Many people like to feed their bearded dragons with mealworms, because bearded dragons love mealworms. However, are mealworms bad for bearded dragons or can you just feed them unhesitatingly?
Mealworms are bad for bearded dragons because they contain a lot of fat and phosphor, but little protein and calcium. If fed too often, they will make a bearded dragon fat and unhealthy. Besides that, bearded dragons can get addicted to mealworms.
Does that mean that you should stop feeding mealworms completely or is it okay to feed them from time to time? Can mealworms survive in a bearded dragon´s stomach? Continue to read to learn more.
Are Mealworms Bad For Bearded Dragons?
I gave you the short answer above, but I´d like to explain in detail to you what that even means and why mealworms are so bad for beardies.
Bearded Dragons Can Get Addicted To Mealworms
I know that this sounds totally crazy, but this is not a joke. Bearded dragons can get used to mealworms so that they refuse to eat anything else after being fed mealworms for too long.
You can compare this with sugar, fast food and similar food for humans. Sugar is very addictive and the more you eat of it, the more you need it and you will eat more and more of it.
Mealworms Are High In Fat
Mealworms are very high in fat, but very low in protein and that is exactly what you don´t want when it comes to bearded dragon food. However, they still contain less fat than superworms.
The problem with that is that most bearded dragons that are kept as pets are way too fat. In a tank, a bearded dragon does not get a lot of exercise as they would get in the wild. Most tanks are pretty small and beardies can not run around a lot as they normally do in the wild.
The next problem is that most people simply overfeed their bearded dragons. They feed their bearded dragons feeder insects each and every day which is way too much for bearded dragons.
They should eat more greens than meat and there should be days whithout any food at all. Unfortunately, most bearded dragon owners think that this is cruel and continue to feed their bearded dragon feeder insects every day.
This will make a bearded dragon fat and feeding mealworms will make this even worse. By feeding mealworms too often, beardies will get fat even quicker.
Fat bearded dragons get lazy and won´t move too much anymore. Besides that, fat bearded dragons are very often suffering from diseases like fatty liver disease.
The majority of bearded dragon owners has no clue that their bearded dragon could suffer from this and do not change anything in their bearded dragon diet.
If you need some help with your beardie diet, click here to read about 5 very important tips when it comes to bearded dragon diet.
Mealworms Are High In Phosphorus
The normal calcium/phosphorus ratio in feeder insects for bearded dragons should be 2:1.
Most feeder insects, whether it be mealworms or other feeder insects, have a very bad calcium/phosphorus ratio – most of the times it is 1:2, so exactly the opposite of what it should be.
Mealworms can be even worse here, as their ratio can be 1:3 or even 1:4.
Bearded dragons need a lot of calcium though. If a bearded dragon does not get enough calcium, its bones will become soft. This is called metabolic bone disease and if you want to learn more about it, click here.
So you should never feed mealworms, nor any other feeder insects, without using any calcium supplements.
Do Mealworms Bite?
There is a myth that mealworms are very dangerous for reptiles, because they have a very strong bite which can hurt a reptile pretty badly.
Mealworms indeed have a very strong bite, but when held, they try to wiggle to escape instead of biting. They definitely bite sometimes, but they can´t really hurt an adult bearded dragon.
Besides that, if a bearded dragon bites a mealworm, it will be dead pretty quickly, so you don´t really have to worry about that.
Are Mealworms Hard To Digest?
Most people think that mealworms have a very hard chitinous exoskeleton, which could be hard for bearded dragons to digest.
Bearded dragons and other reptiles that eat insects, have a different digestion than we humans have, for example. Their digestion is perfect for digesting hard chitinous exoskeletons.
However, if a bearded dragon eats too many mealworms and is constantly overfed, its digestion could be irritated. If that happens, bearded dragons are sometimes not able to digest properly anymore and dead, but undigested feeder insects can be found in their feces.
The hard chitinous exoskeletons of mealworms could definitely lead to problems here.
That´s why it is recommended to only feed mealworms that recently shed, since those still have very soft exoskeletons.
So Should You Stop Feeding Mealworms?
In my opinion, there is no need to feed mealworms if your bearded dragon is healthy and not malnourished.
Sick bearded dragons or malnourished bearded dragons that refuse to eat, can and should eat mealworms to pack on weight quickly. As I said, they are addictive and make a bearded dragon fat very quickly, so they can really help here.
Also, if you want to tame your bearded dragon or if you want to train it in any way, mealworms can be your best friend as your bearded dragon won´t be able to resist a mealworm for too long.
Other than that, feeding mealworms is not really good for your bearded dragon. Try to feed your bearded dragon more dubia roaches and more greens than anything else instead of feeding mealworms all the time.
Frequently Asked Questions
I already answered the most asked questions above and told you exactly why it is not recommended to feed mealworms. However, there are a couple of questions left that I want to answer in this section.
Are Mealworms Bad For Baby Bearded Dragons?
Mealworms are high in fat and while this can help baby bearded dragons to pack on weight quickly, it will make them addicted to mealworms too. If a baby bearded dragon only eats mealworms it will not get enough vitamins and other minerals. That´s why mealworms are not recommended for healthy bearded dragons, no matter how old they are.
Are Mealworm Beetles Safe For Bearded Dragons?
While the mealworm contains a lot of fat and little protein, the mealworm beetle actually contains a lot of protein and little fat. That is why it is recommended to feed them to bearded dragons. However, most bearded dragons do not seem to like the taste of mealworm beetles.
As you see, there are a lot of reasons why you should not feed mealworms to your bearded dragon.
Most bearded dragons in captivity are way too fat and feeding mealworms will make it even worse. So, are mealworms bad for bearded dragons? In most cases, mealworms are bad for them.
If you have any questions, leave a message in the comment section below.