Feeding live Silkworms to Bearded dragons
Silkworms, also called ‘silkies’, are the larvae (or caterpillar) stage of the Mulberry silkmoth (Bombyx mori). They are generally cultured privately on a small-scale or commercially on farms for their ability to produce silk. With their high protein and relative low fat content, silkworms are considered to be amongst the best insect foods for Bearded dragons.
Although their natural life cycle is seasonal, silkworms are easy and relative cheap to keep and culture. In some countries they are also readily available from specialised pet shops and online retailers (Buy live silkworms from Amazon.com ). Silkworms are quiet, slow-moving, fairly odourless, need little maintenance and relative small amounts of space.
Silkworm nutritional values*
Silkworms offer great value as food for Bearded dragons. When looking at their nutritional composition, they are high in protein, vitamines, calcium and other minerals and low in fat:
- Moisture 20% (5)
- Total protein 59% (5) (17)
- Total fat 17% (5) (17)
- Calcium:Phosphorus ratio 1:2 (13)
* Values are averages calculated from sources. Expressed as %DM except moisture.
When comparing silkworms with other crawling food such as mealworms (T. molitor), they have similar amounts of protein (ca. 59% (5) (17) vs. 54% (1) (2) (4) (5) (6) (8) (9) (14) ), less fat (ca. 17% (5) (17) vs. 30% (1) (2) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (14) ), more usable calcium (Ca:P ratio of about 1:2 (13) vs. 1:14 (5) (6) (8) (9) (11) (14) (18) ) and are just as tasty. When compared to crickets (A. domestica), silkworms have similar protein levels (ca. 64% (3) (5) (6) (8) vs. 59% (5) (17) ), less available calcium (ca. 1:5 (6) (8) (18) vs. 1:2 (13) ) and similar amounts of fat (21% (3) (5) (6) (8) vs. 17% (5) (17) ).
Feeding silkworms to Bearded dragons
When available, silkworms can be fed to any size and age Bearded dragon. They are considered palatable (tasty) and are readily accepted by Bearded dragons and other insectivorous reptiles (making them a great choice for picky eaters too). Silkworms have soft bodies that make them easy and safe to swallow and digest. Because of their high protein and available calcium levels, they are popularly fed to gravid female and growing Bearded dragons.