The majority of live feeders normally fed to bearded dragons consist of insects. They are usually not fussy about what insects they’ll eat, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
The most common insect that will be a staple in your dragons diet will be the cricket. These are the easiest to come by and reasonably priced. Dragons also love mealworms, superworms, wax worms, and anything else that moves and can fit into their mouths.
Be careful feeding small dragons mealworms, because the hard shell of the worm can cause an impaction.
It is a good idea to wait until they’re at least a couple months old before offering mealworms, and use them sparingly until they reach an older age. Some older dragons will enjoy occasional feeder mice as well.
Catching Insects from Outdoors
Some people will catch insects from outside and feed them to their dragons. It is hard to be sure, though, that something you have caught will be safe for your dragon.
Even though dragons in the wild eat what they find, your dragon was captive bred and raised on insects that were also captive bred in a controlled environment. Some insects are even toxic to a bearded dragon.
Insects in some areas are readily exposed to chemicals, especially in cities, such as pesticides and herbicides. There is also a minor risk of introducing parasites to your dragon.
If you do decide to do this, you’ll have to do it at your own risk. I have not had experience with this and don’t know whether to recommend it or not. This is a decision where you will have to make the call.
Gut Loading Prey
Gut loading is a fairly simple process for passing nutrients onto your bearded dragon through feeder insects, such as crickets. Gut loading is a fairly simple process for passing nutrients onto your bearded dragon through feeder insects, such as crickets.
Many pet stores do not feed their crickets or other insects well. When you buy them basically what you are getting is some carbohydrates, fats, and water. This is where gut loading comes in.
Crickets will eat pretty much anything, so gut loading won’t be too much of a problem with them. There is cricket food on the market, such as ones by Rep-Cal. You could also provide oatmeal, whole wheat bread, as well as vegetables and fruits.
Collard greens, mustard greens and kale are some good choices for vegetables. Some fruits you can use are oranges, apples, or other juicy fruits for moisture.
Mealworms will usually come in a container with either wheat bran or oatmeal in it. If they don’t, provide a few inches of either in their container. You can also add a piece of vegetable or fruit for moisture and nutrients.
Other insects can be gut loaded as well, but it is said that crickets are the easiest. This is good, though, as crickets probably will be the staple insect you use as prey. You can use the other insects for variety. I have encountered many sources that say crickets are the best prey to use as your dragons main diet.
I use the term gutload vaguely. Actually, gutloading is feeding insects full of nutrients and vitamins the day or night before giving them to your bearded dragon. If you did this sooner, the amount of nutrients and vitamins consumed would kill them. You would lose most of your cricket population in about a day or so.