse diet to maintain optimum health. While crickets are the most common food for bearded dragons, they are not the only option. Commercial bearded dragon food is a convenient and balanced option for owners who do not have the time, space, or interest in breeding and feeding live insects. Here are some commercial bearded dragon food options:

  • Pelleted Diet: Bearded dragon food pellets are formulated with a balanced ratio of protein, fat, fiber, and vitamins and minerals to meet the nutritional needs of bearded dragons. Pellets are convenient, grain-free, and do not contain artificial coloring or preservatives. Simply sprinkle the pellets in your beardie’s dish, and they are good to go. However, some bearded dragons are picky eaters and may not be attracted to the pellets’ taste or texture. You can mix the pellets with fresh vegetables for added flavor.
  • Canned Diet: Canned bearded dragon food contains a blend of fruits, vegetables, and insects for a complete and balanced meal. Canned food is stored in a convenient pop-top can and can be resealed for future feedings. Bearded dragons love the moist and soft texture of canned food. However, canned food may not have the same nutritional quality as fresh or pelleted food because of the processing involved. Always read the label and choose a brand that has high-quality ingredients and no fillers or by-products.
  • Freeze-dried Diet: Freeze-dried bearded dragon food is a dehydrated version of live insects, fruits, and vegetables. Freeze-dried food is shelf-stable, easy to store and handle, and retains most of its nutrients. To feed, simply rehydrate the food with water and serve. Freeze-dried food has the advantage of being a low-maintenance and long-lasting option. However, some bearded dragons may not be interested in the texture and smell of freeze-dried food, and it may cause digestive issues if not rehydrated properly.

Commercial food is not a replacement for fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, but it can provide variety and convenience to your bearded dragon diet. Always read the label and choose a brand that uses whole, natural, and diverse ingredients and has high protein and fat content. Commercial food should also be fed in moderation and accompanied by a variety of insects, vegetables, and occasional treats to ensure a balanced and stimulating diet.


Commercial bearded dragon food is a great alternative to crickets and can provide a convenient and balanced source of nutrients for your beardie. Pellets, canned, and freeze-dried food are the most common commercial options, each with its advantages and drawbacks. When choosing a commercial brand, always prioritize high-quality and diverse ingredients and accompany them with fresh food and natural treats. Your bearded dragon will appreciate the variety in its diet and thrive with a healthy and happy life.

Live feeders that are similar to crickets (mealworms, superworms, etc.)

While crickets may be the go-to feeder for bearded dragons, there are other options that can provide a similar nutritional value and suit your pet’s preferences. Below are some of the live feeders that are similar to crickets and can make a great addition to your bearded dragon’s diet:

  • Mealworms: These are another popular feeder that are easily accessible and can be found in most pet stores. Mealworms are high in protein, low in fat, and contain important nutrients such as calcium and phosphorous. They are also great for offering variety to your bearded dragon’s diet, and can be fed as a treat or a regular staple.
  • Superworms: Larger in size compared to mealworms, superworms are another option that can provide similar nutritional benefits. They are high in protein and less fatty than other feeders, making them a great source of nutrition for your pet. However, be sure to feed superworms in moderation, as they can be difficult for some bearded dragons to digest.
  • Black soldier fly larvae: These feeders have been gaining popularity in recent years as a sustainable and nutritious alternative to crickets. Black soldier fly larvae are high in protein and calcium, and can also help promote healthy gut bacteria in your bearded dragon. They are also easy to digest and less likely to cause impaction compared to other feeders.

As with any live feeder, it is important to ensure they are gut-loaded and dusted with calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals before feeding them to your bearded dragon. Additionally, offer a variety of feeders to maintain a healthy, balanced diet for your pet.

Nutritional Requirements for Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons require a balanced and varied diet to stay healthy and thrive. In general, they need a diet that provides a balanced ratio of protein, fat, and fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.

What Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon Instead of Crickets

  • Dark leafy greens: turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens.
  • Vegetables: carrot, squash, sweet potato, bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli.
  • Fruits: apple, pear, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, mango.

Protein Sources for Bearded Dragons

While crickets and other insects are a traditional protein source for bearded dragons, they can be replaced with other sources such as:

  • Dubia roaches
  • Superworms
  • Mealworms
  • Black soldier fly larvae

Be sure to gut load and dust the insects with calcium and vitamin D3 powder before feeding them to your bearded dragon.

Calcium and Vitamin D3 Supplementation

Bearded dragons require higher calcium intake than most other reptiles due to their fast growth and high bone density. Supplementing their diet with calcium and vitamin D3 is essential to prevent metabolic bone disease.

Calcium Source How to Use
Calcium powder Dust on insects or mix in food
Calcium block Place in enclosure for dragon to lick
Reptile multivitamin Use once a week in addition to calcium powder

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using supplementation.

How to Gutload Insects to Increase their Nutritional Value for Bearded Dragons

Gutloading insects is an essential step to increase their nutritional value for your bearded dragon. It refers to feeding the insects nutrient-dense foods, which are then passed on to your pet reptile, enhancing their diet and overall health.

But what are the best foods to gutload insects? Below are some examples:

  • Dark, leafy greens such as kale, mustard greens, and collard greens.
  • High-calcium vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, and dandelion greens.
  • Fruits such as apples, berries, and bananas.

These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that your bearded dragon requires for optimal health. However, avoid feeding insects with citrus fruits, avocado, and rhubarb, as they are toxic to them and can be harmful to your pet.

It’s best to use freshly washed and organic produce when gutloading insects. Keep in mind that the insects should have access to the food for at least 24 hours before feeding them to your bearded dragon, allowing them to fully absorb the nutrients.

In addition to gutloading, dusting the insects with calcium and vitamin supplements can further boost their nutritional value. A balance of calcium and vitamin D3 supplements is especially crucial for healthy bones and avoiding metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons.

Calcium Supplement Dosage: Vitamin D3 Supplement Dosage:
2-3 times a week for adult bearded dragons 2-3 times a week for adult bearded dragons
Every other day for juvenile bearded dragons (up to 18 months old) Once a week for juvenile bearded dragons (up to 18 months old)

Remember to consult with a veterinarian or a reptile specialist for the correct supplement dosage and frequency based on your bearded dragon’s specific needs and age.

In conclusion, gutloading insects is a simple yet crucial step in providing your bearded dragon with a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet. By feeding them a variety of nutrient-dense foods and using proper supplements, you can ensure your pet’s overall health and well-being for years to come.

Foods that should never be fed to bearded dragons

When it comes to feeding your beloved bearded dragon, it’s important to know which foods are safe and nutritious. However, it’s equally important to be aware of the foods that should never be fed to your pet. Here are some of the foods that should never be included in your bearded dragon’s diet:

  • Avocado: This fruit contains persin, which is toxic to bearded dragons and can cause serious health complications.
  • Rhubarb: This vegetable contains high levels of oxalic acid, which can lead to the formation of kidney stones in bearded dragons.
  • Spinach: While spinach is a nutritious food for humans, it contains high levels of oxalic acid and can interfere with calcium absorption in bearded dragons.

Toxic Plants and Insects

Another important thing to keep in mind when feeding your bearded dragon is to avoid any toxic plants and insects. Some plants, such as aloe vera, contain toxic compounds that can harm your pet. Additionally, some insects like fireflies can be toxic to bearded dragons if ingested.

Processed and Sugary Foods

Just like with humans, processed and sugary foods are not good for bearded dragons. These foods offer little to no nutritional value and can cause health complications in the long run. It’s best to stick to a diet of fresh vegetables and fruit, along with a source of protein such as Dubia roaches or mealworms.

Feeding Insects from the Wild

Feeding your bearded dragon insects from the wild may seem harmless, but it can actually be quite dangerous. These insects could have been exposed to pesticides or other harmful chemicals, which can be ingested by your pet. Additionally, wild insects may be carrying parasites that can harm your bearded dragon.

Foods to Avoid Why to Avoid
Avocado Contains persin, toxic to bearded dragons
Rhubarb High levels of oxalic acid can cause kidney stones
Spinach High levels of oxalic acid can interfere with calcium absorption

Overall, it’s important to do research and educate yourself on the best diet for your bearded dragon. Avoiding these harmful foods and sticking to a balanced, nutritious diet will ensure the health and longevity of your beloved pet.

How to create a balanced diet for a bearded dragon

Feeding your bearded dragon a balanced diet is crucial to maintaining their health and well-being. While crickets are a common staple in their diet, there are plenty of alternative options that offer different nutritional benefits to supplement their meals.

  • Leafy greens – Offer a variety of leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and mustard greens as a source of vitamin A and calcium.
  • Vegetables – Add vegetables like squash, carrots, and bell peppers to provide additional vitamins and minerals to their diet.
  • Fruits – Incorporate fruits like berries, mangoes, and melons as a source of hydration and natural sugars.

It’s important to note that while fruits and vegetables are a great addition to a bearded dragon’s diet, they should only make up about 20% of their overall diet. The majority of their meals should consist of proteins like insects and feeder animals.

Here’s a breakdown of a well-balanced diet for a bearded dragon:

Protein Vegetables Leafy Greens Fruits
70% 10% 10% 10%

Make sure to vary the types of protein offered to include crickets, dubia roaches, mealworms, and superworms. Calcium and vitamin supplements can also be added to their food to ensure they are getting all the necessary nutrients.

Keeping in mind these guidelines will ensure a healthy and well-balanced diet for your bearded dragon.

The Importance of Calcium and Vitamin D in a Bearded Dragon’s Diet

If you own a bearded dragon, you should know that feeding it with the right nutrients is crucial for its health and wellbeing. One vital aspect of your pet’s diet is the intake of calcium and vitamin D. These essential nutrients play a significant role in your bearded dragon’s growth and development as well as the prevention of various health issues.

  • Calcium: Bearded dragons require a significant amount of calcium in their diet to support healthy bone growth. Without adequate calcium, they may develop metabolic bone disease, which can lead to deformities, bone fractures, and even death. Calcium should be provided in a form that is easily absorbed by your pet’s body, such as calcium carbonate powder or crushed cuttlebone.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is equally crucial for your bearded dragon’s overall health since it enables proper calcium absorption. Without vitamin D, calcium cannot be properly utilized by the body, even if it’s present in the diet. Fortunately, vitamin D can be synthesized naturally within your pet’s skin through the exposure to UVB light. Therefore, ensure that your bearded dragon’s enclosure has a source of natural sunlight or a UVB lamp to ensure that they can produce enough vitamin D.
  • Calcium-to-Phosphorus Ratio: It’s also essential to maintain a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in your bearded dragon’s diet. If the ratio is too low, your pet’s body may not be able to absorb calcium efficiently, which can lead to metabolic bone disease. To avoid this, feed your bearded dragon a diet that has a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of at least 2:1.

Remember, it’s crucial to provide your bearded dragon with a balanced diet that contains all the necessary nutrients in the right proportions, including calcium and vitamin D. With proper nutrition, your bearded dragon can live a long, healthy, and happy life.

How to Introduce New Foods to a Bearded Dragon’s Diet

Bearded dragons love their staple foods like crickets, but it’s important to introduce new foods to their diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients. Here are some tips on how to introduce new foods to your bearded dragon’s diet:

  • Introduce new foods slowly and in small amounts: Start by offering a small piece of the new food once a week and gradually increase the amount over time.
  • Offer a variety of foods: Bearded dragons need a diverse diet to receive all the necessary nutrients, so offer a range of fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
  • Observe their behavior: Pay attention to how your bearded dragon reacts to the new food. If they show reluctance to try it, try offering it in different ways or wait a few days before trying again.

It’s also important to note that not all foods are safe for bearded dragons to eat. Here’s a list of foods to avoid:

Foods to Avoid Reason
Avocado Contains persin, which can be toxic to bearded dragons
Rhubarb Contains oxalic acid, which can interfere with calcium absorption
Spinach Contains oxalic acid and can also interfere with calcium absorption
Fireflies Contain a toxic chemical called lucibufagins

By introducing new foods slowly and carefully monitoring their behavior, you can give your bearded dragon a diverse and nutritious diet that will keep them healthy and happy.

What Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon Instead of Crickets?

Below are some frequently asked questions about alternative foods for your bearded dragon:

1. Can I feed my bearded dragon vegetables instead of crickets?
Yes, vegetables are actually an important part of your bearded dragon’s diet. You can feed them leafy greens, carrots, squash, and more.

2. Are fruits a good alternative to crickets?
Fruits should only be fed in moderation as they are high in sugar. However, you can offer your bearded dragon small pieces of strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits as a treat.

3. Can I feed my bearded dragon mealworms instead of crickets?
Yes, mealworms are a common alternative to crickets for bearded dragons. They are high in protein but should be offered in moderation as too many can lead to constipation.

4. What about superworms?
Superworms can also be fed to your bearded dragon in moderation. Make sure to offer them as a treat rather than a staple food.

5. Can I offer my bearded dragon cooked meats?
Yes, cooked meats such as chicken and beef can be offered to your bearded dragon in small amounts. Make sure to remove any bones and skin.

6. How about live prey like dubia roaches?
Dubia roaches are a popular alternative to crickets as they are high in protein and easy to digest. They are also slower-moving, making them easier for bearded dragons to catch.

7. Are there any other alternative foods for my bearded dragon?
Yes, you can also offer your bearded dragon silkworms, hornworms, and phoenix worms as alternative sources of protein.

Thanks for reading! Always make sure to research and provide a balanced diet for your bearded dragon. Variety is key and it’s important to consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns. Check back soon for more articles on taking care of your beloved pets!