Mealworm FAQs

Mealworm FAQs


Table of Contents

What are mealworms?

Mealworms are the larvae of a type of darkling beetle, Tenebrio molitor. They are very commonly used as feeder insects for insectivorous and omnivorous reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds, and more.

Are mealworms and superworms the same?

No. Mealworms and superworms can look a lot alike, which is why people sometimes get them confused. However, they're entirely different species! Mealworms are Tenebrio molitor, while superworms are Zophobas morio. They are also quite different in terms of the nutrition that they have to offer.

What are the nutrition facts for mealworms?

  • Moisture — 61.9%
  • Protein — 18.7%
  • Fat — 13.4%
  • Ash — 0.9%
  • Fiber — 2.5%
  • Calcium — 169mg/kg
  • Phosphorus — 2950mg/kg 

Are mealworms bad feeders?

Some people don't like mealworms because they claim that they have too much chitin (exoskeleton/shell), and that they will give a reptile impaction if used. Like most information on impaction, this is a myth. Mealworms do have a low meat-to-shell ratio compared to some other feeders, and that makes them harder to digest. However, healthy reptiles are perfectly capable of digesting them. Make sure you have correct husbandry in terms of basking temperatures, UVB lighting, hydration, and other factors to minimize your pet's risk of impaction and other illnesses.

How do I house/store mealworms?

Keeping mealworms is very easy to do. After you have ordered your mealworms from, they will arrive in a small plastic tub. It's best to take them out of this transport container and transfer them to a permanent form of housing, which can be a plastic tub or critter keeper. If using a tub, make sure to poke plenty of holes in the lid for ventilation.

Fill the tub with a few inches of edible substrate such as oat bran or uncooked oatmeal and add some pieces of nutritious vegetables for a source of water. Also make sure to provide a lid or small paper plate with food for gut-loading.

Mealworms kept in tubs together generally don't pupate into beetles, but it has been known to happen. If you accidentally end up with a beetle or few, you can try feeding it to your pet or use them to breed your own mealworms. Many exotic pets quite enjoy eating darkling beetles!

How do I gut-load mealworms?

Gut-loading is the process of using a nutritious diet to increase the nutritional value of feeders. Mealworms are not picky eaters, but some things are better to feed them than others, because what you feed to your mealworms will inevitably find its way to your pet.

You can use a high-quality commercial mealworm gutload formula, or you can just provide a steady supply of nutritious, nontoxic vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens. Avoid avocado, onions, citrus, and other vegetables known to be potentially harmful to reptiles.

For best results, gut-load your mealworms for at least 24 hours before feeding them to your pet. 

How long do mealworms last?

Mealworms generally last about 3-4 weeks when they are kept properly. The better you take care of them, the fewer of them will die before you have a chance to feed them off.

How do I feed mealworms to my pet?

It's easy to feed mealworms to your pet. But first, you need to coat them in calcium powder. This helps balance the amount of phosphorus that they contain, because too much phosphorus in the diet can cause animals to stop absorbing calcium correctly. You can do this by sticking the worms in a paper or plastic bag with some calcium powder inside and gently shaking until they are evenly coated.

Once the mealworms have been dusted with calcium, place them in an escape-proof bowl for your pet to eat from, or you can try hand-feeding them from your palm or with a pair of soft-tipped feeding tweezers.

Why are some of my mealworms white?

Like other insects, mealworms regularly shed their skin (a process called molting) as they grow. When freshly-molted, they are a creamy white color and their bodies are very soft. Their original color and hardness will return in a few hours or so. However, if you find a freshly-molted mealworm, try feeding it to your pet — many exotic pets seem to relish the opportunity to eat a freshly-molted insect.

What happens if my order arrives dead?

We make every effort to ensure that your order arrives alive, which is why we also include a few extra to compensate for any losses. However, we can't always guarantee the weather or how the postal service will treat your package. If your order arrives dead, please send us a photo of the dead mealworms in the container that they were shipped in. Once this is verified, we will send you a replacement or issue a credit to your account. We can't guarantee mealworms that have been left out on your porch for more than 1 hour.

What if I receive something I didn't order?

If you receive the wrong item, shoot us a message with your order number, the item you received, and the item you were supposed to receive. We do our best to avoid mix-ups, but mistakes still happen on occasion, and we'll be happy to send you a replacement.


If you have any questions that haven't been answered here, go to the page for your product in question and scroll to the customer reviews and post your question there.

Learn more about mealworms in our Mealworm Care Sheet!