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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cockroaches? Vet Approved Facts & Safety Guide

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

Cockroach crawling on the wall

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As the owner of a bearded dragon, one of your main tasks after creating a safe home for your pet is feeding the right food. Since these lovely lizards mainly eat insects (and some plants), new bearded dragon owners may wonder whether their dragon can eat cockroaches. Yes, bearded dragons can eat cockroaches, but there are a few things to know before feeding time comes around. Below, we’ll discuss how they can benefit your lizard and how to serve them.

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What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Cockroaches for Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons can eat cockroaches, and they’re one of the most nutritious foods for your beardie. For example, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in cockroaches is excellent, which is needed for bearded dragons to have strong bones and joints. Plus, cockroaches have more meat than most insects.

Cockroaches also contain a high amount of nutritious protein while having a low-fat level, and bearded dragons can digest them more easily than many other types of insects; they have softer bodies. Lastly, cockroaches contain plenty of vitamin D3, which your bearded dragon needs to absorb calcium and phosphorus correctly.

Asian cockroach
Image Credit: S. Narongrit99, Shutterstock

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What Other Benefits Do Cockroaches Offer Your Bearded Dragon?

Besides being nutritious, cockroaches offer several other benefits to help your beardie stay healthy and active.

Cockroaches Spur Their Natural Foraging Behavior

It’s important that your bearded dragon stays active and hunts for food. Live cockroaches encourage your beardie to hunt for them. They’re also easier to find than other insects.

Bearded Dragons Like Their Taste

Many bearded dragons can be picky regarding their food, which can be frustrating for owners. Most beardies like cockroaches, however, which makes them a good meal choice.

bearded dragon eating an insect
Image Credit: Jan Hejda, Shutterstock

You Can “Gut Load” Cockroaches

Gut loading is a process where you feed cockroaches (or other insects) foods that will provide nutrients to your bearded dragon. So, for example, you’ll feed cockroaches foods with minerals and vitamins like calcium and D3, and then your beardie gets the nutrient boost when they eat the gut-loaded cockroaches.

Cockroaches Don’t Make Any Noise

If you’ve ever fed crickets to your bearded dragon, you know they’re noisy, especially at night. Cockroaches, like Dubia cockroaches, don’t hiss, chirp, or make other noises, but you might occasionally hear them scurrying around in their insect enclosure.

Cockroaches Have Less Chitin Than Other Insects

Most insects have a hard exoskeleton that’s made of a substance called chitin. While chitin isn’t toxic and is digestible, it offers no nutritional value to your bearded dragon, so the less of it they eat, the better. Cockroaches have less chitin, meaning your bearded dragon will get more nutritious food.

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What Are the Best Cockroaches to Feed a Bearded Dragon?

The best type of cockroach to feed a bearded dragon is the Dubia cockroach. They have the most protein, the least chitin, and several other benefits. However, other types of cockroaches can also be a good choice if you can’t get Dubia cockroaches for your pet.

Baby of bearded agama dragon is sitting on log and eating insects at home, closeup side view
Image Credit: Evgeniia Zakharishcheva, Shutterstock

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Are There Any Drawbacks to Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Cockroaches?

While cockroaches are a well-balanced and nutritious food for beardies, they have several drawbacks you should be aware of.

Cockroaches Can Bite

While it might not be painful to you, if a cockroach bites your bearded dragon, it can cause them pain. Dubia cockroaches are ideal since they don’t bite.

Cockroaches Aren’t Easy to Find in Pet Stores

It’s not easy, and in some places impossible, to find feeder cockroaches for your bearded dragon. You’ll often need to order them online or from a pet supply company.

Cockroaches Are More Expensive Than Other Feeder Insects

While it’s not a huge amount of money, cockroaches are typically more expensive than other feeder insects. If they need to be shipped, that adds even more to their cost.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cockroaches?

Depending on your beardie’s age and other factors, they can eat cockroaches several times a week and, in some cases, daily. As mentioned, any cockroaches you feed your bearded dragon should be feeder insects specially raised for this specific purpose.

How Many Cockroaches Can a Bearded Dragon Eat Per Day?

There are several types of cockroaches you can feed a bearded dragon. For this article, we’ve focused on Dubia cockroaches, which are considered one of the best.

For baby bearded dragons that need more protein, they may eat up to 50 Dubia cockroaches per day in some instances, but over several feedings. It’s important to note that the cockroaches should be smaller for baby beardies. Adult bearded dragons can eat up to 5 larger dubia cockroaches daily over several feedings.

Can You Feed Your Bearded Dragon Cockroaches You Find in Your Home?

Veterinarians suggest avoiding cockroaches you find in your home. Wild cockroaches often carry bacteria and parasites, which can harm your dragon. In other words, specially harvested feeder cockroaches are the best choice for your pet and have the lowest risk of adverse effects.

How to Feed Cockroaches to a Bearded Dragon?

Once prepared and gut loaded, the best way to feed cockroaches to your bearded dragon is to drop the insect into their tank. Once you do, most beardies will spot, hunt, and eat them.

You should feed your beardie one cockroach at a time and only give them another once they’ve finished with the last. This will prevent overeating, reduce any risk of biting, and keep your pet from being overwhelmed by too many insects.

You can keep giving your beardie more cockroaches, one at a time until they lose interest. Once they stop eating, remove any leftover cockroach bits from the enclosure. Lastly, never feed a dead cockroach to your pet. Remove the dead insect and throw it away.

Process of feeding of bearded agama dragon with insect cockroach at home on carpet
Image Credit: Evgeniia Zakharishcheva, Shutterstock

Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Cockroaches?

Yes, baby bearded dragons and adolescents can eat cockroaches and usually eat more than adults. As mentioned earlier, the younger (and thus smaller) the bearded dragon, the smaller the cockroaches should be.

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Final Thoughts

Bearded dragons can eat cockroaches, and the creepy insects are one of the best sources of nutrition for them. Cockroaches have an excellent calcium-to-phosphorous ratio, have a high-protein level with less fat than other insects, and have less chitin, so your beardie gets more nutritionally valuable food when eating.

Young, bearded dragons will eat more cockroaches than adults since they need more protein for their growing bones, joints, and other body parts. Any cockroaches you feed should be smaller than the space between their eyes for safety and easier consumption.

Featured Image Credit: 1113990, Pixabay

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