Dragon's Diet

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cicadas?

Closeup of a Brood X cicada on a wooden porch

You’ve seen the inch-long bugs swarming through the air; you’ve heard their thunderous chirping. Depending where you live you’ve watched this once-every-17-years phenomenon unfold online or in your backyard. The Brood X cicadas are here! 

Dogs, cats, birds, snakes, and even some people are using the cicada invasion of 2021 as a chance to feast. Naturally, this has dragon owners wondering if their pet can join in the fun. Or maybe your dragon already ate a cicada and you’re worried now. Can bearded dragons eat cicadas?  

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Cicadas? 

Bearded dragons absolutely love cicadas. Many dragons can only dream of the glory of having all-you-can-eat access to Brood X. 

And believe it or not, cicadas are actually a safe, protein-packed insect for your bearded dragon to enjoy. So by themselves, cicadas are a nice treat. But there are some issues you should be aware of before letting your dragon run wild through the park gobbling up these noisy insects. 

Dangerous chemicals. The biggest concern with cicadas, specifically wild ones like Brood X, is that it’s impossible to tell where they’ve been. They may have come in contact with lawn chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides that are dangerous to bearded dragons. If you want to let your dragon eat a cicada, ask yourself: can I be reasonably certain this cicada hasn't been infected with chemicals or other dangerous lawn treatments? 

Maybe you live in an area where not a lot of people use lawn treatments or you've got a large property and you don't use fertilizers. Use your best judgment, whatever the case. 

If your dragon eats a cicada that is contaminated with chemicals, your dragon could become sick or even die. It's always a good idea to give your vet a call if you suspect your dragon has ingested chemicals or if you witness any abnormal behavior in your bearded dragon, like lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Exoskeleton. Cicadas have a tough exterior shell that can be difficult for a bearded dragon to digest, putting them at risk for gut impaction. If a dragon is going to eat a cicada, it’s best if they eat one that has already shed its exoskeleton. 

Size. Bearded dragons should not eat insects that are larger than the space between their eyes. Cicadas can grow past an inch long, so definitely take that into consideration, especially if you have a smaller dragon.  

Can My Baby Bearded Dragon Eat Cicadas?    

Pesticides and fertilizers aside, cicadas are not safe for baby dragons due to their size and the risk of gut impaction. It’s best to wait until your dragon is older to feed her larger insects. 

The bottom line: While it’s never a good idea to make a habit out of feeding wild insects to your dragon, a cicada has the potential to be a harmless, healthy treat. Use your best judgment when deciding if your dragon can feast on a cicada or two from Brood X. 

What Should I Do If The Cicada Noise Scares My Bearded Dragon? 

If you are living in one of this year’s cicada hot spots, you may be in for a few very noisy weeks. After all, at nearly 100 decibels, male cicadas can be louder than a lawn mower. If your bearded dragon appears to be stressed out by the new sound, here are a few things you can try to calm her down:

  • Beardie burrito. Bundle her up in a towel or blanket and hold her close. For dragons who like to be handled, this is usually quite successful. 
    • Bath time! For some water-loving dragons, a nice relaxing bath does the trick.
    • Darkness. Sometimes turning off the lights in the terrarium for a little while can calm your dragon’s anxiety. If you have them on a timer just remember to turn it back on.
    • Space. Some dragons actually don’t enjoy being handled when they are stressed. If that sounds like your reptile, he may just need a little ‘me’ time in his terrarium to adjust to the noise.

    Humans and animals alike are adjusting to Brood X's brief stint above ground. Whether or not your dragon (and you?) snack on a few together, enjoy this incredible display of nature while it lasts.

    If you have questions or feedback, please email us at [email protected]

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