Crickets are generally a staple part of a captive bearded dragons diet. As such many questions regarding crickets arise including if you can leave crickets in a bearded dragons cage.
In this post, we will explore this question in full and see if it’s wise to leave crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage or if you should remove all crickets straight away after feeding.
Can you leave crickets in a bearded dragon’s cage? You shouldn’t leave crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage after the feeding period has ended. Crickets are mobile and fast and they quickly escape into the tank decor. Despite their size, crickets have no problem biting your bearded dragon. This can lead to stress and significant health problems.
Read On to Learn…
Can You Leave Crickets in a Bearded Dragon’s Cage? (More Info)
It can be tempting to leave crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage and let them eat them later, but this can be one of the worst decision you make as an owner.
Unfortunately, those sprightly hops are the very thing that makes crickets in bearded dragon cages tricky. Depending on the cricket size you’re feeding (we’ll go a little more into that in a minute), the greater the potential for speed.
If you’re not watching (and counting) carefully, some of the bouncy buggers sneak away into the plants and rocks.
Your beardie misses them, and so do you. The cricket thinks they have it made – for a little while.
That escape burns energy. And you’re not supplying cricket food in the bearded dragon’s cage.
Eventually, they get hungry. Then they start starving. And crickets don’t mind where they look for sources of sustenance – which includes your poor beardie.
As the cricket moves through the enclosure, they pick up ANYTHING on the ground. When was the last time you cleaned?
Even if your bearded dragon happens to find one of the escapees, they now have the potential to ingest bacteria. It’s a health complication you weren’t counting on.
The risk of health problems and stress isn’t worth it. You should NEVER leave crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage.
It means you might need to change your feeding practices (we’ll offer an alternative) or that you need to carve out extra time at dinner, but it’s for the safety of your beardie. Little insects can cause BIG problems.
What are the Dangers of Leaving Crickets in a Bearded Dragon’s Cage?
How much damage can one little cricket do? They’re the size of your fingernail, typically. Which IS an itty-bitty mouth – no one denies that.
The truth is that you should never underestimate the damage that crickets can cause.
Here are common issues with leaving crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage:
- Cricket bites
Let’s now take a closer look at these 4 common issues that can be caused by leaving crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage…
Hopefully, you’re doing your homework and only offering the proper cricket size to your bearded dragon.
However, if you dump a handful of crickets into the cage and walk away, you run the risk of choking.
Beardies pursue movement and snatch up potential prey without regard for whether or not they can safely swallow the insect. And when they spot a cricket leftover in the tank, they may chase after it.
Overly large crickets can lead to choking. The signs of choking in a beardie sound like coughing or gagging.
But if you’re leaving crickets in the cage and walking away, you may not hear the sound. This is a dangerous situation for your beardie. ALWAYS supervise your bearded dragon when they’re eating, and then get those extra insects out of the way.
You can also head over to our new guide that shares the 10 little known reasons why bearded dragons cough…
2. Cricket Bites
When crickets reach the point of starvation, self-preservation kicks in. And they’re not above chewing on your beardie!
Crickets often nip at toes, eyelids, and the end of bearded dragon tails. The most commonly sold species of crickets belong to the nocturnal brown cricket and diurnal black cricket group.
This means your beardie isn’t safe ANY time. And those bites are horrible. Left untreated (or unnoticed), the wounds can become infected.
Not to mention the rogue cricket will continue to bite and harass your poor beardie until they’re eaten or finally removed. That may turn into a LONG time!.
When you blink or glance away, crickets dart underneath, behind, or between objects in a bearded dragon’s cage.
If you leave them there, they continue to explore throughout the enclosure, NOT minding where they walk.
This means they step in urates, waste, leftover food that’s starting to decay, and anything else that’s turning into a perfectly-good bacterial colony.
If you aren’t staying on top of your humidity levels, the situation could get grimmer.
Whether your beardie sustains a bite or snatches up one of these crickets, the bacteria coating the offending insect hitches a ride into their system.
Now you have a beardie with a nasty infection. It’s a terrible concern, and one you can prevent by removing crickets from the cage.
Recommended Reading: Bearded Dragon Humidity (The Complete Guide)
Imagine lying back in the sun. Now try to picture something crawling all over you. Not so relaxing, is it?
That’s what can happen if you leave crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage. The insects get bold, and they climb all over the beardie, no matter what’s going on.
Suddenly, your beardie’s stress level goes up. And they decide they DON’T want to eat crickets – now or ever again.
The irritation makes bearded dragons feel uncomfortable in their home. Meanwhile, the crickets decide they have the best accommodations in the world.
But stress can lead to other health concerns in a bearded dragon. You’re better off scooping those leggy intruders out of the cage and focusing on the needs of your beardie.
A tel-tale sign of stress is ‘black beard’ amongst others. If you are worried about stress in your beardie we recommend you check out our post that covers all you need to know as an owner.
You can learn the common signs, causes and solutions for bearded dragon stress in our easy to follow post…
Can You Leave Crickets in a Bearded Dragon’s Cage Overnight?
You know leaving crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage isn’t a good idea. But how bad can leaving crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage overnight be? After all, you’ll scoop up the offending insects in the morning, right?
So, can you leave crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage overnight? You should never leave uneaten crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage. If left in a tank overnight, the crickets will often attack the sleeping bearded dragon. This is especially true for baby bearded dragons. The crickets also interrupt their sleeping habits by singing.
What are crickets known for? They produce beautiful music when they saw the rough edges of their wings together (a process known as stridulation).
And while crickets can make their chirps at any point of the day, they prefer the safety and cover of darkness to do so. It protects them from potential predation.
While you may not feel concerned about one overnight stay of crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage, your poor beardie’s suffering through a private concert.
Beardies have excellent hearing, and those chirps WILL wake them up and prevent them from sleeping. As you may know from personal experience, a lack of sleep makes for a stressful situation.
The night also makes crickets bolder. It’s when they’re most likely to bite your bearded dragon.
Night vision ISN’T one of your beardie’s superpowers. They won’t see the cricket sneaking up on their toes, leaving them at the mercy of an overnight torment.
You’re much better off removing the crickets and saving your beardie from a LONG night.
If you have ever wondered if beardies are bothered by noise then here’s our easy to follow article that shares all the noises that could be stressing your beardie…
How Long Should I Leave Crickets in My Bearded Dragon’s Cage When Feeding?
In general, you want to leave crickets in your bearded dragon’s cage for 5-10 minutes when they’re younger.
You can increase the feeding time to 10-15 minutes for adults, especially if you adopt the every other day feeding style.
This gives your beardie plenty of time to hunt down and consume all of the insects. Don’t force them to eat the crickets – especially if you hand-feed or use tongs.
ALWAYS observe cricket feedings. You want to remain alert for any potential problems (such as a cricket making a break for a hiding place).
One of the easiest ways to do this is to feed your beardie in a separate container.
You can use a plastic tub kept specifically for cricket feedings. You’ll always know exactly when your beardie’s finished, and the crickets won’t have a chance to escape or get lost in the cage.
How Many Crickets Should I Put in My Bearded Dragon’s Cage at One Time?
If you want to minimize the headache of moving EVERY piece of “furniture” in your bearded dragon’s cage after a meal, you need to keep track of the number of crickets you’re feeding.
And you need to watch during dinner to make sure your beardie eats all of them. The beat way t do this is to only offer a small number of crickets at one time in the cage and then offer more once your beardie has hunted them down and eaten them.
So, how many crickets should I put in my bearded dragon’s cage at one time? Adding a small number of 2-3 crickets at a time to your bearded dragon’s cage will allow you to keep track of how many crickets are in the cage and how many they have eaten. Adding too many crickets will allow some of them to escape and hide which is something you want to avoid.
It can be tempting to throw all of your beardies crickets in the cage at one time, however, this will certainly make it hard for you to count how many they have eaten and if some have managed to hide.
Feeding your bearded dragon in a separate tank with no accessories or places for them to hide is an option but even then adding a smaller number of crickets is the better option.
If your beardie is good at hunting 2-3 down and can do this pretty quickly (they generally get better as they get older) then you can certainly up the number of crickets you add at a time.
Just know that there will be a tipping point where they struggle to hunt and eat the crickets before they begin to wander off and hide.
How Do You Get Crickets Out of a Bearded Dragon’s Cage?
You fed your bearded dragon, but there are crickets leftover. You don’t want them to stay in the cage overnight. How to get them out of the tank?
You know those insects are fast, and you may not have the reflexes to snatch them up.
You have a couple of easy options, though they require patience on your part:
- Put down a piece of egg crate. Most crickets recognize egg crates as a familiar hiding place, and they’ll make a break for them. Check the piece every few minutes and shake the found crickets back into their tank.
- Use a toilet paper roll. This works on the same principle as the egg crate. Give it some time, then remove the collected crickets.
- Wet a paper towel. Crickets WILL stick to damp paper towels. You’ll have to use your hand, but it places a barrier between you and the cricket.
If all else fails, you can chase the crickets around with the tongs. You’ll probably stress your beardie, though (not to mention yourself). Try a path of least resistance, first.
Feeding crickets to a bearded dragon seems simple. And they DO provide sustenance and enrichment. But you don’t want to leave them in cages.
Those little insects cause too much trouble. You’re better off investing in a separate feeding tank or taking the time to remove the extras, so you protect your bearded dragon.
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