Insects and worms are part of a bearded dragon especially when they are young. During spring I normally see a lot of earthworms in my backyard. I go curious whether they are safe for beardies, so I did some digging here is what I found.
Can bearded dragons eat earthworms?
Bearded dragons can eat earthworms, nightcrawlers, and red worms sparingly. However, bearded dragons should not eat baited worms or earthworms and red worms collected from your garden as they may carry parasites. Store-bought earthworms, nightcrawlers, and red worms are safe for bearded dragons.
Earthworms, red worms, or nightcrawlers should be fed sparingly since they have a high-fat content that may cause obesity to bearded dragons especially ones that do not get to exercise.
Nutritional value of earthworms
The table below shows the nutrition profile of earthworms
|Metabolizable Energy, Kcal/kg||708|
|Crude protein, %||10.5|
Benefits of feeding earthworms to Bearded dragons
Protein is very important to the health of young bearded dragons. You see, both baby and juvenile bearded dragons need a lot of protein in their diet to aid in growth and development.
That one of the reasons their main diet is made of insects and the other diet is made of veggies and fruits and nectaries.
Earthworms have a protein content of about 60-70%. This makes earthworms a good source of protein for your bearded dragon especially young dragons.
Even better is the fact that you can gut load your earthworms if you decide to rear them yourself and improve their nutritional load further.
You know that keeping your bearded dragon hydrated is very important right? in fact, we wrote a very detailed article on how to make sure your bearded dragon is hydrated. You can check it right here.
Unfortunately, some bearded dragons may be adamant to drink from the bowl. That means the best way to keep them hydrated is through spritzing or by feeding them food with high water content.
Earthworm has a very high water content making them a good choice to keep your bearded dragon fed and hydrated.
However, you should only offer earthworms as a treat and not as a staple food. Feeding earthworms daily can easily lead to diarrhea due to the high water content given that you dragon is also eating other foods.
As a rule of thumb, your bearded dragon should only drink about 10ml of water per 300g of weight.
The 10ml capacity includes water from foods and one that they drink directly.
Other benefits that your bearded dragon gets from eating earthworms is minerals such as selenium and vitamins.
By gut loading your earthworms, your can help increase the level of vitamins and minerals in the earthworms and transfer the same to your pet.
Risks of feeding Earthworms to Bearded Dragons
Calcium phosphorus ratio
Calcium is very important mineral towards the health development of bearded dragon bones.
Low calcium levels can easily lead to a very dangerous disease known as metabolic bone disease.
To make sure your young bearded dragons develop properly especially for breeders, you should make sure your dragons are getting enough calcium supplements.
In as much as you are feeding your bearded dragon calcium supplements, you need to be wary of two other minerals namely oxalates and phosphorus.
Feeding your bearded dragon feeds high in oxalates such as avocado and spinach prevents calcium from being absorbed into the body, as calcium reacts with oxalates to form calcium oxalates.
Therefore always keep off or reduce the amount of food that contains oxalates in the diet of your bearded dragon.
As mentioned earlier phosphorus is the next culprit, it will react with calcium to form calcium phosphates that prevent calcium from absorbed in the body of your pet.
Fortunately, since most of the foods that most lizards consume including bearded dragons have some phosphorus in them, there is a recommended ratio of calcium to phosphorus that is either 1:1 or 2:1.
The ratio of calcium to phosphorus is a bit awful. The table below shows the calculation of the Ca:P ratio.
As you can see the ratio is way above the recommended value, as a result, it is advisable to not feed earthworms on daily basis but only as a treat like once a week.
Earthworms are also loaded with fat. Feeding your bearded dragon too much fat can be dangerous to its health and development.
You see, compared to their wild relatives’ domesticated dragons do not exercise as much as they should.
Meaning when you overfeed them fat, they will not be able to burn it down like they woud in the wild.
That why it is very important for you to make sure you exercise your bearded dragon now and then, swimming can be a great way to keep your pet exercised.
Feeding earthworms on daily basis will make your bearded dragon obese, therefore while young bearded dragon can afford to eat earthworms twice a week.
Adult, bearded dragon should be fed earthworms about once or twice a month.
How to feed earthworms to the bearded dragon
When buying earthworms make sure they are from a reputable seller, or even better you can grow your own earthworms that you can feed your bearded dragons, and the excess you can feed your pet ducks or chickens.
Below is guide on how to feed earthworms to bearded dragons
- Buy earthworms from a reputable seller
- After, receiving them you can gut load them with dusted veggies
- Give your young dragons about 20 worms and about 30 for adults
- Remove any worm not consumed between 10-15 minutes.
- You can return the uneaten worms in the culture or feed your other pets
How many earthworms can i feed bearded dragons
You should not overfeed earthworms to your bearded dragon or any other food for that matter.
Generally, the young bearded dragons can eat about 10 worms while mature dragons can eat about 20 worms or less. The rule of thumb here is not to overfeed.
A simple guide to raise your own earthworms
The first step when raising earthworms that include dew-worm, angleworm, nightcrawlers and rainworm is to understand what they need to grow and survive.
- A food source
A worm bin can help you achieve these factors. A tray-based worm bin is the best for a simple setup. This one from Amazon is easy to set up and harvest both worms, fertilizer, and worm tea.
Trays will make it easy for you to harvest the worm castings that make a great fertilizer.
Worms will need a temperature between 50°F (10°C) and 85°F (29°C). Outside this temperature range and your worms will not be able to reproduce and eat the compost.
A soil thermometer can make it easy for you to monitor your worms bed temperature, Check this option from Amazon.
The next thing that you will need is some worm bedding for the starter culture, after that, you can easily provide food to your worms using kitchen waste or veggies and fruits that you want to gut load your worms with. Check this worm bedding from amazon for starters.
Then finally you need to order the earthworms from a reputable source, or from your local store where you buy your feeder worms. Or you can check these red wigglers from amazon.
Your setup will be ready to go in a month’s time you will be having a thriving worm culture that you can use to feed your bearded dragons and other pets.
Frequently Asked Question
Can Bearded dragons eat wild earthworms?
Unfortunately, you should not feed your bearded dragon wild-caught earthworms. Wild-caught earthworms may carry some parasites that may be harmful to your bearded dragons. Stick to self-cultured worms or acquire earthworms from a trusted source.
Can Bearded dragons eat bait/fishing worms?
It is not recommended to feed bait or fishing worms to your bearded dragons. Most bait or fishing worms are wild-collected and may transfer parasites to your bearded dragon.
While earthworms are a great source of protein and hydration for your bearded dragon. They should not be fed on a daily basis, doing so may cause obesity especially on adult bearded dragons. Additionally, you should either raise your own worms or get worms from a reputable source to avoid transferring parasites from wild-collected worms to your bearded dragon.