In the wild, your bearded dragon and gecko would be getting a wide variety of insects, worms, spiders, etc., to munch on. So, when you keep them as a pet, it’s necessary to provide them with the same diet variety.
A well-balanced diet is imperative for a happy and healthy pet. You can use a variety of feeder insects in its diet. One such healthy option is horn worms. They are soft, juicy, full of nutrition, and, most importantly, easy to care for and feed. So, let’s know more about these lovely creatures.
What are Hornworms?
You must have seen this green-colored caterpillar, also known as hornworm, in your home garden. There are two hornworm varieties: Tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) and tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta). Both these are larvae caterpillars of the hawk moths, also called sphinx moths.
Tobacco hornworms are green in color with white diagonal markings along their sides. They have a distinctive red spiked tail or horn on the back end, which gives them their name. They mainly feed on tobacco and tomato plants and are considered a pest by gardeners and farmers.
Tomato hornworms are slightly different from tobacco hornworms. They have pale yellow V-shaped markings on their back. They also have a tail at the rear end, but its color is black.
Essentially, both tobacco and tomato hornworms can feed on the same plants. This is why they can offer the same nutrition to your reptile. So, you can buy any of them as they are almost the same.
Why Should You Choose Hornworm?
1. Easy To Digest:
Hornworms have a soft exoskeleton, which makes them easier to swallow and digest. It’s an ideal feed for your baby geckos who have difficulty eating worms with a harder exoskeleton. They have little to no chitin, so there are significantly fewer chances of constipation in your reptile.
2. High Moisture Content:
No one can beat hornworms in this water content. They have an exceptionally high moisture content of about 85 percent, and this makes them a great source of extra water and hydration for your pet.
Most reptiles love to catch the insects by themselves and then eat them. These slow-moving worms are easy to catch and make for an excellent feeder for your reptile. Unlike feeders like crickets which can hurt your pet, they are incredibly safe.
4. LowFat Content:
You will be surprised to know that these meaty worms are not at all fatty. They have a fat content of just 3 percent. This makes them incredibly healthy for your reptiles.
5. High Calcium:
The hornworms are very high in calcium compared to many feeder insects. They can provide about 46.4mg of calcium, which is enough for your reptile.
6. Good Protein Content:
The protein content is not the highest in hornworms, but it is still good at 9 percent. Anyways, you can dust the hornworm with protein if you feel the content is low for your reptile or combine it with other high-protein insects.
7. Different Sizes:
Hornworms grow very quickly and can reach up to 1000 times their original weight within two weeks. So, you can feed them to your younger as well as adult reptiles.
How To Feed Hornworm?
Your bearded dragons can eat hornworms once a day, but be careful about not giving it too much of it. A young bearded dragon can eat around 20 – 50 insects per day. So, you can include about ten hornworms each day along with other feeder insects. Your adult pet would not need as much food as the younger one. It should consist of 70% greens and 30% insects. So, you can feed about 6 to 15 worms per week.
Similarly, you can give about 2-4 hornworms per feeding to your baby geckos. This can go up to 6 to 8 hornworms for the juvenile geckos and 4 to 6 hornworms for each feeding adult.
A full-grown hornworm can reach up to 5 inches in size. So, when you feed your baby or juvenile reptiles, be careful about the size of the feeding worms. Fully grown pupae can choke your reptile. To ensure you are feeding the right size, you can compare the worm size with the distance between your reptile’s eyes. Your worm size should be less than that.
Hornworms can be a great option to feed your pet. Sure, they alone can’t give a lot of protein, but they can become a part of their well-balanced diet. Hornworms are addictive, so you need to give them as treats to your reptile; otherwise, they will only eat hornworms.