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As insectivores, 80% of a bearded dragon’s diet revolves around insects like cockroaches, grasshoppers, and crickets. But, can bearded dragons eat ants?
The short answer is no, although there are a few exceptions.
Bearded dragons can’t eat ants because of their folic acid and formic acid content. Folic acid is an important nutrient for pregnant women but can be toxic to lizards in high doses. Formic acid, meanwhile, is an irritant that can cause skin and respiratory irritation in bearded dragons.
However, not all ants are created equal. Some species of ants, like the carpenter ant, can make a healthy treat for bearded dragons.
Read on to learn about the nutritional value of ants, which ant species are okay for bearded dragons to consume, the benefits of feeding your beardie ants, and whether or not certain ants can kill your bearded dragon.
Nutritional Profile of Ants
If you’re planning on feeding ants to your bearded dragon, it’s important to know what nutrients they contain. Here’s a quick rundown of the nutrients found in ants.
According to ResearchGate, the nutritional content per 100 grams of ants is as follows:
Let’s take a closer look at some of these nutrients.
Phosphorus is an important mineral that bearded dragons need in their diet. It’s essential for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth and also plays a role in energy production.
However, high levels of phosphorus can actually be harmful to bearded dragons. Too much phosphorus in the diet can lead to problems with calcium absorption, which can eventually cause health problems like metabolic bone disease.
Metabolic bone disease (MBD) refers to a group of conditions that can occur when bearded dragons don’t get enough calcium. Symptoms of MBD include soft bones, flexible joints, and muscle weakness.
For this reason, it’s important to think twice before feeding ants to your bearded dragon. While ants contain phosphorus, they also have a relatively high phosphorus-calcium ratio. This means that they can actually cause calcium absorption problems in bearded dragons if consumed in large quantities.
While ants have a decent amount of calcium, they’re not the best source of this mineral. As we mentioned before, their phosphorus-calcium ratio is relatively high. This can make it difficult for bearded dragons to absorb all the calcium they need from ants.
The ideal calcium-phosphorus ratio for bearded dragons is 2:1. This means that for every two parts phosphorus, there should be one part calcium. However, the calcium-phosphorus ratio in ants is only 1:4.
Therefore, if you decide to feed ants to your bearded dragon, it’s important to supplement their diet with other calcium-rich foods. This can help ensure that they’re getting all the calcium they need to stay healthy.
See more: Can bearded dragons eat grass? Learn these life-saving facts in our guide!
Magnesium is another important mineral that bearded dragons need in their diet. It helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus since it can modulate the secretion of PTH (parathyroid hormone).
PTH is responsible for regulating calcium levels in the body. When calcium levels are low, PTH is released to help increase calcium absorption from the gut.
Magnesium can also help prevent or treat metabolic bone disease by modulating PTH secretion. Therefore, it’s important for bearded dragons to get enough magnesium in their diet.
However, bearded dragons can get all the magnesium they need from other sources like leafy greens and vegetables.
Folic acid is produced in ants as a defense mechanism against predators. When ants are eaten by predators, the folic acid is released and can cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea.
For this reason, it’s important to avoid feeding ants to your bearded dragon if they have any existing gastrointestinal issues. The folic acid in ants can make their symptoms worse and can even lead to life-threatening dehydration.
While there isn’t any evidence to suggest that folic acid is harmful to healthy bearded dragons, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid feeding them ants.
Potassium is an important mineral that’s involved in many bodily functions, including muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, and fluid balance.
Generally, ants are a good source of potassium. However, there is one type of ant that can actually be harmful to bearded dragons.
Fire ants are a type of ant that can be found in the southern United States. These ants are known for their painful, burning sting.
Fire ants can also be dangerous to bearded dragons because they can contain high levels of potassium. When consumed in large quantities, potassium can actually be toxic to bearded dragons.
For this reason, it’s important to avoid feeding fire ants to your bearded dragon. If you’re not sure what type of ant you have, it’s best to avoid feeding them any ants at all.
So, if you’re wondering: Can bearded dragons eat fire ants? The answer is NO; they can harm your bearded dragon – if not kill them!
Ants are a good source of protein, which is an important nutrient for bearded dragons. Protein is necessary for the growth and repair of tissues, as well as the synthesis of enzymes and hormones.
Bearded dragons need to consume about 20-30% of their diet in protein. However, most ants only contain about 6-12% protein. This means that ants can only make up a small part of a bearded dragon’s diet.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Any Insect?
While bearded dragons can technically eat any insect, it is not always safe to do so. Some insects may contain harmful toxins that can make your bearded dragon sick.
That said, there are many safe and healthy insects that bearded dragons can eat. The most common options include crickets, red worms, and waxworms. Be sure to avoid insects that are high in fat or sugar, such as super worms, as these can lead to obesity and other health problems in bearded dragons.
It’s best to stick to commercially raised insects as these are more likely to be free of toxins and harmful parasites. Wild-caught insects may contain harmful bacteria or parasites that can make your bearded dragon sick.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular insects that bearded dragons can eat:
When feeding insects to your bearded dragon, it’s important to offer a variety of different types. This will help ensure that your bearded dragon gets all the nutrients needed to stay healthy.
Insects can be fed live or dead, although most bearded dragons prefer live prey. If you feed your bearded dragon dead insects, be sure to remove them from the cage after a few hours to prevent bacterial growth.
Your bearded dragon will also eat any insects that they can catch themselves. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that their terrarium is properly sealed with clips to prevent escapees.
Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon Bugs From Outside?
While you can feed your bearded dragon bugs from outside, it’s not always the best idea. Wild-caught insects may contain harmful bacteria or parasites that can make your bearded dragon sick.
In addition, wild-caught insects are often deficient in vitamins and minerals. This is because they don’t have access to the same quality of food as commercially raised insects.
For these reasons, it’s best to stick to commercially raised insects when feeding your bearded dragon.
While wild bearded dragons can eat any insect they come across, it’s not always safe for captive bearded dragons to do so as they may not be used to the taste or texture of certain insects.
But, you may be wondering: can bearded dragons eat ants from outside? Otherwise – how else am I supposed to get them? The answer is no, you shouldn’t feed your beardie ants from outside either.
This is because you don’t know what type of ant you’re feeding your bearded dragon. Plus, outdoor ants can contain pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Fortunately, there are special breeders that breed and sell feeder ants.
What Are The Possible Risks Of Feeding Bearded Dragons Ants?
There are a few risks associated with feeding bearded dragons’ ants. The first is that wild insects may carry harmful chemicals like insecticides since they’re not raised in a sterile environment. These can be poisonous to bearded dragons and can potentially kill them.
Another risk is that bearded dragons may not be able to digest ants properly. This can lead to problems like impaction, in which the ant bodies get lodged in the dragon’s digestive system. If this happens, it will require veterinary care and may even result in the death of the dragon.
As explained earlier, ants also contain high levels of folic acid. This can cause health problems in bearded dragons if they eat too many ants. Some of the problems associated with folic acid include intoxication, anemia, and birth defects.
Many people still wonder: But, can bearded dragons eat flying ants? Unfortunately, flying ants also contain high levels of folic acid and may lead to digestive issues, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. However, fire ants are far more dangerous.
Can Ants Kill a Bearded Dragon?
While ants alone are not likely to kill a bearded dragon, they can be dangerous if ingested in large quantities. This is because, as explained in the previous section, ants contain high levels of folic acid.
If a bearded dragon ingests too many ants, the folic acid can build up in its system and cause health problems.
So, while ants are not likely to kill a bearded dragon outright, they can certainly pose a threat to their health if ingested in large quantities. If you do decide to feed your bearded dragon ants, it is important to do so in moderation.
How To Keep Ants Away From Bearded Dragons?
There are a few ways to keep ants away from bearded dragons. One is to make sure that the dragon’s habitat is kept clean and free of clutter. Ants like to nest in areas that are dirty and cluttered, so keeping the habitat clean will help discourage them from visiting.
Another way to keep ants away is to use ant repellent. There are a number of different types of ant repellent available, and you can find them at most pet stores, or you can buy this type on Amazon. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully, and only use as directed.
If you live in an area where ants are common, you may also want to consider using a screened enclosure for your bearded dragon. This will help keep ants and other insects out of the habitat altogether.
Ant traps can also be used to help keep ants away from bearded dragons. These can be placed around the perimeter of the habitat, and they will help catch and kill any ants that try to enter.
Finally, you can wipe the scent trail of ants away with vinegar. Ants communicate with each other by leaving a scent trail, and wiping it away will help discourage them from entering the habitat.
You can also try using a combination of these methods to keep ants away from your bearded dragon. Experiment until you find the method (or combination of methods) that works best for you.
Potential Benefits Of Feeding Bearded Dragons Ants
While there are some risks associated with feeding bearded dragons’ ants, there are also potential benefits. Here are a few potential benefits of feeding ants to bearded dragons:
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Ants?
Although you may be tempted to feed your baby bearded dragon ants, it’s best to avoid it altogether. This is especially true if you’re contemplating feeding wild ants, since you don’t know where they’ve been and what type of ant they are.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Ants Or Will They Die?
So, can bearded dragons eat ants? The answer is no, bearded dragons should not eat ants. Fire ants, in particular, can be harmful to bearded dragons as they contain high levels of potassium which can be toxic in large quantities.
While all ants are technically edible, it’s best to avoid feeding them to your bearded dragon as they are high in folic acid, which can be harmful in large quantities. Consider feeding your bearded dragon other insects such as crickets, mealworms, and waxworms instead.