Your bearded dragon should have a diverse and healthy diet that is a good mix of protein, vegetables, and the occasional fruit. Vegetables provide nourishment in the form of vitamins and minerals that they can’t get from any other source. Insects, on the other hand, are a vital protein source.
They need a multitude of nutrients to keep their bodies healthy and strong, as well as to stave off infection. Worms are a great way to provide those vitamins, minerals, and proteins for your bearded dragon in a compact package. But not all worms are built the same or provide the same kind of benefits.
What worms provide the best benefits for your beardie?
Worms You Should Buy
You want to look for feeder worms that are high in protein but low in fat. There are a lot of worms on the market that are protein-packed but they have the detriment of being high-fat and not as nutritious for your bearded dragon. Some of the best you can give them are ones that will be easily digested, are filled with protein, and have essential vitamins and minerals to make them nutritionally dense.
These are the larval form of the Chilean Moth that is an attractive orange, pink, and yellow. Their bright color and delicious scent are enticing to your beardie, which should tempt them into eating even if there are other things in their bowl that they aren’t too fond of. They are considered a staple insect as they are high in calcium and protein.
In addition to calcium, they have a lot of water to help with hydration. It is also highly recommended that you gut-load your insects before feeding as those nutrients your feeder insects are ingesting, will then benefit your beardie. You’ll also want to ensure butterworms specifically are kept in your fridge so they will stay alive and in good condition for feeding.
These are some of the more common feeder insects that you’ll be able to get ahold of as they are relatively inexpensive. They are the gold and brown larva of the darkling beetle and have a sturdy outer layer that can be difficult to get through for some beardies. They are another high-protein feeder worm that is also filled with vitamins A and B for healthy organ function, immunity, and energy.
They also need to be stored in the fridge as well but thawed out a little bit before they are fed to your beardie.
These are the black and gold larva of the darkling beetle and have similar nutritional benefits to mealworms. Unlike mealworms, they need to be stored at room temperature instead of in the cold. They are also high in protein and incredibly high in calcium so they make a great staple feeder for your bearded dragon.
They are lower in fat than most other worms and are very active so you can be sure they’ll catch your beardie’s eye. Just be careful because they sting and bite so handling can be difficult.
If you’re looking for a worm that will help hydrate your beardie effectively while also giving them a calcium boost, hornworms are the way to go. They are a beautiful teal blue color that will entice your beardie with their brightness. They are also soft and juicy, which your bearded dragon is sure to appreciate.
They are easy to keep and feel like a treat to your little buddy so they make a great feeder insect. Especially if your beardie is pretty picky, you might find that hornworms will tempt them into eating things they otherwise don’t enjoy.
Worst Worms For Bearded Dragons
Worms that are high in fat and low in protein may be tasty, but they don’t offer much nutritional benefit. They may be used as a way to treat your beardie, but they can also have detrimental effects on their health if given in higher quantities. Worms that are too big or too small can also cause issues with digestion and defecation.
If you give them a worm that’s too big it can cause choking or even impaction if it can get through their system whole. Worms that are too small can go completely through their system without digestion even breaking them down.
They may be a very common worm that you can access almost anywhere, but they are devoid of any nutritional benefits for your bearded dragon. Not to mention, unless they are reliably sourced from a responsible pet food resource, they have the risk of being coated with toxic chemicals and pesticides. They don’t have a lot of vitamins, minerals, or protein, so you’d be better off using a different worm as a staple feeder. Here’s my full article on the earthworms.
These worms aren’t necessarily bad for your beardie, but they aren’t recommended as a staple feeder. They are high in fat and low in protein so they are more likely to be a good treat for your bearded dragon than a part of their everyday diet. They are 20 percent fat and aren’t a great source of vitamins or minerals, so unless you’re wanting to treat your beardie they aren’t worth purchasing.
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It is important to remember that insects should only be a percentage of their overall diet. For baby beardies, you will want to give them 70% insects and 30% vegetables and fruits. They need more protein and fat than older beardies so they will need reliable sources that are easy to access.
For older beardies, they only need about 30% insects and 70% fruits and vegetables because they do need protein but they need less fat than their younger counterparts. Most of the worms on this list are ideal feeder insects as they are higher protein and lower fat than some other insects. There are other insects of course that can give the percentages they need for a healthy and sustainable diet.
These worms will help ensure that your bearded dragon remains strong and healthy.