Why Bearded Dragons Should Not Eat June Bugs?
As a bearded dragon owner, you may wonder whether you can feed your pet june bugs (Melolonthinae), also known as June beetles or May beetles, which are common insects found in many parts of the world. While bearded dragons are omnivorous and can eat a variety of insects and vegetation, it’s important to know what types of bugs are safe and nutritious for them and which ones are potentially harmful or indigestible.
In this article, we’ll explore the question of whether bearded dragons can eat june bugs, and what you should consider before giving them to your scaly friend.
Are June Bugs Safe for Bearded Dragons?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, bearded dragons should not eat June bugs. There are several reasons why june bugs are not safe or suitable food for bearded dragons, even though they may seem tempting or abundant.
Chitin: A Tough Nut to Crack
June bugs possess high levels of chitin, a sturdy material forming insect exoskeletons. While some chitin is essential for bearded dragons’ bone and muscle health, an excess can be detrimental and hard to digest. My bearded dragon might struggle to break down the rigid shells of June bugs, potentially causing impacted guts, bloating, constipation, and even death if ignored.
Pesticides and Toxins: Hidden Dangers
In their environment or lifecycle, June bugs may encounter pesticides or other toxins. These can be harmful to bearded dragons, causing symptoms like lethargy, weakness, seizures, or respiratory distress. Even if a June bug appears healthy externally, it’s challenging to know its internal state, so it’s best not to take any risks.
Low Nutritional Value: Seek Better Alternatives
Finally, June bugs provide minimal nutritional value for bearded dragons compared to other, safer insects. With their high fat content and low protein, June bugs can cause imbalances in a bearded dragon’s diet and overall health. Instead, offer your bearded dragon an array of feeder insects, such as:
- Dubia roaches
By avoiding June bugs and opting for healthier alternatives, we can ensure our bearded dragons lead a thriving and balanced life.
Risks of Feeding June Bugs to Bearded Dragons
As we discussed in the previous section, june bugs are not safe or recommended food for bearded dragons due to their tough exoskeleton, potential toxicity, and low nutritional value. However, some bearded dragon owners may still be tempted to feed june bugs to their pets, either out of ignorance or curiosity.
In this section, we’ll outline some of the risks associated with feeding june bugs to bearded dragons, and why it’s important to avoid them.
Bearded dragons have a limited ability to digest chitin, the main structural component of insect shells. While some chitin is beneficial for their gut health and immune system, too much chitin can be harmful and disruptive. June bugs contain a high amount of chitin, which can lead to impaction, bloating, constipation, or other digestive issues if consumed frequently or in large quantities.
Even if a bearded dragon manages to crush and swallow a june bug, the chitin may form a dense mass in their stomach or intestines, blocking the passage of other foods or fluids. This can cause discomfort, pain, or even death in extreme cases.
June bugs may come into contact with various pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals if they live in an environment where these substances are used, such as farms, parks, or gardens. These toxins can accumulate in the june bug’s body and be transferred to the bearded dragon if it eats the bug.
Pesticides can be harmful to bearded dragons and affect their nervous system, respiratory system, or immunity. Symptoms of pesticide toxicity may include lethargy, weakness, disorientation, seizures, or death.
Moreover, the long-term effects of chronic pesticide exposure on bearded dragons are not fully known, but may include developmental issues, hormonal imbalances, or cancer.
Even if june bugs were safe for bearded dragons to eat, they would not provide much nutritional value compared to other insects and foods. June bugs are high in fat and low in protein, which can lead to obesity, malnutrition, or metabolic disorders if they make up a significant portion of a bearded dragon’s diet.
Bearded dragons require a balanced diet that contains a mix of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can be achieved by feeding them a variety of insects, greens, fruits, and supplements. Feeding june bugs to bearded dragons can disrupt this balance and cause health problems over time.
Safe Bugs and Worms for Bearded Dragons
Now that we know that june bugs are not safe or recommended food for bearded dragons, let’s explore some of the insects and worms that are safe, nutritious, and tasty for these pets. Bearded dragons are omnivorous and can eat a variety of bugs that provide protein, fat, and other nutrients they need to thrive. Here are some options to consider:
Crickets are a staple food for bearded dragons and can be found in most pet stores or online shops. They are high in protein, fiber, and calcium, and can be gut-loaded with vegetables or commercial feeds to enhance their nutritional value. However, crickets should be fed in moderation and dusted with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements to prevent calcium deficiency, which can lead to metabolic bone disease.
Dubia roaches are another popular choice for bearded dragon owners, as they are low in fat, high in protein, and easy to digest. They are also less likely to escape or make noise compared to crickets, and can be kept alive or frozen for later use.
Dubia roaches do not require gut-loading as much as crickets, but can still benefit from a varied and balanced diet that includes grains, fruits, or vegetables. They also need to be dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements.
Mealworms are a classic treat for bearded dragons, but should not be fed as a staple food, as they are high in fat and lack some essential nutrients. However, mealworms can be a good source of protein and fiber and can help clean the bearded dragon’s teeth.
They can also be dried or frozen for convenience. Mealworms should be gut-loaded and dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements.
Superworms are larger and chunkier than mealworms and can provide more protein, fat, and vitamins for bearded dragons. However, they should also be fed in moderation, as they are higher in fat and lower in calcium than some other bugs. Superworms should be gut-loaded and dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements as well.
Hornworms are a soft and juicy insect that can provide hydration as well as nutrients for bearded dragons. They are high in protein, water, and vitamins, and have a low chitin content, making them easy to digest. Hornworms can be fed as a treat or a supplement to other bugs, and do not require dusting with supplements unless the bearded dragon is deficient in some vitamins or minerals.
Silkworms are nutritious and delicate insects that can be fed to bearded dragons in various stages of their lifecycle, from small caterpillars to fully-grown moths. Silkworms are low in fat, high in protein, and rich in calcium, which makes them ideal for bearded dragons that need more calcium. They are also easy to digest and gut-load, and can be dusted with supplements if needed.
What to do If Your Bearded Dragon Ate a June Bug?
Despite our efforts to protect our bearded dragons from eating june bugs, accidents can happen. If you suspect that your bearded dragon has ingested a june bug, here are some steps you can take to minimize the risks and support their health:
Monitor for Symptoms
The first thing to do is to observe your bearded dragon for any signs of distress or illness. Common symptoms of an impacted gut or pesticide exposure may include bloating, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or unusual behavior.
Keep a record of your bearded dragon’s eating and digestion patterns, and note any changes or irregularities. If you notice any symptoms, contact a reptile veterinarian or expert for advice and treatment options.
Offer Water and Electrolytes
If your bearded dragon appears to be dehydrated or sluggish, offer them fresh and clean water, and consider adding some electrolytes or vitamins to boost their hydration and energy.
You can use a syringe or a dropper to administer the water directly into your bearded dragon’s mouth or onto their nose, being careful not to flood their airways. You can also soak your bearded dragon in shallow and warm water for 10-15 minutes, which can help them relax and rehydrate.
Avoid Feeding Solid Foods
Depending on the severity of the june bug ingestion, your bearded dragon’s gut may need some time to recover and process the food. Therefore, it’s best to avoid feeding your bearded dragon any solid foods for at least a day or two, or until their symptoms improve.
Instead, you can offer them some liquid or pureed foods such as chicken baby food, pureed vegetables or fruits, or powdered reptile food mixed with water.
Seek Veterinary Attention
If your bearded dragon shows severe symptoms or does not improve after a day or two, it’s essential to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. A reptile veterinarian can perform a physical exam, blood tests, or imaging to diagnose the underlying condition and provide appropriate treatment.
Do not try to treat your bearded dragon with home remedies or medications without consulting a professional, as this may harm your pet’s health or delay proper care.
Can bearded dragons eat june bugs? The answer is no, june bugs are not safe or suitable food for bearded dragons due to their high chitin content, potential toxicity from pesticides, and low nutritional value.
Bearded dragons require a balanced and varied diet that includes safe and nutritious insects such as crickets, Dubia roaches, mealworms, superworms, hornworms, or silkworms, as well as vegetables, fruits, and supplements.
If you suspect that your bearded dragon has eaten a june bug, monitor them for symptoms and seek veterinary attention if needed. By providing your bearded dragon with proper care and nutrition, you can ensure their health and happiness for years to come.