Bearded dragons can eat a variety of insects and worms. These small creatures are rich in protein something that young beardies need for their speedy growth.
However, not all worms are healthy and safe for bearded dragons. Some could cause harm than good to beardies.
So, are mealworms bad for bearded dragons?
Mealworms are not poisonous to bearded dragons but these worms are bad for beardies. Mealworms have high fat and phosphorous content but low in calcium and protein. Feeding bearded dragons with mealworms will only make beardies fatter and unhealthy.
Another bad thing that could happen to bearded dragons is that they could get addicted to mealworms and will not eat other foods.
What Happens When Bearded Dragons Eat Mealworms Too Much?
As mentioned, mealworms are not healthy for bearded dragons. Their diet should be balanced between protein and greens. When bearded dragons get addicted to mealworms, they will become picky and will not eat other foods other than their favorite.
Sure, mealworms are not poisonous. Your beardies will less likely to encounter issues when they eat small amounts on an occasional basis.
However, if mealworms become their staple food, problems may arise.
In this post, I will share with you some of the things you should remember before feeding your beardies with mealworms.
1. Bearded Dragons Can Be Addicted to Mealworms
As stated above, bearded dragons can be addicted to mealworms. If your beardy is young, this may cause a problem.
Once bearded dragons get used to a certain food, they will not entertain other types of food you serve to them.
Young bearded dragons, the babies and juveniles, need more protein for their fast growth. And some of the best sources of protein are mealworms.
But the problem with mealworms is that they contain more fat than protein. If your beardy eats too much of mealworm, they can also get too much fat.
Young bearded dragons should have a balanced diet. Their daily food consumption should include greens and insects.
For baby and juvenile bearded dragons, they should eat 70-80% protein-rich foods such as insects or worms and 20-30% fruits and vegetables.
If bearded dragons are addicted to mealworms alone, the balanced diet will hard or impossible to attain which will in turn cause health problems.
2. Mealworms Have High-Fat Content
As mentioned, mealworms contain high fat than protein. This is not good for bearded dragons in the tank.
Remember that, in most cases, domesticated bearded dragons don’t roam around or have many activities as they used to in the wild. When eating too much fat and less physical activity, it will lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Just like humans, fatty foods in combination with less or no physical exercise will result in many health issues. This is true with bearded dragons too.
The condition in the tank alone prohibits bearded dragons to have ample activities. Now, when you add that with fatty foods like mealworms, there is a high chance that your beardy is in the brink of an impending danger.
If you are a beginner, you want to give anything to your reptile to make him/her healthy. Unfortunately, not all greens, insects, and worms are good for your beardy.
I am guilty of this too back when I was started raising my first bearded dragon (Sam). It was a painful lesson for me but I have learned the importance of a balanced diet.
Anyway, back to the topic. So, if mealworms are not so good for your beardy, there are other healthier worms you can feed to your reptile pet.
The use of these worms as feeders is becoming more and more popular. The following are great alternative to mealworms:
Dubia roaches have great nutritional content suitable for the beardies’ diet. They are rich in protein but low in fat. Something your bearded dragon needs.
These roaches come in different sizes to choose from. You can get smaller dubias for young beardies and bigger for older beardies. As you already know, the size of insects should correspond to the age or size of the bearded dragon’s mouth.
Unlike crickets, these roaches don’t make any loud noises, not smelly, can easily be bred, and cannot climb.
And most importantly, they have about 36% protein, 7% fat, and 2% ash content.
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Goliath or Horned worms are another great alternative to mealworms. They can be your beardies’ staple food.
They are easy and fast to grow up to four to five inches in length. The best part is that they have a good amount of protein perfect for bearded dragons.
Goliath worms contain 85% of moisture, 9% of protein, 3% of fat, and 46.5mg per 100mg of calcium.
Click here to check these worms on Amazon
There are other great worms you can feed to your bearded dragons. But these two are the most common I give to my beardies. You can try them too and see the result for yourself.
3. Mealworms Have High Phosphorous Content
As you might already know, the bearded dragons’ diet should compose of good calcium to phosphorous ratio. And the rule of thumb for calcium and phosphorous ratio should be 2:1.
Some insects and greens don’t meet this requirement. Mealworms are even worse by having a ratio of 1:3. Another indication that mealworms are not good for bearded dragons.
4. Mealworms are Not Good for Baby and Juvenile Beardies Too
If you have young bearded dragons, you should not try giving them mealworms. Young beardies will have a hard time to eat and digest mealworms.
When feeding bearded dragons, it is very important to consider their age and size. Particularly the size of their mouth.
As a general rule, you don’t feed food of any kind that is bigger than their mouth. If you want to know how to correctly determine the size of their food, take a look at the bearded dragon’s forehead. The distance between the two eyes is the measure of the good size.
Amazingly, the space between their eyes is a perfect measure for the food size they can take. Of course, that space varied according to beardies’ age and size.
Because mealworms are big, they are not good for young beardies. They could cause impaction in bearded dragons if consumed in large amounts.
Another reason why mealworms are hard to digest is their exoskeleton. If ingested in large amounts, your beardy may suffer from impaction and other digestive issues.
If you want to feed your bearded dragons with mealworms on an occasional basis, choose mealworms that have recently shed. They are having softer exoskeleton to minimize the potential problem.
Should Bearded Dragons Not Eat Mealworms at All?
Well, as I’ve said, mealworms are not poisonous to bearded dragons. Bearded dragons can eat mealworms on an occasional basis. Not as a staple food.
If you have been reading suggestions online from bearded dragon owners, you probably notice that many of them recommend mealworms for bearded dragons.
The reason I don’t recommend mealworms is to keep your beardies safe. Your beardies can get addicted to mealworms. And when this happens, they will not eat other foods other than their favorite.
If you are a beginner, this is a big problem. Picky bearded dragons are hard to deal with even for experienced owners. So you need to be careful.
Final Thoughts on Whether Mealworms Are Bad for Bearded Dragons
Feeding mealworms to bearded dragons can cause potential health problems in beardies. Mealworms are bad for bearded dragons especially as staple food.
But I don’t say that bearded dragons cannot eat mealworms at all. If you want, you can give mealworms to beardies as a treat. Not more than that.
And when you do, find those that have previously shed to make sure that the exoskeleton is soft enough for digestion.
Remember that when feeding beardies, consider the type of food into consideration. This is because beardies are vulnerable to many digestive problems. So be careful.
I hope this helps. For more info about bearded dragons, feel free to visit my guide here.
Do mealworms cause impaction in bearded dragons?
Although not all the time, but yes, mealworms can cause impaction to bearded dragons. They can also cause choking in small and young bearded dragons too. When feeding mealworms to bearded dragons, take the size of the mouth of your beardies into consideration. Smallmouth needs small prey.
Are mealworms bad for baby bearded dragons?
Yes, mealworms are bad for baby bearded dragons for the same reason. Mealworms are rich in fat and low in protein. Baby beardies need more protein sources for their speedy growth. If they eat just mealworms, they don’t get a balanced diet.