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Can Bearded Dragons Eat Stink Bugs? Vet-Reviewed Safety Facts

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By Chelsea Mortensen

Green Stink Bug

Vet approved

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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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Stink bugs—if you live in an area where they are common, you’d probably love to have a use for them. These smelly bugs can be real pests! But even if you have a resident insect-eating bearded dragon, that doesn’t make stink bugs a safe treat. In general, it isn’t recommended to feed stink bugs to bearded dragons as they can cause digestive issues and may pose other risks.

bearded dragon divider

What Are Stink Bugs?

Stink bugs are a family of insects that are also called shield bugs because of their shield-shaped body. The stink bug family is huge—in fact, there are more than 5,000 species of stink bug. With so many different types of stink bug, it’s hard to generalize too much about them, which is one reason why we don’t recommend feeding them to your bearded dragon.

But there are some things they have in common. Most species of stink bugs can create a strong-smelling defensive spray to ward off predators. Many species of stink bugs are plant eaters—this means that some types are considered agricultural pests because they can destroy crops.

Stink Bug
Image Credit: Helpasoul, Pixabay

Why Avoid Stink Bugs

There are several different reasons to be wary about feeding stink bugs to your bearded dragon.

First, some species of stink bugs may be toxic to your dragon. There isn’t much solid research into which of the thousands of species of stink bugs are safe to eat for beardies, so we don’t recommend risking it.

Another reason to avoid stink bugs is that they can be a choking hazard. Stink bugs have a hard exoskeleton, and some species can grow to be an inch long or more. This makes them difficult to safely feed to your bearded dragon. Their chitinous shells can also make them difficult to digest.

The third reason to avoid feeding stink bugs to your bearded dragon is that it’s risky to feed them wild-caught bugs. Wild bugs can carry dangerous parasites that can hurt your bearded dragon. They also often have pesticides or other artificial poisons on them. This is especially true for stink bug species that are agricultural pests, like the brown marmorated stink bug. These species are some of the most pesticide-resistant pests of any insect. That means that they can carry a huge dose of pesticide on their shells without dying—enough to seriously hurt your bearded dragon.

Best Bugs for Bearded Dragons

Instead of stink bugs, it’s better to stick to tried-and-true bug species that have a long track record of being safe and nutritious for your bearded dragon. Young bearded dragons need insects daily to help them grow and make sure they get sufficient protein, while adults generally need insects once or twice a week. Some of the best insects to feed your dragon are crickets, dubia roaches, discoid roaches, hornworms, silkworms, and small snails. Most bearded dragon owners prefer to use captive-bred insects to make sure that they’re safe and free of pesticides.

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

bearded dragon dividerLast Thoughts

Bearded dragons can eat a wide variety of insects as part of a healthy diet. However, we don’t recommend feeding your dragon stink bugs. Stink bugs may be toxic to your dragon, and they often carry pesticides and other risks. It’s much safer to stick to common feeder insects like crickets, snails, and safe roach species.

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Featured Image Credit: DerWeg, Pixabay

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