Last Updated: April 6, 2021
Bearded dragons are omnivores, giving their owners tons of insect and plant-based diet options for food. They can eat insects such as crickets, cockroaches, and different types of worms. So, are earthworms suitable foods for beardies? Yes, earthworms are safe food options and have a nutritional composition that the dragons can use.
First off, bearded dragons can eat just any insect they find, regardless of toxicity. But your lizard friend is safe if it accidentally eats earthworms. However, it would be best to make earthworms rare treats if you have to provide them.
Why Earthworms Are Good for Bearded Dragons
1. Alternative Source of Proteins
Beardie parents need to mimic the wild dragon’s diet when feeding, which includes providing them a substantial number of live foods as a source of protein. Luckily, you can do so with cheap and readily available live foods such as earthworms.
These foods contain a lot of proteins that both juvenile and adult bearded dragons require for growth and maintenance. You can especially offer them to young dragons more than adult beardies to facilitate their active growth stage.
2. Contain Good Amounts of Minerals and Vitamins
Apart from proteins, earthworms contain minerals and vitamins such as amino acids, iron, manganese, and copper, helping in the pet’s food breakdown and absorption and help in body tissue repairs.
They are also a rich source of calcium that is the most crucial nutritional necessity for beardies. This component helps in the beardie’s skeletal development and helps prevent bone diseases such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MDB).
3. Good Source of Moisture
Bearded dragons require plenty of water. However, because they can’t comfortably drink water from the bowls, you can offer them through feeding them food with high water content.
Earthworms are an excellent option because they carry a lot of water. A large worm’s weight can comprise up to 95% of water, which is ideal for hydration.
4. Healthy Fats
Earthworms are also high-fat foods that can act as energy stores for bearded dragons. When the fats are absorbed, they help regulate their body temperature and bearded dragons’ overall hormone production.
However, beardies require minimal amounts of fats. Excess fats and calories in earthworms can cause obesity and other weight-related diseases to your pet—all the more reason why earthworms should be occasional treats.
How to Prepare Earthworms for Your Beardy
After harvesting a steady number of earthworms, wash them in plenty of water. This should apply to all earthworms, whether bought from the pet stores or you gathered from your breed.
It will allow you to wash off any chemical contamination and dirt on the earthworm’s skin. It is equally important to dispose of any dead worms before offering them to your pet. Earthworms are appealing and exciting to dragons if they are moving prey.
Dust the Earthworms with Calcium Supplements
Although earthworms contain calcium, it is in a minimal amount and may require you to supplement before feeding your beardie. You only need to sprinkle calcium powder on the live food.
You can use a sugar or salt shaker to coat the earthworms and increase their nutritional value. Ingesting sufficient calcium helps boost your pet’s bone health.
How to Feed the Beardies
One way to bond with your young lizard friend is by allowing it to eat its food from your fingertips. You can also use a pair of tweezers to hold the food.
However, it would be best if you slice the earthworms into smaller pieces beforehand. This will help prevent your pet from choking.
You can also offer them sliced baby earthworms that are easier to eat and digest. You should only provide juvenile beardies to two earthworms because their diet should contain only 30% insects.
An adult dragon’s gut is well-developed and can digest earthworms comfortably. Therefore, you may not need to slice the worms.
Hold the worm out with your finger for the beardie to eat. You can also place one or two on a bowl and allow it to eat using its mouth. Ensure the bowl’s edges aren’t too high, and the dragon can easily access the food.
Where to Get Earthworms for Your Bearded Dragon
Purchase Earthworms from Pet Stores
The best way to get your worms is by purchasing them from a trusted pet store such as chewy.com. The reason is that pet stores breed and design the earthworms as pet food.
You can buy earthworms in various sizes ranging from 1/4 inch to 1 inch from the store. It is vital to remember that the younger the beardie, the smaller the size of the worm. Try finding the worms on a strict diet and are gut-fed with nutrients that’ll boost your lizard friend’s health.
Buy from Bait Shops
You can also buy earthworms from bait shops. These shops breed earthworms to use as fishing baits. For this reason, the bait worms do not contain contaminants such as pesticides or chemicals that could endanger the fish.
However, ensure that these worms are not dyed, as bait shops sometimes dye earthworms to make them more visible in water and make trapping easier. This dye could harm your lizard friend.
You Can Breed Your Own Earthworms
Better still, you can breed and harvest the earthworms in your home. This idea is an excellent option if you want to cut on your pet’s feeding expenses. Home worm production is easy, and you only need a bin set-up to use for breeding.
And, you can feed them your compost waste such as potato peels, lettuce, moldy bread, fruit peals, corn, or spaghetti, and help conserve the environment in the process. The good thing is that earthworms lay eggs and reproduce fast as long as the dirt is moist enough.
Order from Online Vendors
There are enormous online markets that deal in vermiculture (worm raising). These vendors breed earthworms and sell to bait and pet stores at wholesale prices.
Therefore, you can get directly from them by identifying them online. However, you should check for business documentation and determine whether breeders and sellers are registered breeders before buying. Feeding earthworms to your pet shouldn’t be on a trial-and-error basis because they can harm your bearded dragon.
Why You Should Avoid Feeding Your Beardy Earthworms from Your Garden
Although earthworms alone aren’t toxic to bearded dragons, wild earthworms and those from the backyard could be contaminated. These worms crawl across grounds and plants with fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, and various other harmful chemicals. Feeding such organisms to beardies may intoxicate and even cause your beardies’ death.
Wild Earthworms Harbor Parasites
Parasites such as smaller worms and organisms can infest an outdoor worm’s body. You’ll be transferring these harmful organisms to your beardie if you offer them these earthworms and harm or kill your pet in the process.
Can Block and Cause Impaction
When your beardie accidentally eats a large earthworm, or you provide it a random earthworm that’s bigger than the space between its eyes, it can cause blockage and impaction in its gastrointestinal tract. This effect can lead to constipation, or worse, paralysis.
Even though earthworms are readily available and a cheap food option, they have little nutritional content to benefit a bearded dragon. Additionally, a large earthworm intake can pose a health threat and lead to weight-related issues if you don’t control the consumption.
Plus, most beardies find earthworm’s texture rather unpalatable anyway. This is because of the mucus lining that prevents friction when crawling.
Therefore, it would be best to offer your bearded dragon foods that provide significant nutritional values and those they’ll enjoy more than earthworms. Only offer your beardy earthworms as occasional treats.
Featured Image: Witaya Proadtayakogool, Shutterstock
An avid animal lover, Roland started this blog to help all varieties of pets and their owners on their journey to living their best lives.