Ever wonder what type of feeder insect is best to feed to your reptile or amphibian? Here is a basic breakdown of some of the most common feeder insects available, along with pros and cons of each.
Remember, it is highly recommended to enrich whatever feeder insects you choose by gut-loading them, and dusting them with the appropriate calcium and multivitamin dust. Feeder insects can be more or less nutritious, depending on what you feed them.
Feeder crickets are the most popular feeder insect throughout the herp community. It’s easy to see why - crickets come in various sizes, are widely available, and are fairly nutritious for most reptiles and amphibians. Nothing gets a stronger feeding response in frogs, geckos, bearded dragons, and other various reptiles than crickets.
Crickets contain: 74% Moisture, 18% Protein, 6% Fat, 1% Ash, and 14mg/100g Calcium.
Mealworms are extremely popular in the leopard gecko community, as well as with large toads, frogs, and even turtles. They often come in 2 different sizes: small (called mealworms) or large (called kingworms or giant mealworms). Mealworms are a convenient choice, as they can be kept in the fridge for weeks without pupating (turning into a beetle). This means a long-life worm and less food waste.
Mealworms contain: 59% Moisture, 10% Protein, 13% Fat, 1% Ash, and 3.28mg/100g Calcium.
Superworms are a large worm, usually around 2” to 3” in length. It is recommended you only feed these to larger lizards, such as full grown bearded dragons, as they have a hard husk which some young lizards have a hard time digesting. Turtles also enjoy them as treats. To debunk a popular myth, there is no solid proof that superworms can chew their way out of a lizard’s belly. However, if you want to be safe, you can pinch the head of the worm, and then feed it immediately to your lizard, as it will still wiggle a bit.
Superworms contain: 59% Moisture, 20% Protein, 16% Fat, 1% Ash, and 10.8mg/100g Calcium.
Waxworms make a great treat for almost any lizard. However, take caution, as waxworms contain high amounts of fat. To prevent obesity, do not make waxworms a daily part of your reptile’s diet. Because of their high fat content, waxworms make a nutritious food for sick lizards, or those that need to gain weight quickly, such as leopard geckos.
Waxworms contain: 61% Moisture, 16% Protein, 20% Fat, 1% Ash, and 13.14mg/100g Calcium.
Butterworms (Trevo Worms)
Butterworms make a wonderful feeder for all lizards. As a nutritional bonus, they contain high levels of calcium, second only to hornworms. One of the least available feeder insects on the market, butter worms are uncommonly used as feeders, but they can make a healthy addition to your reptile’s diet.
Butterworms contain: 58% Moisture, 16% protein, 5% fat, 1% Ash, and 42.9mg/100g Calcium.
Hornworms are a healthy feeder insect to include in almost any herp’s diet. These large worms are low in fat, high in calcium, and contain no hard chitin exterior, contrary to many feeder worms, which makes them easy to digest. Their high moisture content lends itself to a unique “gush” factor when they are eaten. Full grown worms are around 4” in length.
Hornworms contain: 85% moisture, 9% protein, 3% fat, and 46.4mg/100g Calcium.
Silkworms are naturally one of the healthiest insects you can get to feed your pet. Unfortunately, they can be difficult feeders to keep. Silkworms are low in fat, and a high source of calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, sodium, and vitamins B1, B2, and B3. These are very popular feeders for bearded dragons and other lizards, such as basilisks.
Silkworms contain: 76% moisture, 64% protein, 10% fat, 7% ash, and 34mg/100g Calcium.
DISCLAIMER: All Nutritional information was gathered by external laboratories and may be missing values and may not be precise.
Sources and More Information
Beautiful Dragons Reptile Rescue http://www.beautifuldragons.com/Nutrition.html
Elliot's Butterworms http://www.elliotsbutterworms.com/nutrition.htm