In the reptile world, mealworms are a popular feeder for them. They are very nutritious and are relatively cheap to buy. As for bearded dragons, most will feed them their staple insects of crickets and Dubia roaches. Since you want to feed your bearded dragons other than their staple insects, would mealworms be a great choice for feeding them?
So can bearded dragons eat mealworms? Yes, bearded dragons can eat mealworms, but in small amounts only. Only feed mealworms to juvenile and adult bearded dragons. Baby beardie that is under 5 months should never be fed mealworms. Doing so could cause them to choke on it.
Now that you know bearded dragons can eat mealworms, you’ll want to know why they can’t eat a lot of it.
In this short guide, we’ll go through the different types of mealworms they can eat, how to feed them, and how much of it can you feed your bearded dragons.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mealworms?
Mealworms are great for bearded dragons to eat since they are filled with nutritions. However, too much of it can be bad for your bearded dragons.
Mealworms can grow to a length of 2 inches and have an outer shell called chitin. The chitin is hard which will make it difficult for young bearded dragons to eat and digest.
For adult bearded dragons, feeding them mealworms could cause the risk of impaction. Therefore, when feeding them mealworms, you should always watch them until they finish the worm.
While mealworms are nutritious for them to eat, it should only be given to them as a supplement to staple insects.
Bearded dragons require a lot of vitamins and minerals in their diet each day. Feeding them just mealworms will not meet their daily diet requirement.
Health Benefits For Bearded Dragons Eating Mealworms
- Moisture Content – 62%
- Protein – 20%
- Fat – 13%
- Calcium – 13.3mg/100mg
Moisture Content – Adult mealworms provides plenty of moisture to keep your bearded dragon hydrated. However, too much of it could lead them to have diarrhea.
Protein – This helps build and repair your bearded dragon’s muscles. Protein is important for baby and juvenile bearded dragons to grow strong and healthy.
Fat – This helps keeps the bearded dragon warm and also provides them energy. However, too many fats could cause them to have health problems.
Calcium – Bearded dragons require calcium to keep their bones and teeth strong and healthy. Also, it’s important for muscle function and metabolism.
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Mealworms
For baby bearded dragons, do not feed them mealworms. This is due to the mealworms having a rough outer skeleton, which will make it hard for them to digest.
Most mealworms sold at the pet stores are about half an inch long. This makes them too large for baby bearded dragons and it will be very difficult for them to swallow.
If they digest the mealworms, they might get an intestinal blockage. If the blockage is serious enough, they need to be taken to the veterinary to get treatment. Worst-case scenario, they might need to get surgery which will cost a lot of money.
Another health issue that could happen is impaction. When the baby bearded dragon can’t digest the mealworm, it will put pressure on their spinal cord and even cause death.
Besides begin hard to digest, mealworms are not very nutritious for baby bearded dragons. At this age, they are still growing and need all the nutrition they can get.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Mealworms?
When it comes to dead mealworms, you should never feed them to your bearded dragons. It could cause them health issues if they consume one.
As the mealworms die and start to decompose, bacteria and other parasites will start to eat and grow on it.
Therefore, if you feed the bearded dragons dead mealworms, there’s a higher chance that they will get infected with the parasites. If they do, the bearded dragon will start to become ill. You’ll then need to bring them to the veterinary to have the parasites removed from their body. This can be in the form of medicines or even worse, they’ll need to have surgery to remove the parasites.
As for mealworms that haven’t died yet, but are sick. These mealworms should never be fed to the bearded dragons as well. They became sick due to a disease or parasites. Since you can’t tell what caused them to become sick, it’s better not to take a chance feeding the reptile which could pass those pathogens to them.
To tell if the mealworms are sick, look at their activity. Healthy mealworms will move around a lot. If you try to pick one up, they will try to wriggle their way out of your fingers.
Sick mealworms will move around slowly or not move at all. When they are being picked, they will not try to wriggle and almost be motionless.
Canned Dead Mealworms
If it’s canned dead mealworms, it’s safe to feed them to the bearded dragons. These mealworms are killed and processed while it’s still alive. Therefore, they won’t contain any bacteria or parasites that could hurt your bearded dragons.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Freeze-dried Mealworms
Freeze-dried mealworms go through a process of dehydration. It’s carefully processed to preserve their nutritional integrity.
This is an excellent option for those who don’t like to deal with keeping and maintaining live mealworms.
However, you should only feed them freeze-dried mealworms as a treat and when live mealworms aren’t available.
Amazon is great place to buy freeze-dried mealworms. They offer quality mealworms at a great price.
How Many And How Often To Feed Mealworms To Bearded Dragons?
Baby Bearded Dragons
For baby bearded dragons that are under 5 months, you should never feed them mealworms. It doesn’t matter if it’s the smallest mealworms. Their throat is too small and could risk them choking on it. Additionally, their digestive system isn’t fully developed to digest the mealworms.
Juvenile Bearded Dragons
For juvenile bearded dragons that are 5 to 18 months old, you can feed them mealworms.
It’s recommended to use baby mealworms when feeding them. When the mealworms are young, the worms will be easier for the juvenile beardie to eat and digest.
Offer them only one to two worms at each feeding. Feed them one or two times a week is enough for them at this age.
Other than that mealworms, it’s important to feed them their staple diet of vegetables every day.
Adult Bearded Dragons
Adult bearded dragons that are over 18 months old can eat mealworms but in moderation. While they can digest mealworms properly, adult bearded dragons should be limited to the number of mealworms they eat. It’s recommended that they are fed mealworms once per week.
Instead, they should be given more fruits and vegetables at this age.
You can feed them 5 to 6 mealworms at each feeding. It’s best to feed mealworms with other food such as vegetables and fruits. While mealworms are great for bearded dragons, you should also try to rotate them with other worms as well.
If you have a female bearded dragon that is breeding, you can offer them more mealworms and other food. They can eat mealworms up to 3 times per week and 2 worms at each feeding.
How To Feed Mealworms To Bearded Dragons
When feeding mealworms to bearded dragons, you’ll want to dust them with calcium first. It’s a good idea to dush mealworms or any other insects twice per week with calcium. This will help your dragon get needed nutrition plus necessary calcium.
When you feeding them, you have two options: feeding your bearded dragon by hand or place it on a bowl or plate.
Feeding your bearded dragon by hand as a great way to bond with them. You can feed the mealworms from your fingertips or from a pair of tweezers.
If you feel comfortable enough, you can try using your finger to feed them. Simply put a mealworm on your finger and they will use their tongue to lick it up.
However, you’ll need to be careful. Bearded dragons raised in captivity are not aggressive, but they could bite your finger by accident.
The other option is to place the mealworms on a bowl or plate. Depending on how big your bearded dragon is, you can either use a bowl or plate. For adult bearded, you can use a bowl. A bowl will prevent the mealworms from escaping. Place one or two mealworms in there and let them eat off of it.
If you want to make feeding more fun for them, a mealworm feeder from Zoo Med is a great product to use. This product hangs on the side of the terrarium or enclosure. There are holes at the bottom of the container where the bearded dragons can feed from under it. Mealworm feeder is available from Amazon.
Do mealworms bite?
Yes, mealworms do bite and they actually have a very strong bite as well.
Even though they have a strong bite, it’s usually not strong enough to hurt an adult bearded dragons.
However, you shouldn’t need to worry about their bite too much. Once a bearded dragon bites the mealworm, they will be dead quickly.
Are mealworms and superworms the same?
Both are worms, but they differ in size and nutritional value.
Mealworms grow to only 2 inches, while superworms can grow up to 2.25 inches.
As for nutritional value, superworms have more protein, calcium, and fats.
When it comes to pricing, mealworms are much cheaper to buy than superworms.
Dan got started with his first reptile, which was a green iguana, at the age of 10. From there, he has raised many different species of reptiles. Besides caring for reptiles, he enjoys woodworking, playing basketball, and spending free time with my 4 wonderful kids.