Can Bearded Dragons Eat Hornworms?

Can bearded dragons eat hornworms? Are hornworms for bearded dragons OK? Yes, they are – with some caveats you can find out more here.

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Are hornworms for bearded dragons OK? Can bearded dragons eat hornworms? The answer is yes bearded dragons can eat Hornworms occasionally. They’re not a good insect to feed all the time, but as a treat they’re excellent.

What Are Hornworms For Bearded Dragons?

Hornworms are the caterpillar larvae of the Five Spotted Hawkmoth. There are two types of Hornworms, both in the same family and both of similar appearance. The tomato hornworm is considered a major pest in the USA with the tobacco hornworm being less prevalent in the North.

The hornworm is so named because it has what appears to be a large horn at the rear end of its body. They feed on tomato plants, Aubergine plants (Eggplants), Tobacco plants, Moonflowers and potato plants.

Hornworms can be repelled to some extent by Marigold plants. Because Hornworms are considered to such a pest to the environment and farmers, do not ever just release Hornworms into the wild. If your bearded dragon does not eat them you should consider freezing them and then discarding them into the bin rather than releasing them.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Hornworms?

Bearded dragons can eat hornworms. They have a reasonable nutrition profile, however, similar to Earthworms they do have a significant moisture content which can lead to over-hydration and diarrhea. They’re also quite likely to be more expensive to purchase than Earthworms.

Hornworms tend to only be available in the United States and/or Canada. We’ve certainly not heard of anyone in the UK feeding their bearded dragons on Hornworms and further research indicates that they are forbidden in the UK.

Hornworms do have a reasonably decent level of Calcium in them with minimal fat, almost no ash and a reasonable protein profile.

Advantages Of Hornworms For Bearded Dragons

  • Soft bodied – easy to swallow
  • Easy and hardy to keep – just keep damp
  • Reasonable Calcium levels and can be dusted with supplement
  • Good for babies as well as adults

Disadvantages Of Hornworms For Bearded Dragons

  • Potential to overhydrate
  • Illegal to own in the UK

How Should I Feed Hornworms To A Bearded Dragon

Hornworms can be fed easily to a bearded dragon. They’re relative slow, nice and wiggly and stimulate your bearded dragons feeding response nicely. Their colour will contrast nicely with light flooring tiles or light coloured food bowls.

If you substrate is loose (such as play sand or sterile topsoil/playsand mix) then do not feed hornworms directly in the vivarium. Your bearded dragon could do without ingesting large amounts of sand or soil along with its hornworm.

Most people though will feed hornworms on the floor of the human living area. Often, this will be done by placing the brightly coloured wiggly caterpillar as far away from the bearded dragon as possible. Since they’re quite slow, but brightly coloured, they elicit quite the hunting response from your bearded dragon who, once they spot the caterpillar, will usually run as fast as they can and grab the hornworm. Be prepared for a bit of a mess though. Hornworms often explode in a nasty jello like catastrophe that your bearded dragon will have no interest in cleaning up for you.

How Many Hornworms Should I Feed A Bearded Dragon?

Although hornworms are quite nutritious, they can be relatively expensive and the amount of moisture in them relegates them to the ‘Occasional’ pile of Bearded Dragon food. Many dragons love a nice hornworm nosh now and then though so you can probably feed one or two a week without too much drama.

Just beware that too many will likely lead to runny poos and a big mess to clean up in the vivarium.

Can I Feed Dried Hornworms To My Bearded Dragon?

I’ve been unable to find any supplier for dried hornworms. I suspect because they are so much moisture content it would take too many hornworms to provide enough material and would be economically unviable.

Nutritional Data For Earthworms For Bearded Dragons

Nutritional ItemContent
Moisture (%)85
Fat (%)3.07
Protein (%)9
Ash (%)0
Calcium (mg/kg)464 (0.046%)
Phosphorus (mg/kg)1394 (0.139%)
Potassium (mg/kg)Unknown
Nutritional Data For Hornworms For Bearded Dragons [1]


So, can bearded dragons eat hornworms and are hornworms for bearded dragons OK? The answer is yes, in moderation, hornworms are fine for bearded dragons. Their large moisture content can lead to runny poops though so if you feed too many at once be prepared to clean up a mess.


1: Hornworm FAQs, June 2020, Fetched on 29 January 2021.

Featured Image by Margaret Martin from Pixabay