First of all, what are mealworm beetles? Mealworm beetles are the larvae of Darkling Beetles. They are also known as Tenebrio Molitor in scientific language. Mealworms look like small caterpillars and grow up to be around 3 inches long when fully grown, they can be either brown or yellow in color. The mealworm beetles are usually not eaten by bearded dragons however, there are cases where your bearded dragon might find them appetizing.
So can bearded dragons eat mealworm beetles? The answer is yes, they can. However, beardies generally prefer them in the stages before they turn to beetles in the latter stages. Check out the click here.
Bearded Dragon Diet
The proper diet for your bearded dragon is 80% plant matter and 20% animal matter (which includes insects). As most experts would tell you, it’s best to give your beardie leafy greens like mustard greens, collard greens; cactus pads; peas; turnip greens along with carrots and other root vegetables. Some keepers also add in fruit such as apples and bananas but you should be very careful when feeding your beardie citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruits.
Which Insects Bearded Dragons Can Eat?
- Can Bearded Dragons Eat Red Worms
- Can Bearded Dragons Eat Roaches
- Can Bearded Dragons Eat Rolly Pollies
Pros of Feeding My Bearded Dragon Mealworm Beetles
Mealworm beetles are very rich in proteins and they’re also low in fats. They also contain all essential amino acids that bearded dragons need to develop and maintain their muscles, bones, skin and internal organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Another benefit of feeding your beardie mealworm beetles or other types of beetles is calcium absorption. Research has shown bearded dragons absorb more calcium from food when the source is beetle larvae than when it’s supplied by plant matter.
Cons of Feeding My Bearded Dragon Mealworm Beetles
The main concern with regards to feeding mealworm beetles is whether or not they have been treated with any chemicals that might harm your bearded dragon. In case you’re unsure about what kind of mealworms these are, just leave them out as they will only contaminate the rest of the food being offered to your beardie.
In some cases, it has been reported that mealworm beetles had a negative effect on bearded dragons when they were fed exclusively on these insects for too long. This resulted in the following symptoms being exhibited by the beardies:
- Crusty, bumpy skin
- Lethargy, a sign of being overstressed
- Abnormal feces which is dark in color, dry and runny
Mealworm beetles contain about 20% chitin which is indigestible for most animals including reptiles like bearded dragons. Although beardies can digest some fibers found in plants, their bodies are not capable of breaking down chitin.
How to Feed Mealworm Beetles to My Bearded Dragon without Getting Them Sick?
Okay, so you’re convinced that it’s okay to feed mealworm beetles to your bearded dragon. Just be careful and remember that these insects can contaminate your pet’s food so don’t let them out of their enclosure and keep them in a secure place where they cannot escape.
Smaller dragons should only be given around 5 mealworms while larger ones could have up to 10 at a time. Just make sure the bearded dragon actually eats it and does not leave any of them uneaten.
If you want to be 100% safe, only feed your beardie mealworm beetles that have been raised organically at home although they can also be purchased from pet stores or online. You do not want your bearded dragon to eat any chemicals by mistake.
Final Thoughts on
Mealworm beetles are an excellent source of protein for your bearded dragon. You can feed these insects to smaller dragons in moderation while larger ones could eat 5-10 at a time.
Just keep in mind that mealworms can be contaminated with chemicals so it’s best to raise them yourself (if possible) or buy them from organic sources. Don’t make the mistake of feeding your beardie exclusively on mealworm beetles as this might lead to malnutrition or abnormally slow growth rates.
Everything is better in moderation.