Reptiles are fascinating creatures known for their diverse diet, ranging from insects to small mammals, and even other reptiles! Among the multiple food options, available, mealworms have gained popularity as a nutritious and convenient choice for mini reptiles easiest.
These small larvae pack a punch of proteins and essential nutrients, making them a sought-after meal for various reptile species. Compared to other bugs they’re easier to keep alive and around the house.
In this article, we’ll list 10+ reptiles that eat mealworms.
There are many reptiles that eat mealworms in captivity. Reptiles like green anoles, leopard geckos, and crested geckos, are insectivores and can eat mealworms nearly every day. Other reptiles like bearded dragons, red-eared sliders, and box turtles are omnivores, that just eat mealworms as part of a balanced meal.
Whether you’re a seasoned reptile keeper or just a curious learner, understanding which reptiles enjoy mealworms can provide valuable insights into their dietary habits and contribute to their overall well-being.
What Are Mealworms?
Before we talk about which reptiles consume, mealworms, let’s talk about what they even are!
Interestingly, enough, mealworms aren’t even worms at all! Mealworms are just the small larval form of the darkling beetle. They’re only one stage of a four-stage lifecycle for these insects.
Even though they’re only larvae, mealworms come in different sizes. Mealworms are sold in sizes from extra small to superworm size. Mealworms can be housed together but may start to eat each other if they’re not provided with food and shelter.
A lot of reptile enthusiasts enjoy feeding out to mealworms because they’re so convenient. Mealworms are easy to contain and can be kept in small dishes or tubs. Because mealworms are larvae, they can’t fly or jump and usually stay pretty much contained.
Mealworms typically don’t offend people who are squeamish around bugs because they don’t move quickly and are very small. Mealworms can even be kept in the refrigerator to make them last longer and move slower.
Are Mealworms Healthy For Reptiles?
Mealworms are a pretty good food choice for reptiles overall.
These little bugs can be packed with protein, fats, and nutrients when raised correctly. Mealworms are great for reptiles because they’re often fed live and are most nutritious when fed out this way. On top of containing good nutrients, live mealworms are also mentally stimulating for reptiles. Live mealworms wriggle and move which allows reptiles to hunt and chase them.
Even though mealworms can be a great food choice for reptiles, there are some drawbacks.
Mealworms don’t have a good calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Ideally, any foods fed to reptiles should have a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of 1:1 to 2:1. Calcium and phosphorus ratios for mealworms, aren’t consistent and don’t always reach the desired levels. Luckily, this drawback is easily overcome with the addition of a calcium supplement.
Mealworms also need to be fed correctly if your reptile is going to receive all the nutritional benefits. Can you buy mealworms directly from a store, they’re not really ready to feed out to your pet reptile yet. In order to get the mealworms, packed full of nutrition, you’ll have to do some work at home before feeding them out.
How To Gut Load Mealworms
Getting meal worms ready for your pet reptile is often referred to as “gut loading.”
Gut-loading mealworms is so important because this is what makes a mealworm a healthy food choice as opposed to an empty vessel. Oftentimes, mealworms at pet stores are either fasted or fed a commercial diet. This leaves mealworms, nutrients poor, and dehydrated.
To gut load meal worms, you’ll basically need to provide them with substrate and food for at least 24 hours before feeding out to your pet. Though you can provide commercially produced foods, feeding, fresh veggies is preferred.
On more information on exactly how to get load mealworms, watch the video below.
Do Any Reptiles Eat Only Mealworms?
Insectivores are a special type of carnivore that only eat bugs.
Though many people believe reptiles are only carnivores, in reality, there are many insectivorous, herbivorous, and omnivorous reptiles. Even though insectivorous reptiles exist, there aren’t really any reptiles that only eat mealworms.
As they say, variety is the spice of life. Only eating one food item for your entire life is not only boring but can be nutritionally disastrous.
While many insectivorous reptiles might be able to survive eating only mealworms, it’s not recommended. Instead, it’s better to feed insectivores a variety of bugs on different days of the week. For example, Mondays and Wednesdays could be for mealworms, Tuesdays and Fridays could be for roaches, and Thursdays and weekends could be cricket days.
So, there aren’t really any reptiles that specifically only eat mealworms.
10+ Reptiles That Eat Mealworms
Now that we know a little bit more about these small larvae, let’s talk about the reptiles that eat them.
1. Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are popular, pet reptiles, known for their friendly demeanor and diverse diets.
These lizards are omnivorous which means they eat both plant matter and animal proteins. In the wild, bearded dragons, consume insects, small vertebrates, and vegetation. Because mealworms are such a convenient source of insect proteins, they make a great addition to a bearded dragon’s diet.
However, it’s important to remember that moderation is cute and bearded dragons. Need a lot more than just mealworms to make a full meal. Each time you feed your bearded dragon, you should include fruits, vegetables, and a source of protein!
2. Leopard Gecko
Leopard geckos are another popular pet that enjoys eating mealworms.
These nocturnal lizards are insectivorous and primarily consume insects in the wild. Mealworms can be a huge staple in a leopard gecko’s diet because of their high protein content. Many leopard geckos seem to love mealworms and would eat them every day if they could.
To make sure your leopard gecko is getting enough nutrition, you’ll always want to dust their mealworms with a calcium supplement powder. Plus, you’ll want to rotate out the bugs that they’re eating and give them a little variety from day to day. Leopard geckos also enjoy other insects, such as crickets, small roaches, and wax worms.
3. Crested Gecko
Crested geckos are another small reptile that eats mealworms.
Crested geckos are steadily gaining popularity in the pet trade, due to their unique appearance and low-maintenance husbandry requirements. Depending on who you ask, crested geckos, are either considered omnivores or herbivores. In the wild, these lizards typically eat things like vegetation, fruit, nectar, and small insects.
Mealworms can make a great addition to a crested gecko diet, especially for young geckos who need extra protein. While the majority of a crested gecko’s diet should be plant matter, supplementing insects is advised. Crested geckos are one pet reptile that stay small for their entire lives so you’ll need to find extra small mealworms for them.
4. Green Anole
Green anoles are another small reptile species that can eat mealworms. Though green anoles are the most popular species, really any anole can eat mealworms. That’s because these lizards are insectivores!
In the wild, anoles typically eat things like small flying bugs and gnats. However, tiny flying bugs can be hard to supply in captivity and mealworms make a great substitute. Just like with crested geckos, you’ll need to supply your anole with a variety of different kinds of bags and make sure that they’re also extra small.
5. Veiled Chameleon
Slow-moving veiled chameleons are mainly insectivorous and enjoy eating mealworms from time to time.
In the wild, these lizards strike out with their long tongues to capture insects. Their diet is primarily made up of bugs but also contains some vegetation. In captivity, veiled chameleons, have a very similar diet and can be fed mainly insects with a few leafy vegetables here and there.
6. Panther Chameleon
Panther chameleons are even more insectivorous than veiled chameleons and rarely eat vegetation.
These large chameleons will happily eat your worms in captivity. In the wild, their diet is a little bit more interesting. These reptiles typically tend to eat green-colored insects as red or black-colored insects can be toxic to them.
In captivity, panther chameleons have a much less exciting diet made up of meal worms, wax worms, crickets, and roaches.
7. Blue-Tongued Skink
Blue tongue skinks are a popular pet reptile known for their bright blue tongues and large stature.
These reptiles are omnivores and consume a mix of plant matter and animal protein. In captivity, skinks are happy to eat mealworms as a part of their daily meals. But, mealworms are pretty much just used as sprinkles on top of the plates for these lizards. Skinks need fruits, vegetables, and other protein sources in nearly every meal.
8. Green Basilisk
Green basilisks are arboreal lizards from tropical Central America. One fun fact about this reptile species is that it has special skills on the bottom of its feet that allow it to run on water for a short amount of time.
Green basilisks are omnivores that eat a diet made up of a variety of vegetation and animal or insect proteins. In the wild, these large lizards, catch, small mammals, fish, and invertebrates. In captivity, this lizard seems to do it best when eating live insects. Crickets are the staple food item for this lizard in captivity. However, green basilisks do eat mealworms. They can even be offered as a treat!
9. Box Turtle
Box turtles are commonly kept pet turtles that eat mealworms.
Box turtles are omnivorous and eat a variety of plants and animals in the wild. Box turtles seem to especially love eating small invertebrates found near the water’s edge. In captivity, a box turtle’s diet is a little less exciting and is mostly made up of dark leafy greens. For every meal, a small serving of fruits and insects should be served with the leafy greens.
Many box turtles love live meal worms and even need them on top of their food in order to stimulate eating.
10. Red-Eared Sliders
Red-eared sliders are aquatic pet turtles, that eat mealworms.
In captivity, red-eared sliders are often fed commercial pelleted food. That’s because it can be difficult to provide a turtle with all of the fresh ingredients they need. However, mealworms make a great supplement to commercial food and can encourage your turtle to eat. Try to always feed fresh mealworms (not dried ones) as they provide much more nutritional value.
11. Wild Skinks
Though we mentioned one skink species above, it’s important to note that most skinks are insectivores. Many wild skinks will eat mealworms when given the opportunity. They’re not picky!
12. Certain Wild Snake Species
It’s believed that some wild snake species may consume mealworms. Certain snakes, like garter snakes, are carnivorous but eat a wide variety of proteins. They will not only eat small mammals, but also things like small, invertebrates, fish, and frogs.
If a snake like this chances on a mealworm in the wild, it won’t hesitate to eat it. Even so, it’s not recommended to feed such a small insect protein to a snake in captivity as it just isn’t nutritious enough.
There’s no denying that mealworms have established themselves as a valuable food source for a wide range of reptiles, both in captivity and in the wild. Understanding which reptiles enjoy meal worms is a valuable asset for a reptile enthusiast.
Remember that even though meal worms are nutritious, they’re usually just one small part of a balanced and varied diet meant to ensure the health and well-being of a pet reptile.