If a bearded dragon’s diet is mainly composed of insects, does that include ants as well? Should I allow my beardie to catch and eat these insects?
If you are an owner of a bearded dragon, common knowledge implies that the central part of your pet’s diet is insects, but does every single species fall into this category?
Can bearded dragons eat ants? You’d be surprised by the answer. Although the most common association for insects is ants, they don’t get along well with your beardie’s stomach.
Continue reading and find out why this well-known and swarming insect should not be at the top of your bearded dragon’s list and many other interesting facts about your pet’s diet.
Stay tuned. It’s about to get interesting!
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Ants? Swarming But Forbidden
When we talk about bearded dragons, as an owner, it is clear to us that most of the diets of such animals should be insects. Of course, in most cases, we are not the ones who choose and serve insects to our pets. On the contrary, their animal instinct helps them catch this prey in your backyard, for example.
However, although this is the most common food of our bearded dragons, it does not necessarily mean that it is the healthiest. Believe it or not, amongst insects, there are those species that are very dangerous and toxic to our pets. Sometimes these are the most common species that we would never consider to be dangerous.
Take ants as an example. Can your bearded pet dragon catch and eat this insect?
Basically, it can eat it without some visual difficulty, but it really shouldn’t. Why? Well, ants, by their composition, contain a toxic substance called folic acid. This chemical harms your pet’s stomach and can cause severe difficulties, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.
Let’s first deal with what is in an average ant? What are these animals “made up” of, and do they carry any nutritional value?
|Folic acid||0.5 mg|
So far, we are used to tables that show the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables (apples, bananas). With them, we had to pay attention to the number of calories or sugar contained in them. However, when it comes to ants, our attention should be focused on folic acid and its amount.
Even if it seems like a small quantity to us when we look at it from this point, remember that your bearded dragon will never eat just one ant. There will be a minimum of 10. And if you multiply that by the amount found in one ant, you will get a bigger number – 5 gm.
Since this is no longer such a small number, it would be good to learn more about this potentially dangerous substance. So what is folic acid, and how does it affect our pet?
Folic acid is a chemical that protects them from their predators – hence where its toxicity comes from. The more ants your bearded dragon eats, the more he is in danger.
This is actually a synthetic form of vitamin but stronger in composition. Folic acid is usually connected with vitamin B, and it can be found in food, not just ants. This occurs in the form of folate, and it’s present in large quantities in leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, lettuce) and even some meat like the beef liver.
Ants eradicate this on the basis of food that they themselves take into their body. In large quantities, this chemical can cause serious side effects such as diarrhea, rash, seizures, uncontrolled gas, even changes in behavior.
When it comes to this type of insect, it is difficult to estimate after how many eaten ants a problem arises. Also, chances are you won’t notice this the moment it starts.
So what can we do to reduce the chances of a beardie eating a dangerous amount of ants?
First and foremost, we need to get our pet used to a regular diet that does not contain any dangerous substances.
With such a small animal, it is crucial to monitor your pet from time to time while it is eating. Sometimes, it happens that harmful substances are found in its food bowl that we may not have noticed before.
Consider that we let our bearded dragon pet crawl out of its cage. If we notice that our pet is approaching an unknown object or food, we should immediately approach it and take a closer look at what it is about.
If our pet is near an anthill and starts feeding on those same insects, it’s up to you to get him out of there right away. Once you’ve removed your pet from this dangerous premise, take a closer look at your beardie and try to determine if something is wrong.
In case you notice that your pet is behaving strangely a few hours after consuming these insects, it would be best to contact a veterinarian. Maybe it’s an internal infection that can’t be cured on its own.
If you find out that your pet has not consumed a huge amount of ants and that you have arrived at the right time to stop it, your pet might get away with just nausea.
This problem is solved by paying more attention to what your beardie eats and, of course, with a healthy diet – hydration, adding greens and some fruits that will contribute to the regular functioning of its digestive system.
The best way to get rid of an ant’s toxicity is to get it out of your pet’s body as soon as possible. This is achieved by speeding up their metabolism, but not with too much food – we don’t want to make the problem worse!
IMPORTANT: When you own animals like this, ants and other holes in the yard are dangerous. In most cases, they are full of toxic insects.
My Beardie Had A Seizure
So far, we are convinced that ants can be very dangerous to our pets. However, we have only mentioned the easier outcome of consuming this insect, and that is nausea.
But what if our beardie is in more trouble than we thought? By more trouble, we mean seizures, one of the most common outcomes of excessive ant consumption.
If you’ve been through this experience with your bearded dragon, you know it’s horrible. This is for those owners who are either encountering this for the first time or are looking for ways to prevent this.
Reptile seizures are irregularities that result in loss of consciousness or sensory disorder. Several influences can trigger them:
- Improper diet (ingesting toxic ingredients or animals)
- UV lightning
- Environmental factors (toxic chemicals, extreme temperatures, poisonous flowers)
Seizures are most similar to an epilepsy attack, and you are bound to find your beardie struggling with uncontrollable muscle twitching.
There are two types of seizures: grand mal seizure and focal seizure.
The grand mal seizure happens when the electrical signals in the brain disrupt the tissues entirely in the entire body. On the other hand, a focal seizure occurs when muscles start to twitch uncontrollably, but the brain signals are not entirely damaged.
An improper diet that is consuming ants, in this case, often leads to focal seizures. Therefore, the minute you see your beardie is having trouble crawling, you should approach its glass cage.
In addition, female bearded dragons are at higher risk of having seizures because of the calcium levels in their bodies. This nutrient has to be balanced with proper nutrition in order to prevent your beardie from any harm.
However, if we add some ants to an already excessive calcium level, a focal seizure is an almost guaranteed outcome.
Now, how do you treat your beardie once it has suffered this?
As a preventative measure, you can include an examination by your veterinarian. This kind of examination is nothing special, but it helps either way. The vet will most probably examine your bearded dragon, test its blood, and may even include an X-ray.
These tests can be used to determine the condition of your pet’s body and organism. You may not have known that your beardie has a very weak immune system and that even a small amount of toxic substances can cause seizures.
Treatment of this condition will most likely involve multiple points. One of the first is, of course, a corrected diet – one that includes only healthy supplies and excludes all potentially toxic sources.
Your veterinarian will most likely prescribe some antioxidant pills. Under no circumstances should you take them on your own or without detailed medical advice from your vet.
In case the seizure was so dangerous for your pet, a little stricter measures might be included – in the form of injections. This would mean coming to appointments once or twice a week.
Regardless of the type of treatment, this kind of health issue should not be ignored because it can be fatal to your pet.
Unfortunately, there is not just one ant species that is poisonous to your pet. There are several species, and all of them can be found in your environment – yard, park, building, and even a house.
This is a list of ant species that can invade your property and harm your pet.
- Acrobat ants – These ants are 3 mm long and have two nodes. Their colors vary: they can be yellow-brown, red-black, or just entirely black. Be aware because these ants are aggressive and will sting if they feel threatened. You can imagine the harm they can cause to your pet. These ants most commonly inhabit the Eastern United States.
- Argentine ants – This type of ants is smaller in size than the previous one, and its color is predominantly light or dark brown. Although these ants won’t sting, stepping on them will cause a strong smell that releases toxic chemicals.
- Asian needle ants – These ants can reach 5 mm in size, and they are either dark orange or dark brown in color. They are not that aggressive, but they will still sting sometimes. The presence of this type of ants is most common during the swarm season.
- Carpenter ants – Carpenter ants are populated all over the USA, and they are often referred to as pests. That being said, you don’t want them anywhere near your or your pet. Their length reaches 13 mm, and they are mostly found outside building anthills in your yard.
- Crazy ants – Their name doesn’t mean that they are aggressive; they just move uncontrollably once they or their nest is disturbed. This type of ants form large colonies in moisture and are likely to become food to your bearded dragon.
- Dark rover ants – These ants are usually found under furniture, in-wall cracks, or in parking lots. They can also be found near sweets, so watch out when giving your beardie some treats.
- European fire ants – European fire ants are usually brownish in color. You will come across these ants in your garden, but watch out because they produce a powerful string and release toxins that can seriously harm your pet.
- Field ants – These ants come in a variety of colors. Their most dangerous feature is that they are able to spray formic acid – yes! This is precisely what your beardie should watch out for. Field ants are found in anywhere close to wood or greenery.
These are just the most common types. Surely, there are more species out there that haven’t been discovered yet. Regardless of the ant species you come across; you shouldn’t let your beardie get a taste of them.
Ants might be dangerous to your beardie, but there are other edible insects that your pet can freely munch on without them causing any health issues.
Here’s a list of recommended insects to include in your beardie’s diet:
- Dubia roaches (don’t have an unpleasant smell)
- Goliath worms (high in protein)
- Wax worms (can be bought in pet stores)
- Mealworms (excellent for adult bearded dragons)
- Crickets (a good amount of calcium)
Learn More: What Can Bearded Dragons Eat? 101 Food List