Bearded dragons are omnivores. While they need plenty of plant-based nutrients in their diet, they’ll also need some animal-based food. While you might already know that bearded dragons eat insects to compensate for the required animal nutrients, you might wonder: can bearded dragons eat wax worms?
Captive animals like bearded dragons enjoy eating wax worms due to their nutritional benefits. Little wonder it’s common at pet stores across the country.
To find out how safe wax worms are for your bearded dragon, I conducted some research. In this article, you’ll learn all the results of my findings.
You’ll also learn how safe they are for bearded dragons and the nutritional benefits of wax worms to bearded dragons.
What Are Wax Worms?
Waxworms are the larvae of wax moths, and they recently shot into the limelight after a recent discovery that they can indeed eat plastic!
Waxworms are popular food for pet lizards. Your bearded dragon is also a species of lizard. So you should allow them to eat wax worms freely, shouldn’t you?
Maybe you shouldn’t.
Throughout this guide, you’ll learn why you may not actively want to feed wax worms to your bearded dragons.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Wax Worms?
Bearded dragons will readily eat wax worms as long as they’re available. They’re the perfect food size for beardies, and they’re soft enough to consume without chewing hard.
However, wax worms might not be the best food for your bearded dragons. While you can occasionally let your beardies eat wax worms as a threat, they should never make a significant portion of your beardie’s diet.
Before looking at the importance and risks of bearded dragons eating wax worms, let’s look at the specific nutritional contents of wax worms.
A live wax worm has a high moisture content, making up about 62% of the insect. While bearded dragons don’t need lots of water, eating wax worms won’t be harmful.
The next most dominant nutrient in a wax worm is fats. An average wax worm serving contains 22.2% fats, which might be good or bad for your pet, depending on the quantity.
Waxworms also supply a respectable amount of protein, making up around 15% of the total nutritional value.
Other nutrients that bearded dragons get from eating wax worms include calcium, phosphorus, and fiber. Each of these nutrients performs various functions that we’ll analyze below.
However, one thing you should know is that bearded dragons have an imbalanced Calcium-Phosphorus ratio. This isn’t ideal for bearded dragons for reasons which we’ll explain later in this guide.
Nutritional Benefits of Wax Worms to Bearded Dragons
- High moisture content
If you keep a beardie, you’ll understand how painful it is to get them to drink water. However, bearded dragons need water in their diet, just like any other animal.
You can bridge this gap by feeding your bearded dragons with foods that are high in moisture. If your beardie eats plenty of moisture-heavy foods, you won’t need to have it drink a lot of water.
- Contains calcium
Waxworms contain calcium, a nutrient responsible for the synthesis of strong bones and teeth in bearded dragons.
However, there’s a catch; wax worms are equally deficient in vitamin D3. Since bearded dragons require vitamin D3 to metabolize calcium effectively, you should only feed wax worms to bearded dragons with vitamin D3 supplementation.
If you let your beardie under the sun (without any glass covers), it can automatically generate vitamin D3.
Another problem is the imbalanced calcium to phosphorus ratio, which is around 1:8 in wax worms. Since phosphorus does a great job of neutralizing calcium, the calcium in wax worms is almost insignificant.
- Contains Fiber
Almost all animals need fiber, as it helps in excreting waste from food. If your beardie’s food is fiber deficient, your bearded dragon will suffer from constipation and other excretory issues.
Fortunately, fiber is present in wax worms in healthy quantities. To be specific, 7.7% of a wax worm is fiber.
At least, you don’t have to worry about uncomfortable excretion when your beardies eat wax worms.
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Dead Wax Worms?
Many people don’t seem to care if their bearded dragon is eating live or dead wax worms. However, there are distinctions between the two, and they have different nutritional values.
Dead wax worms appear dark and stiffened, and they don’t move at all. Living ones, on the other hand, keep a beige color and wiggle around.
While dead wax worms are not particularly dangerous, you must exercise caution. Waxworms that died due to contamination by some chemicals can be hazardous to your pet.
How Many Wax Worms Should a Bearded Dragon Eat?
The number of wax worms you feed to your bearded dragon should depend on their age and nutritional requirements.
Older bearded dragons require fewer animal-based proteins and more plant-based nutrients. In this sense, their diet should consist of mostly (60-70%) plants and fewer (30-40%) insects.
For younger beardies, it’s the direct opposite. They need more animal-based nutrients, and fruits and vegetables should only make about 30% of their overall diet.
Judging by these requirements, it is clear that baby bearded dragons should eat more wax worms than adult ones.
So, you can feed your wax worms to your baby bearded dragon in small quantities every day. 3 to 5 wax worms shouldn’t be excessive but should be highly supplemented.
Adults can eat three wax worms too, but less frequently. Most times, you shouldn’t feed them with wax worms more than once every week.
Also, if you’ll ever feed your bearded dragon with wax worms, you must accompany it with carefully selected supplemental insects.
Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Wax Worms?
Baby dragons can eat wax worms in moderate quantities, as long as it supplements well with other insects.
However, many other worms are healthier than wax worms and are also more delicious to baby dragons. You can even get some of them cheaper than you would a wax worm.
The availability of those options doesn’t justify the decision to feed wax worms to your baby beardie.
Alternative Worms For Bearded Dragons
Can we agree on the fact that wax worms are not the perfect beardie food?
There is an extensive collection of worms out there, better than wax worms for bearded dragons. In this section, I’ll list some of them, so you can add them to your list if you’re yet to purchase wax worms.
Of the worms mentioned above, wax worms appear to be the worst in nutritional value. Why even buy them to feed your bearded dragon when they don’t provide specific advantages over other options.
If you already have the worms, there’s no harm in feeding them to a bearded dragon. However, if you’re planning to buy them, you’re better off getting a silkworm or a super worm instead.
Waxworms are a very popular kind of worm, but not due to their nutritional value for beardies.
However, can bearded dragons eat wax worms?
From this article, it’s clear that bearded dragons can and do eat wax worms. However, wax worms don’t appear to be the best food choice for these lizards.
Waxworms aren’t as bad for young beardie as they are for the oldies. It’s still not a perfect food for them nonetheless. Young beardies need more proteins and fats, and wax worms provide that.
If you’re feeding wax worms to your bearded dragons, you’ll want to supplement them with some calcium and vitamin D3; wax worms are deficient in that!