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Bearded dragon in owner's palm

Photo courtesy of Holger Langmaier

Every seasoned reptile keeper knows that feeding live insects is healthier than canned. We’re not going to debate that here. But sometimes you need an alternative. Either you’re short on time or you ran out of live feeders.

Whatever the reason may be, it can be handy to train your beardie to occasionally eat freeze dried crickets instead.

But if you’ve ever tried to give a canned cricket to a lizard used to hunting bugs, you know they don’t just take to eating still, room temperature prey. When that’s the case, there are a few tricks you can utilize to train your bearded dragon to accept dried food.

Here’s what we suggest.

Don’t pretend they’re live crickets

This is perhaps the easiest way to get your bearded dragon to eat a little extra protein. You basically hide the crickets and trick your pet into eating them. How? You just mix them in with the vegetables you would normally feed your beardie. They don’t need to know they’re eating crickets to get the nutrition from them.

Most likely, your lizard will not even realize it’s eating freeze dried crickets and will eat them with the vegetables.

Do pretend they’re live crickets

Another way to entice a bearded dragon to eat canned crickets is to make them look alive by moving them around.This suggestion can actually be carried out multiple ways, and can be kind of fun. It takes a bit more effort than the above method, but it may work better if your beardie is missing the crickets in its salad.

One way to do this is to hold the cricket with your fingers or plastic tweezers. (Plastic so you don’t hurt the reptile’s mouth.) If you use your fingers, be aware that you could accidentally get nipped in the process. Then, shake the cricket around to get your pet’s attention.

Alternately, you can use a water gun or squirt bottle filled with water to spray a stream at a plate of crickets to get them moving around. The water may also spread the scent of the canned crickets to make them a bit more interesting.

A third option is putting the crickets in a dish and making it vibrate. How you get it to vibrate is up to you. You can get pretty creative with ways to make canned crickets dance. Some ideas are to touch the dish with a vibrating back massager or just bump it around with some tongs or your fingers.

Hand feeding canned crickets to beardies

Do nothing

Some bearded dragons take readily to freeze dried crickets without any fuss. If yours is this variety, have fun setting out crickets and watching your lizard snatch them up.

You can get freeze dried crickets, as well as live feeders and other bearded dragon food options, at The Tye-Dyed Iguana. Come in and ask our team about the options.