Can bearded dragons eat ants? One of my readers asked me this a couple of days ago. This is a valid question. And if you are a new bearded dragon owner, you might also ask the same question.
Well, first of all, beardies can eat a variety of insects. The most common ones are cockroaches, worms, and crickets. But be aware that not all insects are safe for them.
So, can bearded dragons eat ants?
I personally don’t feed my bearded dragons ants due to their Folic Acid content. This substance serves as their natural defense system against bigger predators which could also potentially harmful to bearded dragons. In addition, ants also have a disproportionate ratio for calcium to phosphorous.
It is important to remember though that ants are part of the beardies diet in the wild. They eat a variety of insects pretty everything that crawls.
The reason why I don’t recommend feeding beardies ant is that I am not sure what possible impact these insects might have on the beardies’ health. But if you really want to try feeding it to your bearded dragon, do it occasionally and in a small amount.
What bearded dragons can get from eating ants? The table below contains the nutrients that ants contain.
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Nutritional Facts of Ants
Nutritional content per 100g
As you can see from the table, ants have nutritional contents that may or may not good to bearded dragons. Let’s talk about those constituents a little bit more.
Obviously, ants contain high phosphorous in their abdomen. Although phosphorous is essential for beardies’ health, too much of it is not good.
High phosphorous levels may decrease the calcium level in the body in the long run. This is not good for beardies. As you know, bearded dragons need calcium in order for them to develop healthy bones.
The decrease or low level of calcium may cause several health issues in beardies. The most common problem is a metabolic bone disease (MBD).
Metabolic bone disease is a condition characterized by weak bones, poor appetite, and walking problems in bearded dragons. There are many symptoms other than the mentioned ones.
I have seen a beardie affected by an MBD. And trust me, you don’t want to see your beardies suffer from it.
Ants, however, have a good amount of potassium. It is one of the most essential minerals bearded dragons need. What it does is that it helps regulates fluid in the body, muscle contractions, nerve signals, reduce blood pressure, and other essential functions.
Ants also have a fair amount of calcium in their abdomen. But the level is way lower than the phosphorous content.
Unfortunately, this is not good for bearded dragons. You might already know that when choosing food for beardies, the ratio for calcium to phosphorous should always be considered.
As a rule of thumb, the ideal ratio is 2:1 (calcium to phosphorous). As you can see, ants have a disproportionate ratio for these nutrients. This is the main reason why I don’t recommend feeding bearded dragons ants although these insects are part of their diet in the wild.
In captivity, it may be a whole different story. But as mentioned, I am not saying here that ants are toxic to beardies. You can try it on an occasional basis. A small number of ants may not hurt your beardies.
I am not sure what this substance can bring to beardies if ingested. What I know is that folic acid is the main defense system of ants against their predators. If this substance is used for defense against predators, then it should have something that predators don’t like.
But again, I am not sure what will exactly happen if beardies eat many ants. For the safety of my bearded dragons, I rather offer them healthy insects, greens, and veggies instead.
I don’t compromise the health of my reptiles. I made a mistake before that cost the life of my first bearded dragon (Sam). That is why I always stay with safe foods for my beardies.
High Protein Content
Although it is not included in the table above, according to other sources, ants have high protein content. In every 100g of ants, you’ll get 13.9g of protein. This indicates that ants are good protein sources.
As you know, bearded dragons need protein especially the young ones. Baby and juvenile beardies eat more live insects than greens. This is because they need protein for their speedy growth.
I personally looking for a scientific study that states that ants are totally safe for bearded dragons. But for now, I don’t recommend feeding your beardies ants despite their protein content.
You rather choose other protein-rich foods for your reptiles. As mentioned, it is very important to stay on a safe route.
Related Article: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mice?
Possible Danger of Feeding Bearded Dragons Ants
Although I am not sure whether ants are totally safe for beardies to eat, I know some possible dangers when feeding wild insects to reptiles.
Wild insects, ants in this case, may have insecticides or other chemicals in them that will negatively affect the health of the reptile.
This is also true with other foods like fruits and greens. As a rule of thumb, never feed your reptile with foods you caught or picked in the wild. Those foods might have chemicals in them that could potentially harm the reptile.
Related Article: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Chicken?
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Ants?
Baby bearded dragons are more susceptible to unsafe foods. They are more prone to health problems if ingested inappropriate food for them.
Therefore, I would say that baby bearded dragons should not be fed ants. The reasons are the same. Feed your baby beardies healthier insects instead.
Do not compromise the health of your reptile. Always stay on the safe route.
Related Article: Can Bearded Dragons Eat Earthworms?
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Ants? (Final Note)
As you can see from the table above, ants are not totally toxic to bearded dragons. In fact, they contain essential minerals that could boost beardies’ health.
However, there are valid reasons why ants should not be fed to bearded dragons. In my opinion, there are two main reasons for this: disproportionate calcium to phosphorous ratio and folic acid content.
The disproportionate calcium to phosphorous ratio alone raises a big issue. Foods that contain an inappropriate proportion of calcium to phosphorous should be ruled out as foods for bearded dragons.
The second reason is folic content. Although there is no study yet to prove the safeness of ants to beardies, I don’t recommend feeding your reptile with ants. Feed them with healthy and safe insects instead.
Are ants harmful to bearded dragons?
Ants can potentially hurt bearded dragons. Due to the disproportionate ratio for calcium to phosphorous and the folic acid they contain.
What insects can bearded dragons eat?
Bearded dragons can eat a variety of insects. Their favorite are dubia roaches, crickets, and worms. However, please note that not all types of insects are safe for them. As an owner, it is your job to make sure that you give them safe foods.