Can Bearded Dragons Eat Superworms (Morio Worms)? featured image
Bearded Dragon Insects

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Superworms (Morio Worms)?

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Can bearded dragons eat Superworms (Morio Worms)? Are superworms for bearded dragons a suitable diet? Bearded dragons can eat superworms regularly. They’re not overly nutritious but they’re OK. Baby bearded dragons should not be fed Superworms as they’re too big and cause too great an impaction risk.

What Are Superworms (or Morio Worms)?

can a bearded dragon eat super worms
Can bearded dragons eat Morio Worms?

Super worms, or Morio worms are the larvae of a darkling beetle Zophobas morio[1]. They’re also known as King worms or Zophobas worms. However, in the bearded dragon world they’re generally called Superworms or Morio worms. The two terms are generally used interchangeably.

Morio worms should not be confused with the superlarge mealworms which are simply overgrown mealworms who’ve been sprayed with hormones to make them grow larger.

Morio worms grow to around 5cm long (2 inches) and unlike the large mealworms mentioned above they have a very dark tail area. They had 6 small legs at the very front near their head. Morio worms can often be seen walking backwards for some reason known presumably only to themselves.

If left alone (without constant bodily contact with other Morios) they will eventually pupate and become the adult darkling beetle. Morios who are in constant contact with other Morio worms will often eat each other if there is not sufficient food around them.

They’re used as a food source for many reptiles, birds and fish, including of course, bearded dragons.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Superworms (Morio Worms)?

Superworms can definitely be fed to bearded dragons and they’re one of the insects we use to feed our own bearded dragons. They should be fed as part of a mixed insect diet though as they’re not a great source of calcium and they’re a little bit heavy on fat.

Morio worms have a good moisture content and a good protein content. They tend to move faster than a mealworm and can be a good sport for your bearded dragon to catch and eat. They do have a chitinous outer shell however, although as they’re bigger than a mealworm, the shell is less of the overall content of the meal and should potentially pose less of an impaction risk.

Having said that we wouldn’t recommend Morio worms for small babies as they’re considerably bigger than mealworms and that chitin shell could cause impact or choking hazards for baby beardies.

There are stories on the internet that Morio worms have eaten their way out of a bearded dragon’s stomach. We’ve never seen any evidence to support this, and particularly in the case of an adult bearded dragon being fed Morios we’d have to say it would be quite a feat. Bearded dragons do have teeth and they’re used to demolish super worms quite effectively.

Advantages of Superworms For Bearded Dragons

  • Larger and more satisfying for adults than mealworms
  • More protein and calcium than mealworms
  • Less fat than Waxworms
  • Less phosphorus than mealworms
  • More active and harder to catch than mealworms (more fun!)
  • Very easy and hardy to keep

Disadvantages of Morio Worms For Bearded Dragons

  • Not really suitable for babies
  • Still not a great source of calcium (but better than mealworms)
  • Hard outer shell can present an impaction risk

How Should I Feed Superworms To A Bearded Dragon

Super worms, or Morio worms are really easy to feed to a bearded dragon. They’re quite mobile though and if you’re thinking of using a small feeding dish or bowl you’ll need an escape proof one because Morios will leave if they get the chance.

We feed Morio worms to our girls in a couple of different ways. Sometimes we’ll feed them by hand – where we just hold the tail of the Morio worm in front of the bearded dragon who’ll almost immediately snatch it from our fingers with their sticky tongue. This can be quite a good way to bond with your bearded dragon and them with you. We don’t recommend hand feeding all the time though as your bearded dragon will become extremely lazy.

The other way we like to feed Morio worms to our girls is to have them out of the vivarium on the floor (make sure the room is warm though) and then throw Morio worms somewhere where they can see them. Don’t put them too close to the bearded dragon so that the dragon is forced to chase them. Morios can move pretty well and will always try to find shady areas to hide so you will need to keep your eye on them. That’s if your bearded dragon isn’t quick anyway. Most of the time ours would run across the room to get to a Morio worm.

Finally you can add some Morio worms to a salad dish to get a beardie interested in salad. However, do be aware that Morios are great escapees so you should only do this while supervising the salad eating.

Super worms should be dusted with a suitable calcium supplement to make up for the lack of calcium they provide. Morios can also be gutloaded with leafy greens a couple of hours before feeding to help improve the nutritional content of the worm.

How Many Superworms Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon?

Adult bearded dragons can be fed Morio worms once a week. We recommend mixing up the diet a bit with other bugs and due to their fat content Morio worms aren’t the best bug to feed a bearded dragon on a permanent basis. But they can be used nicely to mix up the diet a bit.

Baby bearded dragons are too small for Morio worms due to their size and the hard chitin shell, though once they reach 6 months old they should be OK.

To gauge how many to feed, give your bearded dragon as many Morio worms as they’ll eat in about a ten minute sitting. As we mentioned above this is best done by making the dragon catch the super worms themselves if you can. This provides great stimulation and exercise and helps reduce over-feeding.

Can I Feed Dried Superworms To My Bearded Dragon?

We don’t recommend dried bugs for any bearded dragon. Part of the fun of having a bearded dragon is to watch it catch its prey and you’ll miss out on that if you use dried bugs. Also, the dried bugs will do absolutely nothing to help keep your bearded dragon hydrated and finally the dried form of the bugs have less nutritional value than live.

If you can’t bear to handle the creepy crawlies you can buy tongs or tweezers from any kitchen retailer and can handle the Morio worms that way.

Nutritional Data For Superworms For Bearded Dragons

Nutritional ItemContent
Moisture (%)63.0
Fat (%)17.7
Protein (%)19.7
Ash (%)1.0
Calcium (mg/kg)177 (0.02%)
Phosphorus (mg/kg)2370 (0.24%)
Potassium (mg/kg)2860 (0.29%)
Nutritional Data For Super Worms For Bearded Dragons [2]


Notice that really quite high fat and protein content for the superworm – this is one reason we suggest superworms are only fed semi-regularly for bearded dragons. The calcium level means they need dusting with a good calcium powder to boost that level up. Too much fat can lead to obesity and too much protein can lead to gout.

Summary

When we think of the question “Can bearded dragons eat Superworms” or “Are super worms for bearded dragons OK” then the answer is yes they are. We don’t recommend them as the only insect that a bearded dragon is fed as they’re a little too fatty but they can be fed semi regularly so long as they dusted with a calcium supplement and preferably gutloaded.

Frequency: Babies – never. Adults – semi-regularly.

References / Credits

1: Zophobas morio – Wikipedia

2: Finke, Mark. “Complete nutrient content of four species of commercially available feeder insects fed enhanced diets during growth”. Zoobiology (2015). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/zoo.21246

Featured image provided By André Karwath aka Aka – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=221008

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