When you own a Bearded Dragon, it’s essential that you give them a balanced diet. This means that you will need to provide a diverse range of food groups, to prevent them from getting bored.
Because of this, owners are constantly looking for a way to change up the Bearded Dragon’s diet. But can bearded dragons eat mealworms?
Mealworms are safe for adult bearded dragons to eat, but you should avoid feeding them to juveniles due to their tough chitin exterior. Feed 5 to 6 mealworms, no more than once per week to your adult bearded dragon.
(Hornworms are another good feeder that you might try – check out my guide here.)
There are a few things that you should know about feeding mealworms to your Bearded Dragon. Let’s take a closer look at this issue, so you can keep your lizard healthy.
Types Of Mealworms
First, you should be aware that there are a few different types of mealworms available. These are;
- Regular mealworms
- “Super” mealworms
- Mealworm beetles
Let’s take a closer look at each of these types to see what the differences are.
These are the most common types of mealworms on the market. These tend to be very small, often growing to be around two inches long.
To protect themselves, they have a hard layer of chitin on their outer surface. As we’ll discuss later, this can be very difficult for Bearded Dragons to get through.
Another common variation is the “Super” Mealworm. These get their name because of the way that they have been produced.
When they were raised, hormones were used to stop from reaching the beetle stage. This ensured that these types of mealworms are much bigger and juicer than regular options. This can make them a more attractive option to the Bearded Dragon.
The third popular variant is the mealworm beetle. At the end of their life cycle, mealworms will transition into a beetle.
These can also be fed to your Bearded Dragon as a treat. However, they will often prefer mealworms before the transition to beetle occurs.
Feeding Mealworms To Your Bearded Dragon
As we said earlier, it’s safe for you to feed mealworms to your Bearded Dragon as a treat. To make sure that you do this safely, there are a few things that you will need to do to make sure that your Bearded Dragon stays safe.
- Only serve mealworms occasionally. This food works best as a treat item. Often, the mealworms will have a high concentration of fat and moisture. If you feed it too regularly, your Bearded Dragon might become overweight. The rest of the diet should be made up of more nutritional options, like crickets, silkworms, fruit, vegetables, and Dubia roaches.
- Make sure that the mealworms provided are fresh. This will often provide the best nutritional content and your Bearded Dragon will enjoy the experience more. However, if you want to store them for an extended period, you can put them in the refrigerator. This can cause them mealworms to go into a dormant state.
- Serve in a shallow bowl. This will ensure that the Bearded Dragon can eat them easily. You should also make sure that they can’t escape from the bowl.
- Serve with a nutritional supplement. You should also make sure that you are dusting them with a calcium supplement. This will make them healthier, as Bearded Dragons are known for having some issues with a lack of calcium in their diet.
- Remove uneaten mealworms. Sometimes, the Bearded Dragon might not want to finish all the mealworms. This is fine, but you should remove the excess after the feeding is over.
The Nutritional Value Of Mealworms
As we’ve seen, the mealworms aren’t as healthy as other food options. For this reason, they should only be given as a treat. A general breakdown of their nutritional value can be found below, obtained from Bearded Dragon 101.
- Moisture- 62 Percent
- Protein- 20 Percent
- Fat- 13 Percent
- Calcium- 13.3 milligrams per 100 milligrams
As you can see, they have a high-fat content. This re-enforces the need to include them only as a treat item. They also have a fairly low calcium content. For this reason, you should make sure to dust them with a supplement before you provide it to your Bearded Dragon.
How Often Should You Feed Mealworms
The number of mealworms that you should provide often depends on the age of the Bearded Dragon. As a general rule, around five to six mealworms per feeding should be great. This is enough to act as a supplement to other foods, rather than the main part of their diet.
Adults are generally older than 18 months and will only need to be fed every two to three days, depending on their size.
You should only feed mealworms to adults, not to juveniles. Mealworms have a thick exoskeleton. As we’ll discuss later, this can cause some digestion issues. As a general rule, you should never feed your Bearded Dragon an insect that’s bigger than the space between their eyes.
To provide the best quality products for your Bearded Dragon you should be careful to purchase the highest-quality mealworms. There are a few ways that you can do this.
- Only use trusted websites. These vendors make sure that the mealworms have been raised in a safe environment and haven’t been exposed to any potentially harmful chemicals.
- Try to purchase fresh mealworms. As we mentioned, most Bearded Dragons will prefer fresh over frozen.
- You can grow them yourself.By doing this, you will be able to significantly reduce feeding costs. It’s also a very easy process. You will need to create a tank that’s between 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) and 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius). Then, feed the mealworms oatmeal regularly. They will then freely reproduce and you can harvest whenever you want.
Potential Dangers Of Mealworms
Though mealworms are safe, there are a few potential problems that you should be on the lookout for.
They Can Cause Impaction
These insects have a hard exoskeleton, which contains a lot of chitin. This can be hard for the baby Bearded Dragons to break down. Because of this, it can cause impaction, as they struggle to digest them properly. This has the potential to cause serious issues.
They Can Cause Obesity
Also, these insects have a high-fat content. If you aren’t careful and place too many mealworms into your Bearded Dragon’s diet, this can easily lead to obesity. It’s also possible that they can be addictive. For this reason, use mealworms sparingly, as a treat.
They Can Be Expensive
You should also be aware that they can be expensive to purchase, as the growers will need to pay for the ingredients required to feed them. Thankfully, with a little extra work, you can breed them yourself.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Mealworms?
Bearded Dragons can eat a wide range of foods, as part of a balanced diet. When used in this context, the mealworm can be a tasty treat. By avoiding giving them too much, and only feeding them to adults, you will be able to give them to your Bearded Dragon safely.