Can bearded dragons eat nightcrawlers ?

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Are Nightcrawlers Safe For Bearded Dragons?

Nightcrawler is just another word for earthworm that’s part of the Clitellata, Oligochaeta, and phylum Annelid order of invertebrates. 

This said:  Can bearded dragons eat nightcrawlers?

They can eat nightcrawlers on a very limited occasion. You should get them from a breeder or pet store and not a bait shop.

Nutritional Value Of Nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers have a very high moisture content and are 79% to 90% water depending on the worm species and the amount of water in their environment.

Earthworms are a good source of minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, and magnesium.  They accumulate more of these minerals if they live in mineral-rich soil. Nightcrawlers contain 60% protein, 16% carbohydrate, 7.8% fat, and 2% fiber. 

Risks Of Feeding Nightcrawlers To Bearded Dragons?

Nightcrawlers might seem like a safe option to include in your bearded dragon’s diet, but there are several risks involved when your bearded dragon eats nightcrawlers. Read on to find out more about these risks.


Nightcrawlers, also known as earthworms, can grow larger than most common feeder insects, except for hornworms.  Typical garden variety nightcrawlers can reach a maximum length of fourteen inches long.

The large size of these worms usually isn’t a problem but can cause impaction if they eat earthworms, especially if your beardie swallows them whole.  The blockage in a bearded dragon’s intestines can lead to constipation and even severe health problems.

Chemical contamination

It is never a good idea to feed your bearded dragon anything you’ve collected from the wild or your back garden.  Insects collected this way might be contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers, other dangerous substances, and pollution by cars. 

Worms accumulate chemical substances more readily than other feeder insects since their bodies are porous and contaminated soil pass through their bodies.

One worm might not necessarily cause damage, but more could lead to a toxic build-up of chemicals that will eventually cause them harm.


Earthworms carry many different kinds of parasites, some of which include:

  • Protozoa (single-celled eukaryote)
  • Nematodes (microscopic worms)
  • Platyhelminths (parasitic flatworms)

When bearded dragons eat parasite-infested worms, they will also get infected.  Bearded dragons infected with a large number of parasites it can start having trouble digesting food and absorbing nutrients.

Your bearded dragon can also suffer from a depressed immune system and exhibit signs of lethargy and overall deteriorating health.

If your bearded dragon contracted a parasitic infection from eating an earthworm, you need to take your beardie for veterinary treatment.  

Do Bearded Dragons Like Eating Nightcrawlers?

Most bearded dragons don’t like earthworms because of their slimy body and unpalatable texture.  Earthworms/nightcrawlers also exude chemicals in their mucus that tastes bad.  

Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Earthworms/Nightcrawlers?

A healthy baby beardie’s diet should consist mainly of high-protein insects to fuel their rapid growth and development. You should feed a baby and juvenile bearded dragons four meals per day primarily of 60% to 70% insect protein.

The high protein insect-based diet is crucial to fuel a baby bearded dragon’s rapid growth.  The meal sizes must also be smaller to prevent your baby dragon from choking or intestinal blockage.

You can rule out earthworms because baby dragons should only eat insects no bigger than the space between their eyes.

Overall, earthworms are too large for a baby bearded dragons’ diet.

Can You Feed Your Bearded Dragon Worms From Outside?

We do not advise that you let bearded dragons eat worms or other insects collected from outside.  You can never be sure that these worms haven’t been contaminated with toxic chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, or other pollutants.

Wild-caught worms also have a greater risk of being infected with parasites.  It is essential that your bearded dragon is only fed captive-bred and raised feeder insects.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Baited Worms?

Baited worms are just earthworms/nightcrawlers sold at bait and tackle shops for fishing.  These worms are harvested from the wild and sold to bait stores in bulk.   These worms are kept in large groups in unsanitary conditions; they pose an even more significant threat to a bearded dragon’s health.

How To Keep Your Own Worm Farm Healthy

If you decide to start your worm farm, it is important to note:

  • The farm should be well insulated
  • Place the worm farm in a shady spot, so the worms don’t get too hot or cold
  • Make sure it can drain, and liquid can flow out the bottom
  • Do not give your worms too much water because they can drown.

A Final Word

Even though a bearded dragon can eat nightcrawlers, it is not recommended you feed any to your bearded dragon.  Nightcrawlers, or earthworms as they are also known, have many health risks that include parasites, choking, chemical contamination, etc. 

We suggest you include wax worms or cicadas in your beardie’s diet.  Please read more about the food you want to give your bearded friend because the most healthy food can contain 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:

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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.