Live insects are a great way to feed your pet insectivore or omnivore. They stimulate hunting instincts, encourage exercise, and it’s a good way to guarantee that the food you’re giving to your pet is fresh. However, many reptile keepers are worried that their pet will get bitten by these live insects.
In theory, anything with a mouth can bite. But not everything with a mouth can do damage with that bite. Here’s the breakdown on superworms and their biting potential, as well as bites from other common feeder insects.
Do Superworms Bite?
Yes, superworms are known to bite. Larger ones can pinch human skin (which is said to be startling, but not terribly painful), and they can bruise or potentially draw blood from reptiles with thin skin. Superworm beetles may nibble your hand, but they don’t seem to be able to or interested in piercing skin on humans or reptiles.
It’s best to be careful when feeding superworms to small or young reptiles. However, they’re unlikely to be able to chew through living flesh, and stories about superworms chewing through reptile stomachs are likely the result of the reptile dying from a separate cause before the superworm could be digested.
If you are concerned about feeder superworms biting your reptile, crush the head just prior to feeding and use soft-tipped feeding tweezers. Note that crushing the head may diminish your reptile’s feeding response.
Do Mealworms Bite?
No. Like superworms, mealworms do have mandibles, but they seem to be too small and weak to be noticed by humans or reptiles if biting is attempted. Mealworm beetles also do not seem inclined or able to bite.
Do Dubia Roaches Bite?
No, dubia roaches don’t bite humans or reptiles. They have leg spines that can startle human handlers with a small pinch, but they don’t pose any danger to humans or reptiles in any way. Even if feeder roaches get accidentally loose in the terrarium, they are unlikely to bother a reptile.
Do Crickets Bite?
Yes, crickets can bite. They don’t usually bite humans, but there are exceptions. In these cases they are generally unable to break human skin, but they can do some damage to reptiles. Crickets are known to chew on sleeping reptiles and cause injury when left unsupervised in a terrarium, especially when they have no alternative food source. Crickets are also known to damage live plants and chew up styrofoam backgrounds and decor.
It’s best to be careful when feeding crickets to your pet reptile or amphibian. Offer in a separate container or via feeding tongs when possible, and when not possible, remove all uneaten crickets after feeding time is over. As a further precaution, make sure to have a source of cricket food in the terrarium so any loose crickets will be less likely to chew on the reptile occupant.
Do Hornworms Bite?
Sometimes. Small hornworms have barely noticeable mandibles and generally don’t pose a biting risk. However, once they grow past the 3” mark or so, they gain some impressive mandibles that can definitely deliver a pinch. Although hornworms are herbivorous, they may bite in self-defense, which can cause a bruise on the reptile and possibly draw a bit of blood.
Bites during feeding are generally pretty rare, but they can and do occasionally happen. In some cases if the reptile does not adequately chew its food, the hornworm may bite the tongue, inside of the mouth, or throat, causing difficulty swallowing and choking.
Smaller hornworms don’t require special feeding precautions, but it may be best to take certain measures if offering a particularly large hornworm to your pet reptile. If you are concerned about biting, cut the hornworm in half just before feeding, or use fine wire nippers to cut off the mandibles. Alternatively you can crush the mandibles with needle nose pliers prior to feeding.
Do Silkworms Bite?
No. Silkworms are not known to bite humans or reptiles. Although they do have mandibles, they are too small and weak to be cause for concern.
Do Waxworms Bite?
No. Waxworms have small, weak mandibles that are unable to significantly bite humans or reptiles.
Do Black Soldier Fly Larvae Bite?
No. Black soldier fly larvae mandibles are much too small to bite humans or even thin-skinned reptiles. The adult flies are unable to bite, due to the fact that they don’t have mouth parts, and don’t sting either.
Need feeder insects for your pet reptile, amphibian, or arachnid? Get everything you need at DubiaRoaches.com!