Feeding Superworms to Bearded dragons

Superworms, also called KingwormsZoophobas, or ‘Supers’, are the larval stage of the Darkling beetle (Zophobas morio). In many aspects, including their appearance, they are very similar to mealworms, but are significantly larger in size.

In some countries, Superworms are cultured commercially on a large scale. Research shows that they are not only suitable to be fed to Bearded dragons, but show promise as food for humans and other animals too. They are quiet, slow-moving, fairly odorless, need little maintenance, and relatively small amount of space. Superworms are relatively easy to the culture at home but are commonly found for sale at specialized pet shops and online retailers (Buy live Superworms from Amazon.com ).

Superworm nutritional values*

As a food, Superworms are fairly high in protein, but also high in fat and has a low calcium availability:

* Values are averages calculated from sources. Expressed as %DM except for moisture.

When comparing Superworms with other crawling food such as mealworms (T. molitor) and butterworms (C. moorei) they have more or less the same protein (ca. 49% (4) (5) (8) (9) (14) (18) vs. 54% (1) (2) (4) (5) (6) (8) (9) (14) & 39% (8) (18) (19) ), more or less the same amount of fat (ca. 36% (5) (7) (9) (14) (18) vs. 30% (1) (2) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (14) & 74% (9) (18) (19) ), are just as tasty and has higher available calcium levels (Ca:P ratio of 1:9 (8) (9) (14) (18) vs. 1:14 (5) (6) (8) (9) (11) (14) (18) & 1:18 (18) (19) ). When compared to crickets (A. domestica)Superworms also have less available calcium (Ca:P ratio of 1:5 (6) (8) (18) vs. 1:9 (8) (9) (14) (18) ), less protein (ca. 64% (3) (5) (6) (8) vs. 49% (4) (5) (8) (9) (14) (18) ), and more fat (ca. 21% (3) (5) (6) (8) vs. 36% (5) (7) (9) (14) (18) ).

Feeding Superworms to Bearded dragons

Because of their high-fat content, as with mealworms, Superworms should only be offered in limited quantities to prevent obesity and stunting of growth. More nutritious foodstuffs, such as silkwormscrickets and Dubia roaches, should make up the bulk of a Bearded dragon’s food.

If the occasional Superworm is offered, they should be the correct size and be fresh. Superworms can be fed in a shallow, escape-proof dish with calcium supplementation to stimulate their intake. Small or baby Superworms (1.2 – 2 cm / ½ – ¾ ” in length) can be fed to juvenile Bearded dragons. Adult Superworms (3.8 – 6.3 cm / 1½ – 2½ ” in length) is perfect for the occasional adult Bearded dragon snack and to improve poor body condition scores of emaciated individuals. Uneaten Superworms should be removed immediately after feeding is over.

Giant mealworms

It might be easy to confuse Superworms with ‘giant’ mealworms. They are not the same thing. Giant mealworms are mealworms (T. molitor) that were treated with steroids in order to manipulate their life cycle. Rather avoid feeding these to Bearded dragons.