Bearded Dragons are one of the best reptiles to keep as pets. Their size and temperament make them ideal additions to most families looking for a new lizard partner. As a Beardie owner, it is essential to know how to take care of your loving lizard.
One of the more popular insects to feed Bearded Dragons is superworms. Most Beardies love them!
Adult bearded dragons can eat superworms in moderation. You can give them 1 to 2 superworms up to twice per week. You should avoid giving juvenile bearded dragons superworms because their tough chitinous exterior can cause a life threatening condition called impaction.
(Another good option you might look into is the hornworm – I have a post about them here.)
Superworms are the larvae of the zophobas morio darkling beetle species. Mealworms are also the larvae of a darkling beetle species, but there are some crucial differences between superworms and mealworms. So, let’s review the pros and cons of including superworms in your Beardie’s diet.
Pros and Cons of Super Worms
Pro: Bearded Dragons love how they taste
As we will discuss more below, these tasty critters are high in fat content. Just like humans, this high fat content tickles your Beardie’s taste buds in just the right way. It also means they can quickly add bulk to your Bearded Dragon.
These medium-sized insects are also pretty active, which catches your Beardie’s attention as soon as you release them into their enclosure.
Because most Bearded Dragons love them so, you can use superworms to get a picky reptile eating. If you Dragon is not eating their essential greens, place a superworm on the freshly chopped greens to entice your lizard to begin eating.
Pro: superworms are easy to find & keep (they’re also affordable!)
Superworms are one of the most manageable insects to keep alive for extended periods. Put them in a container with some dry bran or oatmeal, add a small chunk of potato if things are getting to dry.
Unlike mealworms, you do not want to put your superworm treats in the fridge or freezer as this will kill them rather than send them into hibernation. Store the container of super tasty worms somewhere that has a temperature between 65°F (18°C) and 80°F (27°C).
Superworms will stay in the pupae stage for upwards of 3 months. That is significantly longer than mealworms, who’s pupae stage only lasts about 3 weeks.
Keep an eye on them and watch for any that are coming out of the pupae stage. Once they have morphed into a beetle, they will eat the other superworm larvae.
You can find superworms in most pet stores, online and off, that have supplies for lizards. These insects are more affordable than some of the rare species, giving you a great tasty treat option for your Beardie that won’t break your bank.
Con: High in Fat
Superwroms are made up mainly of protein and moisture, which are essential nutrients for Beardies. However, they are also ~15% fat, which is high!
The high-fat content means their fat to nutrient ratio is not suitable for adult Bearded Dragons. Superworms fall solidly into the treat category in most Beardies diet.
If you use these larvae as a staple in your Dragon’s diet, it can lead to health problems like constipation, obesity, and malnutrition.
Use superworms in moderation! Feeding them to your pet too often can mean they will refuse other healthier insects and greens because they are holding out for that delectable superworm snack.
Con: They Like to Bite
Superworms will bite you when you are holding them, which is why it is best to use a glove when handling them.
Likewise, if you put one of these aggressive larvae in the tank and your Beardie doesn’t eat it right away, they may be injured by a superworm bite.
You may have heard that you should tear the heads off of the superworms before feeding them to your Dragon. This practice stems from the myth that superworms can chew through a lizard’s stomach.
Bearded Dragons don’t generally eat superworms whole, and their stomach acid would kill the larvae even if they did. You do not need to tear their heads off before feeding them to your reptile.
Superworms in Your Bearded Dragon’s Diet
Now that you are familiar with some of the basic facts about superworms, let’s discuss how to include them in your lizard’s diet.
Most Beardies love superworms because of their high fat content. They will eat 5-10 of the larvae in a sitting if you let them, which you shouldn’t! Because of their high-fat ratio, you should use them as a treat for adult Dragons.
Feed your adult Bearded Dragon 1 – 2 superworms a couple of times per week (see the feeding schedule below).
Bearded Dragons should also be eating plenty of greens and other healthy insects like crickets or dubia roaches.
Dubia roaches are the best option because they are high in protein, easy for your Beardie to digest, and are lower risk than crickets for parasites. However, they are harder to find, and in some countries, like Canada, they are illegal.
Adults should eat 70% greens and 30% protein from insects (mainly healthy options like crickets and dubia roaches).
You can follow this 3-day feeding cycle:
For your juvenile Bearded Dragon (5-15 months), you may be able to feed them superworms if the larvae are small enough, and your Beardie is big enough. Superworms are large compared to most insect larvae.
Remember, don’t feed your Dragon any food that is bigger than the space between their eyes.
Because juveniles are in a fast-growing stage, they can handle a higher fat ratio in their diet. Feed them 3-7 superworms per day, spread out over 3 meals.
Include other healthy insects in their diet, so they do not reject these essential sources of nutrients when they mature. You may want to feed them the more nutritious insects first, followed by a superworm dessert.
Baby Beardies are too small to eat superworms and can be easily injured by the. Do not feed them to your baby lizard. Stick with smaller insects and use the space between their eyes to decide on the size of food to give them.
Babies and Juveniles should eat 70% protein and 30% greens. This ratio is the reverse of adults. The higher proportion of protein will help them grow to a healthy weight and size.
As they begin to reach adulthood, scale back the number of superworms you are feeding them.
Bearded dragons are prone to constipation.
Because of this, you want to ensure they have enough drinking water in their diet and that they have regular baths.
Too much high protein food can also cause constipation. If constipation has become an issue, you can scale back the protein and increase the greens, which increases fiber consumption. You should also give your Bearded Dragon more frequent baths, as this will help them defecate.
If the problem persists for more than a few days, take them to your vet immediately. Prolonged constipation can lead to bowel impaction.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Superworms?
Adult Beardies can handle 1-2 superworms every 3 days as a treat.
Juveniles can eat 3-7 every day as a dessert after their meals.
Babies should never be fed superworms.