Commonly confused with the standard mealworm, superworms are another type of domesticated reptilian food source. They are members of the darkling beetle family, and they eat a surprising number of things.
What do superworms eat? Superworms eat decomposing animals, grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables. They are scavengers and eat whatever they can both in the wild and in captivity, including each other.
What might some favorite foods of superworms be? And how much water do they need in their diet? Whether you plan on keeping superworms as pets or simply want your reptile’s food source to be as fresh as possible, let’s learn more about these insects now.
What Does a Superworm Eat?
A superworm eats a variety of grain or oat products, many fresh fruits, vegetables, and decaying food or animals. They eat whatever they can in the wild, including the corpses of other animals, or even each other and other insect species.
Superworms are often grown commercially to be used as bait or food for domesticated fish, birds, and reptiles. They are a common substitute for mealworms, but should not be confused with them as the two species are different.
Superworms are the larvae of darkling beetles and will pupate into them after a period of time. According to The Carolina Biological Supply Company, the pupating process can be controlled, making superworms fascinating life cycle studies.
A Complete List of 10 Foods Superworms Eat
Superworms eat the following foods:
- Leaves and tree bark
- Fresh fruit, like melon, cucumbers, apples, and carrots
- Fresh vegetables, like sweet potatoes, zucchini, and bell pepper
- Chicken meal
- Decomposing animals
- Other plant matter
- Other insects
- Each other.
The higher the moisture content, the happier your superworms will be. They require a large amount of hydration, but it can be difficult to get this both in the wild and in captivity. Therefore, supplying your mealworms with a wide diet of hydrating fruits and veggies helps them grow.
Superworms are not picky eaters. They are omnivores and eat just about anything. This can include decaying corpses of any type of animal, fallen leaves, tree bark, and any number of decaying plant matter.
A wild superworm is not likely to come across a fresh patch of strawberries or carrots. If a wild or captive superworm gets hungry enough, it will eat its own kind. Therefore, superworms are considered cannibalistic in nature if an ample amount of food is not provided to them.
How Much Does a Superworm Eat?
It is unclear how much a superworm is capable of eating because they eat just about anything that is put in front of them. According to Sciencing, these bugs have a well-defined mouth and multiple legs, capable of seeking out food in a large enclosure or area.
Given that superworms have been known to eat one another if they don’t have enough food, be sure to give them an ample amount of grain and fresh fruit or vegetables a day. They enjoy bran or oats as bedding and will eat their nest throughout the day.
Superworms no doubt spend their entire lives eating, but this does not mean they are mindless. Also according to the Carolina Biological Supply Company, superworms have been known to respond to many different stimuli, such as light, touch, and sound.
Do Superworms Have Any Predators?
Superworms have many predators and are usually bred as a common food for many domesticated animals. These can include:
Humans have also been known to eat superworms, and a study was performed by The Journal of Insect Science about using superworms as a protein alternative to animal products. You could consider superworms as food for humans in the future!
Wild superworms are more likely to be eaten by birds than any other animal, given the ability of birds to peck and root through decaying leaves and plant debris. Other insectivores no doubt also eat wild superworms, given their relatively large size and protein density.
Superworms are often considered a treat for many reptiles and home animals, but they do include a lot of valuable protein and calcium in their bodies. They are very similar to mealworms in terms of their calorie count and nutritional makeup.
What Do I Feed My Pet Superworm?
The following foods are ideal for feeding pet superworms:
- Bell pepper
- Commercial worm feed
- Mulch products.
It is important to note that, while superworms need moisture in order to live, they can die if they are exposed to too much moisture. This can include setting a dish of water into their enclosure or simply exposing them to condensation.
Superworms can be fascinating pets, given their potential for pupating and experimentation. Superworms only become beetles if they are isolated, so you can control when and if your superworm pupates.
However, these bugs can be a bit picky to care for, and you will no doubt have some casualties, especially if you are caring for a large number of them. They don’t want their enclosure to be too moist, they like some heat but not too much, and it is advised to only keep so many superworms in an enclosure at a time.
However, giving your superworm a fresh bran bed in their enclosure allows them to eat and nest with ease. Simply place a cup or shallow dish of oats or bran meal into your superworm’s tank- have 2-5 inches of grain in the container so that there is plenty to go around.
Whether you are caring for superworms for your pet reptile or because you want to observe this fascinating bug pupate, these insects are very forgiving and can be kept as pets with ease!
Summary of 10 Foods Superworms Eat
Here’s a recap of 10 foods that superworms eat in the wild:
|3||Leaves and tree bark|
|4||Fresh fruit (e.g. melon, cucumbers, apples, carrots)|
|5||Fresh vegetables (e.g. sweet potatoes, zucchini, bell pepper)|
|8||Other plant matter|
And here’s a summary of what to feed pet superworms:
|9||Commercial worm feed|
Do Superworms Bite?
It may not seem like it but superworms can and do bite. Although they are not aggressive, and their bites are not harmful to humans, it is said to resemble more of a pinprick to the skin and can be more of a surprise than anything else. In animals, it may have more of an effect, and be more uncomfortable, depending on the size and thickness of their skin. Some species of reptiles can bruise after a bite, and even have blood drawn, while other animals may just jump back in surprise or even flinch.
Superworms are typically used as food for bearded dragons and it is common for them to bite the inside of your bearded dragon’s mouth while they are being eaten. These worms also have a small pin on their backs that they can use to attack, which is why it is advised to monitor feeding times and avoid feeding them to smaller, younger animals.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ph.wittaya/Shutterstock.com
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