Do you wonder how many mealworms your bearded dragon should eat?
Have you heard different things about mealworms and their place in a beardy’s diet?
Mealworms are a standard part of many beardy diets, but you may wonder how many mealworms to feed a bearded dragon.
Mealworms are a good source of protein, but they’re higher in fat, the most healthy protein choices. You should feed mealworms only as treats to your bearded dragon, no more than once or twice per week.
Warning: Mealworms are difficult to digest for bearded dragons due to the shell. Never feed them to a baby dragon and if you choose them as a treat for mature dragons do so rarely.
Read on for more details about mealworms and bearded dragons.
Table of Contents
Mealworms are larvae for beetles.
They’ve remained popular with lizard owners over the years for several reasons, which this section will talk about.
Mealworms are easy to store and breed.
Simply leave them in their container either at room temperature to encourage growth and breeding or put them in a refrigerator to keep them the same size and fresh for more extended periods.
Mealworms are popular with owners, which makes their demand higher.
This, in turn, makes pet companies work to supply more of these foods.
Because of this, the price of mealworms is relatively low, and it’s readily available at many pet stores and from online suppliers.
Although mealworms are tough, they will die at times.
A dead mealworm should never be fed to a bearded dragon no matter how fresh it may seem.
Bearded dragons love the taste of mealworms.
The insects are high in fat, which helps the reptile enjoy the flavor a lot more than healthier alternatives.
On top of this, the mealworms also move in a ways to attract the eye of the lizards.
It is challenging to get a dragon to eat at times, but mealworms look and smell appetizing to them.
It’s a good idea to have mealworms on hand as an incentive for your pet to eat their healthier food.
One of the tricks to getting a bearded dragon to eat more greens is to place a single treat food, such as a mealworm, on the vegetation.
Then the bearded dragon may accidentally eat some of this healthier food and at least start to get a taste of it.
These insects are made up of the following:
- 63% moisture
- 19% protein
- 1% ash
- 14% fats
- 3% carbohydrate
As a food for bearded dragons, they’ll love the higher fat content as well as the moisture content.
But this same higher fat content is almost as much protein as the mealworm has.
This isn’t a good ratio.
This means if a bearded dragon is fed on a diet of mealworms, they’ll quickly get overweight and malnourished from the dietary imbalance.
To counter this a bit, you should always make sure to dust the food with a calcium supplement.
This doesn’t make it healthy to eat, but it helps a little.
Con: Hard Shell
Another big con of the mealworm is its harder shell.
The tougher exoskeleton makes it harder to digest for some bearded dragons (especially babies).
It also makes it a little harder to bite and chew.
All of this is another reason why mealworms should only be used as a treat.
It’s the hard shell which has sparked the myth about mealworms.
Some people believe their tough shells can let some of them survive being eaten, and then the insect will eat itself out from inside of the reptile.
While scary, this is a complete myth and has never happened.
How Many Mealworms Should A Bearded Dragon Eat?
The answer to this lies in the word “should.”
How many mealworms should a bearded dragon eat?
Answer: Very few.
At most once or twice per week.
As the last section describes, mealworms aren’t healthy in large quantities, so though you could feed your beardie 5-10 mealworms per meal, you definitely shouldn’t unless you have no other options.
Mealworms should only be fed to bearded dragons ages five months and above.
From 5-15 months, the beardy can eat these more regularly than recommended.
At this age, they need more protein and fat to gain mass and get bigger.
Once your bearded dragon reaches adulthood, the mealworms should be held back as a treat only.
Adult bearded dragons should be fed a balanced diet of greens and proteins (or live insects).
In their younger days, a beardy should be eating 75% proteins and 25% greens.
The opposite is true of adults.
They need to eat much more green in their diet.
They also only need to be fed once per day.
We recommend doing one day greens, one day insects, and one day with no food.
Then continue this cycle.
On the protein days, feed your pet its tasty mealworms, but remember only to feed them 1 or 2.
I also suggest you feed them these insects towards the end of the feeding.
If you start with the treat, they may end up refusing to eat the other healthier insects such as hornworms or Dubia roaches.
Mealworms And Baby Bearded Dragons
You might be thinking to yourself:
Hey! If feeding these fatty insects is suitable for juvenile beardies, they must be good for babies too.
Don’t do it!
While your logic isn’t wrong, there’s another factor you haven’t considered.
Mealworms are beetles in their larvae form.
One of the defining characteristics of the beetle is its hard exoskeleton.
Their larvae may not look like it, but their exoskeleton is tougher, as well.
Baby bearded dragons lack the digestive capability to break down these tough bugs.
Eating these may lead to choking, impaction, or, in worse cases, death.
We hope you enjoyed learning about how many mealworms to feed a bearded dragon.
These insects are a treat for the reptile and should only be eaten in small amounts.
However, juvenile bearded dragons may eat more as long as the mealworms are small enough to be safely consumed.
Baby bearded dragons should never be fed mealworms.