Can bearded dragons eat mealworms?

image with bearded dragon, mealworms and a text saying " can bearded dragons eat mealworms?"

Facts About The Creepy Crawly Mealworm In Bearded Dragon Diets

Can bearded dragons eat mealworms?  Yes, adult bearded dragons can eat mealworms.  Mealworms are considered a good introduction inr=to the lizard diet.  However, baby beardies and juvenile bearded dragons should not be fed mealworms because of their chitin exterior.  

This article will provide information on the benefits, risks, nutritional value, and other need-to-know facts about mealworms in your exotic pet’s diet.

Nutritional Value Of Mealworms

As a bearded dragon owner, you should read about the nutritional information of foods you want to introduce to your beardie.  

Nutritional Value Chart Of Mealworms:  (100g)

Nutrients Value

Fat – 13 %

Protein – 20 %

Cholesterol – 150 mg

Calcium – 13.3 mg

Moisture Content – 62 %

Ca:P ratio – 1:2.5

The above nutritional values indicate that mealworms have high amounts of fat and protein. Their calcium levels, on the other hand, are very low.    

When looking at the Ca:P ratio, it is clear that a high amount of phosphorus and a low calcium ratio can pose a health risk to your bearded dragon. We will discuss this issue further under risk factors.  So, please read on.

Read on to find out the benefits and risks involved when feeding your bearded dragon mealworms.

Benefits Of Feeding Bearded Dragons Mealworms

Moisture Content

Adult mealworms provide plenty of moisture to keep your bearded dragon hydrated. But remember not to overdo it.  Excess water in your beardie’s diet can lead to diarrhea.


Protein helps build and repair your bearded dragon’s muscles. 


Fat keeps bearded dragons warm and provides energy.  Too many fats can cause health problems like obesity.

Risks Of Mealworms In Your Beardie’s Diet

Although mealworms are safe, it’s not considered a healthy addition to your bearded dragon’s diet.  

You can dust them with supplements to increase the vitamin and mineral content of the feeder insect, but you should feed other types of insects high in protein and calcium.


Calcium is essential to keep bones strong and healthy.  It is also vital for muscle function and metabolism. Unfortunately, the calcium levels in mealworms are insufficient.  Please read more about the insufficient calcium levels under risks of mealworms in your beardies diet.

The Calcium To Phosphorus Ratio

When you look for nutritious food for your pet beardie, you will always see references to the calcium/phosphorus ratio. Bearded dragons need calcium, but if they have too much phosphorus, it prevents proper absorption of calcium in your bearded dragon’s body.

Calcium deficiency can lead to metabolic bone disease with symptoms such as:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Constipation
  • Receding lower jaw
  • Swollen limbs and jaw
  • Bowed limbs and arched spine
  • Trembling and twitching limbs
  • Paralysis or difficulty moving


Your beardie will develop a taste for mealworms.  They can even become addicted.  When you stop feeding mealworms to your bearded friend, they might stop eating and avoid any other food you introduce to them. 

No matter how many supplements you dust the mealworms, they are not replacements for other insects.  

High In Fat

It might not look it, but mealworms are very high in fat for their small size.  If you give lots of mealworms to bearded dragons, they can gain weight and become obese. Fat bearded dragons get lazy and won’t move too much.

Fatty Liver disease

Overconsumption of mealworms and a small terrarium for your bearded dragon can cause obesity. 

Keeping your bearded dragon in a small cage, where they cannot roam around and exercise, could lead to fatty liver disease. 

Can Baby Or Juvenile Bearded Dragons Eat Mealworms?

No, baby bearded dragons should not be fed mealworms at all.  You should not feed mealworms to young bearded dragons under 18 months.

Mealworms have a chitin coating that can be difficult to digest and tricky to chew.  Your baby beardie can not digest mealworms properly and can be a choking hazard and cause an intestinal blockage called impaction.

Mealworms are high in fat, and while this can help your baby bearded dragon pack on weight quickly, it will make them addicted to mealworms.  If baby bearded dragons only eat mealworms, they will not get enough vitamins and minerals.

Can Beardies Eat Dead, Canned, or Freeze-dried Worms?

Dead Mealworms

Never feed bearded dragons dead mealworms. They could cause health issues when your bearded dragon eats one.  As the mealworm dies and starts to decompose, bacteria and other parasites will begin to eat and grow on it.

If your bearded dragon eats dead mealworms, it will be infected with these parasites and become ill.  You will have to take your bearded dragon to the vet to remove the parasites.

Sick mealworms should also not be fed to your bearded dragon because they became ill due to parasites and disease.  

Canned Mealworms

If it’s canned, dead, mealworms, it is safe for bearded dragons to eat.  Canned mealworms are killed and processed while they are still alive.  Therefore, they won’t contain any bacteria or parasites that could hurt your bearded dragon.

Freeze-dried Mealworms

Adult beardies can eat freeze-dried mealworms. They are safe for your adult beardie to eat and provide the same nutritional value as live mealworms. 

How To Prepare And Feed Mealworms To Your Bearded Dragon

When feeding mealworms to your bearded dragon, you might want to dust them with calcium supplement powder first.  It will help your bearded dragon get needed nutrition and calcium.

When feeding mealworms to your bearded dragon, you have two options: 

You can feed mealworms to bearded dragons by hand, or you can place them on a  bowl or plate.

Wrapping Up

When you look at the nutrient value of mealworms, it is clear that they have many benefits and risks according to their nutritional value. We must, however, reiterate never to feed mealworms to your baby bearded dragon.  

Feel free to include grasshoppers, waxworms, and collard greens in your bearded friend’s diet.  We recommend that you always read about any new foods you want to include in your beardie’s diet.  Even the healthiest food has certain health risks.

Continue to read our main article “What do Bearded Dragons Eat?” for all the ins and outs on general diet questions, and get a further detailed breakdown of other popular foods in the articles below:

Photo of author


I am a huge animal lover and have four dogs, a Labrador, Jack Russell, Pug, and Teacup Yorkie. I also have a cat and a Cockatiel. I have had pets since I was a toddler, and there was not a day when there wasn't an animal in my house.