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Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor):

Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle species Tenebrio molitor. They are widely recognized as popular feeder insects for a variety of insectivorous pets, including reptiles, birds, and small mammals. Mealworms are known for their relatively easy care, long shelf life, and nutritional value.

Key Characteristics:

  • Size: Mealworm larvae are typically about 1 to 1.25 inches (25 to 32 mm) in length when fully grown.
  • Color: They have a distinct appearance with a dark brown exoskeleton and segmented body.

Lifecycle and Behavior:

  • Metamorphosis: Similar to superworms, mealworms undergo complete metamorphosis with distinct larval, pupal, and adult stages.
  • Feeding Habits: Mealworm larvae feed on various organic materials, including grains, oats, and other dry matter. They are often found in environments with stored grains and other foodstuffs.

Uses and Benefits:

  • Feeder Insects: Mealworms are a common and nutritious source of protein and fat, making them suitable for feeding reptiles (such as leopard geckos, bearded dragons, and turtles), birds, small mammals (such as hamsters and hedgehogs), and other insectivorous animals.
  • Easy to Raise: Mealworms are relatively easy to breed and maintain, which has contributed to their popularity as a readily available feeder insect.
  • Long Shelf Life: They can be refrigerated to slow down their growth and extend their lifespan, allowing for convenient storage until needed.

Care and Considerations:

  • Substrate: Mealworm larvae are often kept in a substrate of oats, bran, or other suitable materials for bedding.
  • Feeding: Provide a diet of grains, vegetables, and fruits to the mealworms. Avoid using foods that are too moist, as excess moisture can lead to mold growth.
  • Temperature: Maintain temperatures between 70 to 80°F (21 to 27°C) for optimal growth and development.


  • Escape Risk: Similar to superworms, mealworms are capable of climbing smooth surfaces, so ensure their containers have secure lids to prevent escapes.
  • Handling: While mealworms are not harmful to humans, it’s a good practice to wash your hands after handling them.

Mealworms are commonly available in pet stores, bait shops, and online suppliers. They are often purchased in bulk and used to supplement the diets of insect-eating pets. Proper care, including appropriate substrate, feeding, and temperature management, will contribute to the health and nutritional value of mealworms as feeder insects.

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