While cockroaches are usually considered a pest that we are even programmed to fear, they are commonly sold as food at many pet stores. But are they suitable, or even preferable for a bearded dragon? If so, how many should you be looking to offer them, and is there anything which you need to know? Here is what the research says.
So, can bearded dragons eat cockroaches? Bearded dragons can eat cockroaches, daily to several times per week (depending on their age), so long as they have been specifically harvested to be eaten as food. Wild cockroaches or those that you may find around the house could be carrying parasites and bacteria so should not be fed.
Cockroaches are nutritionally balanced and therefore make a great choice of insect.
And what’s more, there are many different species of cockroaches that you can look to feed.
Dubia roaches are the most common and are most often available at pet stores and certain retailers online.
They are medium-sized cockroaches – making them suitable for many reptiles.
Let us now take a closer look into the nutritional profile of cockroaches and why they can make a great addition to your beardies diet.
We will also be covering optimal feeding frequency and schedule so be sure to keep on reading until the end!
Are Roaches Good For Bearded Dragons?
There are a lot of benefits to feeding cockroaches to your bearded dragon. They are considered to be an excellent choice of an insect for this species of lizard.
Bearded dragons generally enjoy eating cockroaches, while they are also inexpensive, easy to source, and can be stored for a long time.
From a nutritional perspective, a bearded dragon has their own unique needs and requirements.
It’s important that they ingest the appropriate amount of calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals – all of which should be closely aligned to their age and size.
See below the recommended feeding schedule of a bearded dragon by age:
|Bearded Dragon Age||Diet Ratio||Feeding Frequency|
30% Plant Material
|3-5 Feedings, Daily|
30% Plant Material
|2 Feedings, Daily|
30% Plant Material
|1 Feeding Per Day|
|1 Year +||30% Insects|
70% Plant Material
|Cyclical Feeding |
(First Day Plant Matter,
Second Day Insects,
Generally, it has been acknowledged that bearded dragons require higher protein and lower fat in their diets.
They also have a higher requirement for calcium, which should be balanced with phosphorous (also known as the calcium to phosphorous ratio – which should be around 2:1) and Vitamin D3.
This enables the strong bone formation and the successful use of all proteins and fats eaten in the diet.
So, back to cockroaches – where do they fit in?
Cockroaches are nutritionally superior to most other insects. They are in many ways one of the best choices of insects in which you can look to feed.
They provide more benefit than they do downside; being rich in nutrients, being easier to digest, and also being more flavorsome than other dietary staples.
Let us now take a closer look at the nutritional profile of cockroaches.
Nutrition In Cockroaches
Cockroaches are one of the best feeder species you can look to offer a reptile according to this dissertation.
They are relatively high in protein, soft-bodied, and have more meat and less shell than other insects.
They are a great source of calcium (with favorable calcium to phosphorous ratio) and are rich in other minerals.
Plus, they are low in fat and water.
Here is a comparison of Dubia Roaches in comparison to the other most common feeder insects for bearded dragons:
|Insect||Cal:P Ratio||Moisture %||Protein %||Fat %||Mineral %||Chitin|
As you can see, cockroaches provide higher protein relative to fat.
This solves the problem that most other insects have – like mealworms, being fattier and lower in protein.
Chitin is the name used for an insect’s exoskeleton (outer shell).
So, in this context, we can see that cockroaches are actually less fibrous than most other insects.
It makes them easier to consume and digest – again being another benefit.
So, we can see why they are a good choice for bearded dragons from a nutritional perspective but are there any other advantages or disadvantages to them?
In fact, there are several which we will now take a look at.
Benefits Of Feeding Cockroaches
- Taste: Bearded dragons commonly love the taste of cockroaches. This makes them ideal for picky eaters, or those whom have developed preferences and are ignoring important plant material being provided.
- Natural Foraging Behaviors – being fed live can also help your bearded dragon partake in their natural behaviors to hunt and find live insects to eat. Cockroaches are easy to find making bearded dragons soon recognize them as potential food.
- Gut Loading: Cockroaches can be gut loaded. This essentially means you can feed these insects specific foods in the days leading up to when your bearded dragon eats them (up to 3 days!). This will increase the calcium/nutrient profile and availability. Its a great way to supplement your bearded dragons diet (which is generally recommended regardless of how optimal their diet is). This reduces the need to supplement by other means, i.e. calcium food sprinkling. Most insects cannot be gut loaded, or as effectively.
Negatives Of Feeding Cockroaches
- Expensive: Cockroaches are usually more expensive than other feeder insects, especially mealworms and crickets.
- Availability: Cockroaches are not as easy to find in stores as other feeder insects. Most pet stores are not even likely to sell them. So, you will likely need to order from safe suppliers online, such as Amazon.
- Specially Harvested: You need to ensure that you only offer cockroaches that have been purposely raised and harvested for consumption. Wild cockroaches should not be fed as they can be carrying parasites and other harmful bacteria which could cause problems in your beardie.
- Biting: Cockroaches are not the easiest to handle, and they can even bite which you and your bearded dragon need to be careful of.
- Dubia roaches are easy to care for and store for reptile feeding.
- Dubia roaches can't fly, climb smooth surfaces, or make any annoying noises.
- Has more protein than any other insect feeder insect used for reptile food.
- Conveniently packaged for reptile feeding.
How Many Roaches Can A Bearded Dragon Eat?
The number of roaches your bearded dragon can eat will depend on several factors:
- The age of your bearded dragon
- The size of your bearded dragon
- The size of the cockroach being offered.
It is widely acknowledged that younger bearded dragons have a higher requirement for protein and should eat more insects.
However, it is also recognized that insects should not be offered if they are bigger than the space in between the eyes. This is very important.
With these factors in mind, a baby and juvenile bearded dragon can eat up to 50 small cockroaches per day, across several feedings.
For adult bearded dragons, they can eat larger roaches (up to 3″ in length), but should do so more infrequently.
You can look to offer them 3-5 cockroaches every 3 days (on the insect/protein day in the feeding cycle).
They can eat them during their daily meal.
How To Feed Cockroaches To A Bearded Dragon
Feeding your bearded dragon cockroaches should be no different from the approach you would take for any other insect.
However, you may decide to gut load them ahead of time. If so, you would need to provide the cockroach with the recommended food 1-3 days before you look to offer them to your bearded dragon.
On the day of feeding, you will want to place one live cockroach into your bearded dragon’s enclosure.
Do so relatively near your beardie, preferably in line with their mouth.
Ensure that before you do so, the cockroach is appropriately sized for your beardie. Before you release the roach, you can always quickly check it is no bigger than their eyes.
Drop the cockroach into the enclosure and your beardie should soon attempt to eat them. It shouldn’t take them long!
Once eaten, you can then look to move on to the next cockroach.
Always feed one cockroach at a time.
This will minimize the chance of your bearded dragon overeating, becoming overwhelmed with all the cockroaches, and prevent any biting.
You will want to feed until your bearded dragon loses interest into any new cockroach offered.
For babies and younger bearded dragons, you can expect them to eat more – although you should look to offer them roaches across several meals per day.
For adults, around 3-5 cockroaches will likely be eaten.
Be sure to remove any cockroaches that your bearded dragon does not eat from the enclosure.
Also only feed live insects – if you notice a dead cockroach when feeding – do not serve it!
Bearded dragons can eat cockroaches. In fact, they are one of the best feeder insects you can look to offer.
They are rich in vitamins and minerals, boast strong calcium to phosphorous ratio, and offer high quality and optimal protein while still being low in fat.
They’re more easily digestible than some other insects and are very flavorsome for bearded dragons to eat.
That being said, the number of roaches your bearded dragon should eat must be closely aligned to their age, size, and weight.
While baby and juvenile beardies can eat more cockroaches, as part of their higher insect and protein requirements, they must be appropriately sized and no larger than the space between their eyes.
Generally, 25-50 roaches can be offered daily, across multiple feedings.
For adults, 3-5 larger roaches are more suitable, every 3 days on their insect/protein day of eating.
Always offer them alive, and never look to feed wild or caught cockroaches.
You just do not know what they might be carrying!
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Hissing Cockroaches?
Bearded dragons can eat hissing cockroaches, so long as they have been carefully sourced. Never feed a bearded dragon wild hissing cockroaches or other insects as they could be carrying parasites or other harmful chemicals. Younger hissing cockroaches tend to be easier to eat, as their shell is less hard. Equally you must ensure they are appropriately sized in relation to your beardie – being smaller than the width between the eyes.
Wondering what else to feed your bearded dragon? Check out my comprehensive guide below:
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.