Do Lizards Eat Beetles? (Which Ones are Best?)

The short answer is: yes, they do. Lizards will, by and large, eat any living insect as long as it isn’t dangerous, toxic, or too hard or big for the lizard to eat. Lizards can consume a variety of beetles such as darkling beetles resulting from mature mealworms and superworm etc.

The kind of beetles you should feed your lizard depends on the individual preference of the lizard, the size of the lizard, and the particular nutritional value that the beetle has to offer.

It’s also important to consider how often the lizard is consuming a particular type of beetle and whether a balanced diet with adequate amounts of proteins and fats is being followed.

However, lizards usually prefer worms (that eventually turn into beetles) over adult beetles. As such, worms like mealworms are considered a treat for lizards. They enjoy the slimy texture of mealworms, which is why they’re an excellent food source. Mealworms have a higher protein content and less fat than regular beetles, so they’re good for your lizard’s health.

People often ask about chameleons in particular, so I have written a separate article on the topic of beetles in the chameleon diet.  

Are Darkling Beetles Harmful to Lizards?

No, they are safe for lizards. Mealworms beetles, a common type of darkling beetles have good protein content, though some lizards may find them a little tricky to eat as they might have a tough outer shell and a foul smell, but this depends on the lizard and also the scale of the beetle itself.

Apart from mealworms beetles, you can also choose to feed your lizard superworms. Superworms beetles have a crusty outer shell which may offer a rich, enjoyable texture for the lizard’s teeth while also serving as something to clean the lizard’s teeth. It’s physically stimulating and also healthy since it contains proteins and a lesser fat amount as compared to the larval forms.

Superworm beetles may also emit unpleasant odors and pheromones while they’re being eaten, but whether the lizard is repulsed by it or not depends on case to case.

The superworm looks like a bigger and fatter mealworm, but they are in fact two different species. They both turn into similar types of beetles, but at different speeds (see table below).

What Kind of Beetles Do Bearded Dragons Eat?

Darkling beetles: Darkling beetles should always be paired with other foods with good nutritional value as they contain a large amount of fats. They should never be the primary food source for your lizard.

 1.       Superworms Beetles: Superworm beetles are edible for bearded dragons as they contain a good amount of moisture and protein content. They contain a lesser amount of fat as their larval stage so they’re generally safe for bearded dragons to eat. However, it is hard for baby dragons to consume them since the beetles might exceed the size of the bearded dragon itself.

2.       Mealworm Beetles: Mealworm beetles are suitable for bearded dragons, but whether an individual bearded dragon consumes one or not depends on its individual personality – some may find the external shell a bit too hard to bite while others may enjoy the crunchiness of the texture.

It is important to note that mealworm beetles shouldn’t be a staple part of the lizard’s diet but should be fed as an occasional treat. Also, most lizards prefer the mealworm stage to the beetle stage since the hardness of the beetle’s texture can sometimes become a chore for a lizard to consume.

Both beetles belong to the Tenebrionidae family which contains more than 2000 species.

SuperwormsMealworms
Latin nameZophobas morioTenebrio molitor
Size2-2.27 inches (3.5 – 6.5) cm long0.75 inches (1.2 to 1.9 cm)
Nutrient contentHigh in nutrients. 20% protein, 15% fat and high in calcium.20% protein, 13% fat
low calcium (one third of Superworms).
Worm to beetle time15-50 days.Max 1 year
Beetle lifespan2-12 years.2-3 months.
Pupae incubation time5-20 daysAround 20 days
Features of two of the most popular worms/beetles for lizards.

In this post, I will sometimes use beetle and worm interchangeably because they are just different growth stages of the same organisms (the difference between babies and adults). 

Are Mealworm Beetles Safe For Bearded Dragons?

Generally, yes, but how safe mealworm beetles depend on in what way they are fed to the bearded dragons. If they are fed in excess, it will cause the bearded dragon to become overweight, so they should always be fed as a treat instead of a staple part of their diet.

You should also pair mealworm beetles with other things, such as calcium supplements to make them healthier.

Also, note that you don’t feed bearded dragons mealworms that are larger than the space between their eyes, as doing so will make it painful and difficult for them to consume the mealworms.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Superworms?

Like mealworms, superworm beetles are also safe for bearded dragons. However, they should also be considered a treat rather than a staple food item, as an excess of superworm consumption might lead to gut impaction.

The problem with excessive consumption of superworm beetles is that they contain an extremely high ratio of phosphorus to calcium, which can cause calcium deficiency to the bearded dragons and lead to metabolic bone disease or even death in extreme circumstances.

Are Baby Bearded Dragons Able to Eat Beetles?

Short answer: no. The reason is that baby bearded dragons, apart from having too small a mouth, they have very delicate digestive systems as compared to adult bearded dragons, which increases the possibility of gut impaction if they consume superworm beetles which have thick skeletal structures.

The same goes for mealworm beetles as they have a rough external skeleton which would lead to intestinal problems if a baby bearded dragon eats it.

It’s better to stick to roaches, fruit flies, tiny wax worms or crickets since they are easier to consume. Older juvenile dragons can eat beetles but it’s important to take note of whether they’re able to catch the beetles easily or not. If it’s the latter case, switch to other foods instead. 

Will Geckos Eat Beetles?

Yes. Geckos can and will eat beetles as long as they aren’t larger than the size of their head – otherwise, it will lead to choking and other health issues.

They can provide a good source of protein as well, especially for adult geckos. For baby geckos, it’s recommended to avoid feeding those beetles as it will be harder for them to catch and chew them. It’s better to stick to feeding baby geckos the mealworm stage rather than the beetle stage.

Whether geckos will eat beetles or not also depends on the individual gecko’s preference and the type of beetle being consumed. For example, regular mealworm beetles have a thick chitin structure which some geckos may find it difficult to breakthrough. Newly-hatched mealworms are a safer option, though, as they lack the tough exterior structure that adult mealworms possess.

It’s important to add in a variety of high protein and calcium content as well while feeding your geckos beetles so that they’re able to have a balanced diet.

Can Gargoyle Geckos Eat Beetles and Which Ones?

Gargoyle geckos can eat beetles, but generally, they should be avoided as they are difficult to chew and digest for these relatively small lizards. They can eat the following:

1.       Superworm beetles

2.       Mealworm beetles

3.       Darkling beetles

Most beetles, such as mealworm beetles, should be fed only once a week to gargoyle geckos as they have a high fat content which can be dangerous for the gecko if fed in excess. Also make sure the gecko is adult as baby gargoyle geckos will find it very hard to catch and eat a beetle.

What Beetles Will Crested Geckos Eat?

Like other beetle types, superworm beetles and mealworm beetles should be sparingly consumed by crested geckos. Giving them these regularly should be avoided as it might end up damaging their teeth and they might even be repulsed by it due to the general difficulty in chewing them.

It’s better to feed crested geckos worms. Waxworms are a good option as they lack the rough exoskeleton that mealworms may usually have, making them easier for crested geckos to eat.

Avoid feeding your geckos dried mealworms as they lack nutritional value, and most geckos, whether crested, gargoyle or others will prefer a living, moving worms and beetles over a dead ones.

Can Crested Geckos Eat Darkling Beetles?

Yes, but since crested geckos need only a small amount of protein unlike bearded dragons, make sure you feed crested geckos darkling beetles only once per week.

So you can feed them darkling beetles, but generally, it’s recommended to just stick to healthier foods as beetles contain an unnecessary amount of fats which might cause health problems for geckos if they eat them too much.

Can lizards eat Japanese beetles?

Japanese beetles are not toxic to the majority of lizards and are in principle safe for them to eat, however, the exterior is very hard due to its chitin exoskeleton and it has strong mandibles that may hurt your pet lizard, especially smaller ones, when ingested.

However, there have been several reports that they may pose a risk to the delicate organs and digestive systems of smaller lizards. This is because this particular beetle has incredibly strong mandibles that can tear them up from the inside if not chewed properly by the lizard.

Can lizards eat ladybugs?

Generally speaking, no.

Do not feed your lizard ladybugs as they are often toxic. They will also taste bitter and your lizard is unlikely to swallow ladybugs once it attempts to eat them.

However, ladybugs are a bit tricky because some are toxic while others can be fine for your lizard to eat.

What about blister beetles?

Blister beetles are toxic and should therefore not be fed to lizards or other lizards.

Adult Blister beetles are brightly colored insects with little camouflage ability. They range in size from 3 to 20 mm, with most being between 10 and 15 mm in length. They have slender leathery bodies and metallic green, blue or striped yellow wing covers. These insects feed on leaves and flowers and are often found on plants in bloom.

Blister beetles are, as their name implies, implicated in the formation of blisters should they come in contact with exposed skin.

This is due to a toxin, called cantharidin, which they produce to ward off predators. Therefore they are also very dangerous to lizards and other lizards to eat.

Can lizards eat fruit beetles?

Fruit beetles are one of those iffy insects for lizards. They’re best for larger varieties of lizards but they will harm smaller types. Also, they have to be in their grub stage to be nutritious and safe enough for them to eat. However, they are high in protein and other beneficial nutrients that lizards need.

The fruit beetle worm is also a popular food choice for bearded dragon or other lizard owners as they have a high nutritional value and resemble superworm beetles but can be used for variation.

Conclusions

The diet of most lizards will vary. Some lizards will only eat crickets, while others will eat sow bugs.

Most pet lizards will eat mealworms and superworms and the larger ones such as chameleons and adult bearded dragons will have no problem eating the beetles formed by these worms.

Usually, adult lizards do eat beetles, but they’ll prefer worms and softer insects such as sowbugs. Sowbugs are highly nutritious and can be raised year-round in captivity.

But most lizards will eat beetles if you give them the chance.