How Many Mealworms To Feed A Bearded Dragon: The Magic Number

Bearded dragons eat various insects, from crickets to Dubia roaches. Mealworms can be a tasty, nutritious addition to your bearded dragon’s diet. But considering its richness, how many are just right?

Mealworms should only be regarded as rare treats and not daily munchies. Adult bearded dragons should only eat a maximum of 5-6 mealworms in a single feeding once a week. Juveniles at least eight months old get less, only 1-2 mealworms in a single feeding once a week. While mealworms provide some nutritional benefits, some disadvantages come with eating them too often.

Read on to learn the pros, cons, and how-tos of feeding your bearded dragon mealworms!

Advantages of Feeding Mealworms 

how many mealworms to feed a bearded dragon

With a total length of half an inch long, mealworms are small but jampacked in terms of nutrition. But that’s not the only reason you would feed them to your beardie!

Cheap and easily accessible

Mealworms are incredibly cheap. Generally, you can get 1,000 live mealworms for just $20 online. Dried ones are even more affordable.

It can be bred at home

mealworm breeding

If you don’t want to purchase mealworms to replenish your stock regularly, they are easy to grow and breed at home.

All you need is a container with holes for ventilation, a food supply (such as bread slices of potato), and a starting batch of mealworms. Afterward, they will take care of reproducing themselves.

Editor’s Note
One great thing about mealworms is their quiet and low-maintenance! You can easily ignore them in a corner, unlike crickets and Dubia roaches.

Here’s a video explaining mealworm breeding at home:

You can use it to encourage reptilian pets to eat

bearded dragon food on plate

Owners sometimes struggle to get their pet reptiles to eat, from chameleons to bearded dragons. Because mealworms are so tasty, they often work to get a lizard interested in eating again. 

They make filling meals

Mealworms are large and juicy, so your pet only needs to eat a few to become satiated. Additionally, their high-fat content gives lizards lots of energy per bite.

They are full of moisture

Like many other desert animals, bearded dragons aren’t big drinkers, relying instead on the moisture content of their food. Therefore, a live mealworm’s 62% moisture level significantly contributes to your beardie staying hydrated.

They are highly nutritious

Live and dried mealworms offer slightly different amounts of nutrients. Dried ones give almost twice as much protein, though live ones give much more moisture.

Nutritional Information of Mealworms 

One live mealwormOne dried mealworm
Calcium13.3mg/100 grams13.3mg/100 grams

Regarding calcium, 13.3mg/100 grams sounds like a lot, but one mealworm weighs about 100 milligrams. That means your beardie must eat 1,000 mealworms to get 13.3 mg of calcium!

It’s best to give your bearded dragon additional calcium supplements to reach its needs.

Disadvantages of Feeding Bearded Dragons Mealworms 

Despite the many advantages and nutrients your pet may draw from eating mealworms, it’s not recommended to feed it them too often. As they say, everything is best in moderation.

Here are four possible disadvantages of mealworms:

They can be a choking hazard

bearded dragon choking

Mealworms have a hard outer shell, which can be a choking hazard for your pet if it isn’t careful. On rare occasions, it may also cause impaction for your pet.

This hard shell is why experts discourage feeding baby bearded dragons mealworms.

Too much can lead to obesity

Obese Bearded Dragon

These worms have relatively high-fat content, so too many of them can cause your pet to become overweight and develop diseases such as fatty liver disease.

High phosphorus levels can cause calcium deficiency

Bearded Dragon with limp leg

Phosphorus is acceptable and even healthy in moderate amounts, but too much can disrupt your beardie’s ability to absorb calcium. 

And, as most pet owners know, calcium deficiency is a severe issue among reptiles since it can develop into Metabolic Bone Disease.

Mealworms are very addictive

bearded dragon with tongue out

Mealworms can be addictive for bearded dragons. If they enjoy it too often, they may refuse to eat anything else!

How many and how often can I feed my bearded dragon mealworms?

An optimal bearded dragon’s diet will consist of 80% vegetables and only about 20% insects and bugs. Therefore, the bulk of your beardies should be lettuce, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and more to be healthy.

Considering this ratio, and also the cons that come with eating mealworms, experts suggest

Juvenile (Between 8-18 months)1 – 2 mealworms a week in a single feeding session 
Adult5 – 6 mealworms a week in a single feeding session 

Editor’s Note
It’s better to feed young bearded dragons young, live mealworms since these haven’t fully developed their hard outer shells yet!

Factors for determining the number of mealworms for your bearded dragon

What is the ratio of mealworms to the other insects you are feeding your bearded dragon? Here are a few things to factor in.

  • Weight – if your bearded dragon is overweight, lessen its mealworms.
  • Activity Level – The more active your pet, the more mealworms they need, and vice versa.
  • Other food – If they eat many rich, fatty foods, you can cut down on their mealworm treats!

How to feed mealworms to bearded dragons 

There are two ways to feed your bearded dragon mealworms–but it’s important to prepare them first!

Prepping the worms

Calcium Supplements With Vitamin D

Before feeding the mealworms to your bearded dragon, season them with a generous sprinkling of calcium supplements with vitamin D, if possible. This will counter the effects of the mealworm’s phosphorus and make the meal more nutritionally beneficial for your pet.

Two Feeding Methods

If you want to bond with your pet beardie, you can feed it its mealworms by hand by gently placing each worm one at a time near its mouth. Alternatively, you can use tweezers to avoid getting accidentally nipped in the fingers.

If you are uncomfortable doing so, place the mealworms in a bowl or dish for your bearded dragon. A bowl would give the worms fewer chances to escape, but younger bearded dragons might find eating from a flatter dish easier.

How to store mealworms for bearded dragons

There are two ways to store live mealworms for your pet: in the fridge or at room temperature.

Storing in the fridge

To keep mealworms for longer, keep them in the refrigerator, where they will stay alive and fresh for ten weeks. 

Place your mealworms in a container with a two-inch layer of oatmeal or wheat middling. This will act as their bedding and food source.

The lower temperature of about 45 – 50°F will cause them to enter a dormant state and slow their physical processes. But they still need food and water to stay alive.

Once every two weeks, remove them from the fridge, warm them up for an hour, then give them water and food (such as thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, or lettuce leaves). After a few hours, remove the leftovers and return them to the fridge.

Storing at room temperature

Live mealworms can also be left outside at room temperature. However, remember to occasionally provide them with water and food to keep them alive.

Remember that this setup will make them mature into pupae after about a month and eventually become beetles. 

Beetles should be separated and moved into a different container from the mealworms or set free in your garden since they will no longer be edible for your beardie.

Editor’s Note
Mealworms need lots of air! Wherever you store them, ensure their container has plenty of small holes for airflow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can My Bearded Dragon Eat Dead Mealworms?

No. Mealworms lose their nutrients when they die, meaning it will only be an empty meal for your bearded dragon. The worms will also be dried out, making them difficult to eat and digest for your pet.

Throwing them out and feeding your bearded dragon something else is much better.

Dead mealworms are different from dried mealworms, which are processed and safe to eat.

How Do I Know My Bearded Dragon Is Eating Too Many Mealworms?

Signs of too many mealworms in a bearded dragon include obesity, sluggishness, and loose stools.

Can I Feed My Pregnant Bearded Dragon Mealworms?

Experts do not recommend feeding mealworms to your pregnant bearded dragon. Instead, give it plenty of vegetables and other more nutritious insects such as Dubia roaches, hornworms, super worms, and crickets.


Treats are rarely bad as long as they are enjoyed in moderation. While bearded dragons can enjoy the occasional mealworm, limit their consumption to only a few worms once a week.

Variety is also always good. Mix up your beardie’s diet with various vegetables and bugs to keep it interested and cover all its nutritional needs.

These tips will keep your bearded dragon healthier for longer and allow you both to enjoy each other’s company for many more years.

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