The Best Worms for Bearded Dragons

Updated: December 14, 2021 by Jennifer Munsell

best worms for bearded dragons

Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. The plant portion of their diet is easy to keep varied and interesting. However, the insect portion can get a bit boring with a menu of just crickets and roaches. So, to spice things up in your bearded dragon’s diet, add worms as treats! But, which are the best worms for bearded dragons?

Worms are high in protein. This is especially important for hatchling and juvenile bearded dragons. Baby bearded dragons are growing rapidly and need the extra protein to develop healthy bones, muscles, and organs.

You may be wondering: what kind of worms can your bearded dragons eat? We’ve got you covered! In this guide, you will find a list of worms that are safe for your bearded dragon to eat as well as an idea of which worms to avoid.

The Best Worms for Bearded Dragons to Eat

Here is a list of the products featured in this article. Each type of worm that is featured in this article is linked to a product with excellent reviews and a solid customer base.

Feeding your bearded dragon different worms keeps them mentally stimulated because each worm is a new experience for them. Some worms also prompt a hunting response from beardies, which will keep your beardie on their toes and physically active.

These are some of the most common and readily available worms that are safe for bearded dragons to eat.

1. Hornworms

DBDPet Premium 20-30ct Live Hornworms - Food for Bearded Dragons, Leopard Geckos, Frogs, Chameleons, Tegus, and Other Reptiles!

These are bizarre-looking worms. They are bright green with white stripes. They start quite small but can grow up to four inches in length! So, be careful when you order them that you don’t buy too many. That way, your beardie will be able to eat them all before they get too big!

Hornworms are the caterpillar or larval form of the hawk moth. They are big and juicy and an absolute favorite of many bearded dragons.

Hornworms are very high in water content, which is great for bearded dragons that are looking a little dehydrated. As a bonus, they are low in fat and high in calcium, which makes them great feeders.

Their soft exoskeletons make them appropriate for hatchling and juvenile bearded dragons too! Just be sure to feed your baby beardie a baby hornworm. If the worm is too big, your bearded dragon could choke on it.

Nutritional Content

  • Moisture: 85%
  • Protein: 9%
  • Ca:P: 1:3
  • Fat: 3%
  • Fiber: 1%
  • Ash: 1%

Pros

  • Hornworms are very active
  • High in water content
  • Low in fat
  • High in calcium
  • Soft exoskeletons

Cons

  • They grow very quickly (always double-check the number of worms your beardie can eat against the number you purchase)
  • High water content can cause diarrhea

In addition to their fantastic nutritional content, hornworms are an active species from the time they are babies, so they will stimulate a hunting response from your bearded dragon! This is an important and exciting part of feeding time for your beardie because it provides regular enrichment!

Recommended Product: DBDPet Premium Live Hornworms

2. Butterworms

Elliot's Jumbo Butterworms Live Butter Worms for Reptile Food and Fishing Bait (50 Count)
The larval stage of the Chilean moth is known as the butterworm or trevo worm. As their name suggests, these yellow worms are very high in fat.

Butterworms smell fantastic (to bearded dragons, at least!) and are quite active for a worm; this means that a butterworm is a captivating and stimulating treat for your bearded dragon.

Nutritional Content

  • Moisture: 60%
  • Protein: 16%
  • Ca:P: 1:18
  • Fat: 17%
  • Fiber: 1%
  • Ash: 1%

Pros

  • They can live in a dry container in your fridge for up to two months
  • High moisture content
  • High in protein
  • Smell wonderful to beardies
  • Taste amazing to beardies

Cons

  • If they get wet, they will die
  • High in fat
  • Calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is poor

The good news about butterworms living for so long in your fridge is that you can consistently gut load your beardie with nutritious food to boost those vitamin levels. Gut loading is the process of feeding your insects foods that are rich in calcium and other vitamins as, when eaten, they will then carry those nutrients into your bearded dragon.

Recommended Product: Elliot’s Jumbo Butterworms

3. Waxworms

Fisher'S Choice: Wax Worms, 35 G / 1.2 Oz

Waxworms are the larval stage of the great or lesser wax moth. True to their name, they have a whitish waxy look to them. Their heads and feet are darker than the rest of their bodies. They are quite large and so are not advisable to feed to your young bearded dragons.

Waxworms can live for a long time (one to two months) in a cool environment with minimal food. However, the less food that they have, the less nutrition your bearded dragon will get when eating them, which sort of defeats the purpose of feeding your bearded dragon worms.

Nutritional Content

  • Moisture: 62%
  • Protein: 14%
  • Ca:P: 1:7
  • Fat: 18%
  • Fiber: 3%
  • Ash: 1%

Pros

  • Low maintenance
  • Good source of protein
  • Good water content

Cons

  • High fat content

Waxworms are very, very, very fatty. They are more fatty than any other worm on this list by a large margin. Therefore, if you adopt a bearded dragon that has not been well taken care of and is severely underweight, then a couple of these waxworms in its diet will help sort things out.

However, too many of these waxworms will rapidly lead to obesity. Therefore, these yummy treats need to be treated with caution to avoid excessive weight gain.

Recommended Product: Fisher’s Choice: Wax Worms

4. Superworms

250ct Live Superworms, Feed Reptile, Birds, Fishing Best Bait

Superworms, also known as morio worms or King worms, are the larval stage of a species of darkling beetle. Because they are going to be beetles when they mature, they have a slightly harder exoskeleton than other worms that develop into moths.

Their harder exoskeletons make them a poor choice for hatchlings or juvenile bearded dragons. Younger bearded dragons can become impacted (develop an intestinal blockage) because their digestive systems cannot yet handle the harder chitin of the exoskeleton.

Added to this, superworms can sting and bite! Younger bearded dragons are not always quick to gobble up food, and their skin is much thinner and more vulnerable than adults. This means that you too need to take care when handling superworms!

Nutritional Content

  • Moisture: 60%
  • Protein: 19%
  • Ca:P: 1:18
  • Fat: 16%
  • Fiber: 4%
  • Ash: 1%

Pros

  • High protein
  • High in moisture content
  • Good fiber content

Cons

  • Not for young beardies because they can sting and bite
  • Calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is very poor

Superworms are related to mealworms. However, they are more nutritious with higher protein and are slightly softer, which makes them easier to eat. Therefore, if you are hesitating over choosing mealworms or superworms as a treat for your bearded dragon, superworms are the better choice.

Recommended Product: Bassett’s Cricket Ranch’s Live Superworms

5. Mealworms

Fluker's Gourmet Canned Food for Reptiles, Fish, Birds and Small Animals, Black, Mealworms

Mealworms are the larval stage of a different species of darkling beetle. They are related to superworms; however, there are some distinct differences.

As previously mentioned, these worms are less nutritious than superworms because they are lower in protein. However, both types of darkling beetle larvae are quite low in calcium and are not nutritionally beneficial to your bearded dragon at all.

Mealworms have thick exoskeletons that can be very difficult to digest, even for adults, if they are given too frequently. Problems with digesting the hard chitin can lead to impaction, a blockage of the digestive tract, which can, in turn, lead to sepsis, infection, and death.

Mealworms are easy to store and can live for 45 days in the door of your refrigerator. However, before you feed them to your bearded dragon, make sure to take them out of the refrigerator 24 hours before feeding and let them come to room temperature.

Nutritional Content

  • Moisture: 65%
  • Protein: 19%
  • Ca:P: 1:7
  • Fat: 9%
  • Fiber: 2%
  • Ash: 2%

Pros

  • Low maintenance
  • Very active and prompt a hunting response
  • High in protein

Cons

  • Tough exoskeletons that are difficult to digest

Mealworms are not the best nutritionally, but they are tasty treats. They are also active once at room temperature, which is stimulating for your bearded dragon and very enriching.

Recommended Product: Fluker’s Gourmet Canned Mealworms

6. Silkworms

Zoo Med 3 Pack of Can O' Silkworms, 1.2 Ounces Per Can

Silkworms are the larval stage of the common silk moth. These are one of the most nutritional worms you can feed your bearded dragon. They are very high in moisture, protein, and calcium! What makes them even better is that they are low in fat content.

Silkworms are very high in iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. This means they are nutrient-packed treats.

These worms grow quite quickly and can reach three inches in length. They are very active too, which will promote a hunting response from your bearded dragon. This makes feeding silkworms to your beardie a stimulating and enriching experience.

Silkworms need to be kept at room temperature and provided with constant food. They only eat mulberry leaves or feed derived from mulberry leaves. This is the main con of keeping silkworms for feeding purposes.

Nutritional Content

  • Moisture: 79%
  • Protein: 13%
  • Ca:P:1:2.4
  • Fat: 2%
  • Fiber: 3%
  • Ash: 1%

Pros

  • Nutrient-rich
  • Low fat
  • Pets as well as live feeders
  • Excellent calcium-to-phosphorus ratio
  • Promote a hunting response

Cons

  • Only feed on mulberry leaves

These worms grow quickly and will spin beautiful little cocoons, which makes them fun to keep as pets and not only as live feeders.

Recommended Product: Zoo Med Can O’ Silkworms

7. Phoenix Worms

ABDRAGONS Live Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Same Insect as Phoenix Worms) (Hermetia Illucens) (250)

Phoenix worms are also known as black soldier fly larvae. Phoenix worms can be used as daily feeders for bearded dragons. This is because they are soft, small, and have the highest calcium levels of any worm on this list. They are so high in calcium that you do not need to gut load or dust them in a supplement!

The biggest drawback of these worms is their size. They are small, so adult bearded dragons would need a few per meal.

Nutritional Content

  • Moisture: 64%
  • Protein: 17%
  • Ca:P: 1:5.1
  • Fat: 11%
  • Fiber: 6%
  • Ash: 5%

Pros

  • Easy to breed
  • High in calcium
  • Good calcium-to-phosphorus ratio
  • No need to gut load or dust in a supplement

Cons

  • Small in size

These worms are easy to breed and maintain, which makes them ideal candidates as regular feeders for your bearded dragon. They do not have an unhealthy phosphorus-to-calcium ratio, which means they will not prevent calcium absorption.

Recommended Product: ABDRAGONS Live Black Soldier Fly Larvae

Composite Nutritional Information

This is a list of the seven worms we focus on in this article. We have put the worms in order of most nutritious and can be eaten more often, to least nutritious or should only be fed to your beardie as a treat.

As you can see, silkworms and Phoenix worms score well across all categories and can be used as daily feeders! Butterworms on the other hand are very fatty and contain an unhealthy calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.

All of these worms have their pros and cons and should feature in the diverse diet you offer your bearded dragon.


*Ash is the remaining minerals and vitamins in the worm.

**Calcium to phosphorus ratio: Reptiles use calcium to digest phosphorus. If they do not get enough calcium in their diet, they steal calcium from their bones. Always remember to use a calcium supplement. Reptiles should have a 2:1 Ca:P ratio in their diet.

Staples and Treats in Your Beardie’s Diet

A baby bearded dragon’s diet should be made up of 20% plant matter and 80% protein. You can check out our guide dedicated to baby bearded dragon care here.

Adult bearded dragons need less protein than baby bearded dragons. However, they still need about 20% of their diet to be made up of healthy insects to maintain healthy muscles and organs.

Staple insects in a bearded dragon’s diet usually include crickets and roaches. However, bearded dragons love snacks and treats as much as any fur or human baby does! Treats come in the form of worms.

What makes worms treat items is their high fat content or their calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. High fat content, however, means that eating too many of these worms will lead to obesity for your bearded dragon, and obesity puts strain on a beardie’s heart and other organs, which can cause organ failure and death.

Worms and Balanced Nutrition

The calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in worms needs to be monitored carefully. Your bearded dragon needs calcium in its diet, and that’s what you use a supplement for. However, too much phosphorus in your bearded dragon’s diet will prevent that calcium from being absorbed properly.

Worms are not nutritious enough to form the basis of the insect portion of your bearded dragon’s diet. Therefore, worms should be included as treats rather than as staple items.

Treat worms include hornworms, waxworms, butterworms, silkworms, mealworms, and superworms. Be aware, however, that these worms either contain high amounts of fat or an unhealthy phosphorus-to-calcium ratio. This makes them unsuitable for daily feeding but completely suitable for snack time!

There is one kind of ‘worm,’ though — which isn’t strictly a worm — that can be used as a staple item: the Phoenix worm!

Also known as black soldier fly larvae, these worms are nutritious and can be used daily in your bearded dragon’s diet.

FAQs on Worms for Beardies

What worms should I avoid feeding my bearded dragon?

Any worm that lights up, such as lightning bugs or glow worms, is toxic to reptiles. If your bearded dragon ingests one of these bugs, it is advisable to seek urgent veterinary care.

What else can I feed my bearded dragon besides worms?

There are plenty of things to feed your bearded dragon! Beardies love vegetables, greens, fruits, and flowers. Check out our full guide on what bearded dragons eat.

I can’t stand worms! Do I have to feed my bearded dragon worms?

No, you do not have to. Your bearded dragon can get by just fine on roaches or crickets as their sources of insect protein. Adding worms to your bearded dragon’s diet offers them variety and excitement, but they can survive and live healthy and long lives without worms.

Wriggling Off…

A bearded dragon needs to have a varied diet. Adding worms to their diet means they get much-needed moisture, a calcium boost, and a protein punch all in one!

Choosing the best worms for your bearded dragon needs to be a personal choice where you weigh the pros and cons of the nutritional content of the worm, their accessibility, as well as how much time you can devote to caring for them.

We hope you can now make a much more informed choice!

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