Finding new ways to spice up your bearded dragon’s diet is a fun way to bond with your pet.
As humans, we tend to associate love and treats with tasty food.
We know worms are a popular feeder insect to use as occasional treats but are earthworms included in this group?
As a whole, earthworms are safe to feed to your pet bearded dragon. Earthworms contain some essential nutrients, but they do not measure up to other staple foods. Earthworms are used as an occasional treat and should not be fed to your pet regularly.
Let’s dive into the benefits and risks associated with earthworms, the likelihood of your beardie eating these insects, and other worm substitutes.
Nutrition Facts For Earthworms And Bearded Dragons
It is essential to feed your pet beardie a balanced diet with plenty of essential vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to classifying healthy foods for your pet, the two most important factors are nutrient density and moisture content.
Earthworms have an incredibly high moisture content.
On average, these worms are made up of 70% to 90% water.
These worms have moderate levels of protein.
Insects are offered to our pets as a source of protein.
Because of this, it is crucial for the insects we choose to contain sufficient amounts of this macronutrient.
The protein levels of earthworms are comparable to crickets and dubia roaches.
One of the best qualities of earthworms is their low-fat content.
Most worms are bad for your beardie’s health due to high levels of dietary fats.
Foods with high-fat content will lead to obesity and fatty liver disease if fed to beardies in excess.
Finally, earthworms contain adequate levels of essential nutrients, including calcium, iron, and potassium.
Like most reptiles, calcium is the most critical mineral in a bearded dragon’s diet.
While 2:1 is an ideal ratio, 1.5:1 is still acceptable.
Even so, it is essential to gut load all of your feeder insects, and calcium dusting is highly recommended.
Check out our post on the best insects for bearded dragons for a list of options your pet can enjoy as a staple or snack.
How Often To Feed Earthworms To Bearded Dragons
Like all species of worms, you should feed earthworms to your dragon in moderation.
When it comes to baby bearded dragons, we do not suggest feeding them any species of worm.
Baby dragons need 70% of their diet to consist of high-quality insect protein.
Since worms are only meant to be used as occasional treats, it is best to avoid them together.
Feeding worms to young beardies also increases the risk of your pet developing a worm addiction.
It may sound like a funny concept, but it is a real concern among owners.
Beardies often enjoy the taste of worms.
If they develop a liking for these insects early in life, it may be difficult to get your pets to eat their usual meal of crickets.
There are several different species of earthworms.
The two most common are nightcrawlers and red wigglers.
Both types are safe to be used as bearded dragon feeder insects.
When feeding earthworms to adult dragons, we suggest cutting them up into smaller pieces.
Although beardies are likely able to ingest a whole worm, some measure up to 14″ inches long.
If adult dragons swallow these worms whole, they are at risk of impaction.
Before feeding any worms to your pet, you will need to gut load them and give them a thorough wash.
You do not want any debris stuck to the worms to get into your pet’s digestive tract.
It is also important to dust your worms with a calcium supplement.
Any insect fed to your pet should be a good source of calcium.
We suggest preparing a few larger worms and cutting them into smaller sections.
Only feed earthworms to your pet as an occasional treat.
The best frequency of feeding is once or twice per month.
Never Catch Worms Yourself
You should never feed your pet beardie wild earthworms under any circumstances.
Wild earthworms will put your dragon at risk of chemical contamination and parasites.
Since you don’t know where a wild earthworm has been, you have no way of knowing whether or not it has come in contact with herbicides or pesticides.
Any harmful chemicals the worm has come in contact with have the potential of harming your pet.
The best place to purchase earthworms is from a pet store or a bait shop.
If you choose to go to a bait shop for your worms, be sure to ask whether or not they dye their worms.
Some stores add dyes for fishing purposes and do not sell worms suitable for reptile consumption.
As a rule of thumb, you should purchase your earthworms from a trusted pet supplier who can certify their worms safe for bearded dragon consumption.
Do Bearded Dragons Like Earthworms?
Since we have covered the valuable nutrients and feeding frequencies of earthworms, let’s discuss the likelihood of your pet dragon liking these insects.
While bearded dragons often enjoy eating different species of worms, not all of them like earthworms.
These worms have an unpalatable texture for some of our pets.
As most bearded dragon owners know, beardies are picky eaters and tend to be skeptical of new foods.
If you’ve tried offering earthworms to your pet multiple times and it has refused to eat them, you’re better off searching for an alternative worm treat.
Although it is a nutritious worm, many beardie owners do not have any luck adding earthworms to the food bowl.
Since these worms are not an essential food for dragons, your pet’s refusal of them is not something to stress over.
Other Worm Options For Bearded Dragons
There are several other kinds of worms owners use in place of earthworms.
Keep in mind, any worm is a treat and should not become a staple item in your pet’s diet.
Some of the most common worms fed to bearded dragons are:
Waxworms are tasty, but they have an incredibly high-fat content.
You should feed these worms the most sparingly.
Superworms, also known as king worms, are among the most popular types of worms among beardies.
These worms are very large, so we suggest serving them in small chunks.
Although they look similar to mealworms, super worms have a softer exterior.
You should not feed mealworms to beardies due to their hard exoskeleton and risk of impaction.
Hornworms have a high moisture content and are another popular insect for adult beardies.
They provide adequate levels of calcium and protein, making them an excellent choice of worm.
Butterworms should be used less often than hornworms or superworms.
They have less moisture and more fat, qualifying them as a more decadent treat.
We suggest feeding worms no more than once per week to your pets.
It is best to keep the frequency of these treats to one or two times per month.
All worms should be dusted with calcium powder, and you should cut large worms into smaller pieces to avoid food blockages.
If you’re interested in learning more read our post on other worms bearded dragons can eat and enjoy as part of their diet.